Superman & Lois: How Natalie Lane Irons Is Becoming a Hero on Her Own Terms

Superman & Lois star Tayler Buck discusses Natalie finally getting a mechanical suit of her own and what's next for Smallville's newest hero.

Photo: The CW

The following contains Superman & Lois spoilers

Superman & Lois Season 2 Episode 13

In the world of Superman & Lois, heroism can come in many forms. You don’t need superpowers in order to help people or to choose to do the right thing when it counts. You don’t even need to be an adult, as this series has proven time and time again with the deft way it weaves multiple plot threads featuring its teen characters through all the major stories it’s telling. (Did anyone expect that we would all come to care about the younger generation of Superman  & Lois this much? I definitely did not, and I am so happy that I was wrong.)

“All is Lost” sees John Henry’s daughter Natalie put on a mechanical superhero suit of her own this week, and while she looks incredibly cool, the episode further underlines that her real superpowers have a lot more to do with her heart than whatever cool weapons she’s built. Resolved to help her father and save the planet she’s adopted as her second home, she’s willing to risk her own life to help protect it (even if that choice involves going directly against John Henry’s wishes.)

“Honestly, I just love her as a character. I think she’s pretty badass,” Tayler Buck, who plays Natalie, tells Den of Geek. “She’s so cool. I really love how smart she is, and how determined she is. She’s very passionate. She can be stubborn at times, but I think she’s very loyal, especially to the people she loves.”

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Young Black women are often woefully unrepresented in the genre space, particularly in superhero stories (RIP, Naomi) and Buck recognizes that her role on Superman and Lois is part of an important and necessary shift.

“Watching TV when I was younger, I didn’t see people that looked like me that were smart and also turning into superheroes. I didn’t see young Black superheroes. It’s great to see it [here].”

This is part of the reason putting her new suit on for the first time was so meaningful. 

“That was very, very exciting to read and even more exciting to film,” Buck enthuses. “I have my own suit! I got to try it on at fittings! It’s just so cool.”

But due to the unwieldy nature of the costume, Buck found herself replaced by a stunt double for some of the trickier, more action-oriented sequences.

​​”Luckily for me and Wole [Parks, who plays Natalie’s father John Henry Irons], we do have stunt doubles that get to do a lot of the hard work for us, because the suits are very heavy and it’s hot in there,” Buck laughs. “Shout out to the stunt people because I don’t know how they do it—they do such an amazing job of making it look easy.” 

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“I come to set sometimes when I’m off if my stunt double is filming just to watch,” Buck says. And seeing Gina, who does the stunt doubles for my suit, is like an out-of-body experience. Because that’s me, you know, but I get to sit here and watch it behind the scenes.”

And if getting her own suit wasn’t enough, Natalie also gets to save Superman himself this week, shocking him back to life after a merged Ally drains his powers almost to the point of death. It’s hard to think of a better way to pretty much immediately establish oneself in the superhero game than rescuing the Man of Steel. 

“I mean, I think her relationship with Superman has clearly come very, very far considering where it started at the beginning of the season,” Buck laughs.”But, bottom line, she’s just a good person. And she has so much love for people that she wouldn’t leave anyone high and dry.”

According to Buck, much of Natalie’s journey in season 2 has been about proving herself. Proving not just that she could make a suit of her own, but that she was ready to wear it and become a hero in her own right. 

“She does want to help her dad, but I think she’s doing it for herself as well,” Buck says. “She’s been through so much—and she’s had to go through a lot of it by herself when her dad wasn’t there. This is such a big milestone, going from a kid to a young adult and taking on that responsibility and [realizing], okay, I need to step up and do things.”

Throughout season 2 we’ve seen Natalie not only increasingly take on more responsibility when it comes to helping John Henry and the Kent family—-but seek it out on her own terms. Building herself a suit was not just her idea, but her own design, and she’s the one who took the initiative to gather X-Kryptonite to give it an added layer of protection that her father’s version lacks.

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​​”Natalie helped build her father’s suit. She built her own suit by herself,” Buck says. “She’s been worried about her father and who out there is going to protect him while he’s helping protect Superman. And I think she wants to step up and take on that role and prove she is old enough and mature enough to do it.”

And, according to the young woman who plays her, Natalie is more than ready for this challenge. “She’s smart and she’s proved herself time and again, I think,” Buck says. “She’s very much qualified to do more than sit on the sidelines.” 

Of course, part of that journey—much like Jordan Kent’s—involves convincing an anxious parent that she’s ready to take the next step.

“I think that [Natalie building her suit] was maybe a turning point for him,” Buck says. “Finally being like, okay, maybe she’s thought about this. Maybe she’s not the little kid that I’m viewing her as.”

Given Superman’s depleted powers and the many threats facing the Kent family, Smallville, and the world at large in these final episodes of season 2, it seems like John Henry is going to need all the help he can get—and that’s going to involve his daughter, whether he wants it to or no

“Superman’s out of commission. Everyone has to take on a lot more responsibility because he carries so much, the weight of the world. So, who does that go to next?” Buck says. “The closest person is John Henry, and you know she wants to be there for her dad and to protect her dad. So of course she wants to step up. I think the last two episodes are really, really cool and I’m very, very excited for everyone to finally see them.”

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Does that mean we haven’t seen the last of Natalie fighting alongside her father?

“I mean, I think you will,” Buck says when asked about whether viewers can expect to see her sporting her new suit again anytime soon. “It’s like when you have one cookie, you can’t just have one, you know what I mean? She’s been in the suit now, there’s no way she’ll never be in it again.”