Written by Leah Williams
Smallville was a groundbreaking show for DC Comics when it debuted in 2001, and one that acted as a precursor for many of the current DCTV shows we know and love today.
It kicked off a modern superhero revolution on the small screen, with “Supa-Star” Tom Welling portraying Clark Kent as he grew from a farm boy to the outgoing reporter-slash-Superman that we all know and love today. His origin story was charted across an impressive ten seasons, with the show coming to a close in 2011.
Just one year later, Arrow took its place, becoming the flagship DCTV show, and spawning a whole universe with The Flash, Legends Of Tomorrow and eventually Supergirl and Constantine. But without Smallville, Arrow would likely be a very different show.
Both Smallville and Arrow took their respective heroes back to their roots, charting their journey and origin from its very beginning. For Clark, that meant going back to high school, following him as he dispatched his very first enemies and transitioned from a reluctant hero to the saviour of Metropolis.
Oliver underwent a similar journey, as Arrow featured flashbacks to his formative years on Lian Yu, and explored how he gained the skills to become Star City’s dark protector. These journeys largely mirror each other, charting every hardship and battle along with their respective paths.
Before “Supa-Star” Stephen Amell took up the reigns as the Green Arrow, Justin Hartley portrayed the emerald archer in Smallville, becoming a frequent guest from season six onwards. Much like Arrow, Smallville featured flashback scenes on ‘The Island’ where Oliver was stranded and learned to hunt with a bow and arrow.
While playing the same character, both Amell and Hartley had completely different takes on Oliver Queen. While Amell’s Queen was grim and brutal, Hartley’s character was decidedly more cheery, and often prone to cracking well-timed, sarcastic jokes. Despite this, there are some major similarities between Smallville’s Green Arrow and Arrow’s own interpretation. This includes the current incarnation of Arrow‘s suit, which features a brighter green, leathery look, much like Smallville‘s own.
Before Barry Allen of The Flash graced our screens, there was Bart Allen in Smallville, who took the name Impulse and joined Clark to form the small screen version of the Justice League. In the comics, Bart is the grandson of Barry Allen, having been displaced from his own future.
In Smallville, he was simply a selfish teenager utilising his powers for his own gain, before encountering Clark and changing his ways. With his awkward wise-cracking and inherent charm, Bart could easily be seen as the precursor to the delightfully awkward Barry Allen found on The Flash today.
Before Oliver had Felicity Smoak, aka Overwatch, monitoring the streets for crime, Clark had Chloe Sullivan and her Watchtower. Both filled a similar role for our intrepid heroes, acting as their eyes and ears during missions. While Chloe watched the skies from her Metropolis loft apartment, Felicity monitors the streets via the ‘Arrow Cave’. While Chloe and Felicity undertook similar positions, both were inspired by Barbara Gordon, known as Oracle and formerly Batgirl.
Much like Clark, Oliver has gained a variety of allies over the six seasons of the show, and in the 2016 crossover episode, Invasion!, these heroes all came together to form a pseudo Justice League. This team included the likes of The Flash, Supergirl, Green Arrow, Firestorm, The Atom, White Canary and more. But like many other concepts in the Arrowverse, this idea first found its way to Smallville, in the season six episode Justice.
This episode saw Superman, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Impulse (Kid Flash) and Cyborg team up to destroy Lex Luthor’s secret laboratory. Each of these heroes would go on to make cameo appearances in later episodes, teaming up once more in the blockbuster Absolute Justice episode, which featured the Justice Society of America.
From the birth of Oliver Queen to the gathering of the Justice League, it’s clear the modern day Arrowverse owes a lot to Smallville. While each show interpreted its heroes in their own unique way, the inspiration behind Arrow and The Flash has clearly had an enduring impact. Given the success of DC’s current stable of shows, Smallville’s legacy is currently shining, with the future looking brighter than ever for the Arrowverse.
You can catch Tom Welling at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Melbourne (21-22 April) and Gold Coast (28-29 April) and Arrow star Stephen Amell in Sydney (15-17 June).