Tom Welling played Clark Kent for a decade on Smallville. It sounds like a great job, but only once did he actually get to suit up as the Man of Steel. Fans of the series didn’t even get to see him wear the entire suit. In the finale, Kent ripped open his shirt, the House of El insignia shined bright, and he took flight to start saving the day.
There’s a reason why we never saw Welling flying around Metropolis wearing a cape. Below, Welling explains why they decided against a finale showing him in action as the Man of Steel.
In the series finale from 2011, Clark was shown flying as a distant CGI figure in the sky. For much of Smallville, Clark as Superman wasn’t in the cards, especially during his High School years. From the start of the series, Welling told Entertainment Weekly the suit and tights never felt right for the show they were making:
It was something that we discussed before we ever shot the pilot with [creators] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar]. We literally had a sit down where we talked about the show and I asked about the suit and the tights and the flying, and they said, ‘No, absolutely not,’ part of the reason being is that show is about a teenager trying to figure out who he is. They felt that once Clark put on the cape and the suit, life became too easy, in a sense. They wanted to focus on who this character was before that. And, at the time, because of where visual effects and special effects and stunts were, it would be too expensive. That’s mainly why they save that for movies, more or less.
We jumped onto this idea that at the end of the show, the idea is that Clark becomes Superman and he’s out there, and we know he’s out there, but we can’t go with him, but that we know and we feel good that he’s out there doing good. That was what we strove for, and I think we hit it. I liked the ending of the series, because it’s like, ‘Yes, he did it!’ I hope the audience didn’t feel like we didn’t show them something that they needed to see. I felt like we gave them the jumping off point for their imagination as to what could happen.
Originally, that’s now how the series was going to end. The finale was going to have Clark Kent stopping crime as Superman and even saving Lois Lane on a plane. It didn’t feel earned to Welling, so he voiced his concerns to the head of Warner Bros. TV, Peter Roth, and ultimately the idea of Superman appearing in full-costume at the start of the finale was canned.