Al Gough and Miles Millar created Smallville for television in 2001 and breathed new life into the Superman mythology, taking Clark Kent (Tom Welling) back to his high school days and following him journey in becoming a superhero. Now in its 10th and final season, it is the longest-running comic book based series in television history.
During a recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, the writer/producer team talked about how cool it is to have developed a series that has been on the air for a decade, how they’d never been a fan of Superman prior to creating Smallville, and how they always hoped the final moment of the series would see Clark Kent suiting up and flying off to his destiny as Superman.
Also included are their thoughts from the press day roundtable about Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, since they wrote the screen story for Spider-Man 2, and why they think the character is viable for a stage musical. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
What’s it like to be a part of something like Smallville, which is one of the few television shows to make it 10 seasons? Is it cool to be a part of television history?
AL GOUGH: Very much so. We were saying that it’s literally 10 years ago now, that we were about to go start shooting the pilot. Certainly not, in anyone’s wildest dreams, when you create a television show or you do a pilot, do you ever think you’re going to be on the air for a decade. To have created something like that, and to have reinterpreted Superman, is pretty interesting.
MILES MILLAR: You meet people who you realize were 10 when the show first came on, and now they’re 20 and they’re in college.
GOUGH: It makes you feel old.
MILLAR: They’ve been watching their whole lives. Their adolescence has been the show. That’s very rewarding for us, obviously.
GOUGH: You become this younger generation’s interpretation of Superman. It’s great. Especially in modern pop culture, how many things ultimately last 10 years?
How far ahead did you look, when you were involved with the day-to-day of the show?
MILLAR: We always took it one episode at a time. We never, ever took it for granted.
GOUGH: We took it one episode at a time, and then one season at a time.
MILLAR: We had seasons where we thought it was going to be the last because the ratings dipped, but then the ratings came back up. We always had to fight to keep the show on the air. The networks change. They changed presidents at the network. It may seem as though destiny was set, but it was an extreme roller coaster.
Had you always been working toward a plan for the ending that you wanted for the series?
GOUGH: You have ideas, but I don’t think you can plan for that, in terms of a script that was sitting in a safe for 10 years and then you’re like, “Finally, here’s the last episode.” The characters evolve and the series evolves. If it had gone five years versus 10 years, you’d end it one way.
MILLAR: Ultimately, in our own heads, we had an ending that we wanted. The last moment of the show would be him putting on the suit and flying off into his future and his destiny. That was always in our heads. That would be the ultimate end to the show. The thing that was always frustrating for us was that the whole “no flights, no tights” became this ball-and-chain to us. For us, that’s his destiny as Superman, but it was also a budgetary concern. Initially, we wanted to ground him and ground the show.
GOUGH: They were slaves to that for the entire run of the series, and it went 10 years. After awhile, it was like, “Come on, already!”
GOUGH: I’m fascinated to see it, to be perfectly honest. It seems like the more people you injure, the higher your box office goes.
Did you understand the potential for a stage musical, when it was announced?
MILLAR: I think Spider-Man is certainly the most enduring and beloved superhero, even more than Superman.
GOUGH: When I was a kid, I loved Spider-Man.
MILLAR: There’s such a cool factor, and that character, Peter Parker, is so relatable to everybody. I’d never been a fan of Superman. He was always this earnest, boring character. Our whole task with Smallville was to write the character, so that I was interested in his story. How did he become this earnest guy that is a boring do-gooder? That was the whole point of the show.
GOUGH: When we started, the last iteration of Superman was Lois & Clark, and the only other superhero movie that had come out was X-Men. That was it. So, I think it was totally viable as a stage musical. It has big themes and spectacle, especially with what you can do on stage nowadays.
MILLAR: With the director they’ve chosen (Julie Taymor), and Bono and The Edge doing the music, they’ve certainly gone full-out.
GOUGH: They’re all in. All the chips are on the table.
So, you’ve got faith in Julie Taymor?
MILLAR: I think The Lion King is the most amazing production I’ve ever seen. It’s just fantastic. That being said, I don’t get Titus.
GOUGH: I’m fascinated to see Spider-Man.