Clark Kent (Smallville)

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Clark Kent
Smallville character
Clark's costume in season ten reflects his outfit in the first eight seasons, but with an additional embossed Superman shield.
First appearance "Pilot"
Created by Character
Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Developed for television
Alfred Gough & Miles Millar
Portrayed by Tom Welling
Aliases Kal-El (birth name)
"The Red-Blue Blur"
"The Blur"
Species Kryptonian
Affiliations Justice League
Daily Planet
Abilities Invulnerability, superhuman strength, speed, sight, and hearing, super breath, heat vision, X-ray vision, and flight

Clark Kent is a fictional character on the television series Smallville. The character of Clark Kent, first created for comic books by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938 as the alternate identity of Superman, was adapted to television in 2001 by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar—this is the fourth time the character has been adapted to a live-action television series. Clark Kent has been played continually by Tom Welling, with various other actors portraying Clark as a child. The character has also appeared in various literature based on the Smallville television series, none of which directly continues from or into the television episodes. As of 2011, Smallville's Clark Kent has appeared in eighteen young adult novels.

In the series, Clark Kent attempts to live the life of a normal human being, and struggles with keeping the secret of his alien heritage from his friends. He has an on-again, off-again relationship with Lana Lang through the first seven seasons, the trials of which are based on his lack of honesty about his secret. In contrast to previous incarnations of the character, this Clark Kent starts out best friends with Lex Luthor, whom he meets after saving the latter's life. The pair's friendship eventually deteriorates into hatred for one another. In Smallville, Clark's powers appear over time. He is not aware of all of his powers at the start of the show; for instance, his heat vision and super breath do not develop until season two and six, respectively.

When developing Smallville's version of Clark Kent, the producers decided to strip him down to the "bare essence" of Superman;[1] he is also fallible, which allows the audience to see his humanity, but also "good to the core".[2] In the series, he has even been seen by critics, and intentionally portrayed by the filmmakers, as a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ. Tom Welling has been nominated for multiple Teen Choice Awards and Saturn Awards for his portrayal of Clark Kent since the show began its first season.

Role in Smallville[edit]

Clark Kent first appears in the pilot episode of Smallville, as a teen with superhuman abilities, which he uses to help others in danger. Clark is adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent (John Schneider and Annette O'Toole) as an infant when he crash lands on Earth on the day of the Smallville meteor shower in 1989. Twelve years later, trying to find his place in life after being told he is an alien by his adoptive father, Clark saves the life of billionaire Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), and the pair become quick friends.[3] During season one, Clark struggles with the burden of keeping his powers a secret from those close to him; he is afraid to open up to Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) for fear that she will not accept him if she were to learn the truth about him.[4] In the season two episode "Rosetta", Clark learns of his Kryptonian heritage, including his native language, his birth name "Kal-El" and that his birth father Jor-El (Terence Stamp) intends for him to rule the world.[5] The fear that he will not be able to control his own destiny forces Clark to run away to Metropolis in the season two finale, leaving Lana, whom he had just started to develop a romantic relationship with, alone.[6] In the season three premiere, three months later, Clark is brought home by his father,[7] who makes a deal to let Jor-El take Clark when the time arrives. That time arrives in the season three finale, when a girl, referring to herself as "Kara", arrives at the Kent farm and claims to be from Krypton. After Kara predicts that Clark's friends will all either leave or betray him, Clark decides that it will be best for everyone if he just left Smallville. When Jonathan attempts to intervene, Jor-El threatens to kill Jonathan if Clark does not leave; to save Jonathan's life Clark agrees.[8]

Clark returns to Smallville, in the season four premiere, "reprogrammed" by Jor-El to seek out the three stones of knowledge so he may fulfill his destiny; in the process, the reprogrammed Clark meets Lois Lane (Erica Durance), who is investigating the supposed death of her cousin, and Clark's best friend, Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). Clark, with Martha's help, regains control over his body and refuses to look for the stones.[9] In the season four finale, a "great evil" is awakened in space after Clark defies Jor-El's instructions to obtain the three stones of knowledge. With a new meteor shower hitting Smallville, Clark finds the remaining stones and is transported to the Arctic,[10] where the three stones create the Fortress of Solitude.[11] In the season five premiere, Clark interrupts his training to return to Smallville, but when he fails to return to the Fortress before the Sun sets he is stripped of his powers. In season five's "Hidden", Clark begins an honest relationship with Lana, but is killed trying to save the town from a resident who hopes to kill all of the "meteor freaks". Jor-El resurrects his son, but warns him that someone he loves will eventually have to take his place.[12] Clark worries about who will be sacrificed, and in the episode "Reckoning" Lana is killed, so Clark turns back time to save her. This results in Jonathan becoming the sacrifice, when he suffers a fatal heart attack.[13]

