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Feature: Smallville

Men of Steel

Tom Welling and Christopher Reeve

If one Superman isn’t good enough for you, you’ll be delighted to hear that in the second season there are more of them than you can flap a cape at. Tom Welling and film super-guy Christopher Reeve discuss their attitudes to the role that has made both of their names…

When teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first envisaged the wonder that is Superman, little did they dream that their creation would evolve from being an object of suspicion – c’mon, aliens were meant to be little green men then – to one of the most well-loved icons of the comic world. Superman has been floating around saving the Earth and damsels in distress while pestering the life out of evil incarnate, aka Lex Luthor, since 1938. Such was the appeal of the Man of Steel that Superman comic books went with the troops into World War II as morale boosters. Small wonder, then, that Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is currently boosting morale and ratings in Smallville, television’s latest foray into Superman mythology.

In Smallville, the boy that grows up to be Superman is prone to be stressed by damsels rather than saving them, though he does indeed feature large in the life of Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). In a flash of inspiration, the powers that be have Clark do this from a teenage farm boy’s perspective rather than the fully-grown force he is destined to become. In a further stroke of genius, The WB has enticed one of the greatest Supermen of all time, real-life crusader and superhero for those battling against paralysis, Christopher Reeve, to give the young Clark Kent the benefit of his considerable experience. However, as is often the case in Smallville, the circumstances aren’t quite what people expect. In the episode Rosetta, Reeve’s character, Dr Swann, helps Clark leap tall theories in a single bound and is the first person to point Clark in the direction of Krypton, his planet of origin.

In an impressive PR coup, Welling and Reeve recently appeared together at a special press conference in New York, where Reeve was happy to offer a brief glimpse of things to come. “I play a scientist who has given really most of his life into astrophysics, or the most advanced astronomy, and I’ve discovered some information that’s very relevant to Clark.”

Clearly delighted, if a little nervous, to be part of the momentous occasion, Tom Welling proclaims, “I’ve been so excited even just to be here – and to meet Christopher in person is tremendous. We have a really heavy scene coming up today, so in a sense it’s both nervousness for that and for everything that’s going on… it’s really like the ultimate experience.”

Asked what it was like to meet the younger version of his most famous character, Reeve grins. “It’s cool because actually I remember what it was like in 1977 when I screen tested to play Clark Kent in Superman, and how much I respected the mythology and the legend. Tom is doing a really good job carrying on the tradition.”

by Thomasina Gibson

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Cult Times Special #25

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times Special #25, see below for ordering options
Cult Times Special #25
Superheroes 2003
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