The Super-Humanity of Lois & Clark’s Lois Lane (And Why it’s So Important).
When Lois & Clark premiered in 1993, my ten-year-old self was instantly transfixed. Not, mind you, because of Superman (though I quite liked Dean Cain’s Clark Kent – and his super alter-ego). No, my heart belonged to one character and one character alone: Lois Lane. In a show about a super-man, it was Lois who was my hero.
Back then, I would have been hard-pressed to explain to you why I so admired her. Sure, there’s plenty to admire in the character: her command, her confidence, her humor, her kick-butt karate skills. Throw in an ace career in journalism and a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee (my dream car for a decade), and you’ve got a character I couldn’t help but admire. Still, looking back on it now, I find myself wondering if it didn’t go deeper than that. What is it about this Lois Lane that makes her so, well, super?
While Siegel and Shuster will always be responsible for her creation (with some inspiration from the 30s film character Torchy Blane, ace female reporter), credit must also go to three other individuals who brought Lois so uniquely to life in her Lois & Clark incarnation: comic book creator John Byrne, television writer and producer Deborah Joy LeVine, and actress Teri Hatcher.
It was John Byrne’s rebooted version of Superman that Lois & Clark borrowed its inspiration from – including such ideas as Clark Kent being Clark’s true identity, with Superman merely a disguise of sorts (it had been the other way around for Superman for a long time, cumulating in the portrayal of a fumbling, bumbling Clark Kent by Christopher Reeve – an identity only meant to mask Clark’s real life as Superman). Deborah Joy LeVine, the show creator of Lois & Clark, may have had inspiration thanks to Byrne for the character she wanted portrayed – but there is no denying the importance of her vision to the version of the characters we saw on our television screens from the pilot episode on. From an emphasis on the alien Clark Kent’s humanity, to the makings of a real woman – a real person – in Lois Lane, LeVine ensured that the emphasis of the show would be on the characters at its center, and not on the superheroics themselves. (Though replaced as showrunner after Season One with Robert Singer, LeVine’s influence was long-lasting: the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent always remained the heart of the show.)
Teri Hatcher, who brought Lois to life, was the final piece of the puzzle that made the character work so absolutely. Hatcher made Lois smart, courageous, and capable, but with a realness at the heart of the character that kept Lois from being a cardboard cutout of The Ideal Woman. She may prove to be Clark Kent’s ideal woman, of course, but I’d argue that’s precisely because Lois herself is so completely human. Continue reading