In the season five finale, Clark battles Brainiac (James Marsters), a Kryptonian artificial intelligence in the form of a man, in his attempts to release the Kryptonian criminal Zod from the Phantom Zone. Clark fails, and Zod imprisons Clark in the Phantom Zone, while he sets out to conquer the Earth.[14] In the season six premiere, Clark is able to escape the Phantom Zone—inadvertently releasing several of the prisoners in the process—and returns to Smallville to defeat Zod.[15] The Phantom Zone escapees become Clark's primary focus in season six,[16] as well as Lana's relationship with Lex, which eventually turns into marriage by the season six episode "Promise".[17] The season six finale reveals that the last of the Phantom Zone criminals is really a genetic experiment created by Kryptonian scientists. The escapee attacks Clark, cloning his DNA, and becomes Clark's doppelgänger.[18] Clark, with assistance from John Jones (Phil Morris), defeats his duplicate in the season seven premiere.[19] In season seven, Clark discovers that a secret society known as Veritas was aware of his landing in Smallville during the first meteor shower and that they knew of a means to control him.[20] In the season seven finale, Clark is confronted by Lex, who has the device and has discovered his secret, at the Fortress of Solitude. Lex uses the device, which brings the Fortress down around him and Clark.[21]

In the season eight premiere, it is revealed that the orb does not allow anyone to control Clark, but merely strips Clark of his powers. Wandering the globe with Russian gangsters, Clark is eventually found and rescued by Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) and John Jones, the latter of who flies Clark to the yellow Sun and restores Clark's powers. At the end of the episode, Clark takes a job at the Daily Planet, sitting across from Lois.[22] During season eight, Clark uses his new job at the Daily Planet to gain access to information and stop crime around the city.[23] In "Identity", Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) takes a photo of Clark in which he is moving so quickly one can only see a red and blue blur; Clark in later episodes adopts the name "Red-Blue Blur" as his own superhero moniker.[24] In the later half of season eight, Clark wrestles with the idea of having to kill Davis Bloome (Sam Witwer), who is revealed to be Doomsday in the episode "Bloodline", a genetically engineered creature created by General Zod to kill Clark and destroy Earth.[25] With Oliver Queen and the other Justice Leaguers pressuring him to kill Davis/Doomsday in the season eight finale, Clark ultimately decides to separate Davis's personality from the creature's, and bury Doomsday a mile underground. When Davis subsequently kills Jimmy, Clark tells Chloe that his human-learned emotions have caused him the most trouble—most recently resulting in Jimmy's death—and vows that "Clark Kent is dead".[26]

At the start of season nine, it is revealed that Clark has begun his training with Jor-El, and while he rescues people around Metropolis he wears his family crest on his chest to remind him of what his true destiny is.[27] After realizing there are other, powerless Kryptonians on Earth, who are being led by Zod (Callum Blue), Clark decides to try and help them adjust to living as humans.[28] When Clark uses his own blood to bring Zod back to life, after being shot, Zod is renewed with his full Kryptonian powers.[29] Zod then provides the other Kryptonians with their powers and sets them out to destroy the world so that they can turn it into a new Krypton.[30] This season, Lois and Clark officially begin a romantic relationship, while Lois also begins assisting "The Blur" in his heroic endeavors.[31] Lois's trust in Clark is shaken when she thinks Clark is jealous of her relationship with "The Blur", and that he does not understand her need to find value in her own life's work.[32] Ultimately, Clark kiss Lois, while he is "the Blur", in the season nine finale and unknowingly reveals to her the truth. Afterward, he convinces the Kryptonians to leave Earth for a new, uninhabited planet. Clark then sacrifices his own life to send Zod through a portal and off of Earth.[30]

Season ten begins with Clark stuck in the afterlife, where Jor-El informs him that a great darkness is coming to Earth. Clark is unknowingly resurrected by Lois, who is now aware that he is the Blur. Jor-El also informs Clark that he is not ready to be Earth's true savior, as there are inner demons that Clark must deal with first.[33] In the episode "Homecoming", Clark is visited by Brainiac 5, who shows Clark how his past has shaped his present and will one day shape his future; this includes showing Clark his future self and what he will be capable of when he has fully embraced his destiny.[34] Clark reveals his secret to Lois, who explains that she already knew, in the episode "Isis";[35] he later proposes marriage in "Icarus".[36] In the episode "Masquerade", Clark realizes that in order to be the hero the world needs he will have to step out of the shadows and into the light. As a result, Clark makes the decision to turn "Clark Kent" into his real disguise—opting to wear eye glasses and alter his mannerisms to be more mild mannered—so that the Blur does not have to hide his face to the world.[37] By the series finale, the darkness, which is revealed to be Darkseid, arrives to Earth to enslave all of humanity. After realizing that his entire life has been one big trial by Jor-El, Clark accepts his true destiny and gains the ability to fly. He then receives the costume Martha made for him and saves Earth from Darkseid's coming Apokolips. Moving into the future seven years, Clark and Lois are finally getting married and Clark has embraced his new identity as "Superman".[38]

"With 'Red Clark' he's completely aware of the consequences of his actions at the time, but he doesn't care! He doesn't care what happens to you, and he certainly doesn't care what happens to himself, because he probably realizes that nothing can happen to him. It's always fun to be that way, even in real life, because we're not allowed to be that way all too often."

