CCI: The "Smallville" Panel

On the final day of Comic-Con International in San Diego, fans woke up early to line up for the "Smallville" panel commemorating the long-running show's pending conclusion. Season 10 debuts Friday, September 24 on The CW and will comprise the final adventures of the young Clark Kent, played these last ten years by Tom Welling, who has also served as an executive producer since last season. Welling, Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), producers Kelly Saunders and Brian Peterson, Erica Durance (Lois Lane), Justin Hartley (Green Arrow) and moderator Geoff Johns were on hand to discuss their favorite "Smallville" moments with fans and share excitement for the upcoming final season.

The panel began with a clip show of highlights from every season, including scenes from the upcoming tenth and final season. DC Comics Chief Creative Officer and "Smallville" writer Geoff Johns then took to the stage to introduce and moderate the panel. With his "Absolute Justice" episodes starring the Justice Society having been well received, Johns announced that he is writing a new episode featuring Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.

Johns prompted several panelists to hint at what fans might expect in the final season, with actors saying a few words about their characters' arcs and the producers indicating some broader strokes. Though Freeman's character Tess Mercer had flatlined at the end of Season 9, the actress said, "I'm sitting here on this panel, so it looks good for her." Peterson said that Darkseid would appear this season, though in a different form than fans may be used to. When Durance was asked why Lois chooses to protect Clark's secret, Durance suggested Ms. Lane might want to use her knowledge as leverage. "It gives her some power over him, which is nice for Lois," she said, adding that it also allows Lois to direct him to be more of a hero.

When Welling's turn came, the actor/producer told the crowd that he will direct more episodes this year, after having worked with Johns on "Absolute Justice."

Johns then opened the floor to fan questions.

The Season 10 preview shown before the panel showed Lois Lane opening a crate containing a traditional Superman costume, prompting one fan to ask how Welling felt about suiting up for the first time. "I haven't seen the suit yet," Welling said. "That's the first I've seen of it." Saunders added, "The suit is actually the same suit from 'Superman Returns."

Pa Kent and Kara return this season

Addressing the return of another figure seen in the preview, John Schneider, who plays Jonathan Kent, came on stage. "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated," he said. "I wasn't prepared to feel as emotional, to feel as welcome, to feel as at home as I did the moment I set foot on the Kent farm."

Asked about favorite lines from the show, most of the actors were stumped, leading to some ribbing from the producers. New arrival Schneider, though, recited a line from the preview: "You could be the greatest hero the world has ever seen."

Another attendee asked if there were plans for a spinoff series. Saunders replied, "That would be great, raise your voice!" Strong applause followed.

A man who said that he was about the same age as Clark Kent throughout the series wondered, given the progression of the fan's own life, whether Clark dropped out of school. "We've just found the one person in the audience who hasn't seen every episode," Welling joked. He added that "Clark is on sabbatical, he had some stuff to take care of on the farm and saving the world. I don't know if he will go back, but maybe he can get his Bachelor's degree on the internet."

Asked if Lex Luthor would be returning for the final season, Saunders said, "Nothing would make us happier than to have Rosie [actor Michael Rosenbaum] back and the door is always wide open."

Durance will be in 22 episodes, Hartley is in 17, the actors revealed. Hartley will also direct an episode.

An unusual question about things not to do during the show's final season prompted Welling to say, "We have a long standing rule on 'Smallville' that you're not allowed to whisper on camera."

Not having a name card, Schneider shifted the others over and put his driver's license in front of him. "That's my superpower haircut," he said, referring to his appearance in the photograph. Johns added, "that's also your address."

"So, I guess I'll be seeing you all later."

The panelists were asked which "Smallville" character other than their own they would like to play. Durance said she would like to be Green Arrow to "wear that awesome costume." Schneider replied,"I can't imagine being anyone other than Jonathan Kent on Smallville, but I wish I were more like him in real life." Welling, unsurprisingly, said, "I wouldn't change my character." Hartley joked, "I'd be Lois."

Asked about post-"Smallville" roles, most actors did not have an answer, but Schneider said he is being considered for a role on "Back 9," to play a character who is "the antithesis of Jonathan Kent." Cassidy Freeman is doing a movie with her brother called "Yellow Brick Road."

A familiar looking outfit was shown in the panel's promo reel

Regarding stunts for some of the rigorous action scenes, a fan asked whether a lot of training was required to pull these off. The actors said that most of their stunts were performed by doubles, though Freeman said that in some cases they were given a choice and the opportunity to train. "You're going to be using a samurai sword; would you like to learn how to use a samurai sword? Yes I would," she said.

With superhero guest stars being a popular feature of recent seasons, there was a question about Batman and Wonder Woman's absence. "I would love to have a young Bruce Wayne," Welling said, but noted that these two characters cannot appear because they are separate franchises. There will, however, be new superheroes introduced this year, Welling said.

Since Johns had already revealed that one of these new heroes would be Blue Beetle, a fan asked which Beetle would appear and whether the guest spot would be used as a backdoor pilot for live-action series, given that test footage had been shown at other panels. "It will be Jaime Reyes, you will see Skeets, you may even see Ted Kord," Johns said. The backdoor pilot question was not answered.

Asked about favorite moments from the series, Welling said, "Throwing the tractor," to which Schneider joked, "And he really did throw the tractor!" Hartley cited "the whole entire episode of 'Roulette,'" with Freeman choosing "the whole episode 'Checkmate.'" Sanders said,"the 100th episode, but only because the 200th hasn't shot yet." The 200th episode will be the fourth of Season 10.

Continuing with the question, Durance said, "my favorite things are when [Lois] gets to do something comedic, or not take herself too seriously, be a bit of a dork."

"You will see [Chloe] this season," Saunders said in response to another question. "We have a way to wrap up her character in a way that's really satisfying," Peterson added. Johns said that she will also be appearing soon in "Action Comics."

Welling was asked about meeting Christopher Reeve during the episodes they shot together. "I don't think I've even still understood what it was like. He was such an awesome guy and made me feel so comfortable," the actor said, noting Reeve's strength as an actor even despite limitations, which by that time were quite severe. Welling added that Reeve's caretakers would only permit him to work five to six hours per day, but Reeve nevertheless would stay for up to ten. "He wouldn't let them take him away," Welling said.

The panel concluded with another showing of the Season 10 preview.

Tags: the cw, superman, tom welling, smallville, geoff johns, erica durance, cci2010, john schneider

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