Over the years the Arrowverse has grown into a powerhouse in terms of live action superhero universes. Having given us over 8 shows from beginning with Arrow to it’s upcoming Superman and Lois, the universe has been used to introduce us to an incredible amount of heroes. That being said, a lot of the credit for the Arrowverse’s success has to go to Smallville. Running from 2001 to 2011 and giving us 10 seasons, Smallville paved the way for all of the superhero shows we see today and the success that show went on to receive was unprecedented. With both Smallville and the Arrowverse being set in the DC universe, we’ve seen both shows introduce different interpretations of the same characters so I’ve decided to pit them against each other and write the following about 5 characters that I think Smallville did better and 5 I think the Arrowverse did better!
10. Deathstroke- Arrowverse
This one was a no brainer as I loved Manu Bennett’s Deathstroke and really disliked the Michael Hogan version we show in Smallville. While Bennett’s Slade Wilson played a huge part in the first two seasons of Arrow, becoming the main antagonist in season 2, and appearing sporadically throughout the rest of the shows run, Hogan’s interpretation appeared in only several episodes of Smallville’s final season. Bennett’s Deathstroke outfit is still my favourite we’ve seen in live action and Hogan didn’t even appear in the suit. With that being said, this is probably the easiest decision on the list.
9. Lois Lane- Smallville
From what I’ve seen so far, I’ve really liked what Elizabeth Tulloch has done as Lois Lane and with the upcoming Superman and Lois show arriving soon, I’m excited to see what more she does with the role. However, while I like Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois… I LOVE Erica Durance’s interpretation of the character and to this day she is my favourite live action Lois. Smallville’s Lois perfectly captured what Lois is all about and showed how fearless, brave and kind she was. I love the way they highlighted her journalistic side and showcased her attitude to chasing a story towards the show’s end. Like I said, I like Tulloch in the role, but Durance is head and shoulders above for me.
8. Supergirl- Arrowverse
Melissa Benoist embodies Supergirl. She truly feels like she is Kara Danvers and is larger than life in the role. It’s not often we come across a role where the actor/actress feels like they are actually the hero they’re playing, but that’s how I feel when I watch Benoist. I didn’t mind Laura Vandervoort in the role, but she hasn’t had nowhere near as much screen time in the role, meaning Benoist has been able to give the character depth that Vandervoort never could. Vandervoort was serviceable in the role, but Benoist took the groundwork laid by Vandervoort and took it to new heights. I also think Benoist’s Supergirl costume is far superior to Vandervoort’s.
7. Hawkman- Smallville
Before we were introduced to Michael Shanks’ Carter Hall in Smallville, I was large unaware of the character of Hawkman and even though the character wasn’t around for too long in the show, he left a lasting impact on me. To this day, whenever I think of Hawkman, it’s always Michael Shanks’ version of the character that springs to mind. The Arrowverse’s version of the character was portrayed by Falk Hentschel and was a rather disappointing incarnation of the character. Often coming across as annoying, I don’t think anyone cared all that much when the character was killed off in Legends of Tomorrow and, despite having far less screen time in Smallville, Carter Hall’s death in that show felt far more emotional and was disappointing as I enjoyed Shank’s supporting role and wanted to see more of it.
6. Deadshot- Arrowverse
One of the most underrated villains in the Arrowverse for me was Michael Rowe’s Deadshot. In the role, Rowe appeared as Floyd in 9 episodes and he gave the character much needed depth and we got to see is For the first time Deadshot wasn’t just a hitman, but also a father and someone who would do absolutely anything for his daughter. This side of the character was explored further with Will Smith’s version of the character in Suicide Squad, but Michael Rowe did it first and it was a welcome change to the character just being portrayed as a silent assassin. In my opinion his version of the character was far superior to Smallville’s Deadshot. Played by Bradley Stryker, Smallville’s Deadshot only appeared in 2 episodes during the shows final season and this version of the character was portrayed as a one dimensional assassin and we didn’t get any depth with the character at all.
