He IS Superman

Patrick St. Pierre

Well, maybe a better title would be “He is Clark Kent” as he has never officially donned the red, blue and yellow. Regardless, Tom Welling’s decade of portraying Clark Kent is nothing short of history-making. According to Guinness World Records, in May of 2011, Welling’s Clark Kent will be considered the longest running portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman in the long history of the character.

I have been a Superman fan since I first saw the late great Christopher Reeve in the classic “Superman: the Movie,” and because he was my first Superman, he will always be considered in a league of his own. He made me believe a man could fly—both in his performance and in his philanthropic work with the Christopher Reeve Foundation. One of my favorite Smallville moments was seeing Reeve and Welling on the screen together in the second season. They talked of destiny, of hope and of leadership. All of these things would help form Clark into the hero we all know him to be. Reeve was the longest running Superman, so it only seems right that he passed on the torch.

There have been a few different incarnations of Clark Kent/Superman over the years, beginning with Kirk Alyn and George Reeves in the 40s and 50s, respectively. Neither played the character longer than Reeves though; who played him from 1978 to 1987. The three men played a man of steel who saw Clark Kent as his mild-mannered disguise. Superman went through a change in the early 90s and saw Clark Kent with more of a personality. This Clark Kent/Superman was played by Dean Cain. I particularly like Cain’s performance because I like Clark having a personality. I think the character becomes rounder. Cain, unfortunately, played the character for only four years; well short of Reeve’s nine years.

In 2001, Smallville’s pilot episode marked the beginning of Welling’s run as the high school student Clark Kent in the Superman origin story. In 2006, while Smallville was ending its fifth season, Brandon Routh put on the cape for the film sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films. This was not as successful as they had hoped, and David Goyer (“The Dark Knight”) is writing a reboot film. Smallville continued, however, and it is now entering its tenth and final season.

Welling has portrayed Clark in a way no one else could, and I believe that he is Superman. Routh, Alyn, Reeves, Cain and Reeve have all come before him, but he has surpassed them all. Don’t get me wrong, every single one of those men changed the character by their performances and none should be discounted, but Welling has given the character a decade of his life. He gave the character a beginning. While Reeve made us believe a man could fly, Welling made us believe that any child could become the greatest hero of all time.

Patrick St. Pierre is a senior English and psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].