The Arrowverse’s Superman may have saved the world, but he also doomed his hometown of Smallville. In Superman & Lois, the seventh series in the ever-expanding Arrowverse, Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) decide to move from Metropolis to Smallville with their twin teenage sons following the death of Clark’s mother Martha. Throughout the pilot episode, Clark is provided a glimpse into what has become of Smallville — the town’s citizens are struggling to make ends meet, the farming community is practically on its last legs, and there’s an air of sadness that permeates every interaction.
As a hero, Superman obviously feels the responsibility to save people, whether from potential nuclear explosions or crashing cars. But, his absence from Smallville may have left the town worse for wear. Superman has always been portrayed as someone who takes his obligations to his loved ones and the world at large very seriously. This is no different in Superman & Lois. In the series, he’s weary and the pressure to be mentally and emotionally present for his family and rescue people from a myriad of physical disasters is extremely high.
While Superman has his own issues to contend with, it can be argued that when he moved to Metropolis, he effectively turned his back on the community where he grew up, only coming back to Smallville to visit his mom. This argument rears its head in a conversation between Clark, Lois, Lana Lang, and her husband Kyle Cushing. Kyle is a chief at the local fire station who isn’t very impressed by big city people and seems incredibly bitter toward Clark and his life in Metropolis. The fire chief tells the couple that those who left small towns for big cities ultimately came back to take care of the community that helped raise them.
However, he argues that’s not happening anymore, which is why Kyle is so supportive of Morgan Edge, the businessman who owns the Daily Planet and has also been buying up land in Smallville. Of course, Clark leaving his hometown to start a life and career in Metropolis isn’t a bad thing at all. People will do what they feel is best for themselves. That said, the Man of Steel has been completely unaware of what’s been happening in Smallville for several years. He was even surprised that Martha was financially assisting others in town, keeping this tidbit to herself.
The hustle and bustle of life in Metropolis, along with the focus on his family and superhero duties, left him out of the loop on small town matters. By Kyle’s logic, Clark abandoned his community instead of helping it, arguably leaving it vulnerable for shady men like Morgan Edge to swoop in and “save” the town in a way that Superman couldn’t. Witnessing Smallville’s struggles firsthand weighs heavily on Clark’s conscience throughout Superman & Lois. However, now that he’s aware of what’s going on, he heeds his mother’s advice to come home, help the town, and focus on his family in a way that he couldn’t when he was still living in Metropolis. Superman has found his way back to his roots and things may finally be looking up in Smallville.