Before it was released, the trailers for My Adventures With Superman were already being lauded for featuring Superman saving people with lit-up eyes and a smile on his face. It’s certainly refreshing to see such an upbeat take on the hero’s story, but the show has to offer much more than just an effervescent tone to be worth watching. It certainly tries to, but it still has quite some way to go before it’s a superhero show must-watch.
My Adventures With Superman follows Clark Kent (Jack Quaid), a young intern for the newspaper Daily Planet. His fellow interns Jimmy Olsen (Ishmel Sahid) and Lois Lane (Alice Lee) are constantly by his side as they ambitiously try to be great journalists, but what they don’t know is that Clark has superpowers. When he saves their lives in disguise, Lois becomes obsessed with finding out who this superman is, and Clark, now realizing what he’s capable of, tries to find out more about who he is and where he came from.
Superman fans are no doubt already familiar with the names mentioned above, and a bunch more unmentioned characters that appear throughout the show. It feels like a spoiler to name them, as the show takes these well-known characters and changes them up in order to fit with this new version of Superman’s origin story, like changing their backstory or how they get their powers, so part of the fun is seeing all these classic characters in a new light.
After all, Superman is a franchise with literally decades worth of tropes, so recontextualizing these elements in order to breathe new life into them was the right call for the show. For the most part, it works — the villains are fun, and Jimmy and Lois are entertaining characters, albeit having the tendency to drift into caricature from time to time.
The big problem is with Superman himself — or rather, Clark Kent — who is easily the most boring character on the show. It’s a cliché to call Superman bland, but My Adventures With Superman doesn’t do anything to avert that trope. You look at Jimmy and Lois and a whole array of adjectives come to mind: they’re youthful, energetic, highly determined, and passionate about what they do.
Clark, on the other hand, is altruistic, nice, and occasionally shy, but that’s pretty much where his personality ends. Superman obviously doesn’t have to be all dark and brooding in order to be interesting, but he deserves to be more than just his powers and inclination to do good, too.
This is especially apparent during scenes when he’s supposed to be Clark Kent, the newspaper intern. Lois wants to be a well-respected news writer and Jimmy a photojournalist, but I have no idea what Clark’s goals are or why he’s even needed when Lois is the far superior journalist, constantly initiating plans and doing investigative work when Clark usually stands idly by or follows along.
Why he doesn’t just quit and become a full-time superhero, especially when he constantly neglects his internship in favor of being Superman, is beyond me. Maybe the intention was for Clark to be the straight man to Lois and Jimmy’s antics, but that’s still no excuse for making him such a vanilla character.
Despite all that, though, Jack Quaid is great as both Clark Kent and Superman. Producer Josephine Campbell has said that she thought Quaid was “able to sell the kindness, strength, and dignity of Superman,” and I agree with her — when you hear Quaid’s performance, you easily get why the citizens of Metropolis would see him as a symbol of hope.
Actually, the voices of the main trio are all fantastic, and Alice Lee as Lois and Ishmel Sahid as Jimmy are clearly having so much fun playing their respective parts. Sahid, especially, steals nearly every scene he’s in, and it’s a bummer Jimmy doesn’t get as much screen time as Lois and Clark because of how funny and likable a character he is, regularly lively and upbeat and saying things like, “I am pumped! It’s Kent and Olsen, uncovering truths!”
This is downstream of another big problem with the show: My Adventures With Superman spends too much time on a shallow romance between Clark and Lois. I don’t get why this show is in such a hurry to have these two become a couple because it’s not like this is a limited show, and shows like this usually have fandoms that greatly enjoy a will-they-won’t-they romance between leads.
Lois and Clark are all lovey-dovey when they’ve only known each other for one episode, and by the third episode, Clark tells Lois, “If it was within my power, I would do anything for you, Lois.” Clark has just met this woman. He’s known her for a relatively short time and has never even been on a date with her. It all comes across as forced and rushed, and coming at the cost of scenes developing Clark’s relationship with Jimmy, his parents, himself, or simply being Superman.
Luckily, when the show isn’t focusing on the saccharine romance, it’s a lot of fun, and the action sequences can be very thrilling and exciting. The animation is fantastic as well, with bright colorful visuals and appealing anime-inspired character movements and designs, and only adds to the effervescent vibe the show is going for. Even the intro and outro have a rich sense of whimsy to them, with colorful visuals and sprightly music, and you’ll find yourself wanting to watch these segments every episode instead of skipping them.
At the end of the day, though, My Adventures With Superman is mostly familiar stuff for an origin story, despite all the tinkering of well-established characters and backstories. Clark Kent questions his identity as a hero and goes through silly shenanigans in order to hide his identity, Metropolis wonders who this new hero is, and several characters question if he’s a friend or a foe. I can’t blame the show too much as the superhero genre has been a seriously overcrowded one for a long while now, and how many new things can you really do with an origin story?
However, with Superman: Man of Tomorrow having been released only three years ago, a part of me does feel this show would’ve been better off going the Spider-Man: Homecoming route and skipping the origin story, beginning with Clark Kent already being Superman and certain people in his life already knowing. Still, if this new franchise insists on beginning with a traditional origin story, this is a pretty good one — it’s just a shame everyone around Superman is more interesting than the title character himself.
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My Adventures With Superman boasts excellent animation, a whimsical tone, and inventiveness when it comes to refurbishing the Superman franchise's well-established characters, but a flat protagonist, a forced romance, and a familiar origin story stop this from being a must-watch.
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