My Adventures with Superman is up, up and away! The animated series recently debuted on Adult Swim, taking Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to brand-new heights. The ten-episode first season finds Clark and Jimmy starting as interns at the Daily Planet. The other intern on the team? None other than Lois, and she’s got some ideas for how to get the scoop on the next big story: Superman.
How will Clark balance his friendships with Lois and Jimmy while hiding his burgeoning superpowers? And where are all these giant laser-wielding robots coming from, anyway?
My Adventures with Superman co-executive producers Jake Wyatt and Brendan Clogher and co-producer Josie Campbell recently chatted with us to answer some of our questions about the Man of Steel’s latest animated series. Read on to find out what inspired those mecha-sized robots, what makes this fresh-faced Clark Kent different and much, much more.
Would you call My Adventures with Superman an all-ages series?
Jake Wyatt: Good question! Yes. It was originally developed as an all-ages series. And then as we drew closer to release, the network realized that the best place to put it for the most eyeballs for the cable premiere was going to be on Adult Swim and Toonami. But on Max it's with the family titles. It was made for a broad audience.
In one of the first episodes, there's a short transformation sequence where Superman suits up for the first time, and it has a very magical girl feel. Were there certain animes that influenced the series?
Josie Campbell: There's a lot of anime that influenced us. It's very fun for us that it's going to be on Toonami because we were kids who grew up watching Toonami. Like, Adult Swim created us. So, Sailor Moon, yes, there's a little magical girl. Dragon Ball, we talked about that a lot. We talked about Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam. Some of it is in the way things look. Some of it is in the titles having little references and Easter egg shoutouts to anime.
JW: I remember we had the writers over to Josie's house to watch a couple of episodes of Dragon Ball. Partway through, the writers were like, you guys just did this!
JC: We were watching [the protagonist] Gohan in a magical transformation and we're like, okay, well, maybe it formed us. (laughs)
The super-villains in this series have interesting origins because they use technology as part of their iconic power sets. I was curious if that was part of making the story feel more grounded, or if you had another reason for changing up their origin stories?
JW: A bit of that, and then a bit of Superman is such an ancient property that when it came out superhero stuff wasn't a genre. It was a science fiction story that ended up giving birth to this whole other genre. And so, from the top we decided that there are no weather wizards. There's no magic. This is a science fiction action story with romance. No magic was a big rule.
Like Josie mentioned, a bunch of the anime that we liked was part of the stuff that inspired it. We wanted it to feel sci-fi, and particularly anime sci-fi.
JC: I remember Brendan in the writer's room talked a lot about [the novel] The Three-Body Problem. We talked about a lot of science fiction that Brendan, especially, could name-check with the drop of a hat.
Brendan Clogher: I'm a big fan of old and modern science fiction novels. A lot of it is just our desire to bring the things we love into the show.
With the title My Adventures with Superman, I initially assumed it referred to Lois. But now that I've seen a few episodes, I get the feeling it could apply to Lois, Jimmy or even Clark. Was that your intention?
JW: We can't take credit for that title. (laughs) The executives came up with that. I think we made jokes about it, like, Boku no Adventures with Superman!
JC: No Need for Clark: My Adventures with Superman! But then once it got out there, people really loved the title. Because you hit it. It is adventures with Superman, and that equally applies to Lois, Jimmy and weirdly, Clark. He is having a bit of an existential crisis throughout this.
JW: It really differentiated the show from almost every other iteration. It made it very personal and character driven, which is what we were always trying to make the show about. It was a title that we first thought was kind of goofy and it really grew on us. And like you said, it does kind of embrace the multifaceted POV of the show.
There's a famous speech in a movie about Superman being who he really is, and Clark Kent is the disguise. But in My Adventures with Superman, it feels like he’s Clark Kent and Superman is the costume. Was that the angle that you approached the character from?
JC: Absolutely. Along with the things we mentioned, we're big fans of ’90s Superman and very much embraced that, like John Byrne’s The Man of Steel.
It made sense to us because it's a power fantasy, as in, what if the most powerful man in the whole world was kind? What if he cared about you and used every power at his disposal, not to make the world worse, but to make it a better place? And for us, that's Clark. Superman is the mask he puts on to make the world a better place, but Clark is the good person who he starts as.
JW: I remember we ran into this problem pretty early. When you're writing these characters, you have to choose whether Clark is an inhuman who sees all other people as helpless idiots that he must protect, or if he's a real person who is raised with love by his parents, who named him Clark, and he uses Superman as a way to help these people without ruining his whole life. And we were like, we'll go with what's behind door number two. Making him Clark gives him something to lose and makes him vulnerable.
JC: Clark is human in every way that counts. He just happened to be born on a different planet.
Catch Clark Kent and his friends in new episodes of My Adventures with Superman Thursdays at midnight on Adult Swim and streaming the next day on Max!