The Disney+ Sci-Fi Superhero Series That Changed The Future Of Television

By TeeJay Small | Updated

Disney+ Sci-Fi Superhero Series

Long before the days of James Gunn and Zack Snyder helming their very different visions of Superman on the big screen, The WB premiered a series that examined the origins of Clark Kent as you’ve never seen him before. The series, Smallville, serves as a compelling origin story to Superman’s tenure as Earth’s mightiest savior, as well as his work with the Daily Planet alongside Lois Lane. The series is a grounded, low-stakes look at the early days of Superman’s life, growing up misunderstood in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas, which served as a blueprint for many grounded superhero adaptations to follow.

Smallville is currently available to stream through the Hulu section of Disney+ per the streamers’ split ownership of the property. The section is still in beta, and requires a subscription to both Hulu and Disney+ to access, but offers a myriad of excellent programming to reward viewers for their trouble. The series ran for 10 seasons from 2001 until 2011.

Smallville was developed for television by the writer-producer duo of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. The pair previously held writing credits for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 as well as the Brendan Fraser-led The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. These days, Millar and Gough are best known for co-creating and writing the hit Netflix series Wednesday, starring Jenna Ortega.

Millar and Gough initially got the idea for a Superman origin story after producers had unsuccessfully pitched a Batman show titled Bruce Wayne to the network. After the Batman series fell through, the duo pitched Smallville as a no-frills origin tale with the motto “no tights, no flights” meaning the series would focus exclusively on Clark Kent as a moral young man working out his worldview, in place of a traditional comic book origin story. The show was praised by critics and audiences alike, and even received cameo appearances from big-screen Superman actor Christopher Reeve.

Scenes from Smallville on Disney+

The Emmy Award-winning series stars a host of popular superhero actors, including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, Shazam‘s John Glover, and Tom Welling, who reprised his role as Clark Kent in a 2019 episode of Batwoman. Though Smallville is rarely referenced by name in the modern superhero zeitgeist, the series’ fingerprints can be found all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as a host of other popular comic book adaptations. The show’s ability to provide a grounded and genuine backstory to the spandex-wearing hero helped to prove to studios that audiences wanted their supes to be more human.

This humanity is the fundamental basis for MCU heroes such as Iron Man and Captain America, who spend just as much time in their respective films wearing street clothes and pondering the morality of modern existence as they do donning their iconic weapons and fending off foes. For anyone who has not yet had the pleasure of binging multiple seasons of Smallville in a single sitting, the classic sci-fi series is available to stream on Disney+ today with a Hulu extension.

Scenes from Smallville on Disney+