After six years off the air, many fans are still divided with the way that Smallville concluded. The show chronicled the journey Clark Kent took on the way to becoming Superman. However, he never actually fully sported the classic costume the DC's Man of Steel is known for. Now, after all these years, Tom Welling reveals why Smallville ended the way it did and didn't give fans any full-on Superman action.
The actor, who is set to join the cast of Lucifer this season, recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the divisive Smallville finale. He revealed that, originally, the plan was to have Clark Kent fully become Superman in the final episode, but Tom Welling felt that they hadn't earned that and fought to change it. Here's what he had to say about it.
"Our finale was supposed to be, in the first act, Clark puts on the suit and flies around, saves Lois on a plane, and does this other stuff. It was a call that I had with Peter Roth, who is the head of WB Television, who's a good friend of mine and we have a great relationship. I said, 'That's not our show.' He's like, 'No, it's going to be great," and I go, 'Yeah, but just think about what we've been doing. If we just jump into that, we haven't earned it.'"
The conceit of Smallville was always that we were seeing the young man that would become Superman. Seeing him actually put on the suit and do a bunch of Superman stuff in the finale may have felt a bit off. We did get to see Tom Welling rip his shirt open and reveal the House of El symbol, but that was as close as we ever got on Smallville to seeing the Man of Steel in all his glory. As Welling explains, the idea was to let fans use their imaginations to figure out where Clark would go from there.
"We jumped onto this idea that at the end of the show, the idea is that Clark becomes Superman and he's out there, and we know he's out there, but we can't go with him, but that we know and we feel good that he's out there doing good. I hope the audience didn't feel like we didn't show them something that they needed to see. I felt like we gave them the jumping off point for their imagination as to what could happen."
For Tom Welling, this all goes back to a "no tights no flight" rule that was established before they ever even shot a single episode of Smallville. For better or for worse, they wound up honoring that rule to the end of the series. As Welling explains, having Clark Kent actually be Superman in the finale would have made life "too easy" for him, which would have contradicted what the series was trying to accomplish.
"It was something that we discussed before we ever shot the pilot. We literally had a sit down where we talked about the show and I asked about the suit and the tights and the flying, and they said, 'No, absolutely not.' Part of the reason being is that show is about a teenager trying to figure out who he is. They felt that once Clark put on the cape and the suit, life became too easy, in a sense. They wanted to focus on who this character was before that."
Even without ever seeing a fully formed Superman, Smallville was a huge hit. The show ran for 10 seasons and a total of 218 episodes before going off the air in 2011. Love or hate the finale, it's hard not to see Tom Welling's reasoning for not putting on the tights and the cape.