Smallville creators admit the “Clark-Lana thing played out way too long”

Riding high from the success of the Netflix hit Wednesday, showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar finally deliver hard truths about Superman

Smallville creators admit the “Clark-Lana thing played out way too long”
Tom Welling Photo: Kevin Winter

It wasn’t a criticism that came faster than a speeding bullet, but it was more powerful than locomotion. Smallville showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar bodied the heck out “Clana” (the fictional relationship between Clark Kent and Lana Lang on the 21-year-old TV show Smallville) in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter about their hit Netflix show, Wednesday. And by “bodied the heck out of,” we mean quietly accepting one of their daughter’s critiques that the romance lasted a little longer than it should have.

When the Reporter’s Christy Piña asked Gough and Millar if they would have done anything differently with Smallville today, Gough jumped at the opportunity to talk Clana. “The Clark-Lana thing played out way too long,” he said. “Something else had to happen there. I think that was one that got a little repetitive. My younger daughter is now, finally after Wednesday, she’s going back to watch Smallville, and she’s in season two. She goes, ‘What’s the deal with these two?’ I’m like, ‘It was a different time.’ So, I think there are things there, if we went back, we probably would be a little more adventurous with some of those relationships and bring them to certain heads and let them play out.”

He’s not wrong. Back in 2001, people were still clamoring for the will-they, won’t-theys of Sam and Diane and still had four years to wait for Jim and Pam to enchant viewers with their incessant smirking and flirting. It was a different time.

While they’re at it, Millar says he would write all the female characters differently from our modern vantage. “We were definitely cautious and just very conscious of the fact we wanted to get to five seasons, and we ended up at 10 seasons, but we’re just like, ‘OK, if we split them apart, what are we gonna do?’” Millar said. “Again, as the father of girls, I think the female characters we would do differently today. I think Lana, her agency was not there. She could have been a much stronger character, and she always felt put in positions of weakness. It’s a different era, a different time. So, that’s something I think we could have done and would definitely look at to do better.”

As is often the case, they admit that they would never be able to make the show today because no one wants shows about superheroes on the CW anymore. Asked if they would revisit Superman, Gough said:

I think we told that story, and they’re always refreshing Superman. I just read last night that James Gunn’s writing a new younger Superman movie, and I’m like, ‘OK.’ I feel like we were very, very fortunate to do the show when we did it because we got to make the show we wanted to make, and frankly, there was no committee sitting over us telling us what we could or couldn’t do. I mean, we had Warner’s features, who wouldn’t give us certain characters that we wanted, but we got to make the show we wanted to make which we wouldn’t be allowed to make that show today. There were so many deviations from the canon. One generation’s heresy is the next generation’s gospel.

What do Gough and Millar want to do after Wednesday? Why, reboot Miss Marple, of course.

“We tried for a long time to get a young Miss Marple, and maybe that influenced us with the whodunnit element here, but it’s certainly something that was intriguing as a character who you always see,” said Millar. “There’s something about whodunnits and mysteries that it’s a great puzzle for a writer to solve. So, I think that was something, to see how she evolved into sort of the nosy old lady in Agatha Christie was something we talked about for a while.”

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