 — Tom Welling on the effect of red kryptonite on Clark.[39]

Throughout the series, Clark gains and adjusts to new abilities. In season one it was X-ray vision,[40] heat vision in season two,[41] and super hearing in season three.[42] Clark unofficially flew in the season four premiere, when he was reprogrammed as "Kal-El" by his biological father; upon regaining his memory he forgot how to use the ability.[9] It would be season six before Clark would gain a new ability, this time it was his super breath.[43] By the series finale, Clark did learn to control his flight capability.[38] Clark also learns of new vulnerabilities as the series progresses. In the first season it was the "green meteor rocks" (kryptonite) that would weaken and potentially kill him.[3] Various other forms of kryptonite appeared as the show continued, each with a different effect. Red kryptonite removed Clark's inhibitions.[44] It allows Clark the chance to get things off his chest, without worrying about whether he should bring them up to people.[39] Black kryptonite separated his Kryptonian personality from his humanity into two distinct physical forms,[9] silver kryptonite made him paranoid to the point that he believed everyone wanted to exploit his secret,[45] and blue kryptonite completely stripped him of all his abilities for as long as he stayed in contact with it.[46] Subsequent seasons also revealed that Clark is vulnerable to alien weapons and magic.[47][48]


In October 2000, producers Al Gough and Miles Millar began their search for the three lead roles, and had casting directors in ten different cities looking at actors.[49] After months of scouting, Tom Welling was cast as Clark Kent.[4] Jensen Ackles was the runner up for the role of Clark Kent in the pilot, he would go on to play Jason Teague as a season four regular.[50] Next to Welling, there have been three actors who have portrayed a "young Clark". Malkolm Alburquenque portrayed a three-year-old Clark in the pilot episode,[51] and in the season two episode "Lineage".[52] Brandon Fonseca would pick up the role of "young Clark" in the season five episode "Vengeance",[53] and in the season eight episode "Abyss", Jackson Warris would fill in the role.[54] In an alternate reality, as depicted in the seventh season episode "Apocalypse", the role of a teenage, human Clark Kent is portrayed by Brett Dier.[55]

The pilot director, David Nutter, was looking through pictures of actors and stumbled upon Tom Welling's image. When he asked about Welling, the casting director said Welling's manager did not want him to do the role because it could hurt his feature film career. After a conversation with Welling's manager, Nutter got Welling to read the script for the pilot, which convinced him to do the part.[56] Welling's initial fear, and part of the reason why he did not immediately jump at the chance to play Clark Kent, was that the show as going to be "Superman in High School". After reading the script he realized that the show was not about Clark "being a super hero", but more about the character attempting to live a normal life as a teenager.[57]

When Tom Welling came in to audition for the role he was not sure how to prepare. While waiting for his turn, he realized that the character is one thing above all else – "a high school kid". To Welling, simply acting like he was a "normal kid"—instead of trying to act like a super hero—was the perfect way to embody the character. Welling realized that by doing that, the special effects and other production elements could fill in the holes that would perfect the character on screen.[57] For one of his auditions, he read the graveyard scene with Kristin Kreuk—the first actor to be cast for the show—and the network thought they had "great chemistry".[1]

"Honestly, I don't really have too much time to worry about the future. It's almost a blessing in disguise, because in a sense Clark doesn't know what's going to happen [either]."

 — Tom Welling on his lack of Superman knowledge.[58]

Welling was generally unfamiliar with the Superman mythology, so much so that when an episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman appeared on television that featured Clark learning about his Kryptonian heritage, Welling immediately turned the show off. According to Welling, he wanted to learn about Clark's heritage at the same time that Clark was learning about it on Smallville. Welling believes that it is important for him to learn with the character, as it helps him be the Clark Kent that Al Gough and Miles Millar envision.[57] The actor believes his lack of knowledge of the Superman mythology helps his performance, because Gough and Millar have set up the series so that the previous mythology is not as important.[4] Welling also enjoys that he is in the same predicament as Clark with the fact that he does not know the future of his character, beyond the fact that he will be "Superman". When Welling landed the role of Clark Kent he was sent various Superman-related gifts, including books and toys, which Welling plans to leave unopened until the show is over so that he does not influence his decision making with the character.[57] Welling has also been adamant since the beginning that he did not sign on to play Superman, and has no intention of wearing the costume. The actor reiterated this point while filming season four, insisting that he is here to show how the character evolves into what could "potentially" lead him down the path to wearing the tights.[59] While filming, Welling is allowed input into how his character responds to certain situations, including: moving the scene from one room to another, or requesting the director film particular mannerisms he plans to give off to emphasize a specific emotion.[60][61]

Character development[edit]

Storyline progression[edit]

Early in the series, Clark is still learning how to handle his life, by learning to control his powers and find the best solution for everyone. His main priority in season one is to fit in with his friends at school, and be "an average guy". Clark's biggest problem in season one is the fact that he cannot share his secret with anyone he cares about. According to Welling, "He is burdened with a lot of responsibility. He hasn't been able to choose whether or not he has these abilities. All this responsibility has just been thrust on him, and he has to deal with it. There have got to be times when he goes home and thinks to himself, ‘Why me?' He wishes it could all go away and he could just be normal. That's part of the character dilemma which makes him interesting to play." Welling notes that the show is not about Clark always saving the day, but more about how using his powers to help other people "alienate[s] him from others".[57] By that reason, Welling reasons that by the end of season three, Clark had decided that leaving Smallville and going with Jor-El was something that would save everyone a lot of pain in the long run.[39] Tom Welling describes why Clark finally gave in to Jor-El at the end of season three:

"If you can't fight them, you might as well join them [...] he was choosing the lesser of two evils to go with Jor-El. I think a combination of those two things would probably sum it up. A lot of times in your life, you get to a point where you go, 'I just can't fight this anymore. There's nothing I can do about it, so I better get up out of bed and go to work!' And in a sense, that's what Clark had to do. Somehow he had to try to face what it was that was causing him so much pain—and everyone else so much pain—and maybe he reasoned that by causing everyone else a little bit of pain, he could save them a lot of pain in the long run."[62]

