What If Smallville Played Out Differently?

Remember how last week I said I’ve been having a hard time tracking down the next movie in my list of the 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Never Seen? Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is I tracked down a copy of Judgment at Nuremberg on DVD at my local library. The bad news is that it’s checked out by someone at this time. But I have placed a hold on it, so as soon as I get that phone call letting me know it’s available, I’ll run by the library and pick it up. It’s just a matter of time now.

Since I still don’t have access to #54 on my list, you get this filler post…

For a lot of years, Marvel Comics fans have enjoyed alternative histories and differing tales of their favorite heroes and villains thanks to the What If…? series of comics. In fact, those unfamiliar with the comics (like me) but are still fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe received their own introduction to What If…? in the form of an animated series on Disney+. In it, we got to explore other corners of the multiverse where little changes affected the lives of those heroes of the big screen. What if Peggy Carter had been given the Super Soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? What if Loki had never been adopted by Odin? What if T’Challa had become Star Lord instead of Black Panther?

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you may recall that I was a DC Comics kid growing up. Still am, really. And DC had it’s own version of What If…? but they called it Elseworlds. I can’t remember what the first Elseworlds title was… It was either Gotham by Gaslight, which saw Batman in the 19th century tracking down Jack the Ripper (I think… I never read that one) or it was the one where Batman was a vampire.

A good bit of the Elseworlds stories came in the form of special prestige format one-shot publications. Superman: Red Son, where the infant Kal-El’s space craft landed in Soviet Russia rather than Smallville, Kansas. Batman: In Darkest Knight, where Bruce Wayne receives the Green Lantern ring instead of Hal Jordan, giving Batman the ultimate weapon in his quest to rid Gotham City of crime. Superman: Speeding Bullets, where a childless Thomas and Martha Wayne find the infant Kal-El, raising him as Bruce Wayne, who grows up to be a Batman with all the powers of Superman. Kingdom Come, imagining a dark future where the retired heroes of today must return to face an out-of-control next generation.

One year, Elseworlds became the theme for each of the annual issues that the DC titles would release. That gave us a whole slew of stories we never even knew we wanted. The tagline called it a world of infinite impossibilities. A Superman who fought for the British in the American Revolution. A pirate Batman on the high seas. A Justice League that has to operate in secret after an alien invasion has broken humanity.

I say all of that because I’ve thought about something that I think would be interesting to see. I mean… it’ll never be seen at this point, but it would be interesting nonetheless.

See, I was always a fan of the show Smallville. Well… mostly. I think the show had its problems here and there. But, overall, I thought it was fantastic. Especially when it came to Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of a young Lex Luthor. For the first seven years of that show’s existence, I was constantly saying that his journey toward villainy was much more entertaining than seeing Clark on the path to becoming Superman.

Something that always intrigued me was the friendship between Clark and Lex. There was an episode at one point where Clark is having this pretty awful dream. Among other things that occur in the dream, Clark goes to see Lex, who reveals that he knows about Clark’s powers. Lex is beyond angry that Clark has been lying to him about his abilities for all this time that they’ve known each other. He tells Clark that if he’d only trusted him, he would have protected Clark… he would have been his biggest ally and supporter. But now, after being lied to for so long, Lex says he’s determined to let the world know who Clark Kent really is… he’s ready to destroy him.

This begs the question… What if Clark had just been up front with Lex from the beginning? What if, after establishing himself as a trustworthy ally, as I believe Lex proved he could be, particularly in those early seasons, Clark had just come clean. “Yes, Lex, that day you plowed into me and drove off the bridge, I did tear the roof off your car so I could save your life. I have super strength, super speed, X-ray vision… And my powers are still developing, so who knows what else could come along in time.”

What would the remaining eight or nine seasons of Smallville have looked like if Lex Luthor knew Clark Kent’s secret? Would Lex have still, eventually, turned to the dark side? I mean, Lionel Luthor was a despicable human being, so there’s still a lot of negative nature and nurture type influence. But we also eventually saw the positive influence that Clark had on Lionel’s character in later seasons. It seemed that as Lex began growing darker, Lionel was turning toward the light.

Like I said, it’s not a question that can be answered, seeing as how it’s about a TV show that ended 11 years ago. Just one of those things I think about from time to time.

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