Superman’s story has been told countless times in different media, from films by Zack Snyder and Richard Donner to several animated shows, a CW live-action and much more. So when it came time to tell a new Man of Steel story in Adult Swim’s tenth episode “My Adventures with Superman,” there was a studio note that became a guiding light for producers Jake Wyatt and Brendan Clogher, the latter told IndieWire: “Don’t do these things the way we’ve seen them before. And the look of the show itself signals that this is a different take and, to younger audiences, signals that this is a different take on the character.
Indeed, while the show inherently looks like Superman, ‘My Adventures with Superman’ is also unlike any other version of the character. There have been many animated versions of Superman, but ‘My Adventures with Superman’ takes its inspiration from a wide range of anime, not just action shows like ‘Dragon Ball Z’, but also female oriented shojo anime like’ Sailor Moon” or ” Inuyasha” and “Ranma 1/2”. It helped that the staff working on the show was more diverse than what is usually found in an action-packed show. All the directors of “My Adventures with Superman” are female, and most of the storyboarding team and designers are also female, which helped give the show a different aesthetic and thus a different tone.
This started and ended with Clark Kent himself. In most portrayals of the character, he is a strong, muscular man. Thanks to designer Christie Tseng, this Clark is no longer a bulky corn-fed Atlas, but a leaner, more K-pop-inspired hero. “He was so hot,” Wyatt said. “He was so incredibly handsome, and we realized that we didn’t need him to be overtly muscular, but for him to be an absolute dream boat.”
And it’s not just the looks but the personality. This Clark is a lovable jerk, a guy you honestly wouldn’t believe is Superman. For Wyatt and Clogher, highlighting that aspect of Clark was easy, but the challenge was connecting the edgy kid and confident role model that is Superman. In came Jack Quaid, who the producers say helped them find the character by turning the guy in the cape into the disguise. “He really understood that Superman is an act that Clark puts on,” Clogher said. “Clark is still trying to figure out who he is, but when he’s Superman he acts like a different guy, and that guy we can’t make fun of or make him stupid.”
If there’s a secret sauce to “My Adventures with Superman,” it’s that the show is really a story about three friends: Clark, Lois, and Jimmy. Like the best shojo anime, the romance is as integral to the story as the fight scenes. “There is no Superman without Lois Lane,” Wyatt said, explaining that this Lois is not a passive character but a fighter. “She’s like our version of Batman, all about justice or vengeance, whereas Superman just wants everyone to be nice and friendly.” Just as Clark is trying to figure out her place in the world, we see Lois’ origin story before she became a world-class reporter, and the romance between the two is a highlight. Their friendship with Jimmy Olsen and how he makes Clark feel brave enough to become Superman should keep fans happy after the character’s recent absence from the live-action films.
And while “My Adventures With Superman” serves as a new entry in the Man of Steel mythos, it doesn’t give us the same old origin story. Sure, there are Krypton allusions and we get the spaceship, but there are key differences, like Jor-El not being able to communicate with Clark. “We created a language barrier between father and son and then had Clark slowly figure things out about his origins visually rather than with exposition,” Wyatt explained. “We also had a lot of pressure from the people who greenlighted the show to do something we hadn’t seen before.” This gave the writers the freedom to create an entirely different dynamic with Krypton that will be explored later in the season.
Comic book fans may watch “My Adventures with Superman” and wonder where the rest of the Justice League is, but Wyatt and Clogher want the show to reflect the meta story of superhero comics that began with Superman. “He has to be the one and only superhero,” Clogher said, but teased that the events of the season do indeed cause what we consider to be the DC Universe to begin. “Everything flows from Krypton’s collision with Earth, what kind of technology the villains have and more comes back to that,” Clogher said.
“My Adventures with Superman” premieres on Adult Swim every Thursday, with episodes streaming on Max the following day.