Fifteen years after the debut of "Smallville," the landscape of superhero TV has done an about-face. While it took ten seasons to get Clark Kent into the Superman outfit, the very first episodes of "The Flash" and "Arrow" saw their protagonists pulling on their spandex and heading out into the world to fight crime. CBS' "Supergirl" -- which feels very much like a spiritual successor to the Blue Boy Scout's own origin series -- has followed in their footsteps; Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), Superman's cousin, rescued a falling plane and donned the "S"-shield all in the pilot episode.
As brave and bold as these new shows have become, however, they also respect and pay homage to their predecessors. For instance, former Superman stars like Dean Cain and Helen Slater have appeared in important roles on "Supergirl" -- and, now that "Smallville" star Tom Welling has joined the new CBS series "Section 13" as both star and Executive Producer through his Tom Welling Productions shingle, maybe it's time for him to step back into the red boots.
Let's back up a little. Tom Welling starred as Clark Kent in "Smallville" for the show's entire ten-year run, but outside of supporting roles in "Draft Day" and "Parkland," he's done little else since the series wrapped. "Section 13" marks his biggest role since he put on the red cape -- and it just so happens to be on the same network as "Supergirl." While we're not saying there's a concrete connection between the two, the time and place could herald Welling's return to the world of Superman, if not in the role of the Son of Krypton himself.
There is already a precedent set for this, spanning all the way back to "Smallville" itself. For instance, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, who played Clark Kent and Lois Lane in 1978's "Superman" movie, both cameoed in the show; Clark's own mother, Martha Kent, was played by Annette O'Toole, who appeared as Lana Lang in "Superman III." "Lois and Clark" star Dean Cain and 1984's "Supergirl" Helen Slater also showed face in the series. (As noted above, Cain and Slater have also returned for "Supergirl" in the role of Kara's foster parents.) Likewise, "The Flash" -- which is helmed by "Supergirl" Executive Producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg -- has tapped John Wesley Shipp, who played the Flash in the 1990s television series, for the important role of Barry Allen's father Henry. While there are many other examples, it's clear Warner Bros. and the creative teams behind DCTV have established a penchant for acknowledging the legacy of their characters -- which includes bringing back actors who have starred in their works over the years.
With his own legacy and new gig at CBS, Welling is one step closer to "Supergirl." Like Cain and Slater, he could easily slip onto the show for a quick cameo role, particularly now that he's contracted to the studio. It's worth pointing out that Superman still hasn't been cast for the show; we've seen him a few times, in fuzzy flashbacks or from certain angles that don't show his face, and he's even contacted her through technology. Nevertheless, the Man of Steel needs a face -- and who better to fill that role than the man who played Clark Kent for almost a decade? Welling himself was only seen in the suit for no more than thirty seconds in the series finale, and it would be nice to see him live up to his full potential as Superman. However, he could just as easily pop in as the Daily Planet's ace reporter Clark Kent, who comes over to National City to visit Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). At this stage, Welling is just the right age to play "Supergirl's" Big Blue Boy Scout, and an appearance from him has the potential to get longtime Superman fans very excited.
There is, of course, one minor speed bump to all this. Though Welling saw Clark Kent through the end of his journey to becoming Superman, he didn't seem too sad to leave the DC Universe behind him. "I find myself pretty excited to, in a sense, graduate," he told TV Guide in 2011. Still, it's been almost five years since the show drew to a close, so there's plenty of time for him to have changed his outlook on the role. What's more, with the way the superhero landscape has changed, it's possible it has renewed his interest in this world. Additionally, his chances of getting typecast are much lower these days, considering that he's already starring in and producing an entirely different show at the same time.
All of this is, of course, is pure speculation and a little bit of wishful thinking. However, the timing of Welling's latest CBS network deal inspires one to wonder what it would be like to see the former "Smallville" star return to his super-roots on "Supergirl." While Superman's involvement ultimately doesn't affect the core of the show, it'd fit right in with DCTV's tradition for him to reprise the role. Either way, seeing Welling in the DC Universe again would be a real treat for fans and newcomers alike.
"Supergirl" airs Mondays on CBS. "Section 13" is currently in development at CBS for the Fall 2016 season.