After “Arrow” enjoyed successful TV ratings, The CW added more superhero shows to their slate. “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” are part of the Arrowverse, while “Supergirl” has access to it through a portal by being part of the same multiverse. The Arrowverse has a lot in common with its Superman-themed predecessor, “Smallville.” “Smallville” followed Clark Kent as he learned to use his powers and morphed into the Superman we’re familiar with. A lot of the characters, stories and settings we saw along the way have appeared again in the Arrowverse.
From ideas as big as the Justice League, or as small as where characters can grab a drink, every show in the Arrowverse has taken some cues from “Smallville.” Let’s take a look at 15 times the Arrowverse copied something from “Smallville.”
15. Green Arrow
You would be hard-pressed to produce a TV series based on characters from DC Comics and leave out the Green Arrow. Although Green Arrow wasn’t a founding member of the Justice League, he’s been an extremely popular superhero since his debut in 1941 in “More Fun Comics” #73.
Justin Hartley played Oliver Queen on “Smallville.” He started out as a recurring character, but became a series regular in Season 8. Initially, while his identity as the Green Arrow was still a secret, he and Clark Kent were at odds. Once the secret was out, the two of them worked well together, eventually forming a version of the Justice League.
On “Arrow,” Stephen Amell plays the titular character. He started his crime-fighting career as a vigilante, just like Hartley’s version. His role as the Green Arrow has morphed over time from killing machine to a no-kill hero, back to taking the lives of evildoers when necessary.
14. A Main Character Manages a Popular Venue
When a TV series stars an ensemble cast, it needs a location big enough to host group powwows, and cozy enough to accommodate the occasional makeout session. And when one of the main characters owns or manages that venue, the chit chat about how business is doing practically writes itself.
Both “Smallville” and “Arrow” have restaurants that are managed by series regulars. On “Smallville,” Lana Lang opened the Talon, a local coffee shop and high school hangout, as a way to preserve the town’s old movie theater where her parents met. Lex Luthor backed her Egyptian-themed business endeavor. Later, Martha Kent took over managerial duties. The Talon also had a handy apartment on the top floor.
On “Arrow,” Thea Queen renovated an old warehouse and turned it into Verdant, which is another term for green. Verdant was a hip and happening night club that hid the entrance to Oliver’s lair for some time. Verdant was the setting for lots of fights, as well as a few make-up-and-kiss scenes.
13. Maxwell Lord
Maxwell Lord wreaked havoc on both “Smallville” and “Supergirl” for one season each. On “Smallville” Season 9, he was closer to his comic book persona. He was known as the Black King and was head of a government agency known as Checkmate. As in the comic books, he had mental powers, which he used to pull memories out of people’s minds. He did this in order to find out who “The Blur” really was. His plans were foiled by the Red Queen, who was really Martha Kent.
On “Supergirl,” Maxwell Lord was the CEO of Lord Technologies, where he works to find ways to combat and control aliens. He was responsible for Bizarro Supergirl in Season 1. Although it was his own satellite system that the Kryptonians used to control the people of National City, he jumped in at the end of the season and circumvented his own technology to help Team Supergirl save everyone.
Another Maxwell Lord connection between “Smallville” and “Supergirl” is that on “Smallville,” Lord was played by Gil Bellows. He starred in “Ally McBeal” with Calista Flockhart, who played Cat Grant on “Supergirl.”
12. Lena Luthor Takes Over Lex’s Company
In both “Smallville” and “Supergirl,” when Lex Luthor was unable to run his company due to either being dead (or pretending to be) or in jail, a woman stepped in to run the company. In both cases, the audience found out that this woman was named Lena and that it had something to do with adoption. However, each show handled it differently.
On “Smallville,” Tess Mercer stepped into the role of CEO when Lex goes missing. One of “Smallville’s” biggest reveals came two seasons later, explaining that Tess was actually Lex’s biological sister, Lena Luthor, who their father had given up for adoption. She grew up at an orphanage run by Granny Goodness. She ran LuthorCorp until her death at the hands of Lex’s clones.
On “Supergirl,” Season 2 introduced Lena Luthor, Lex’s sister by adoption, who took over Luther Corp when her brother was sent to jail, courtesy of Superman. She doesn’t have the same evil aspirations that her brother had (at least not at the time of this writing), much to her mother’s chagrin. Lena even befriended and worked with Supergirl a couple of times.
11. Speedsters Named Allen
Both “Smallville” and the Arrowverse featured a Speedster whose last name is Allen. And while the Speedster on “Smallville” had only a small guest-starring role on the series, “The Flash” is one of The CW’s most popular shows, putting Mr. Allen front and center.
On “Smallville,” Clark Kent first met Bart Allen (who in the comics is descended from Barry) in Season 4 when he was a pickpocket and went by the codename Impulse. Bart even flashed fake IDs with names of other Speedsters from the comic books, like Jay Garrick and Wally West. Clark convinced him to stop being a thief and use his abilities for the greater good. Later, in Season 6, Bart joined Clark and his heroic friends to form a quasi Justice League, which made plenty of fans happy.
