With the release of the Man of Steel come and gone, fans have finally gotten the answers to our burning questions: will Henry Cavill measure up as Clark Kent? Will the more realistic tone mesh with Supes? Will the action live up to what we expect from the Man of Steel?
But there is another question that was also answered, one of equal importance, but that doesn’t seem to have been asked as much: what about Lois?
Lois Lane is without a doubt the second most important person to the Superman mythos, barring the man himself. Her role is pivotal to the success of any Superman undertaking, and it’s critical that anyone who portrays her be up to the task. Prior to Man of Steel’s release, I had every faith that Amy Adams would be awesome as Lois, and for the most part I was right. But as we are graced with yet another Lois Lane, I oftentimes look back and ask myself, who did it best?
There have been as many versions of Lois as there have been of Clark, and whenever the question arises as to who was the best, several names are usually mentioned: Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Noel Neill. But, friends, I offer to you that the best Lois Lane we’ve been graced with thus far is Erica Durance. Here are 5 reasons why:
5. She Had The Temperament
Lois is, in Clark’s own words, ‘a handful’, and hat’s putting it mildly. As often as Lois Lane is reinvented, one thing typically remains intact: her no-nonsense attitude. Erica Durance brought this to the fore with her depiction, manifesting the spirit of an intrepid, take-no-prisoners reporter well before she even became one.
Durance as Lois had the wit, sarcasm attitude down to a science, more than once making Clark look like an incompetent, and going toe to toe with resident snarkers Lex and Lionel Luthor, and Tess Mercer on a regular basis. She always had some witticism at the ready, whether she was facing a crowd of murdering zealots, a psychotic plastic surgeon, or freaking Darkseid, and even though the temperament is something that just about every version of Lois has to some degree or another (heck, Kidder/Lois flat out threatened to shoot Clark to find out his secret), not many of them were able to exercise it to the extent that Durance was able to.
4. She Wasn’t A Typical Damsel In Distress
The issue I often have with how Lois is depicted is when it seems she exists for the sole purpose of giving Superman someone to save. Granted, Supes saves everybody at some point or another (that being, of course, the nature of his job).
The problem comes when Lois is depicted as not being able to tie her own shoes without needing rescuing. Being a reporter in Metropolis isn’t a hazard-free job, yet she was doing just fine before Superman showed up. Granted, as Smallville went on Clark ended up saving her on a number of occasions.
But it never felt like he was getting her out of situations she couldn’t get out of herself. The two functioned as more of a team (especially in later seasons), rather than him acting as her personal Deux Machina, and she continued to function as, not just another person for Clark to save, but Clark’s partner. She was partly responsible for helping him come up with the bumbling persona he used to hide his secret identity, she knocked a helicopter pilot unconscious to keep him from finding out that secret.
Additionally, the show went to great lengths to establish her as a hero in her own right, counting Lois as a member of the pre-Justice League. And when Darkseid’s planet was hurtling toward Earth in the show finale, it was Lois who was aboard Air Force One, convincing the President not to fire nukes at it. Durance/Lois wasn’t someone preventing Superman from doing his job, like Kidder/Lois or Bosworth/Lois, but she helped him do his job, she grounded him and, in the end, she made him a better Superman.
3. She Had The Physicality
I’m not talking about looks per se (those are pretty obvious). I’m talking about physical presence. Since the late 80’s and continuing on with the current New 52 relaunch, the Lois of the comics is an army brat, her father, Sam Lane, being a General in the US Army. As such, Lois is supposed to be a fair hand-to-hand combatant who knows how to handle a weapon and isn’t afraid of a fight. Durance, more than anyone prior, portrayed her as just such a person.
Throughout her tenure, Durance/Lois got into more than her fair share of fistfights. In one episode, she claims to be a third degree black belt, and in another, she’s arrested for allegedly paralyzing a college football player via kick to the groin (granted, it turned out the paralysis wasn’t her fault, but she did knock him on his back with said kick). In another episode while Clark was de-powered and they were both trapped in a military compound, it was Lois who took the lead in trying to get them out alive, and she did it while armed.
In short, Durance/Lois not only kicked way more butt than any previous or prior incarnation thus far, but all the while she looked believable doing it.
2. She Had A Life Outside Of Clark
Granted, as it is, for the most part, Superman’s story, events tend to revolve around him. But the key to a great supporting character is their life outside the story; how their personality has been developed and shaped before we the audience are introduced to them, so that they impact events in a meaningful way.
More than any other Lois, Durance/Lois doesn’t feel like she exists only to be Superman’s love interest. The first time we meet her, she’s come to Smallville to investigate her cousin’s death. It’s explicitly clear that she isn’t there for him. In fact, she and Clark initially can’t stand each other. Throughout her first few appearances, plenty of the situations she finds herself in have nothing at all to do with Clark. She’s had her own relationships just like Clark has (more so, actually), and has several more after she comes to Smallville.
Later on, she ends up staying in Smallville not for Clark, but in order to help Jonathan Kent as his campaign manager while he runs for senator. It isn’t until later that Lois and Clark’s lives come closer together and they begin to actually have feelings for each other, and this gives us time to get to know Lois as Lois the person rather than as Lois Superman’s love interest.
1. She Was With Us The Longest
Coming on as a guest star in season four, promoted to regular in season five, and remaining throughout the remainder of the show’s five seasons makes seven consecutive years of Durance/Lois, longer than any other actress was in the role. And while time doesn’t necessarily mean things will improve, it can definitely help. In Durance’s case, it definitely did. Not that there was anything wrong with her portrayal from the beginning, but by way of character development, we got to watch her grow from a troublemaking teenaged Lois to the reporter we all know and love.
That journey was, much like Clark’s own, fascinating to watch unfold. Being in love with Superman wasn’t the major issue in her character arcs. She had her own struggles to deal with, like finding her place and purpose in the world, and deciding how best to do what she believed was right, which gave her depth that we often don’t get to see from Lois Lane.
LOIS (Erica) FOREVER!