Soon To Be Classics

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Rating Lois

No name can melt the heart made of steel faster than "Lois". Of course, I'm referring to Lois Lane, the comic book creation and long time love interest of Superman / Clark Kent. When Superman premiered in Action Comics #1, romance comics were still somewhat popular and the character of Lois was an obvious bridge between the romance genre and the adventure books.

Lois has changed in the comics over the years, but not so much as she has on film and video. So, for no particular reason, I offer this retrospective on the Lois Lane and how she's weathered the years.

Phyllis Coates

Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the 1950's tv program "The Adventures of Superman". Alongside George Reeves, Coates spent one season chasing the story, getting into peril, and never quite figuring out that Clark and Superman were the same person. There was little romance here, as the 30 minute episodes left little time for that. I will be honest when I say I really don't remember many of Coates' episodes so I really can't rate her performance. Her and Reeves both considered television to be the bottom of the barrel, and she left after one season to deal with family and personal problems.

Noel Neil

Neil replaced Coates as Lois Lane and proceeded to spend several seasons as the dumbest female in history. However, she was the original Lois Lane in the two 1948 and 1949 movies serials, Superman and Superman and the Atom Man. Her chemistry with Reeves played well with the audience and the show became quite popular. She was a much spunkier Lois but there was still little emphasis on the relationship. George Reeve's Clark Kent was terrifically confident and seemed to enjoy admonishing Lois more than anything else. I rate Neil very high on my list as the Lois that I most remember. Note: Neil played Lois Lane's MOTHER in the 1978 movie Superman. Look closely in the train scene where young Clark Kent is racing the train. Neil is sitting the one-time Superman, Kirk Alyn. In an edited scene that was later shown on tv, the little girl says "look at the man racing the train". Neil scolds her and calls her "Lois".

Margot Kidder

I might be drawing some ire here, but I really never liked Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. I've like her in most everything else I have seen her in, but I just hated the "70's woman" portrayal of Lois. Chain smoking, arrogant, sarcastic, etc; it just didn't appeal to me and I could never see what Clark / Superman would see in her. I remember at the time (and I was still rather young) that producers said they had "updated Lois for the times". If that was the result, then I'm glad I wasn't dating in the 70's. Thank God they didn't make her disco. It seems that producers or audiences finally realized this as well, as she was pretty much written out of the third movie in favor of Annette O'toole as Lana Lang. It was easy to see why SHE was Clark's first love.

Teri Hatcher

In the 90's, Superman was reinvented as "Moonlighting with kyrptonite" as the romantic-adventure formula was applied to the Man of Steel. Teri Hatcher came from relative obscurity to play Lois to Dean Cain's Superman. You cannot deny that Hatcher was and is gorgeous. Further, she played the part of Lois as good as anyone. She was a decent reporter, adventerous, and prone to peril. What endeared her to audiences, was her split relationship with Clark / Superman. She had the perfect mix of disdain for Clark and infatution with Superman. The best dialogue in the entire run of the series was this exchange between Lois and a time-travelling villain named Tempus:

Lois: If you wanna kill Superman, I don't know why you're going to Smallville or 1966.
Tempus: She doesn't know yet. Oh, this is good. This is really good. Um, Lois, did you know that, in the future, you're revered at the same level as Superman? Why there are books about you, statues, an interactive game. You're even a breakfast cereal.
Lois: Really?
Tempus: Yes. But, as much as everybody loves you, there is one question that keeps coming up: "How dumb was she?" Here, I'll show you what I mean. Look (puts glasses on), I'm Clark Kent. (Takes glasses off) No, I'm Superman. (Puts glasses on) Mild-mannered reporter. (Takes glasses off) Superhero. Hello! Duh! Clark Kent is Superman. Ha, ha, ha. Well, that was worth the whole trip. To actually meet the most galactically stupid woman who ever lived.

Erika Durance

This is a tough one. Smallville is the most radical changing of the Superman mythos to hit the big or small screen. It's a teen action-adventure show that's populated with young, hip, good looking kids that barely weave around the events that brought Kal-el to Earth. For the first three seasons, the story has been about Clark and his longing for Lana Lang. Amazingly enough, in the comics Lana was about the first one to discover Clark's secret. On Smallville, she's about the only one who doesn't know. Maybe Tempus will come back in time to give her the second place ribbon.

Then, during the fourth season, we get Erika Durance as Lois Lane. Continuity is completely thrown on its ear and Lois is older than Clark, really doesn't like him, but is living on the Kent farm. It was a great excuse to bring a beautiful (or at least another) young woman onto the show. I do have to admit though, that as much as I'm not a fan of Durance's acting, I do like her as Lois. She's feisty and obnoxious but has a certain appeal that Clark seems attracted to, albeit slowly. It doesn't hurt that she's a drop-dead knockout. However, they're going to run into problems when they try to turn the relationship core of the series from Lana (who is suitably appealing) to Lois. By the way, in case you're wondering how Smallville keeps getting men to watch, in a few week's Lois will pose as a stripper.

We've come a long way from Phyllis Coates, haven't we?

By the way, honorable mention goes to Joan Alexander (Superman, Fleischer studios, 1941) as the first animated Lois Lane, and Dana Delaney (China Beach) as Lois Lane from the 1995-2000 Superman: The Animated Series.

I apologize for any Lois Lanes out there I might have missed. And for all of you women named Lois, when men snicker at your name, it's only because we wish were Superman.


  • This is great! Nice job, Mark! I just want to add that Noel Neill was hot, Teri Hatcher is luscious, and that new Lois is somewhat attractive indeed. However, Kristen Kreuk is no slouch, so I feel really sorry for Clark (not).

    Funny that you mention the Fleischer cartoons. Nowhere else does Lois seem more like a disaster magnet than when you watch all of them in a row. You'll be screaming at the screen: "Museum of History? No! Don't send her! There'll be some kind of disaster!"

    By Blogger Shocho, at 4:04 AM  

  • By the way, apologies for the spelling errors but Blogger will not let me edit this for some reason. :(

    By Blogger Mkae, at 8:56 AM  

  • Your Top Five Loises! Neat.

    I'm suspicious of Teri Hatcher's beauty, however. On U.S. T.V. she looks great but on film, which has a much higher resolution, she's a saggy bag of bones - Tomorrow Never Dies is a prime example.

    By Blogger thisismarcus, at 11:05 AM  

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