Superman & Lois EP Todd Helbing explained why they went with this classic Superman villain and how they separated him from previous incarnations.

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for “Pilot,” the series premiere of Superman & Lois.

As the Superman & Lois premiere drew to a close, it went out with a startling reveal. The mysterious man who sabotaged nuclear plants to draw the Man of Steel out was none other than Lex Luthor — but a version unlike any that has appeared on TV before. During the show’s TCA panel, showrunner Todd Helbing explained why they went with this classic Superman villain and how they separated him from previous incarnations of the character.

“When Greg [Berlanti]and I first started talking about this, we wanted an iconic villain for Superman. We wanted an iconic role,” Helbing recalled. “It was our opportunity, coming out of “Crisis [on Infinite Earths”] to tell a new story and bring the audiences this new journey with somebody that they feel like they’ve known.”

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“Obviously, John Cryer is on Supergirl, and he’s done this crazy, amazing job with Lex Luthor, but our show is different,” he continued. “We wanted to tell a new story. I think there’s a lot of twists and turns and secrets are revealed and mysteries unfold in the way that this version is going to feel fresh and new and completely different than anything we’ve seen before.”

Wolé Parks, who plays the character, also had a few things to say about Superman & Lois‘ version of Lex — including a revelation about that suit. “So spoiler alert, I am not in the suit,” he said with a laugh. “I have a stunt double, Warren Scherer… He’s amazing, but he’s also like 6’8″. So we did attempt to put me in the suit at one time. It didn’t go well. You’ll see when I’m sitting next to Tyler [Hoechlin], I’m actually shorter than him.”

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“But as far as the character is concerned, Todd hit on it a little bit earlier. For me, the thing is, look, yes, we’ve seen this character a lot before, but the difference between this one and the other ones is his backstory,” he explained. “You’ll see as the season plays out. The thing I appreciate as an actor is I understand where he’s coming from.”

“I’m a big like comic nerd,” he shared. “I watched Justice League. I read the comics back in the day and all that stuff — Superman died and all that. But as far as I’m aware, we’ve never kind of covered this kind of stuff on TV before. For me, the thing which I appreciate is he’s not just the bad guy for bad guy’s sake, because we need a bad guy. There’s a reason why he’s doing these things.”

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“Every bad guy is the hero of his own story. This guy has legitimate reasons, and I think people will hopefully empathize with why he’s doing what he’s doing. You’ll find out soonish,” he teased.

On The CW’s Superman & Lois, Tyler Hoechlin reprises his Supergirl role as the Man of Steel alongside Elizabeth Tulloch, who plays the intrepid Lois Lane. When a family emergency brings them back to Smallville, Lois and Clark decide to raise their twin sons Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) there, only to find new adversaries in Wolé Parks’ Captain Luthor and Morgan Edge (Adam Rayner). Then, as the boys begin to display some spectacular abilities, life gets even more complicated for the Kents and their new hometown.

Superman & Lois stars Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Dylan Walsh, Alex Garfin, Jordan Elsass, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Inde Navarrette and Wolé Parks. The series airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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