- "Superman & Lois" has showcased that lesser-known villains can be just as compelling as Lex Luthor or General Zod when given the opportunity to shine.
- The CW show has introduced a range of lesser-known villains, often with altered origins and powers, receiving positive feedback from viewers.
- By saving the "big name" villains for later, "Superman & Lois" has allowed for the emergence of new and interesting threats, putting the CW's live-action Superman in fresh and unexpected situations.
The CW's Superman & Lois television series has proven the time has finally come to start fixing an ongoing Superman movie problem that's persisted for years. With Superman: Legacy on the horizon from James Gunn, a new live-action Man of Steel for the big screen is imminent. To that end, Superman & Lois has shown that there are other villains who should clash with the Last Son of Krypton first (beyond the big names).
It's no secret that Lex Luthor has been the primary villain of Superman movies for quite a long time across multiple iterations of the Man of Tomorrow. Likewise, it's been 36 years since Superman hasn't fought someone on the big screen who wasn't considered a "big name" villain (Superman IV). Conversely, DC and the CW's Superman & Lois television series has shown that lesser-known villains can be just as dynamic and compelling as Lex Luthor or General Zod so long as they're simply given the time to shine.
Superman & Lois Proves Lesser-Known Superman Villains Are Engaging
Having spanned three seasons with a fourth (and likely final) season of Superman & Lois on the way, the CW show has been a bit hit with DC fans. Starring Tyler Hoechlin as Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane, the iconic superhero and renowned journalist are married with two teenage boys, having relocated to Clark Kent's hometown of Smallville to start new lives where they can be closer as a family. However, new threats and foes have not lessened despite their move from Metropolis.
Across the first three seasons of Superman & Lois, a collection of lesser-known villains have made appearances. This includes Morgan Edge, The Eradicator, Bizarro, Parasite, Bruno Manheim, Onomatopoeia, and more. However, many of these villains have also been given altered origins and powers compared to their comic-book counterparts, though many have been very well received. For example, Superman and Lois' Morgan Edge was far more than the corrupt corporate media magnate he is in the comics. In the CW show, Edge was revealed to be the secret half-brother of Kal-El himself, and he also became the show's version of the Eradicator as well.
Ultimately, the most important thing about Superman & Lois' villains is that bigger foes such as Lex Luthor and Doomsday have only appeared recently at the very end of Superman and Lois season 3. Saving the "big names" for later on has allowed so many new and interesting threats to emerge for the CW's live-action Superman, putting him in new positions beyond facing more expected threats who've continually appeared to challenge the Man of Steel on the big screen.
Why Superman Movies Keep Using Big Names Like Lex Luthor
Although General Zod and Doomsday are other big bads who've been used more than once, Lex Luthor is certainly the biggest Superman villain who's been used on screen the most. To a degree, this is understandable. Luthor is certainly the most marketable villain as Superman's core arch-nemesis with a classically compelling rivalry thanks to Luthor's brilliant intellect against Superman's incredible strength and powers. It makes sense that DC would want him to be featured on the big screen.
However, Superman & Lois proves Lex Luthor doesn't have to be continually used over and over. Additionally, it's far more exciting that Michael Cudlitz's Lex Luthor is set to have a bigger role in Superman & Lois season 4, having only been mentioned and initially set up at the end of season 3 following so many other dynamic villains. To that end, some of these villains such as Edge and Bruno Manheim have connections and history with Luthor, and their initial appearances have helped establish Luthor as a true big bad who's actually anticipated. It's hopefully something the upcoming Superman: Legacy movie will adopt as well.
Under-Used Superman Villains Perfect For The Big Screen
Both Superman & Lois (and even Max's new animated series My Adventures with Superman) have shown the true potential to be had with the rest of Superman's rogue gallery. There are plenty of compelling villains who've yet to get their time to shine in the movies such as Parasite, Livewire, Professor Ivo, Metallo, and perhaps even Lobo who's been rumored for Superman: Legacy. Each of them and more could certainly push the limits of Superman's powers in ways that have never been seen before on the big screen with a live-action Man of Steel.
It's worth considering that there's an added benefit to not using big-name villains right away. Less recognizable foes mean more narrative freedom to experiment with the origins and powers of these lesser-known foes as has been seen with Superman & Lois. While he'll likely be featured, here's hoping Lex Luthor is not the primary villain in the upcoming Superman: Legacy movie.