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Superman & Lois Producer Todd Helbing On The Game-Changing Season 2 Finale And Future Teases - Exclusive Interview

This interview contains major spoilers for the "Superman & Lois" Season 2 finale. 

The Season 2 finale of "Superman & Lois" is finally here, and with it, everything has changed for everyone's favorite Smallville heroes. With General Lane's declaration that Superman is the only hero on his Earth, it's now clear that "Superman & Lois" isn't connected to the rest of the "Arrowverse" shows. With a bombshell this massive, it's only natural to want to know more about the intricacies of this new revelation and what it means for the series, crossovers, and the Arrowverse itself. Luckily, producer Todd Helbing is here to shed some light on the monumental moment. 

Helbing is no stranger to the Arrowverse. He was a writer and producer on "The Flash" from Season 1 to Season 5 after producing "The Mob Doctor," "Spartacus," "Black Sails," and "Mortal Kombat: Legacy." Helbing also dipped his toes in the Superman waters back in 2008 when he co-wrote the "Smallville" episode "Hero," alongside his brother Aaron — his frequent partner for many of his projects. 

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Helbing explained the decision to separate "Superman & Lois" from the Arrowverse, what direction the show is headed in, and whether or not we might get crossovers in the future. He also dished on some of the "Flash" actors he wants on the series, the process of getting clearance for classic DC characters, and which "Smallville" actors might make a great addition to the "Superman & Lois" cast.  

It's a Bizarro world

Our Earth's Tal-Rho decided to crash the Bizarro world at the end of the finale. Can you tease what that means for Season [3] and the Bizarro storyline going forward?

He's on the hunt for who his wife might be. He's going to be a little disappointed to see when he starts to get all the information, but he's trapped on this other world that now he can't just get back to our Earth. It's going to be a little tricky for him, but, I say this to everybody, we love Adam Rayner. He's an incredible guy —incredible actor. If we can get him back, then we're going to find a way to see him as much as possible.

David Ramsey also made a guest appearance in this episode. With "Supergirl" having ended this season and the sad cancellation news for "Batwoman" and "Legends of Tomorrow," might we see some old favorites headed to Smallville, and who would your top choices be for some crossover arcs?

With General Lane's speech there about Superman being the only hero, it might be a little tricky to do crossovers in the way that we've done them historically. I don't know. What's going to happen is, if there's an opportunity ... I love Grant [Gustin]. Grant's a friend. I have connections to that show ["The Flash"], but I would say if there is one, "Flash" would probably be my first call. It's a little tricky now to do all this, but we'll see what happens.

The one line that changes everything

General Lane makes a pretty bombshell speech to the boys this season where he notes some of the leagues of superheroes on other planets, but affirms that Superman is the only hero on this Earth. Can you walk us through that decision to separate "Superman & Lois" from the rest of the Arrowverse and when that decision was made?

As I've said a few times, originally, we were connected, and the intention to keep us connected was certainly there, but it became more and more — with the pandemic — difficult to follow through on [that]. I actually had a conversation with DC in Season 1, and so I knew from that point on that we very likely were not going to be on the same Earth as the Arrowverse. As you [now] know, all these shows, unfortunately, got canceled and [with our] desire to create our own stamp for Superman, it felt like the right move to do that.

"Crisis on Infinite Earths" seemingly eliminated the Multiverse, but with this new revelation, that seems like that's not exactly the case. How does this new twist affect some of those storylines, and is it safe to say that this Superman is different from the Superman that we met on "Supergirl" and the crossovers?

Yeah. We're a different planet, a different Earth. The Superman that you saw in all the crossovers is not the same as the Superman on our planet. It's clearly a doppelganger. Part of how this all folds in the big picture with DC is ultimately a DC decision. I'm sure there'll be more clarity in the future, but as of now, we're a different Earth in the DC Universe.

The nuances of this Earth's heroes

You went into this a little bit, but Diggle does mention Oliver in the past tense in Season 1 of "Superman & Lois," alluding to his Super death that tracks with the crossover events. What does Superman being the only hero mean for characters like Oliver Queen and Supergirl herself, and then, especially for those Diggle cameos that we've had and then any others that might come along?

You have to look at it like, since this is a different planet, a different Earth with a different John Diggle, a different Clark Kent, [a] different Lois Lane, [and] all characters on our show, there was a different Oliver Queen who was a hero, [he] was Green Arrow, and met an unfortunate end. There were others, but nobody was Superman. Nobody had powers. Superman was the first powered hero to show up and change the game 20 years ago. 

From Smallville to Superman & Lois

Way back in 2008, you wrote the Season 7 "Smallville" episode "Hero." What was it like seeing those sets again during "Crisis" and bringing on Tom Welling, and Erica Durance onto the crossovers to then kill off their Earth? Are there any "Smallville" actors you'd love to see appear on "Superman & Lois," either as their same character or a wholly new one?

I had left "The Flash" during that part of "Crisis." I was not fortunate enough to meet anybody. I love what they did with Tom Welling and Erica, that they were married, and that farm is so iconic. I would love to see either of those two on our show. I'm not sure how we would fit them in yet, but that would be a lot of fun.

I would kill for Michael Rosenbaum to play some kind of villain, even if it's not Lex.

You know what, that's a good point. He is fantastic. He was such an awesome Lex.

What were some of the biggest challenges and differences between writing for that younger "Smallville" Clark Kent, as opposed to [the] "Superman & Lois" Clark Kent and now Superman as well?

