‘Smallville’ Creators Have 1 Gripe With Marvel Shows, but Love ‘The Boys’

Marvel has extended their dominance of the superhero genre from movies into television. Back when Al Gough and Miles Millar created Smallville, Marvel was barely making movies. 20 years later, Millar in particular isn’t a fan of Marvel shows, but has a lot of respect for Prime Video’s The Boys.

'Smallville' creators Al Gough and Miles Millar attend a premiere
L-R: Al Gough and Miles Millar | Frederic Souloy/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Gough and Miller were on The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top Five podcast on Oct. 28 to discuss their Netflix show, Wednesday. When hosts Lesley Goldberg and Daniel Fienberg asked their thoughts on the current climate of superheroes, the creators didn’t hold back. Wednesday premieres Nov. 23 on Netflix.

Why Miles Millar likes ‘The Boys’ more than Marvel shows 

The Boys is sort of the anti-superhero show where the superheroes are the villains. That’s more appealing to Millar than Disney+’s litany of interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe shows

“Things like The Boys, the evolution of that show which I think is fantastic,” Millar said on TV’s Top Five. “That’s something that feels like a new iteration whereas the Marvel shows feel like yeah, that’s more of the same.”

Miles Millar considers Marvel shows homework 

For many Marvel fans, the interconnectedness of the movies and TV shows is a selling point. For Millar, it just sucks the joy out of the individual shows. 

“It’s feeling more corporate to me but people feel a need to watch so they can fill in those chapters and interconnect and make sure they can understand the next movie,” Millar said. “It’s like okay, it just feels like unless you want to engage in that, it’s not appetizing for me anyway as a viewer. It just feels like hard work now. It feels like they’re victims of their own success in many ways.”

Marvel did help the development of ‘Smallville’ 

Smallville began in 2001. While they were developing the show, the superhero world was in a much more fragile state. 


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When we started Smallville, the last iteration of Batman had been Batman & Robin. The last iteration of Superman had been Lois & Clark. Nobody was interested and if you look at Smallville, we’re basically hiding the fact that it’s a superhero show. I remember we did a test screening for teenagers. This was back when they used videotape and the videotape glitched. The boys had to tell the girls they were watching Superman. So it was intentionally we kind of buried the lead on the comic book stuff. We didn’t even really go to what I call the DC toy box until seasons 3 and 4 with The Flash and Perry White. We wanted to make sure the world could exist as its own thing and not just be relying on that. Nowadays, people don’t need origin stories. They’re like I get it. We know it. We’ve had 20 years of superhero movies and television shows.

Al Gough, TV’s Top Five, 10/28/22

The 2000 X-Men film gets a lot of credit for making Marvel mainstream. Blade came first, but it was still a bit of a horror action niche. X-Men helped Gough and Millar explain Smallville.

“When we started, the only superhero movie that had come out was the first X-men movie,” Gough said. “I remember when we were trying to explain kryptonite will give people powers. Well, is it going to turn them into monsters? We would literally bring in the X-men movie and were like, ‘No, it’ll look like these kind of powers.’ It was in its infancy. Now it’s become its own thing. It’s funny to watch. Our joke is back in the day the only fan sites were things like Ain’t It Cool News. There was one person every year would be like, ‘Fourth week I watched, fourth week they f***ed it up.’ And like, ‘Lex was never in Smallville.’ We say one generation’s heresy is the next generation’s gospel.”