Smallville Treats One Lead Character Worse Than Anyone And It’s Just Bad Writing

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Lana Lang

When Lana Lang made her small screen debut in the Superman spin-off series, Smallville, the character was introduced as the quintessential girl next door. Portrayed by Kristin Kreuk, Lana was beautiful, intelligent, trusting, and exceptionally kind. While there have been several criticisms about the character, who was the primary love interest for Clark Kent for eight seasons, the biggest critique falls firmly at the feet of series creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.

The Damsel In Distress

lana lang

Smallville fans have often ripped Lana Lang to shreds for her perceived lack of personal growth. However, upon closer examination, she evolved from the picturesque small-town girl into a tragic figure caught in Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex Luthor’s (Michael Rosenbaum) secrets and lies.

Lana was consistently relegated to the role of a damsel in distress, never allowed to fully transcend the confines of her romantic entanglements, which eventually led to her downfall.

From the beginning, Lana Lang was defined by her relationships with the men in her life. In the early seasons of Smallville, Lana is established as a popular cheerleader dating Whitney Fordman, while Clark harbors feelings for her.

However, their budding friendship is hindered by Clark’s vulnerability to kryptonite, which Lana unknowingly wears in a necklace. Despite their initial obstacles, Lana and Clark’s connection deepens following Whitney’s departure.

So Much Secrecy

Throughout Season 2, Lana Lang’s relationship with Clark is characterized by secrecy and deceit, with Clark’s reluctance to disclose his true identity straining their bond.

This pattern repeats itself as Lana briefly dates Adam Knight in Season 3 and becomes romantically involved with Jason Teague in Season 4. In Season 5, Lana teams up with Lex Luthor to investigate a mysterious spaceship, which puts more strain on her relationship with Clark.

Each of these relationships served as a plot device, driving Lana Lang’s story forward but rarely affording her agency or autonomy outside of them. Clark’s reluctance to reveal his secret to Lana under the guise of protecting her only served to infantilize her character.

Despite her intelligence and perceptiveness, Lana was kept in the dark, perpetually unaware of the dangers lurking around her during the larger part of her tenure on Smallville.

A Victim

Even when Clark finally mustered the courage to disclose his truth to her in the heartbreaking episode “Reckoning,” their happiness was short-lived. But Lana Lang’s struggles extended beyond her romantic entanglements.

The show’s portrayal of her as a victim, constantly in need of rescue, belied her inner strength and resilience. This is a girl who, despite the trauma of watching her parents die as a result of a meteor shower, managed to survive and navigate through life. 

Always Trapped

lana lang

But even when she attempted to break free from the shackles of her past, Lana found herself trapped in yet another web of manipulation and deceit. The nadir of Lana’s character arc came when she resorted to extreme measures to assert her independence in Season 8 and became obsessed with making Lex pay for all his crimes.

She develops a counseling center for kryptonite-infected people using the $10 million she stole from Lex Luthor. But it doubles as a front for surveillance.

Her obsessions also begin to affect her relationship with Clark. After a misguided attempt to gain power causes Lana to absorb a large amount of Kryptonite, Lana Lang realizes that, even though she loves him, the only way for Clark to help the world would be if she left Smallville for good.

While this arc was sold to viewers as an act of self-reliance, the writers failed to do justice to her complexity.

Fans Deserved Better

This disservice was done not only to the character but also to Smallville viewers, who deserved to see Lana shine as the multifaceted heroine she was meant to be. Instead, the tragedy of Lana Lang was presented poorly, making her seem like a spoiled little girl who never really grew up.