A significant moment in the character's story came when Clark decided play football in season four; this would provide conflict between him and his father for half the season. Writer Darren Swimmer refers to his moment as a "callback to [Hothead]" in season one. To him, when Clark defies Jonathan and joins the team anyway, it signifies the moment where Jonathan finally decides that he can trust Clark to not hurt anyone. Writer Todd Slavkin views it as Clark finally emerging from his father's shadow.[59] Two more significant moments came during season five. First, Clark lost his powers when he failed to return to Jor-El to finish his training; this left him human and vulnerable. According to Welling, "[Clark] learned a little bit more about what it's like to be human, physically. Emotionally, he's pretty close to trying to understand that. It added more weight to his abilities once he got them back, and it made him realize his responsibilities for what he has."[58] The second moment came with the show's 100th episode, with the death of Clark's father. The decision to kill Jonathan is season five was made so that Clark could finally step into his destiny. As Gough explains, season five was about Clark the boy becoming Clark the man, and embracing his destiny. In order to do that he would need his mentor to die, so that no one would be "buffering" or "shielding" him from the world any longer.[63] Welling saw the series' 100th episode as the chance for his character to evolve, and grow.[58] John Schneider sees the same catalyst for Clark's evolution. According to Schneider, Jonathan's death inspires Clark to make the move toward his eventual destiny. Jonathan provided such an example of sacrifice that it leaves a void in Clark. To fill that void Clark will have to become Superman. It is Schneider's contention that had Jonathan not been the man he was then, when the time came that the world needed Superman, Clark would not be able to take on that persona because he would not realize that that world needed him.[64]

Writer Holly Harold notes that the introduction of Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) allows Clark to mature more in the sixth season. Clark was able to see how others can achieve the same goal as him, but with an alternative route that may cross the moral lines a few times. This teaches Clark to start thinking about things from his opponents' perspective. Ultimately, season six was about Clark learning that it will be the human side of him that allows him to become the hero he needs to be; writer Turi Meyer sums this up as "soon-to-be Man of Steel".[65] Each season Clark gains insight into how not to use your abilities, from the kryptonite-mutated villains that he faces who gain abilities and then use them for crime. In later seasons, Clark sees how those that use their abilities for good still have questionable actions, specifically Arthur Curry (Alan Ritchson) and Andrea Rojas (Denise Quiñones), though Clark does help them "take the high road". These episode reiterate the effect that Clark's parents had on how he uses his abilities.[58] Clark also learns that he cannot do everything alone, even though he chooses not to join Oliver's team of superheroes at the end of "Justice". For Meyer, season six shows that Clark is still struggling to accept his destiny, which he needs to do one hundred percent, but that he does make steps toward the day that he puts on the cape and becomes Superman.[65]


The idea Gough and Millar came up with for the show's version of Clark Kent was to strip Superman down to his "bare essence", and see the reasons behind why Clark became Superman.[1] For Smallville, Clark is meant to be seen as fallible – not beyond making the choice. As Gough explains:

The thing that we've tried to that Clark doesn't always make the right decisions, and by not making the right decisions, he brings further consequences on himself. Whether it's running away from Jor-El at the end of season two, or choosing humanity over some sort of Kryptonian mission, those decisions get him in more trouble, and cause more people to suffer, or in Jonathan Kent's case, to die.

Welling agrees with Gough's opinion of Clark's fallibility, stating that the mistakes that Clark makes show his humanity.[58]

Above: The imagery used in the pilot episode, where Clark is strung to a scarecrow pole, drew early comparisons to Jesus Christ and his crucifixion.
Below: This scene in the season nine finale brought criticism as nine years of Christ-like comparisons started to become less subtle and more overt.

Even though Clark can make the wrong choices, season five's "Aqua" helps illustrate the concept that Clark is "good to the core". The episode shows how protective he can be over someone, even when that person annoys him. In this case, he was trying to warn Lois that Arthur Curry may not be the man she believes him to be.[2] The idea of Clark being "good to the core" is echoed by Seattle Times' Julia Waterhous, who notes that Clark, despite all his flaws, always puts others before himself.[66] Welling's fellow actors also have their own insights into the character. Kristin Kreuk sees Clark as a “kindred spirit” who is sad, lonely, but also endearing;[67] whereas John Schneider classifies Clark as a "special needs child".[68]

Just like with his comic book counterpart, Smallville's Clark Kent is seen as a symbolic representation of Jesus Christ. Established early on, the pilot episode contains a moment when Clark is crucified to a scarecrow post during a high school hazing.[69] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Rob Owen noted the Christ-like imagery of the scene, stating, "Is it any wonder Clark gets tied up there since Superman, too, was 'sent to save us'?"[70] Echoing Owen, Judge Byun identifies the same symbolism: "Superman is, in a way, the secular pop culture stand-in for Jesus Christ, a messiah figure for our generation. The series makes this theme explicit in its pilot episode, in which Clark is symbolically 'crucified' in a cornfield. That striking bit of symbolism becomes the central preoccupation of the series; Clark is the savior who sacrifices all for the greater good of humanity, and Smallville shows us how he comes to accept and embrace that role."[69]

