I’ve come to enjoy the tv show “Smallville”. I don’t object to changes from the existing DC Universe (whatever that means these days), but I’m puzzled about something:
In the show, Smallville is definitely located in the state of Kansas. Yet apparently Metropolis isn’t far away; there was even a scene showing that you could see the Metropolis skyline from the top of the Kent’s barn in Smallville. That seems like a pretty big change; Metropolis was always an East Coast city, a fictional version of New York; it even had its own Statue of Liberty. It’s hard to picture Metropolis as a city in Kansas.
Okay, guess I don’t really have a question about this; just seems strange.
No, unless I hallucinated the whole thing he was up there with one of the girls (Chloe, I think); in fact, I think he was trying to cheer Chloe up because she was being delayed in breaking into Metropolis journalism.
Didn’t they actually show a map in one of the DC comics once, identifying the locations of Gotham City and Metropolis?
Well, even though they’re fictional places, in the DC universe, they exist contemporaniously with real world places, so it’s not impossible for DC to pinpoint where they are.
For example, from, the Marvel Universe, the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters is fictional, but it’s in Salem Center, a real hamlet in Westchester County, NY. The Island of Genosha is fictional, but it exists off the coast of Madagascar, which is real.
Right, with all the DC sourcebooks and Who’s Who books and maps and timelines of the DC Universe, it’s evident that some people not only put time into pinning down the exact location of the cities, but they were paid to do so.
Still, the version of the DC Universe map that I saw had Gotham City, Metropolis, and New York all evenly dispersed around where the real-world New York is. I hated this. One of the things I always liked about DC was that they didn’t exist in the real world – that was Marvel’s department. I liked that the DC heroes lived in Keystone City and Gotham and Paradise Island and such; it emphasized that this was all a parallel universe.
Back to the OP: the TV series definitely makes Smallville a suburb of Metropolis. One episode ends with Clark and Lana sitting on top of a water tower in Smallville seeing Metropolis off in the distance; another has Clark running back and forth between Smallville and Metropolis in the same day, and on the series he hasn’t learned to fly yet. Like just about everything else with the series, I really like this approach – it really does make sense that Metropolis would be a midwestern city, since it’s so clean. Gotham City is the big, dirty, crime-ridden one, and it’s the equivalent of New York.
On a semi-related note, some of the advertising for the Superman and Batman cartoons also makes this distinction, describing Metropolis as “the city of the future” and Gotham as “historic.” It plays very well, especially to the nature of the characters (Superman=futuristic, Batman=gothic).
Smallville (the series) is the first Superman-related material that suggested Smallville (the town) was anywhere near Metropolis. Even the post-Crisis comics, which fixed Smallville in Kansas (the first time I know of where the home state was identified) has Metropolis as an NYC-sized east coast city. What I don’t get is how Clark is going to maintain his secret identity in Metropolis if all his parents’ friends keep making day trips in from Smallville. Sooner or later, one of them’s gonna say “Hey, Jo-Anne, doesn’t he look just like that Kent boy?”
Well, over time, we have had to allow that a pair of glasses is an effective disguise, and that no one makes the connection between Superman and Clark Kent based solely on visual similarity. It’s just one of those things that has become part of the canon, despite its ridiculousness. I personally have been fond of the theory that most people (especially Lex Luthor) can’t believe that someone with Superman’s power would deign to live as a mere mortal, and therefore do not see what is right in front of them.
As far as the location of Metropolis and Gotham City, I think they’re in the same state as Springfield and Shelbyville from “The Simpsons.”
You’re a lot of fun at parties, aren’t ya, Chuck? I know that Metropolis isn’t a real place, just like I know that the New York City in the DC world isn’t the real New York. However, DC Earth is enough like real earth that we can recognize it, only with high powered superheroes and villians. However, the DC USA still got its independence the same time the real USA did, it’s ruled by a president and congress in the city of Washington DC, just like the real US, and a lot of the places, like New York City, or Washington, DC, or Chicago in the DC world are also in the same locations in the real world.
So, the question is, within the DC world, where are Metropolis and Smallville? Or, if you took a map of the DC US and put it down over a map of the real US, and stuck pins through Metropolis and Smallville on that map, where would the holes be in the real US?
RealityChuck – seriously, I think we all grasp the concept that DC comics (and the tv show “Smallville”) are works of fiction, filled with made-up characters doing impossible things in pretend places. As a fiction writer, I’d darn well better understand that.
However, it’s fun to ask questions about these fictional scenarios, and speculate on what the answer might be, using one’s imagination. The creation of imaginary places is an ancient tradition in the world of story-telling, and Metropolis, the fictitious city in which the fictional character Superman battles various fictional villains to protect the fictional citizenry, has achieved a rare prominence in American pop culture. People who enjoy Superman (carefully noting that it’s important to remember it’s fiction) have definite images and ideas about what kind of place Metropolis is (oops, I mean, what kind of place it would be if it existed in a real world, rather than being a fictional creation). This includes its location in relation to the DC Comics fictional versions of real cities such as New York.
It simply seemed to me that changing such a well-known fictitious city from a made-up East Coast city to an imaginary Mid-West city was a major change, and I was inviting speculation and comment on the subject from people familiar with the completely nonexistent fabulation existing between the pages of DC Comics.
Just a note- the scene where Clark and Lana see Metropolis in the distance was a bit of a flub on the FX people’s part. According to exec Alfred Gough, Metropolis is supposed to be a 3 hour long drive from Smallfville, Kansas.