It’s Barry Allen, not Bart, who stars in “The Flash.” Before racing away with his own series, Barry guest-starred in two episodes of “Arrow” Season 2. The CW was going to use Episode 20 of “Arrow” Season 2 as a backdoor pilot, but Grant Gustin’s performance was so well received that “The Flash” got an order for a stand-alone pilot instead.
10. Kryptonian Criminals
Many of the villains on both “Smallville” and “Supergirl” weren’t homegrown. They were criminal Kryptonians who broke out of prison, either with help from extraterrestrial forces or a crash landing.
On “Smallville,” the Phantom Zone looked exactly like the floating square from 1978’s “Superman.” The first time the Phantom Zone was referenced was the Season 5 premiere, appropriately named “Arrival.” Other Kryptonians continued to escape, including General Zod. So many of them escaped and wreaked havoc in Smallville that Chloe nicknamed them “Zoners.” The Phantom Zone continued to be part of “Smallville’s” mythology throughout the rest of the series.
On “Supergirl,” the imprisoned Kryptonians escaped from Fort Rozz, which was the maximum security facility located inside the Phantom Zone. Kara’s ship and Fort Rozz were trapped in the Phantom Zone after Krypton exploded. When her ship finally escaped the Phantom Zone, it unintentionally pulled Fort Rozz with it. The criminals were set free when Kara’s ship and Fort Rozz crashed on Earth at the same time.
9. Slade Wilson
Slade Wilson, another recognizable villain from DC Comics, appeared on both “Smallville” and “Arrow.” Although Wilson’s role on “Arrow” was much larger, and lasted more than one season, he was still a pivotal character in the final season of “Smallville.”
On “Smallville,” Slade Wilson was a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army who fervently favored the Vigilante Registration Act. He was in cahoots with Darkseid, then Zod. Clark was forced to send him into the Phantom Zone after he killed Hawkman.
Wilson’s role on “Arrow” was much larger and had nothing to do with interplanetary conflicts. Originally, he befriended Oliver Queen on the island of Lian Yu. After a woman came between them, he swore vengeance on Oliver and everyone he loved. He made his way to Starling City as Deathstroke, where he killed Moira Queen, right in front of her son and daughter. Oliver eventually defeated him and imprisoned him in the A.R.G.U.S. prison on Lian Yu.
8. Helen Slater: Mother to Kryptonians
Helen Slater has a long history with DC. Her connection to DC characters has come full circle, from playing a young Supergirl to playing the mother of two different Kryptonians.
Back in 1984, she starred as Kara Zor-El in the “Supergirl” movie, opposite legendary actors Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole. Then, more than 20 years after her star turn as The Girl of Steel, she played Kryptonian Lara-El, Clark’s biological mother, on “Smallville.” Casting Slater was a fun nod to her prior role. She guest-starred in two episodes of Season 7. In Season 10, she appeared to Lois in the Fortress of Solitude.
Slater was cast, again, as the mother to a Kryptonian for “Supergirl.” This time she played Eliza Danvers, Kara’s adoptive mother on Earth. She had a much bigger role, not only in her Kryptonian child’s life, but also in the show. Eliza became invaluable to the D.E.O. when the Medusa virus was unleashed in National City. She also saved Mon-El’s life.
7. Cat Grant: One-Season Wonder
Cat Grant has been featured in Superman comics since her debut in 1987 in “Adventures of Superman” #424 as a gossip columnist. The smart-as-a-whip journalist was also featured for one season on both “Smallville” and “Supergirl,” in two different characterizations.
On “Smallville,” there were actually two Cat Grants… sort of. The first Cat Grant appeared in Season 9, when Clark applied to be the host of a morning talk show. That Cat served in the Peace Corps. and wound up getting the TV job. The second Cat Grant, who appeared in several episodes in Season 10, was closer to the comic book version, working as a journalist at “The Daily Planet.” However, she later revealed she is actually Mary Louise Shroger, and she changed her name to protect her son.
Cat Grant on “Supergirl” was a force to be reckoned with. She was the founder and CEO of CatCo Worldwide Media, where she was a professional and personal mentor to Kara. She was a regular cast member for the first season of “Supergirl.” When the show’s production moved to Vancouver, Calista Flockhart, her actress, didn’t want to relocate, so Cat Grant was demoted to a guest star.
Tattoos in comic book stories usually have some kind of meaning or importance, rather than just being a memento from a wild night with friends. On both “Smallville” and “Arrow,” tattoos were used in supernatural ways.
On “Smallville,” Lana Lang came back from her studies in Paris with a primitive-looking tattoo on the small of her back. That tattoo gave her access to the secret tomb of Countess Margaret Isobel Theroux, who possessed Lana and used her to find special Kryptonian stones. The tattoo matched the markings on the tomb walls.