This is extended to the end of season nine, where Clark sacrifices his own life in the finale to send General Zod and the rest of the Kandorians to their own world to live in peace. In doing so, Clark falls off a building "in full crucifixion pose, driving home the point that he is sacrificing himself for the good of the planet".[71] To this point, Cinemafantastique's Tom Powers suggests that these images and metaphorical emphasis through dialogue exchanges come across so "heavy-handed" that a very devout individual might find them offensive.[72]

In addition to religious allusions, the crew uses color schemes and camera movement to create their own themes for the characters. Since the show is told from Clark's point of view, particular visual elements are utilized to illustrate a particular characteristic. When he is safe at home the colors used to illustrate the environment are "warm and gentle", with an earth tone; the camera movement is also "very gentle". When Clark is keeping his secret, but there is no danger around, the lighting is more neutral and the camera moves around more. When there is danger the lighting becomes colder, and the camera shifts to a handheld to allow for more "extreme angles".[73]


Clark displays an ever evolving relationship with the other characters of the show. Clark's relationship with Lex Luthor is a symbolic one, with the two sharing a "yin and yang" type of relationship. In the pilot, Clark first saves Lex from drowning when they get into a car accident; at the end of the episode, Lex saves Clark when he is strung up in the cornfield and immobilized by kryptonite.[49] His relationship with Lex is tested by his lack of honesty, just like it is with Lana for the first six seasons; the same can be said for Lex's dishonesty with Clark. Both characters want to be completely honest with each other, but they know that they cannot and that inhibits their friendship.[57]

His relationship with Lana Lang is one of Smallville's central relationships. When Clark and Lana meet in the cemetery Clark realizes that he has found someone who understands him, and that he can talk to, even though it is not in as strong of a way that he would like. Although Clark feels close to Lana, his fear that she will "kick him out of her life" if she learns his secret—that he came in the meteor shower that killed her parents—is strong enough to keep him from being as close to her as he possibly could be. The lack of honesty causes issues between them.[57] Judge Byun wonders how this Clark Kent will have room in his heart for Lois Lane later in life, as the character bounces back and forth between Lana and Chloe with his love in the first season.[69]

With Lana's boyfriend gone by season two, the door opens up for Clark to step in, but Welling states that he understands why the producers continued to keep Clark and Lana apart in season two, even after Whitney was gone: "There's the cliché that television shows with a main lover interest fail once they get it together."[39] After briefly being together at the beginning of the fifth season, Clark's upbringing was not enough to help him cope with the loss of Lana to Lex toward the end of season five. Welling admits that Clark has learned to let Lana make her own choices and not stand in her way, but his problem with her relationship with Lex is that Lex is a dangerous individual and it puts Lana's safety in jeopardy. Apart from that, Clark has learned to walk the lonely road of a hero.[58] His inability to cope with Lana moving on with Lex is carried over to season six. This season was the time the writers put Clark through an "emotional wringer" when they had Lana accept Lex's marriage proposal. For writer Kelly Souders, this presents Clark's worst fear—the woman he loves is marrying his worst enemy.[65]

Apart from Lana, Clark also has an ever growing relationship with Lois—in the comics, Lois and Clark are married. Season five sees the "melting of the ice" between the two characters, who continue to "butt heads". Executive producer Darren Swimmer believes that the audience can finally start to see a growing attraction between the two, and the fact that both would be there for the other in a time of need. Erica Durance believes that Lois in season five, because of her self-imposed walls, would laugh off any notion that she had a romantic interest in Clark, even if that notion was true.[74] In season six, Durance describes the relationship between Lois and Clark as something neither character wants to put an official label on. Instead, Durance believes that, by this point in the series, Clark and Lois are satisfied with identifying with a "brother-sister friendship" label, than trying to discover how each truly feels.[75] By season eight, Durance notes that Lois is finally starting to accept the idea that she may be in love with Clark more than she has with anyone else in her life.[76] His relationship with Lois was included in TV Guide's list of the best TV couples of all time.[77]


In season nine, Clark began wearing a black costume while fighting crime in Metropolis.

For most of the series, Clark does not wear any sort of costume when he fights crime or battles villains. From seasons one through eight, Clark is also typically dressed in red, yellow and blue, the traditional colors of the Superman costume, as well as the colors of the "All American", red, white, and blue.[73] This includes the primary usage of either a blue t-shirt underneath a red jacket, or a red t-shirt worn under a blue jacket.[78] In season nine, the producers decided to design an actual costume for Clark to wear while he is patrolling the streets of Metropolis. Abandoning the theme of red, blue, and yellow, the producers chose to keep the costume completely black, save for a silver Superman "S" shield painted on the front of Clark's shirt. Instead of a cape, Clark's red jacket is traded for a black trenchcoat, which is intended to double as a cape.[79] Clark's season nine costume drew comparison to the character of Neo from The Matrix film series, because of the color scheme and use of a trenchcoat. It was also compared to the black suit Superman wore after being resurrected following his death at the hands of Doomsday in the comic books.[80][81] In the season ten premiere, the audience gets its first glimpse at the traditional Superman costume, which was left for Clark by Martha in the season nine finale. Although the suit was briefly seen through a reflection in Clark's eyes in the season nine finale,[82] the suit that appears in the season ten premiere is a different design. The producers, working alongside Warner Bros. and DC Comics, managed to procure the costume worn by Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. The team of individuals chose the Brandon Routh version over the Christopher Reeve suit of the 1980s.[83] DC Comics offered the suit worn by Christopher Reeve, but Peterson explained that it "just didn't quite fit with our world."[84] According to producer Kelly Souders, "Well, the process was really a group effort. We worked with DC, and we have Alicia Louis, who does a lot of stuff for us at the studio, and who was really instrumental. It took quite a bit to get that costume. There's a lot of sign-offs, it really was Warner Bros. and DC and us working to make it happen."[83] Peterson confirmed that the costume would play a more prominent role in the final season, even going as far as to hint that the last scene of Smallville will see Clark wearing it.[84] In the meantime, Clark began wearing a new costume in the season ten episode "Shield". Here, Clark has replaced the black trenchoat with a red leather jacket, and the "S" shield is now embossed onto the chest of the jacket.[85]


