Rogue of the Week: Tom Welling

Thursday, 12 May 2011 13:04 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
Rate this item
(10 votes)
Rogue of the Week: Tom Welling

After a decade creating a vast television mythology for the early years of the Man of Steel, this Friday night will see the series finale of Smallville on the CW.  Finally, fans will be able to see actor Tom Welling – who has played Clark Kent from a confused, angst-filled teenager to a superpowered vigilante on the cusp of realizing his destiny – donning the blue spandex, red cape, and prominent codpiece of Superman.  To commemorate the conclusion of Smallville's formidable run, we've crowned Welling our latest Rogue of the Week.

On first inspection, it might seem odd to declare Welling our Rogue of the Week, since he's most known for playing the most morally upright of all superheroes, and they're generally a stand-up bunch.  In order to understand the choice of Welling, we're going to have to go all the way back to the beginnings of the ten-season series on which he starred.

Smallvile premiered almost exactly a decade ago, on May 16, 2001.  That was the summer after the first X-Men proved profitable, but it was a year before Spider-Man kickstarted the ongoing reign of comic book adaptations at the movie theater and nigh-overwhelming pop-cultural ubiquity of superheroes.  The concept for the series was not new; a pilot script for a show about a young Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham City after years abroad and attempting to wrest back control of Wayne Enterprises was familiar to comic fans before seemingly every property had been mined and rebooted.

When Smallville was announced under creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the overall response was lukewarm, at best.  While Wayne's pre-Batman days are full of obvious intrigue, most potential viewers wondered how the rural adventures of Clark Kent could possibly prove as entertaining, particularly with the creators' avowed refusal to include tights, a cape, or flying.  That put the emphasis squarely on Clark, not on heroics.

Then came Welling's casting.  The New York native had, up until then, a successful modeling career, and many fans were aghast that this pretty boy would be tasked with playing Joel Siegel and Jerry Schuster's iconic creation during his formative years.  Apparently, Welling felt the same initially.  He turned down the role twice, daunted by the character's cultural standing. 

Finally, though, Welling agreed to play the part, on the hunch that the show would find success.  And that it did.  Rather than being, as fans feared, a ho-hum Superboy without the tights, the show featured an array of unique, Kryptonite-powered villains.  More than that, Welling's performance humanized Superman, a character frequently considered too virtuous and powerful to identify with.  But Welling found the confused, romantic soul of high school-aged Clark, forever pining over Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and torn about his own alien origins.

While the first four seasons focused on the happenings around the Kent farm, subsequent seasons headed to Metropolis, where Welling was tasked with bridging the gap between young Clark and eventual Superman.  At the same time, the show began incorporating far more DC Comics characters and storylines. In 2006, Welling directed his first episode of Smallville, and has subsequently helmed six more episodes. 

In 2009, he also became a co-executive producer on the show.  He also currently serves as executive producer on the CW series Hellcats, which is wrapping up its first season next week.

He'll finally sport a pair of red underoos as Superman for the conclusion of Smallville at 8:00 pm on Friday, May 13th, and fans will surely appreciate the payoff to years of waiting.  The question, then, is what comes next for Tom Welling now that he's no longer Clark Kent.  The actor has previously starred in The Fog, as well as Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel with Steve Martin.  More cinematic roles are likely in his future.  He was a strong contender to play the titular huntsman alongside Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron in Snow White and the HuntsmanOne report indicates that the actor has been talking to Marvel Studios about possibly starring in as an unidentified comic book character. 

If he does indeed cross over from DC to Marvel, that will be a move befitting a Rogue of the Week.

More in this category

Follow ROGUE

Latest Trailers

view more »