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Why Tyler Hoechlin's Superman is more important than we realized

There's a new Man of Steel on the superhero block, as Tyler Hoechlin's Superman has now officially joined the heroic fold of The CW's Supergirl. Clark Kent has appeared in many forms over the course of his entertainment career, but as the cousin of Melissa Benoist's Kara/Supergirl for the small screen, Hoechlin's version of Kal-El is already proving to be an absolute delight and an important new force for the show's second season. His grand debut in the season premiere proved he's going to have a major impact going forward and that he's a lot more important to National City than we originally expected.

The family connection is unbeatable

How fun is it to see Supergirl get some matchy-matchy muscle on her team? In the first episode of the new season, the pair joined forces to stop a plane from careering into a full-on nightmare, prevented a giant building from crashing down, and helped stop an international assassin from taking out Lena Luthor, who swears she's trying to change the reputation of her family name (although the jury's still out on that one) and had a bounty on her head as a result of that effort.

Supergirl is extremely talented on her own, no doubt about that. And goodness knows she's got a Rolodex full of friends who've pitched in to help her when the situation called for it. But there's something extremely symbiotic about what she and her cousin have going on when they're working side by side — whether on the ground or mid-flight — that they're clearly ready to dominate all of those forces of doom that threaten the city together. Their shared optimism and rapport is also proving to be a real treat.

We're probably going to explore more about Krypton

Speaking of which, Kal-El's got some questions about their home planet for his cousin. She used to change his diapers once upon a time, as she so hilariously reminded him, so she knows a lot about his upbringing that he hasn't yet been made privy to. Thanks to his arrival on the scene, there's now a real reason to delve back into their family history and shed some more light on how they came to be such benevolent beings on this Earth.

Given their hopeful demeanors and earnestness, this should be an intriguing backstory to explore, too. Some of the big-screen versions of the same (ahem, Man of Steel) have been pretty dour — which is understandable considering we are talking about the destruction of an entire planet — but if there is any silver (or, in this case, blue and red) lining to be found in the story, these two will find it.

On the other hand, there have been hints that the two might butt heads later on in the series, and this would be a ripe subject for disagreement. Hoechlin told Entertainment Weekly, "With any family — with any people that have relationships that are close — and especially dealing in heightened situations like they are, I think conflict is kind of inevitable."

The Luthor family is coming into play in a major way

In addition to Superman, the new season of Supergirl is bringing in some of the Luthor lineage to play around with their particular brand of villainy. In this case, it's Lena, the sister of Lex, whose life Supergirl and Superman saved, but who may have a few skeletons in her own closet that'll come out to play throughout the season, despite her doe-eyed goody-two-shoes act. The super-cousins don't need their X-ray vision to see through that facade. If her season arc follows some of her prior iterations, she might just be scheming with Lex to devise a bitter revenge plan against Superman himself, which would certainly explain the coincidental timing of her arrival in conjunction with his.

He's already inspiring Kara to go for her dreams

Another effect that Clark Kent's presence in National City has already had is that he's inspiring his kin to reach for the sky in more ways than she already does. She already knew she was way too good to be a mere assistant for an egomaniac like Ms. Grant, but what she didn't know was what career path — apart from saving the day — she'd be best suited for until she saw Clark Kent in his investigatory action.

His journalistic prowess already came in handy when they were trying to learn who put out a hit on Lena, so it'll be doubly useful if they're both boasting press passes to scurry up some crucial 411 this season. Kara's long been suited for the gig, of course, and even Ms. Grant predicted she'd be a fine reporter when she came out for the first job, but it took Clark showing her the benefits of that particular career path for her to realize just how well-suited she'd be for it. Obviously, spending all those months surrounded by journos at CatCo HQ wasn't enough of a boost in and of itself, so thanks for giving her an accidental nudge toward that door, Clark!

He's shaking things up with the DEO

Another way that Clark is already making a difference around town is that he stood up to Hank Henshaw (aka J'onn J'onzz aka the Martian Manhunter) over the DEO's decision to keep some Kryptonite on hand just in case their Superpals get carried away with all of their extraterrestrial talents. It's not Hank that Clark's worried about, of course. He knows full well that Hank wouldn't use his Achilles' heel against him, but what happens when the next DEO head steps in? The fact that Clark's already bucking this protective system so early in the game — not just for himself, but for Kara's sake, too — means that he might just usher in a new era of understanding between their kind and the humans they serve here in National City. He's at least going to try to do so before the batch slips into the wrong hands. (A Luthor's, perhaps? Dun dun dun.)

There's already talk of a spin-off

The superhero TV scene is quick to award characters their own shows in order to spread out the fan-frenzied air time, and if this appearance is any indication, Hoechlin's Superman might just be the ticket to another successful spin-off. After all, he did make pointed mention of all the players in his life that aren't involved here — Lois Lane, Perry White, and Lex Luthor among them — so there's definitely some room for small-screen growth with this character already. Could he bring it back to Metropolis after a brief stopover in Supergirl's world? Hoechlin himself told Entertainment Weekly that he isn't ruling it out.

"You never know," he said. "Those are decisions of people in a much different place than I. It's been a few years since Superman's really been sticking around on TV for a long time, and who knows what they'll end up doing and what they'll want to do. There's obviously so much going on with this Superman character in the world of DC and the films, and so who knows what they'll want to do. But it's fun to be doing it for what it is right now, and if something else comes out of it in the future, then that's something they'll let us know down the road. I'm just very excited for what the situation is at the moment." Hoechlin's appearance in the season opener has certainly sparked some interest in that possibility.