Superman & Lois star and showrunner discuss Captain Luthor's shocking backstory
Tyler Hoechlin and Todd Helbing weigh in on the latest Luthor twist.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of Superman & Lois, "Heritage."
The series premiere of Superman & Lois introduced a compelling mystery: Where did Wolé Parks' the Stranger, a.k.a. Captain Luthor, come from? And this week's episode provided a shocking answer.
In the Arrowverse drama's second episode, the heavily armored villain revealed that he hates Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) because the Kryptonian destroyed his planet. And by his planet, we mean an alternate Earth conquered by an evil version of Superman. An episode-ending flashback depicted a horrific battle scene in which the Last Son of Krypton descended from the sky in his black suit (the same costume Hoechlin wore in the third hour of "Elseworlds") and mowed down Luthor's entire army squad, including that Earth's General Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh), with his heat vision (or an "ocular release of energy," as good Clark would describe it).
"We just wanted to get into slowly starting to peel back the onion of who this guy is and what happened to him, and sort of kickstart his motivation for wanting to take down Superman," Superman & Lois showrunner Todd Helbing tells EW of that shocking flashback. "Coming out of that episode, you know that he needs to stop Superman because Superman on his planet destroyed everything. So it gives him a motivation, I think, that people can understand and latch onto. But it also allows us to show this juxtaposition of Supermen. One of the things I was always drawn to as a kid is people used to say, 'Superman, you can't stop him.' And it's like, 'Yes, you can: With his mind, right?' That's one place where he's vulnerable. So how could this guy go bad on his planet, and is that possible on our possible? How does Captain Luthor fold into that?"
What's interesting about this twist is that Clark's son Jordan (Alexander Garfin) is seen playing Injustice 2, a real video game series set in a version of the DC universe where Superman broke bad. Was that just a harmless Easter egg, or was it a hint at Luthor's origin story and where the show is going?
"There may be some clues in there," Hellbing teases. "It just started out as an Easter egg, I'll say that."
For his part, Hoechlin enjoyed wearing the black Superman suit again, even if there were some challenges getting into it. "It [felt] tighter. Definitely put on a little bit of extra this go around, and that suit has not been altered," Hoechlin says with a chuckle. "In the moment that you see it, it's pretty startling, and I think it'll be cool for the fans to see that. And it was fun to have a little bit of a blast from the past."
Hoechlin is hopes he'll get an opportunity to spend more time portraying this darker version of the character. "It's a fun opportunity to play," he says. "It was one thing to guest-appear and come back periodically. That in and of itself, you get to jump in and play a character for a minute. When you're shooting a show as a regular and you're there all the time, I think any opportunity to do something noticeably different from what you've been doing on a daily basis is always really fun. It keeps it fresh, it keeps it new. So, I was excited to see that's an opportunity there. We'll see how that comes about. But it seems like there will be some fun stuff there, if I had to guess."
The re-introduction of Clark's black suit on Superman & Lois arrives a few short weeks before audiences will get to see Henry Cavill wearing a similar look in Zack Snyder's Justice League, but Helbing isn't too worried about the timing and similarities.
"All those decisions that are made are above my pay grade," he says. "If it injects an interest for Superman, that's cool with me. I watched that and [thought], 'Wow, that looks badass.' I'm totally cool with it. It doesn't really affect what we're doing in anyway. Again, to have an interest in Superman right now in a time where — I know we're talking about dark Superman — people need some hope right now, I think it's all good."
Superman & Lois airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.