Smallville Creators Admit Fans Are Right About The Show’s Biggest Problem

The creators of Smallville admit that in retrospect, the relationship between Clark and Lana was repetitive.

By Jessica Scott | Updated

tom welling smallville

It has been 21 years since Smallville debuted, and fans are still salty about one aspect of the show: the portrayal of Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and her relationship with Clark Kent (Tom Welling). In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smallville and Wednesday creators Al Gough and Miles Millar concede that not only did the “Clark-Lana thing [play] out too long,” but Lana herself just wasn’t a strong enough character. In Millar’s words, “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,” he went on, “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.”

In their defense, though, Millar and Gough had no idea at the time that the show would last 10 seasons. They were trying their hardest to get it to, at most, five seasons, even if that seemed like a lofty goal at the time. The way they saw it, splitting up Lana and Clark in an early season would have led to an empty hole in the plot of Smallville, because they weren’t quite sure where to go from there. 

Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk

Smallville focuses on a younger Clark Kent, who is a teenager growing up in Kansas. It wouldn’t have made sense to introduce him to his true soulmate Lois Lane right up front, because he didn’t meet her in the comics until he was an adult working at The Daily Planet. So, the issue was how long to allow his relationship with his first love, Lana, to carry on in the meantime.

Gough says that a big reason he and his partner are reevaluating their decision to keep the “Clark-Lana thing” going for so long now is that his daughter has begun watching Smallville recently. “What’s the deal with these two?” she asked him, to which he was only able to reply that “it was a different time.”

Millar, too, says that, if they had it to do over again, they would “definitely” look to make Lana a stronger character and their relationship a better one. Lana, even if she would hate to admit it herself, was largely just a damsel in distress, which fans – particularly female ones – did/do not find very appealing. 

This is a particularly bad thing at the moment, as Smallville has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years. It has always been a fan favorite thanks to its slice-of-Americana style (not to mention its handsome leading man), but during the pandemic, it began to make a big comeback among viewers.

According to the creators, this is because it is a “comfort show.” While there is drama and sadness in the story, there is also an ideal, kinder, slower aspect to life in Kansas and a big emphasis on family. This kind of wholesomeness is always appreciated, but never more so than during and after big events that make the real world seem like a scary, uncertain place. 

Smallville is so popular, in fact, that its stars have returned in other projects, like The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. There are even rumors that an animated continuation of the series is on the table, with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum (who played Lex Luthor) leading the charge. 

So, even if the creators made this one mistake with Lana, the series obviously hasn’t suffered too badly from it. If you want to see what fans are talking about, you can currently stream Smallville on HBO Max.