Oliver Queen had multiple tattoos on “Arrow,” each with a different meaning. The writers took their time revealing the meaning behind each one. One set of Chinese symbols on his abdomen was acquired from Constantine to help in his fight against Baron Reiter. He got the star-shaped tattoo near his shoulder after he was inducted into Bratva, the Russian mafia. The dragon tattoo on his shoulder blade is connected to Shado, the woman he loved on the island.
5. Monster of the Week
Both “Smallville” and “The Flash” took a lot of episodes before really delving into their mythologies and the longterm story they would tell.
“Smallville” started out as a monster-of-the-week TV show, with occasional forays into Clark’s back story and how he’s, you know, Superman. Each week saw Clark chasing Chloe, who in turn was chasing the latest victim of some kind of mutation, courtesy of the meteor rocks. By the end of the first season, Lex’s desire to know more about Clark was spurring him on, the Talon was established, and Lex was sparring with his father, Lionel, a conflict that would continue until nearly the end of the series.
Over on “The Flash,” Barry and his crew were dealing with a new meta human every week, thanks to the affects from the particle accelerator explosion. Just like on “Smallville,” we got a sample here and there of seeing The Flash in action, but the story mainly revolved around defeating that week’s villain. It only took “The Flash” half of the season, however, to introduce Reverse Flash, who still causes trouble from time to time.
4. Suicide Squad
Like members of the Justice League, Suicide Squad draftees were gathered on both “Smallville” and “Arrow.” In both cases they’re part of a shady government agency, but which agency and which members differ.
On “Smallville,” Amanda Waller was eventually revealed to be the head of Checkmate. She first appeared in “Absolute Justice” in Season 9 when Clark and Chloe discovered the Justice Society of America. Later, in Season 10, Rick Flag, Deadshot and Plastique were a few of the Suicide Squad who showed up in Smallville. By the end of the series, they were working for Chloe and not Waller.
On “Arrow,” Amanda Waller was the head of ARGUS. She first came on the scene in Season 2 when she sent John Diggle after Lyla, who went missing while searching for Deadshot. Waller’s and Deadshot’s appearance introduced the idea of the Suicide Squad to “Arrow.” The team wasn’t actually formed until several episodes later that season, when Shrapnel, Bronze Tiger and Harley Quinn (voice only) were added to the guest cast.
3. Justice Society of America
Everybody got all excited about seeing versions of the Justice League come together on both “Smallville” and the Arrowverse. However, their predecessors, the Justice Society of America, also played an important part on both TV series.
The JSA showed up on “Smallville” beginning in Season 9, when Clark and Chloe discover their old headquarters. Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Stargirl, Sandman and Star-Spangled Kid came together to protect themselves against Icicle, who was targeting superheroes. Hawkman and Stargirl returned again in Season 10, with Hawkman sacrificing himself to Deathstroke to protect Clark and his secret.
The JSA played a big role on “Legends of Tomorrow.” They were introduced at the end of the first season, after Vandal Savage was defeated and Hourman appealed to them for help. Then, in Season 2, the JSA set events in motion that involved Damien Darhk and the Reverse Flash. Commander Steel, Dr. Mid-Nite, Stargirl and Vixen joined Hourman and the Legends in the first two episodes of Season 2. After Hourman was killed, Vixen joined the Legends to track down and capture his killer.
2. Martian Manhunter as Mentor
Martian Manhunter may be Superman’s fellow Justice League member in comic books, but he served as a mentor to both Clark Kent on “Smallville” and Kara on “Supergirl.”
John Jones came to Earth on “Smallville” as a friend of Jor-El to keep an eye on Clark, and help him capture several Phantom Zone escapees. He cared for him so much that he gave Clark his powers when Clark lost his. He also returned in the final season, after his powers were returned, to help stop Zod’s army.
On “Supergirl,” Martian Manhunter masqueraded as Hank Henshaw, the head of the DEO, for several episodes. He finally revealed his true form when a prisoner, Jemm, threatened Alex’s life. He told her that their father tasked him with watching out for Alex. After being identified as J’onn J’onzz, he took on the responsibility of training and educating Kara, becoming her mentor as both a DEO agent and as an alien superhero.
1. A Smart Blonde Hacker Sidekick In Love With Oliver Queen
The old saying is that behind every great man is a great woman, which was definitely true on “Smallville” as well as “Arrow.” Even more coincidentally, both are blonde, smart, female hackers who had relationships with their superheroes.
On “Smallville,” Chloe Sullivan was always the brains of the operation. She tracked villains and devised ways to defeat them by hacking into computer systems, like the police department’s or LutherCorp’s. Although she carried a torch for Clark, and they very briefly dated, she wound up married to Oliver Queen.
Speaking of being with Oliver Queen, on “Arrow,” Oliver relied heavily on Felicity Smoak, the blonde IT worker at Queen Consolidated. Soon enough, he took her into his confidence and made her an integral part of his team. Later, they were engaged, but his secretive ways pushed Felicity away. She remained Team Arrow’s brains behind the scenes, frequently controlling city cameras or gaining information by hacking into computer systems.
Which connections between “Smallville” and the Arrowverse were your favorite? Tells us in the comments!
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