In 2002, Welling was nominated for his first Saturn Award for Best Actor in a Television series, for his portrayal of Clark Kent in Smallville.[86] Following that nomination, Welling was nominated for another four consecutive years, 2003 to 2006, for the Saturn Award for Best Actor in a Television series.[87][88][89][90] The same year he was nominated for a Saturn Award, Welling won a Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout TV Star, Male for his role as Clark Kent in the first season of Smallville.[91] Although he has not won a Teen Choice Award since, just like with the Saturn Awards, he has been nominated for Choice Actor in television for the four consecutive years after his win, 2003 to 2006,[92][93][94][95] Although he was not nominated in 2007, he did receive recognition with a nomination in 2008 and 2009 for Choice Male in an Action/Adventure series.[96][97] Welling was also nominated for the 2006 Teen Choice Awards for Most Beautiful Couple (TV — Choice Chemistry), with his co-star Kristin Kreuk.[98] In the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, Tom Welling received the award for Choice TV Actor — Action Adventure.[99] Welling was included in TV Guide's list of "TV's Sexiest Crime Fighters".[100]

Bryan Byun, of DVD Verdict, believes that Welling was the perfect choice for Clark Kent: "I can't imagine a more ideal actor to play this superpowered farm boy than Tom Welling, with his wholesome, honest face and heroic good looks—Welling not only resembles Christopher Reeve physically, but has all of the earnest charm that made Reeve the quintessential Superman."[69] The Free Lance–Star's Ron Hedelt likened Welling's performances as Clark Kent to that of Christopher Reeve's performances in the Superman films, stating that Welling manages portray a "sweet, unassuming teenager" while showing Clark struggle with the truth about himself.[101] Comics2Film's Rob Worley also made note of the physical resemblance Welling has to Christopher Reeve, and notes that the actor gives the character depth with his convincing portrayal of Clark's longing to fit in.[102] When comparing Smallville's Clark Kent to Bryan Singer's Superman (Brandon Routh), in Superman Returns, Seattle Times' Julia Waterhous finds Smallville's Clark Kent to be the more intriguing character. Waterhous explains that it is the inner turmoil of Clark—not being able to tell the people he loves his secret—and the fact that no matter what his faults are he continues to put others before himself, remains "pure and good", and allows the audience to become intimate with the character—something lacking in the film version.[66] According to the Associated Press, Welling's popularity as Clark Kent on Smallville even had fans of the show wishing that he would take the role Routh received in Superman Returns.[103]

Other media appearances[edit]

Young Adult novels[edit]

Smallville's Clark Kent has also appeared in various young adult novels. There have been two series of novels published since the second season of the show began airing. One series was published by Aspect publishing. They published eight young adult novels in total, beginning in October 2002 and ending in March 2004. The second series was published by Little, Brown Young Readers, beginning in October 2002, alongside Aspect's series of novels. Ten young adult novels were published until April 2004.

Clark first appeared in literature on October 1, 2002, when Aspect and Little, Brown Young Readers released three different novels—one from Aspect and two from Little, Brown Young Readers. In Aspect's novel, Smallville: Strange Visitors, which was written by Roger Stern, Clark attempts to stop two religious con-men from robbing the town with their kryptonite-enhanced spiritual seminars.[104] Little, Brown Young Readers's first novel, Arrival, chronicles the events of the show's pilot as written by author Michael Teitelbaum.[105] Their second book, See No Evil, which was written by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld—who have also written various episodes of the show—features Clark trying to stop Dawn Mills, a young actress who wants to attend Juilliard and has the ability to turn invisible, from hurting people who spoke badly of her behind her back.[106]

On November 1, 2002, Alan Grant's wrote Smallville: Dragon, which had Clark being hypnotized into believing that he is a normal, human teenager, with no abilities.[107] Little, Brown Young Readers' Flight featured Clark trying to lend emotional support to a young girl, Tia, whom Clark discovers has full-sized wings.[108] The next novel, Hauntings, follows Clark and his friends as they investigate a ghostly presence in one of Smallville's haunted houses.[109] Animal Rage follows Clark as he tries to stop an animal rights activist when she tries to hurt the people harming animals in Smallville.[110] Aspect brought in Dean Wesley Smith for their next novel. Whodunit involves Clark, Chloe, Lana and Pete investigating the murder of a boy and his sister.[111]

