For Clark Kent and Lois Lane, everything is super. Parenting is super challenging, the threats are super dangerous, and the latest season of Superman & Lois is super emotional. Bruno Mannheim and Intergang are looming large, ready to strike at any moment. Lex Luthor is also on the horizon, which is always bad news for Lois and Clark, no matter what continuity they’re in. But the biggest challenge in Superman & Lois season three isn’t a villain, it’s a disease.
As viewers know, Lois Lane was recently diagnosed with aggressive stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, a challenge that for all of their remarkable abilities, Superman and Lois are powerless against.
“As far as the acting is concerned, this is the most challenging season we've done on this show,” admits Lois Lane actress Bitsie Tulloch. “It was certainly challenging as actors. I haven't myself been through anything like that, so I tackled it by speaking to as many people as I could who have been through similar situations and trying to glean and gain from their experiences. It is incredibly intense, especially for the women who have been through this who are mothers.”
This season’s second episode, “Uncontrollable Forces,” was a particularly emotional hour, as Lois gets her diagnosis early on and wrestles with it silently throughout the episode while Clark and the boys go through their everyday lives. Tyler Hoechlin, who plays Clark Kent, warns us that it’s only going to get more emotional as the season goes on.
“In episode twelve, I might have had the greatest (stretch as an actor) from the start of the day to the end,” he says. “The day started very intimate and personal and then became the most outrageous comic book kind of thing you could do. I can't wait for people to see it—it was really fun. This season, more than any—and maybe on anything we've ever done—has tested that range on a day-to-day basis and really on a scene-to-scene basis.”
The Kent home also has a new addition this year, with Michael Bishop taking over the role of Jonathan Kent. Hoechlin and Tulloch have both been impressed with how quickly their new onscreen son adapted to his role.
“Obviously, the situation is what it is, but I think it's been a best-case scenario,” offers Hoechlin. “Michael has been a great addition, a great actor, a guy who works really hard and is really happy to be here. I think we're lucky to have him. It was a quick turnaround. He was up here for the test and had a return flight home, and I think found out that night and he just didn't get to go home.”
“And five days later he was filming,” Tulloch adds. “So it was a bit of a whirlwind and I think that would have been difficult on some level and he did a great job.”
Speaking of difficulties, this past decade has been full of them when it comes to journalism, with startling new challenges seemingly arriving by the day. For generations, Lois Lane has been one of the fourth estate’s greatest fictional icons, making her a particularly important role to play right now. It’s something that’s certainly not lost on Tulloch, who’s embodied Lois since 2018.
“I've been very outspoken because really the last six or seven years, it does feel like journalists have been under assault,” she remarks. “And then obviously dealing with what happened to Jamal Khashoggi, it's been awful. It just feels like (journalists are) between a rock and a hard place on some level. Lois herself, in season one, she quits the Daily Planet. She also has had to downsize, and I know we've addressed a bunch on the show.”
For Tulloch, it’s been particularly important that her performance comes off as authentic to the life of an investigative journalist.
“I made the choice to always have a little notepad, like she's old school,” mentions Tulloch. “You won't see Lois taking notes when she's on location on a phone. I always have a little notepad. But she's going through changes too. Obviously going from being the most famous journalist in the world to working at a one-person Smallville Gazette in Kansas was a bit of a shock for her, but she's managed to figure out a way to still write stories that get the attention of the world. I think she is still sort of resistant. You have a line in season two where she's like, ‘I hate the internet.’ I feel for everyone who's in the profession of journalism right now.”
Of course, Lois and Clark’s life at the Smallville Gazette has gotten easier in some ways. Now that Chrissy Beppo is aware of Superman’s identity, the pair no longer has to lie or sneak around.
“It's definitely less of a headache,” Hoechlin says. “It's convenient to not have to come up with an excuse every single time you have to fly out of the room. It's fun to have other people in on it. The scenes in which we're doing those things in front of them now, it's fun to see how their characters respond and react to it.”
The season two finale revealed that Superman & Lois takes place in a different universe than the other Arrowverse shows like The Flash. This means that Hoechlin and Tulloch are playing different versions of the characters than the ones they portrayed during the numerous DCTV crossovers.
“For me, it was just the element of them being parents,” Hoechlin shares. “I think it's a different focus. When we were playing them in the Arrowverse, it was just the two of them together. They were each other's thing that was most important, and now they have these kids. So, it's really looking at Clark and Superman from a new perspective, which is that he's not really finding himself anymore. He's just trying to guide these kids to become who they are meant to be and figuring out the best way to do that.”
“It's totally different from my point of view because suddenly the story was about Lois and Clark,” adds Tulloch. “One of the things that we were facing whenever we did a crossover episode is that everybody was doing a crossover, so there's only so much time you can even allot to any character in any of those. They were huge characters, and it was really fun getting to work with everyone, but it was just sort of skimming the surface of their relationship and who the characters really were. With this, we really got to delve into it.”
As both actors are quick to point out, the show still has its own connections to the Arrowverse. For example, the season three premiere was directed by Tom Cavanaugh.
“He's just so fun,” reveals Tulloch. “He has wonderful energy on set. We did a cast and crew screening of the season three premiere and people were laughing. It almost felt like a mini movie experience where it just runs the entire gamut. You have these huge set pieces, and then all of the action, and then you add the relationship stuff. And then it felt like there was a lot of humor, which was great to start the season that way.”
“I was having so much fun on the first episode,” Hoechlin recalls. “Our showrunner (Todd Helbing) was up here and I actually asked him a few times, ‘Am I having too much fun?’ It felt like I was having such a great time shooting the episode that I wanted to get a temperature check from him on where we were at, and he was loving it. The first episode is one of the most fun episodes we've done.
“I think everybody came back excited to be back,” he continues. “We had a longer break this year between seasons two and three, so everybody was excited to get back, and it was just the perfect way to start things.”
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.