Hulu just announced that it will stream the hit series Smallville starting October 1. The show, which predated the DC TV universe, features quite a few characters now familiar to fans, thanks to shows like Arrow and The Flash.
Now that we’ve been inundated with superheroes for years, it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking Smallville was in its time. Starring Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent before he became Superman, Smallville was once the biggest and indeed only DC show, allowing an array of comic book characters to appear as live-action characters, some for the very first time.
The current “Arrowverse” or “Berlantiverse” (named for producer Greg Berlanti) and the new Justice League films have introduced some definitive versions of DC’s best characters, but before that, they all passed by a tiny Kansas farm town known as Smallville. While binge-watching the series this fall on Hulu, keep an eye out for these episodes featuring the first appearance of your favorite DC heroes and villains.
9. Green Arrow (Season 6, “Sneeze”)
While Oliver Queen is now at the center of the new DC TV universe because of Arrow, led by Stephen Amell, Queen was the Green Arrow — and loose Batman analog — in Smallville. Along with Clark, Queen established the show’s version of the Justice League.
Making his first appearance in the Season 6 episode “Sneeze,” Hartley’s Queen became a series regular in Season 8 and stayed until the show’s end in Season 10.
8. The Flash (Season 4, “Run”)
DC’s speedster the Flash has a surprisingly long history on TV, which saw John Wesley Shipp in the role in the 1990s with The Flash followed by a forgotten CBS pilot, Justice League of America. Of course, most fans now resonate with The Flash starring Grant Gustin. In Smallville, Kyle Gallner played Bart Allen, who went by Impulse.
In the comics, Bart Allen is the grandson of Barry who also becomes a speedster before taking on the Kid Flash mantle from Wally West. But in Smallville, Bart was essentially the Flash, wearing a red hoodie and sunglasses in place of a cowl and joining up with the Justice League.
7. Black Canary (Season 7, “Siren”)
With her signature fishnet stockings — but sporting shorter hair and face paint — Alaina Huffman was the Black Canary of Smallville. In the show, she worked at the Daily Planet with Lois and Clark. Unlike her later version in Arrow, Dinah was at first suspicious of the Green Arrow and hunted him down, thinking he was an urban terrorist.
While Huffman’s Canary didn’t become a regular or even much of a recurring character, she was present at some of the show’s later key plot points.
6. Amanda Waller (Season 9, “Absolute Justice, Part 2”)
Stone-cold A.R.G.U.S. head Amanda Waller was portrayed by Pam Grier in Smallville in a performance that rivaled Viola Davis’s in Suicide Squad. Waller appeared much later in the show’s run, and was the “White Queen” of the government-sanctioned Checkmate, an agency that sought to keep metahuman groups like the Justice League in control. And yes, she spearheaded the Suicide Squad in Smallville too.
5. Supergirl (Season 7, “Bizarro”)
Appearing only at the end of “Bizarro” with her own starring episode immediately after, Laura Vandervoort played Clark’s cousin Kara Kent, aka Supergirl, before she became the sinister Indigo in the new Supergirl series. Fans of that series will be familiar with Kara Kent’s origin: Sent to Earth to look after her cousin, Kara was placed in suspended animation in space until she landed on Earth, making Clark responsible to look after his cousin instead.
Kara eventually takes on the mantle “Supergirl” when she becomes Earth’s protector in place of Clark, who was going through some rough times at the onset of Darkseid’s invasion. She never officially wears any real Supergirl costume, however, but in the episode “Argo,” a future version of her is seen decked-out in a blue and red cloak.
4. Cyborg (Season 5, “Cyborg”)
Lee Thompson Young (remember The Famous Jett Jackson?) played Victor Stone, aka Cyborg, in Smallville. With a slightly altered origin, Victor was injured in a car accident and received high-tech implants from Syn Technics, and not from his own father in S.T.A.R. Labs. Although he appeared in just four episodes, Victor joined Clark’s Justice League and was recruited by Oliver Queen.
3. Martian Manhunter (Season 8, “Static”)
Now familiar to Supergirl fans because of David Harewood’s hard-edged J’onn J’onzz, Phil Morris played the Martian Manhunter in Smallville appearing first in Season 6. Hiding out as a Metropolis Police detective, J’onn eventually became part of Clark’s Justice League.
2. Slade Wilson (Season 10, “Patriot”)
Bearing little resemblance to the comics or Manu Bennett’s defining version in Arrow (but get ready for Joe Manganiello in Ben Affleck’s Batman movie), Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan played an aging version of the ruthless assassin and high-ranking officer of the U.S. Army. He doesn’t wear the signature costume and doesn’t even need an eyepatch until a few appearances later.
1. Aquaman (Season 5, “Aqua”)
More pretty boy than Jason Mamoa’s tough, grizzled hero in Justice League, Alan Ritchson was Arthur “A.C.” Curry in Smallville, a marine biology student who learned his true heritage as Atlantean royalty.
“Aqua” was one of Smallville’s highest-rated episodes to the extent that a spin-off was nearly pursued. Instead, Millar and Gough created Aquaman, a stand-alone pilot featuring Justin Hartley as Arthur Curry. The pilot wasn’t picked up, but Hartley eventually arrived in Smallville as Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow. And now, there’s a whole ‘nother DC universe with a whole ‘nother Oliver Queen.
Photos via The CW, Warner Bros.