Warning: This article contains spoilers from Monday’s Batwoman, the second part of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover.
The Arrowverse’s return to Smallville came with a major surprise.
In the second hour of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Clark (Tyler Hoechlin), Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton) went looking for a Superman from another Earth who could help save the multiverse. Their search led them to Earth-167, which brought them face-to-face with Smallville’s Clark Kent (Tom Welling) who was breaking a sweat as he chopped wood.
As soon as they approached him, though, a murderous Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) breached in with the Book of Destiny and sent them away. Then, the sociopathic genius turned his attention to Clark-Welling and tried to kill him with kryptonite — which had no effect on him because this version of Clark used gold kryptonite to permanently remove his powers so he could raise two kids with Lois (Erica Durance). Even though he’s powerless, he’s still faster and stronger than Lex and knocks him back on his butt.
Smallville fans were probably shocked by the future the Arrowverse’s writers gave Clark since the original series ended with him fully embracing his identity as Superman; however, for Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries, a former Smallville writer, the decision made complete sense.
“We had conversations about how to best see Tom again,” Dries told reporters at screening of Parts 1 and 2 last week. “We knew that we really wanted Brandon Routh as Clark Kent in the Daily Planet. I think the Tom Welling Clark Kent that we all kind of picture when we think of him is Clark on the farm. So, it made sense. The farm is still there.” She continued, “It all felt very 10 years ago in a great way. To us, it just felt natural that that’s kind of his natural environment where we’d see him.”
According to crossover executive producer Marc Guggenheim, Welling loved what they had written for him.
“He was like, ‘I love this,'” said Guggenheim. “He basically said to me, ‘You guys have basically written the one scene that I can’t say no to,’ which was really really nice.”
Cryer was both surprised and thrilled to be part of the crossover’s Smallville moment. “It was unbelievably cool to work with Tom Welling,” Cryer told EW. “Nobody told me. I actually had to read it on Twitter that Tom was coming back, because I had not read the scripts yet for ‘Crisis.’ I was so hoping that my character got to interact with him. Then to find out that not only do I get a chance to interact but that’s the whole crux of the scene, I considered it a huge honor because Smallville was an absolutely amazing piece of work in terms of reimagining a character. I still think Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex is certainly the best Lex that has been on television, probably the best portrayal of Lex that I’ve seen. Just to be part of that legacy was very cool for me.”
Part 2 of the crossover featured a third Superman from Earth-96 played by DC’s Legends of Tomorrow‘s Brandon Routh. Unfortunately, Routh didn’t share any scenes with Welling because “they were working at cross purposes,” said Guggenheim at the screening. “We wanted Brandon at the Daily Planet but we wanted Tom on the farm.”
That being said, Routh did work with Hoechlin-Superman. In fact, these Men of Steel fought because Lex used the Book of Destiny to pit them against each other, which gave Cryer an opportunity to bond with Routh over their experiences in the Superman film franchise.
“Working with Brandon was great. He and I really commiserated over the fact that we had both been a part of the Superman legacy but in ways that never felt really emotionally whole,” said Cryer. “I was in Superman IV, which unfortunately was released before frankly it was finished. Even though Superman Returns holds up in many fantastic ways and Brandon is a terrific Superman, because it did not continue on, some people considered not a big part of the Superman canon, which is a shame because it’s a terrific movie.”
He continued: “So we bonded over the fact that when you’re a kid and you fall in love with the idea of Superman and you want to be a part of that legacy, when it doesn’t work out as you’d hoped, it hurts you in a way that sort of brings you back to the way you felt when you were a 13-year-old boy.”
Looking ahead at The Flash hour, Cryer sheds some light on that image of Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) showing Lex who’s boss: “Lex is not the easiest person to get along with. In fact, there’s a runner with every character realizing to what extent that he’s such a d-bag. Of course, Kate Kane has kind of a zero-tolerance policy for D-bags, and that picture is that playing out in real time. In many respects, the idea that Lex has to be there, that the Monitor pronounces somehow he’s going to play a part in saving the universe, is the only reason the heroes put up with him at all.”
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” continues Tuesday with The Flash at 8 p.m. After the winter hiatus, the crossover will resume Tuesday, Jan. 14, with Arrow at 8 p.m., and conclude with Legends of Tomorrow at 9 p.m.
For expert analysis, interviews, and scene breakdowns, watch EW’s official “Crisis” after-show, Crisis: Aftermath, hosted by Kevin Smith and airing 9 p.m., immediately after The Flash (Dec. 10) on the CW.