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‘My Adventures with Superman’: A soaring success

| Thursday, September 7, 2023

Marissa Panethiere

“My Adventures with Superman” is a refreshing take on the beloved hero, but it isn’t quite obvious why at first. We’ve had stories about Superman as a young adult and we’ve seen him learn about his origins countless times. So what makes MAWS different? Is it the fact that it’s animated, or the serialized storytelling — the first season had a clearly established arc — or could it even be the fact that it diversified the traditional cast a Superman ensemble holds? 

The thing that makes the show unique, and what endeared me so deeply to the show, can be found in the title: “My Adventures with Superman” — not Adventures with Superman, not Superman’s Adventures, not even just Superman. The show makes its intentions clear through the title, and by the end of the first episode it was obvious the long-standing supporting cast Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen wouldn’t just be around, but rather co-leads with the hero himself. And that is to the show’s benefit.

The show develops Jimmy and Lois as much as Clark Kent, though the latter does receive the lion’s share of screen time. Lois’ traditional passion for journalism is examined further and expanded to a deeper emphasis on honesty, fueling tension that comes with the classic “secret-identity” storylines that always arise with Superman stories. Jimmy, similarly, is given newfound depth and characteristics that make his character far more compelling. Traditionally there has always been a distance between Clark and Lois as a pair with Jimmy, but often Jimmy is portrayed as a child, or at least a few years their junior. Here, Jimmy is not only their co-worker but also Clark’s college roommate placing him squarely in Lois’ and Clark’s age bracket. The distance between the duo and their trusty friend is transformed into an emotional one, where Jimmy feels alone in the face of their blossoming romance. The wider supporting cast is rounded out by the rest of the workplace community the trio works in, with a standout being sports reporter Steve Lombard, who takes Jimmy on (unwillingly on the latter’s end) as a protege.

It is not just the focus on these characters that makes the show special, but the complexity displayed by all the characters. Throughout the first season, each of the characters go through their own arcs allowing them to grow in complexity and feel more realistic. Jimmy Olsen’s fledgling video blog from the first episodes recurs as a plot device, not as a gag but as an important aspect of plotlines and the character’s growth. Lois’ desire to know Superman’s secrets is a driving force for her and Clark’s tension, coming to a peak at the season’s midpoint. There are subtle storylines that are not immediately apparent, but once the season is viewed in its entirety one can appreciate the full depth of the story being told. 

The show is not without its shortcomings though. A large point of criticism falls on the show’s villains. There is very little that makes the villains feel compelling, with most falling under vague categories of “military” or “petty criminal,” with the exceptions of The General, Amanda Waller and Agent Wilson. Beyond the notion of similar characterization and motivation, there is something that unites all of these villains: technology. While some of Superman’s most famous villains use technology to fight, Lex Luthor being the most notable (though he does not explicitly appear in this show’s first season), most have powers rooted in their biology or magic. The show instead portrays the origins of all of the villains’ powers lying in Kryptonian technology. Classic characters such as Livewire or Silver Banshee, villains relying on interesting and established origins, now simply have fancy masks or clothes that give them their powers. The most redeeming aspect is the possibility for change that the season finale teases, with a character’s suit appearing more biological than metallic, and a character using their abilities separately from their equipment.

Though the show isn’t perfect, it’s an enjoyable ride. Superman is as enjoyable as ever, and his struggles with his powers and growing into adulthood are as relatable as ever. But it’s the elements other than Superman that make this show memorable, and that is what makes the show great. 


Title: “My Adventures with Superman”

Starring: Jack Quaid, Alice Lee, Ishmel Sahid

Favorite episodes: “You Will Believe a Man Can Lie” “My Adventures with Mad Science”

If you like: “Avatar: The Last AirBender” “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power”

Where to watch: Max (The Service formerly known as HBO Max)

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

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