There were so many challenges. First, that was [with] my brother [Aaron] and my first professional script, so we were very nervous. On top of that, to write Superman and all the characters in [the "Superman" mythos] was a little intimidating, but generally, it was because Clark is now a father and Lois is a mother, and they're married — that dynamic is completely different than writing teenagers. That was the biggest difference: the type of stories, the type of relationships, and the complexities of being [adults and] working parents.

Will John meet his counterpart's killer?

Diggle name drops Bruno Mannheim as the killer of this world's John Henry Irons. Can you tease anything about that arc going forward and might he be a main antagonist in Season 3?

It's the ... idea that we set up every villain in a specific way, and then ultimately try to dovetail that into a "Superman & Lois" villain. I'm assuming that we haven't gotten ... we haven't really dove in yet on Season 3, but I would assume that there'll be a similar scenario with Bruno.

Seasons 1 and 2 of "Superman & Lois" both have 15 episodes apiece, which is a handful less than most CW superhero shows have had in the past. Is this a temporary COVID-related decision, or is that a part of the show's DNA?

All those decisions are up to CW and Warner Brothers. I gladly take whatever they give to us, but ... I don't think we're ever going to go over 15. We may go under. It's not really COVID-related. I actually think, whether it's 15, 13, or even 10, those numbers to me are the best version of television. You can get the best work out of everybody, and you get the best stories.

It has been nice seeing a really concise, compact storyline that doesn't go in too many directions — stays focused.

I totally agree. You can focus, and you don't get the one-offs or the episodes that feel like they're filler.

Keeping the heroics in the Kent family

It's been so great seeing Jordan really come into his powers this season, and Alex Garfin has done such a phenomenal job on that front. With the new Fortress of Solitude, how do you see his arc and the Kent family as a whole developing down the line into a more collaborative and family effort?

We really wanted to get Lois and Jonathan [involved in the Fortress, who on] our show, really haven't been part of the Fortress. We really wanted to bring them into the fold and make them more active when it ever comes to that. For Clark, it was the shock now of having a son that has powers and all the struggles and issues that Jordan had with it initially. When you're a parent, you have to pick a lane, sometimes, with your kids. [It feels] like, "Oh my God, this guy needs a lot of attention right now," or "She needs a little bit more attention than him," whatever your dynamic is.

Clark has been focused on that because it was such a huge thing that he can relate to, but moving forward, we really want to bring Jonathan in as much as the rest of the family — make [it] more of a family superhero scenario.

The strength of Lois Lane

I've been really fascinated with this Earth's Lucy Lane all season because it's a really interesting and fresh take on her character. What are the driving forces [behind] having her embroiled in somewhat of a supernatural cult, and where can we expect her character to go in the future?

The drive was to slowly unpeel ... the thing that we love about Lois Lane is her strength. When you start to — it's like anybody. You meet them, or you hear about somebody, and you make assumptions as to who they are. If you're Lois Lane, I'm sure the general public, as fans of Lois Lane, we've all made assumptions about who she is, but to dive into, "Wow, it's not just that she's an awesome reporter and a kick-ass person and a kick-ass mom." 

She has a strained relationship with her father for many years [and] she had a mother who abandoned her, and now she has a sister who has gotten embroiled in this very damaging cult. All of those, to us, really reflected on how strong Lois is as a person and highlights if she is able to be who she is while she's dealing with all these family issues. It really shines a light on what a tremendously amazing character she is.

I'm dying to know if Chrissy was about to tell Lois that Clark is a terrible reporter before she cut her off. What was that about?

In [Season 2, Episode] 13, when she sees his resume, and it's like two places, the high school [paper] and [The Daily Planet], it's like, "Oh my God. This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation." That was the intent of, "Okay, we can't hire this guy," and it's like, "Oh, he's Superman."

Or it's like, "Are you sure that he is the...?" That was definitely the intent, but we wanted to get Clark into the Gazette in Season 2. It didn't really pan out that way, but the idea is really to get the three of them working together in Season 3.

A bucket list of actors and villains

Are there any actors and directors that you'd love to have on the show?

I won't get into specifics or a specific role because those may be people that we [might] reach out to, but I would love to get Tom Cavanagh on the show at some point. That would be a lot of fun, and not just in the director's chair. I would also love to get Kevin Tancharoen. I've worked with [him] many times on "Mortal Kombat" and "Flash," and he's so tied up right now, but I keep reaching out to him like every few months, and I'll get him to direct one of our episodes.

Are there any DC heroes or villains on your bucket list for "Superman & Lois" that are probably wishful thinking pipe dreams?

Probably everyone that they're going to use in features. It's one of those things [where], before every season, or typically at the end of a season, we'll get a deck from DC, and it shows us the villains that we can use. We put in requests for some, and sometimes we get them, sometimes we don't. DC is incredibly collaborative, so they've always been fantastic. Darkseid might be a hard one to get on our show, but to be fair, it's some of those villains ... I don't know how we would actually be able to do them on a television budget to do them justice, so it's probably for the best.

The grim future of crossover events

In terms of those big crossovers that we used to have, do you think we're done with those for the time being, since there's only three [shows] left and one is separated, or is there a chance that we might get one in the future?

That version of what we did is probably [done] because we don't have all of those characters anymore. [From] those shows, all the actors are going to go on and do different projects, or life is going to make them busy. It's hard to speculate other than they're still comic book shows. There are guests in comic book shows all the time. I don't know if we'll have exactly the same thing — it's hard to perceive. [what could happen in] the superhero genre. It would be great if, four years from now, there was a completely different second wave of this. We could do those. They were a lot of fun, but it's hard to say.

The Season 2 finale of "Superman & Lois" is now streaming on The CW website.

This interview has been edited for clarity.