Little, Brown Young Readers published their next two books in April and June 2003. The first, Speed, has Clark fighting hate crimes in Smallville.[112] The second, Buried Secrets, follows Clark and Lex as they both fall in love with a mind-reading, substitute Spanish teacher. In the novel, Clark and Lex's friendship is put in jeopardy as the two compete for the teacher's love.[113] On September 9, 2004, Aspect published Shadows, where Clark must stop a girl's scientist father, who has created a monster that is killing people.[114] Runaway features Clark leaving Smallville and living on the streets of Metropolis with other homeless teenagers. Clark falls in love with one of the girls before eventually returning home.[115] Smallville: Silence has Clark and his friends investigating the appearance of zombies.[116] Little, Brown Young Readers' Greed follows Clark and his friends as they take jobs as summer counselors to disadvantaged youths. Pete tries to abuse Clark's abilities by tricking him into playing in a basketball game, and then betting on the outcome.[117]

Alan Grant returned for a second outing to write Curse, about a grave digger that unleashes a 150 year old curse onto Smallville, and Clark's attempt to put everything back to the way it was.[118] In Temptation, Clark uses red kryptonite to try and impress Lana and Chloe after they become infatuated with a new, French foreign exchange student.[119] Aspect released their final novel on March 1, 2004; written by Devin K. Grayson, City chronicles Clark and Lex's trip to Metropolis. While in the city, the pair gets caught between the Japanese mafia and a secret agent who believes he has found an alien.[120] In Little, Brown Young Readers' final novel, written by Cherie Bennett, Sparks features Clark trying to save Chloe after she is exposed to a kryptonite fireworks display that makes her the desire of every man—for one of the men, when the desire wears off he decides that he really does want Chloe and kidnaps her.[121]

Comic books[edit]

In 2012, the series was continued through the comic book medium, Smallville: Season 11. Written by Bryan Q. Miller, who also wrote for the television series, Clark no longer fights crime by the alias "The Blur," but has been dubbed "Superman" by the masses. He also altered the costume that Martha made for him, for measures of protection and carrying gadgetry. As Clark's enjoys the general acceptance from the public, there are people who distrust him, including Lex Luthor, despite the fact that he lost his memories after his last encounter with Tess Mercer.[122] In the second issue, Clark, Lois, and their friends are working on bringing Lex down by trying to find proof that he murdered Tess. Clark also meets Commander Hank Henshaw, who is a participant in LexCorp's project "Guardian Defense Platforms". Later, Henshaw's shuttle malfunctions, and exposes him to radiation. Though Clark saves him and his crew, they are hospitalized, with Henshaw experiencing side effects from the radiation exposure. Clark also discovers that what happened to the shuttle is not a mishap.[123] In the third issue, Clark confronts Lex, after he realizes that Lex caused the shuttle's explosion. During the confrontation, Clark inadvertently implies that he knew Lex before his amnesia, after Lex noted that Superman appeared to recognize him.[124]

In the fourth issue, Clark discovers that his body has been exposed to radiation while trying to save Henshaw and his crew, which allows Lex to track his whereabouts. Knowing he would endanger the people he cares for, Clark is forced to distance himself from them until he can rid the radiation signature.[125] In issue five, Clark uses the Fortress of Solitude to cloak his whereabouts from Lex's satellites while he uses the AI system to discover a way to remove the isotope. While investigating Winslow Schott for the theft of LexCorp's components, which are used to build teleportation vests, Clark encounters Batman and Nightwing at Stryker's Island prison. Batman, using a powerful exoskeleton with a red solar energy generator built within his costume to match Superman's strength and speed, and Superman begin fighting within the prison.[126] During the battle, Clark figures out that Batman is WayneTech's CEO Bruce Wayne, and his motivation to become a vigilante, and feels sympathy for Wayne's loss. They eventually declare a truce and work together after they realize that they are on the same case. While tracking Intergang's Gotham City contact and Bruce Wayne's parents' killer, Joe Chill, they eventually encounter two of Intergang's allies, Oswald Loomis and Victor Fries[127] While battling Loomis and Fries, Clark is wounded by Loomis's kryptonite bullets. Batman takes Clark to his secret safe house in Metropolis to treat his wounds, with Oliver, Chloe, Lois, and Nightwing as aids. Seeing Wayne's determination to save his life, makes Clark see a friend beneath the mask, so he tells Batman his secret. Despite saving Clark's life, the bullets also held tracking devices that lead Loomis and Fries to Batman's base.[128] In the eighth issue, after the villains send Intergang to Batman's base, Clark and Batman confront Loomis at his and Fries' hideout; they discover Loomis had Fries' cryo-suit under his control and sent him on a rampage around the city. While Batman retreats to stop Fries with Oliver, Clark fights Loomis's krytonite-powered exosuit, using Batman's lead-lined armor, and eventually captures him. Clark later saves Lois and Nightwing from Intergang's attacks, and establishes a friendship with Bruce.[129]