5. Clark Kent- Smallville
Tom Welling’s Clark Kent is still, to me, the definitive Clark. While my favourite Superman was without a doubt Christopher Reeve, Welling’s 10 years following Clark as he grows from a teenage crime fighter to an adult fully fledged superhero have had such an impact on my view as Superman as a whole and for that reason he’s my favourite ever Clark Kent. One thing we rarely get to see is Clark Kent being his true persona with Superman being the disguise, but Smallville showcased that beautifully and Tom Welling was incredibly convincing in the role and he truly felt like he really was Clark Kent. Tyler Hoechlin’s time in the role has been large uneventful so far, regularly taking a backseat to the rest of the Arrowverse’s heroes, Hoechlin’s Clark has been quite a disappointment so far and while I can see the potential he has at playing a truly brilliant Clark, it’s yet to be seen whether that potential can be realized.
4. Black Canary- Arrowverse
One of the highlights of the Arrowverse is how great the Black Canary has been portrayed in Arrow. Caity Lotz, Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy all did wonderful jobs as the Black Canary and any one of the three is better than the iteration we show in Smallville. Cassidy especially was incredible as Dinah Laurel Lance and I remember being truly shocked and saddened when the character was killed off, only to be pleasantly surprised when she returned as her Earth 2 counterpart, Black Siren. After Cassidy’s Earth 1 Laurel was killed off, Harkavy stepped into the role with ease and has felt perfect for the role and with the two set to star in an Arrow spin off ‘Green Arrow and the Black Canaries’ it looks like we’re set to see the character continue to be a focal point in the Arrowverse. This couldn’t be more different from the Smallville iteration we saw with Alaina Huffman’s time in the role very short and limited. With her arc tied much to Green Arrow’s, she was given very little to do during her run on the show and has left little to no impact from her time as the Black Canary.
3. Lex Luthor- Smallville
While Jon Cryer has been a pleasant surprise as Lex Luthor in Supergirl, Michael Rosenbaum is still sitting on top the mountain top that no other live action Lex Luthor has ever even come close to reaching. While Cryer’s interpretation of the character did the character relative justice and he could jump from being charming to menacing in an instant, Rosenbaum’s version breathed new life into the character. What was originally Smallville’s most controversial decision, the choice to start the show with Lex and Clark becoming friends proved to be genius. One of the most intriguing aspects of the show as watch Lex’s downfall as he went from Clark’s best friend to his worst enemy and how he went from a troubled young adult trying to escape his father’s shadow, to a diabolically evil genius was one of the focal points of the shows first 7 seasons and this was in large part due to Rosenbaum’s incredible portrayal on the character.
2. The Flash- Arrowverse
For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed Smallville’s interpretations of the different DC superheroes that were introduced, but the one I could never get behind was Bart Allen. First appearing in season 4, Bart was shown to be a low level thief, using his super speed to rob innocent citizens of their wallets and watches as such, even stealing Jonathan Kent’s watch. He eventually became a member of Green Arrow’s team and gained the code name Impulse, but he was incredibly disappointing as a whole. Kyle Gayner did well in the role, but it couldn’t make up for the fact that 1. Everyone was disappointed that it was Bart Allen who had shown up and not Barry Allen or Wally West and 2. His superhero outfit was absolutely attrocious. That being said, Grant Gustin’s time as Barry has been incredible. I’ve loved his take on the character and watching him grow from his first appearance in Arrow as a goofy, but smart CSI to the fiercely courageous leader he was during the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover has been a fun ride to be on. His outfit is also far better than the Smallville one and Gustin truly feels like he’s the greatest iteration of the scarlet speedster that we’ve yet to see.
1. Green Arrow- Smallville
While this may prove controversial, let me start by saying I love Arrow. It felt fresh and because of it’s success we’ve gotten to see so many different DC characters on our screens. It can’t be forgotten that Arrow is responsible for the Arrowverse even existing and if Stephen Amell’s portrayal of the character hadn’t been so good, we wouldn’t have the wonderful universe we’ve been given. However, while Stephen Amell’s version of the character has been good, Justin Hartley’s iteration of the character was near perfect. Portrayed as close to comic book accurate as you’re probably going to get, Hartley truly felt like Oliver Queen and his introduction into Smallville helped shape Clark into the hero he would eventually be. Amell had much more screen time in the role and because of that there will be a lot of fans who prefer his version of the character, but Hartley seemed to embody much more of what Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow are all about and capture what makes him such a likeable comic book character, whereas Amell’s version of the character was essentially Bruce Wayne and Batman with a bow and arrow.
Well, there we have it! 5 characters I think Smallville did better and 5 I think the Arrowverse did better! If you think I got any wrong, or have any other examples you want to share, feel free to comment below! There’s nothing I enjoy more than talking comics with fellow comic book fans!