Superman has been saving citizens in peril at speeds faster than a speeding bullet for almost 70 years. Clark Kent’s alter-ego started in the comics and has enjoyed subsequent runs in animation, feature films, radio and of course, television. One of the most successful and unique television versions has been the Smallville series which airs on the CW network. The show focuses on young Clark Kent as he uncovers his powers and comes of age in Smallville, Kansas. The show is the only Superman series that has never shown its hero in the traditional cape and tights. But can the show continue without the arch villain Lex Luthor?
Smallville premiered on October 16, 2001 and though the ratings were very good, comic fan reaction was mixed. This stemmed in large part from the fact that the early episodes focused primarily on the “freak of the week” scenarios (each week a new town resident is adversely affected by radiation from Kryptonite meteors). Fortunately, as time has gone on, the Smallville characters have become more developed and the series has come to balance the sci-fi aspect with character development. A compelling aspect has been the deteriorating relationship between Clark Kent and wealthy friend/nemesis Lex Luthor. The storylines have recently focused on Lex’s relationship with Clark’s female obsession Lana Lang. Lex and Lana are currently engaged which has stirred up all sorts of feelings between Clark and Lana. How will this story play out? Hard to tell but things may be getting even more complicated behind the scenes.
Michael Rosenbaum, who has played the follicly challenged Luthor from the beginning of the series, recently told Kristin Veitch at EOnline that he will be leaving Smallville after the end of the seventh season (the series is currently in the middle of its sixth). Rosenbaum said, “Next year will be my last year. I had a great run. I loved it, but that will be it for me. I think other people have longer contracts. I’m not going to say who, but I know that next year is the last for me. So, it will be very sad when it happens, but all good things must come to an end.” That certainly throws a monkey wrench into the show’s famous love-triangle.
Smallville is enjoying a bit of resurgence and is currently garnering great ratings so it’s a sure thing that CW will renew the series for a seventh season. Providing that popularity continues, could Smallville continue for an eighth season without one of its two male leads? Or, could Rosenbaum’s departure mean a premature end for the series? Considering that Lex is such a vital part of the show, it’s really difficult to see how it could continue without him in a successful way. Could they recast the part or find a way to fill the villain role with another character? The need for a decision’s a ways off but ultimately that’s a cliffhanger only the producers and writers can solve. Stay tuned!