In the ninth issue, Clark rescues Lex from an attack from Simon Jones, who was one of the latter's victims of LuthorCorp's 33.1 Project. He also reunites with Bart Allen, who is in a new costume, and works with him to battle a group of super-intelligent primates in Paris. In addition, S.T.A.R. Labs discovers that Clark's continuous absorption of the solar radiation is slowly expelling Lex's tracking radiation from his body. Clark chooses not to fly directly into the Sun to rid the rest of it for fear that he could become overexposed and turn into a hazardous form of pure energy, as warned by Emil Hamilton.[130] In the tenth issue, it is revealed that Bart is seeking Clark's aid in battling the Black Flash, a mysterious entity he glimpsed while in Lex's captivity. This leads the pair to S.T.A.R. Labs to learn about the source of Bart's powers, the Speed Force. Using a treadmill built by Emil Hamilton to match Bart's speed, Clark sees the Black Flash, but the creature rejects him because he is not connected to the Speed Force. This encounter makes Clark realize that the Black Flash is a personification of Death, but only after people like Bart. Clark decides to seek out JSA member Jay Garrick for help saving Bart from the Black Flash.[131] However, Garrick is no longer the speedster he used to be. He refused to have a broken leg repaired so that he could no longer run as superhuman speed, so as not to attract the Black Flash. Realizing that Garrick cannot help, Clark decides to face the Black Flash again in Las Vegas, this time wearing a speed suit charged by the Speed Force's kinetic energy developed by S.T.A.R. Labs, granting him additional speed-related powers. Bart refuses to let Clark fight alone, and races to join him.[132] After Bart apparently died after surrendering himself to the Black Flash, Emil discovers that Clark's exposure to the Speed Force has increased the process of Lex's tracking radiation's decay in his body, freeing Clark from Lex's surveillance.[133] Clark and Michael Jon Carter (Booster Gold) later inadvertently travel to the 31st century, where they find themselves caught in a war between New Krypton led by Kara and an army of xenophobes.[134] They discover that one of xenophobes, Kirt Niedrigh, is harvesting Faora's clone's unborn child's DNA to use it to reawake Doomsday to against the Kryptonians, who has apparently been under a dormant state since the Season 8 episode "Doomsday."[135] After Clark, the Legions, and the New Krypton defeat Doomsday, Kara remains in the 30th century to protect New Krypton from Niedrigh and his followers. Clark also meets a child and his mother on Earth before returning to his own time, and the boy's name reveals to be "Bartholomew Allen" and he bears a strong resemblance to his namesake, causing Clark to suspect he is a descendant of Bart and giving him hope that he is still alive."[136]

After Clark returns home, he discovers that his adoptive mother was nearly killed during an assassination attempt towards Department of Extranormal Operations' director Bones in Washington D. C. Martha was saved by Diana Prince. Because of Prince exhibiting powers apparently on par with his own, Clark needs to make sure that Diana can be trusted but find themselves being attacked by mystical forces. Clark also discovers that one of DEO's agents, Steve Trevor, was one of Lois's former boyfriends.[137] After helping Diana defeating Hades and Felix Faust, Clark, as Superman, choose to reveals himself to the President that he's not a meteor-infected individual as public believes but from another planet.[138] Later, after both Kara and Chloe returns, Clark attempts to rally the heroes and the world to make a stand against the Monitors.[139]Also, a parallel universe counterpart of Clark, is found dead in an alley of Gotham City.[140]


DC Direct has released action figures for Clark Kent, along with other Smallville characters.[141] The first set of action figures was released on October 2, 2002, and was modeled after Clark's appearance in the first season.[142] The second series was released on May 7, 2008 and was designed after Clark's appearance in the season six episode "Justice".[143]


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  110. ^ David Weiss & Bobby Weiss (February 2, 2003). Smallville: Animal Rage. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-17421-1. 
  111. ^ Dean Wesley Smith (March 1, 2003). Smallville: Whodunit. Aspect. ISBN 0-446-61216-2. 
  112. ^ Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld (April 16, 2003). Smallville: Speed. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-16816-5. 
  113. ^ Suzan Colon (June 1, 2003). Smallville: Buried Secrets. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-16848-3. 
  114. ^ Diana G. Gallagher (September 1, 2003). Smallville: Shadows. Aspect. ISBN 0-446-61360-6. 
  115. ^ Suzan Colon (October 1, 2003). Smallville: Runaway. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-73476-4. 
  116. ^ Nancy Holder (November 1, 2003). Smallville: Silence. Aspect. ISBN 0-446-61359-2. 
  117. ^ Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld (December 1, 2003). Smallville: Greed. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-73477-2. 
  118. ^ Alan Grant (January 1, 2004). Smallville: Curse. Aspect. ISBN 0-446-61361-4. 
  119. ^ Suzan Colon (February 1, 2004). Smallville: Temptation. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-73478-0. 
  120. ^ Devin K. Grayson (March 3, 2004). Smallville: City. Aspect. ISBN 0-446-61362-2. 
  121. ^ Cherie Bennett (April 1, 2004). Smallville: Sparks. Little, Brown Young Readers. ISBN 0-316-73479-9. 
  122. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #1 (April 2012)
  123. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #2 (June 2012)
  124. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #3 (July 2012)
  125. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #4 (August 2012)
  126. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #5 (September 2012)
  127. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #6 (October 2012)
  128. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #7 (November 2012)
  129. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #8 (December 2012)
  130. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #9 (January 2013)
  131. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #10 (February 2013)
  132. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #11 (March 2013)
  133. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #12 (April 2013)
  134. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #13 (May 2013)
  135. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #14 (June 2013)
  136. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #15 (July 2013)
  137. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #16 (August 2013)
  138. ^ Smallville Season 11 vol. 1 #19 (November 2013)
  139. ^ Smallville Season Eleven: Alien vol. 1 #1 (December 2013)
  140. ^ Smallville Season Eleven: Alien vol. 1 #2 (January 2014)
  141. ^ Byrne, Craig, (Season 7 Companion) pg. 154
  142. ^ "DC Direct Action Figure Archive". Retrieved November 11, 2010. 
  143. ^ "DC Direct Action Figure Archive". Retrieved November 11, 2010.