The following contains spoilers for Superman & Lois.
Superman & Lois Season 2 Episode 14
One of the most surprising aspects of Superman & Lois is how effortlessly it has blended stories of everyday family drama and typical teenage angst in right alongside its larger comic-book-style plots (like, say, the existence of an inverted alternate reality that is currently trying to merge with our own). Though the show is named after DC Comics’ most famous couple, it’s equally as focused on the stories of their two sons, Jonathan and Jordan, who struggle with fairly traditional teenage problems even as Jordan attempts to come to terms with his still-developing powers.
“He’s come a long way,” Superman & Lois star Alex Garfin, who plays Jordan Kent, tells Den of Geek. “One of his defining character traits, even when I was just writing down reams of stuff in the very beginning to try to get to know who he was, is that he’s extremely insecure. But finally [finding out and] knowing what about him is so different, it’s allowed him to be more comfortable in his own skin.”
In season 2’s penultimate episode, “Worlds War Bizarre,” we see the Kent family wrestle with the idea that Clark’s superpowers may be out of commission for some time—possibly for years—and Jordan questions whether he’s ready to try and step up in his father’s place.
“It’s been fascinating to find out what [Jordan’s] capable of [this season],” Garfin says. “He was just this shy kid who was in a big city who was having issues socially and at home. And all of a sudden you take this kid, and you roll him into the ocean of crazy superhero crap, and you see that, yes, he’s going to swim. And they wrote it in a way that felt real, that felt three-dimensional—all these struggles that he’s going through, you know, making his way back to shore and also treading water and sometimes going under for a little bit, it makes it really fun to watch. And it makes it really, really fun to play.”
Part of Jordan’s journey to both understand and accept who he has involved grappling not just with what his powers mean, but the responsibility having them bestows upon him, in ways both large and small.
“In episode 209, when he thinks his father might have died, he begins to step up in smaller ways. And in 214, we see him start to take on the weight of the world— and the only being that can carry earth on their shoulders is Superman. And Jordan’s trying to do that, but he has a way to go.”
Saving the Earth from supervillains and the threat of invading doppelgangers from an alternate dimension is certainly one aspect of what being a hero is all about, but as we’ve seen this season, for the Kent family it also often means having to make difficult choices about how to best protect the people they care about.
Lana is still processing how to feel about the revelation that her childhood BFF Clark Kent is actually Superman and has kept this fact from her all their lives, a struggle that has seen her forbid the Kent family from mingling with hers and pressure Jordan to continue to keep his secret from his ex-girlfriend Sarah in the name of protecting her.
This all comes to a head in “Worlds War Bizarre” when Jordan is forced to use his powers in front of the Cushings in order to rescue them from Lana-Rho, a secret that will undoubtedly have ramifications for episodes (and possibly seasons) to come.
“I mean, it must be a pretty big shock to find out that your high school ex-boyfriend all of a sudden can kill an entire building with his eyes,” Garfin laughs. “I know that if my high school girlfriend turned out to be an alien and also Superman’s daughter, I would definitely be questioning all of my choices.”
While Garfin is hopeful that Sarah will “probably deal with this in a more mature manner than pretty much any of the other kids on Superman & Lois,” he admits that she’s “still struggling to grow up” as all the other teens on the show are.
“We had a big conversation among all of us to make sure that Jordan and Sarah really felt more like teenagers,” Garfin says, “Even if [that meant] sacrificing some of that classic romantic chemistry that they sometimes portray in these [shows], you know, the smiling at each other and touching each other all the time. We really went more for they’re really awkward. They were fourteen last year, they’re 15 this year. They’re hilariously uncommunicative sometimes. It’s really real, and I appreciate the writers for giving us those tone notes. It’s been a lot of fun just playing the awkward.”
“Worlds War Bizarre” also sees Jordan do his best once again to step into the void left behind by his superpowered father, who has lost his abilities in the wake of his last fight with Ally Allstone. In doing so, he has to face off with both Lana-Rho and the Bizzaro World version of his own brother, Jonathan.
“That particular scene actually was ridiculous, right?” Garfin says. “So the thing is—I’ve been training, fight training now for a year and a half. I got a little tipped off that I would be playing more super this year, so I went up to our head of stunts very privately and I was like, look, I’m a scrawny theater kid. I don’t know how to work the gym equipment. I don’t know how to throw a punch. I was the kid getting beaten up in school.”
Garfin is rightfully proud of his work during Jordan’s fight with the Bizarro World visitors, a sequence in which he says he didn’t use a stunt double.
“When it got to that point, it was incredible to be able to do a two-on-one fight in that regard by me,” he says. “That was all me! I mean, the great thing about my stunt double is he can take a hit for me, he can do the stuff that would be dangerous for me to do for the sake of the show in case I broke something, but they felt confident that I could do it. And I could. It was one of those rare moments on a jaded TV set, where everyone’s been working forever—and I’m not the newest thing or the best thing they’ve ever seen clearly—but everyone just started clapping after it was done. It felt really good.”
As for Jordan, figuring out how to both live with and live up to the fact that his father is Superman will undoubtedly be his life’s work.
“How can you live up to that” Garfin asks. “You can’t. I mean he’s Superman. It’s not like he’s even Batman, right? What’s Batman’s superpower? He’s rich. He’s rich so he could buy a bunch of stuff. Superman is a literal alien the fell from the sky and walked out of a little pod as the perfect specimen of a human being. It’s ridiculous.”
Therefore, part of Jordan’s journey involves figuring out what a middle ground looks like for him—both for the character trying to find his place in the world and the actor trying to figure out how to physically convey his struggles.
“One of the things people always ask me is what it’s like doing the powers or to do the laser eyes [for them],” Garfin laughs. “And I just jolt my head forward and put my eyes wide and everyone laughs. But what’s challenging about this character is the idea that he has to have powers without having an alternate identity. When Superman is in the suit, you can almost play it a little more theater—I don’t know what Tyler [Hoechlin, who plays Superman] does in his head, but what I see [when he puts the suit on] is that his posture changes, and what he does is slightly above reality. That’s what makes him pop. But I don’t have that luxury of having a suit and transforming into someone else.”
As a performer, Garfin says he tries to give Jordan’s “insane powers” a more “grounded connection” to the world around him that’s based on real-life reactions to non-superpowered problems.
“I usually try to use metaphor,” he says. “For example, I just learned to ski before I did episode 107. And when Jordan’s hearing this cacophony of noises, I just imagined it like he keeps falling down on the slopes until eventually, he learned to lean into the slope and kind of go with it.”
As for what comes next for Jordan, the Kent clan, and Smallville itself, Garfin is predictably coy, though he promises the season 2 finale has some “twists when it comes to big picture stuff.”
“I would like to see some of his social anxiety, which is still present it’s just more… there’s a lot of other stuff going on in the story [right now],” he says. “But I would like to see it interact a little more with what’s going on in his super life. I think that’s one of the more fascinating aspects to play and it’s also one of the more fascinating aspects to watch. So I’m excited to see what they do with that.”