Lois Lane made her debut in Action Comics #1 in June 1938, which also featured the first appearance of Superman himself. (It also featured a five page story about Scoop Scanlon, Five-Star Reporter, a character who clearly requires a gritty Christopher Nolan reboot.) Lois was introduced as a relentless go-getter and a direct opponent for her fellow journalist Clark Kent. This first incarnation of Lois had the fast-talking no-bull aspect of a Howard Hawks heroine, and was based partially on model Joanne Carter, who would later marry Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.
Lois Finds Her Voice
When Superman made the jump to radio for a serial series in 1940, voice duties for Lois were originally handled by actress Rolly Bester, and then by Helen Choate. But the longest-running radio Lois was Joan Alexander, an actress who would later be most famous as a regular panelist on the ’50s game show The Name’s the Same. Alexander’s terse, no-nonsense delivery became instantly iconic, and earned her the job of voicing Lois in the gloriously weird and influential Superman cartoons of the ’40s.
Lois on TV, Take 1
Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the movie serial Superman and the Mole Men, and continued the role on the first season of The Adventures of Superman, featuring George Reeves as the superhero. Coates was soon replaced, however, by?
Lois on TV, Take 2
Noel Neill has actually played the first onscreen Lois in some late-40s movie serials, and returned to the role for five seasons on The Adventures of Superman. Neill’s iconic turn, which emphasized the character’s romantic attraction to Superman, was the definitive onscreen Lois for decades, and Neill would return to the franchise playing (appropriately enough) Lois Lane’s mother in the 1978 Superman.
Betty Friedan Would Not Approve
By the ’50s, the comic book Lois had undergone a near-complete character transformation: No longer a relentless career woman, she had become primarily focused on winning Superman’s heart. The peak of this incarnation of the character probably came in 1958, with the creation of her own solo comic book. The good news: a female supporting character got her own comic book! The bad news: that comic book was called Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane. In short, the ’50s were awful.
Lois Lane: The Middle Ages
Margot Kidder’s silver screen turn as Lois alongside Christopher Reeves has a delirious, chainsmokingly unhinged intensity that recalls the character’s original incarnation, although Kidder’s role also occasionally edged toward farce. (Seriously, does this lady have any journalistic tricks besides putting herself in suicidal situations so Superman will save her?) But there’s no denying that Kidder’s role in the iconic Superman, the enjoyably anarchic Superman II, and two better-left-forgotten sequels is an essential evolutionary step in the character’s history.
The Hair's Not the Only Thing That's Different
In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s universe-rebooting crossover series that essentially erased five decades of comic book history, Lois was reimagined in a more adventurous mold. Now, Lois was a military brat with an action heroine’s fashion sense — skirts were out, pantsuits were in — and to cement the difference, her iconic black hair was recolored to a dark shade of brown. She also had an arguably more feminist-friendly outlook on relationships: Whereas earlier versions of the character tended to fall in love with Superman, this new Lois fell in love with Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent before she knew his secret identity. Bespectacled pratfall-prone journalists of the world, rejoice!
Look Who Gets Top Billing!
The four seasons of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman presented a fully-realized portrayal of the most iconic super-relationship in comics history: Teri Hatcher’s Lois was initially annoyed by Dean Cain’s Clark. But the pair gradually warmed to each other, falling in love, and eventually getting married. Taking a page from the Noel Neill playbook, Hatcher would later guest-star on Smallville… as Lois Lane’s mother.
Lois Gets Animated
On the ’90s cartoon Superman: The Animated Series, Lois was voiced by Dana Delany. The series returned the character to her roots, playing up her journalistic competition with Clark Kent and keeping the Superman-Lois romance mostly implicit. (The couple didn’t even kiss until the series finale.) Delany would continue to voice the character in various DC animated series.
The Adventures of Lois Lane... When She Was a Girl!
When a teenaged Lois arrived in Smallville‘s fourth season, Erica Durance was only a guest star, but the character quickly became a lead. And it’s easy to see why — in contrast to Kristin Kreuk’s tragically orphaned girl-next-door Lana Lang, Durance’s Lois was an immediately energizing presence, and her relationship with Clark was rife with screwball love-hate chemistry that impressively fused the earlier interpretations of the character. Durance’s Lois is currently engaged to Clark, and expect sparks to fly in the show’s upcoming series finale.
Of all the desperately misconceived ideas that went into Bryan Singer’s underrated-but-still-not-great Superman Returns, none are more confusing than the decision to cast 23-year-old bubbly blonde ingénue Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, the cynical brunette unwed single mother to a five-year-old son. The character, who was intended to be an updated version of Kidder’s Lois, didn’t make very much sense. In fairness to Bosworth, that pretty much sums up the movie.
Wife, Mother, and Full-Time Journalist
Lois Lane officially became Lois Lane-Kent in 1996, and although the character still didn’t have any superpowers, she had essentially become a superheroine, complete with her own tragic parental backstory (her father, General Sam Lane, even became one of Superman’s chief antagonists for a while.) Still, marriage and the arrival of a foster child hasn’t domestic Lois — she’s still a hard-charging journalist, and has even reverted to the black hair.
In this direct-to-DVD adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s acclaimed comic book, Christina Hendricks provided the voice for The Daily Planet‘s star reporter. At the time, we all thought, ”Oh, if only she could play Lois Lane onscreen! But of course, they would never cast a red-haired actress as Lois.” Then, next thing you know…
The New New Lois
News that Amy Adams has been cast as Lois in the upcoming reboot Superman: Man of Steel is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is that Adams has already proven adept at playing a Lois Lane-esque mix of spunky (Night at the Museum 2), charming (Enchanted), and sexy (The Fighter). At 36, Adams is nearly a full decade older than Henry Cavill, her Clark Kent, but that might add an intriguing element to their chemistry. How will Adams measure up to the character’s earlier incarnations? We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?