A Legendary Batman Performance Inspired Superman & Lois' Bizarro Jon

Although a live-action Superman has not graced movie theaters in quite some time, the Kryptonian currently appears on the small screen in one of the better superhero TV shows on the air. Starring Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch, "Superman and Lois" is the latest attempt at adapting an iconic comic book character from The CW, but it confidently separates itself from other shows on the network. It feels like an entertaining blend of the unrelenting optimism of the Christopher Reeves films and the gritty, ultra-realism of Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel." However, unlike its predecessors, "Superman and Lois" heavily focus on the two sons of the power couple, Jordan and Jonathan Kent.

In the show's second season, Bizarro World is introduced, and with it the backward version of Superman and his family. A Bizarro Superman is featured for a few episodes, but it's the alternate version of Jon that becomes a major antagonist in the overarching narrative. Played by Jordan Elsass, he has to pull off a far more broken and sad Jon that heavily deviates from his normal counterpart. Well, the actor has revealed that a performance from an iconic superhero film inspired his Bizarro Jon, and his answer is surprising, to say the least.

Drawing from an iconic performance

Referred to as Jon El due to this Bizarro family adopting the Kryptonian name, the son of Superman also inherits his enhanced abilities, unlike the powerless Jonathan Kent. As Jon El, Elsass has to tap into the darker side of the character, the part that rarely surfaces when he portrays Jon Kent. While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Elsass reveals that Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight" served as an inspiration to what would be a very different version of Jon than he normally plays. Furthermore, he says that there are distinct similarities between the two characters:

"It was just so much fun to get into that headspace. I mean, you really feel powerful. And that's the thing about when you're really into it and you're doing the scene: It can drain the life out of you or it can make you feel like a million bucks. Playing Jon El, because he's confident and dark, much like the Joker, I think that is a big similarity there. Heath played it the whole time that he's very, very confident in any situation and he just does not care."

Of course, there is no indication here that the actor is attempting to mimic Ledger's Joker in any exact way while playing Jon El. However, it is clear that the sinister and confident nature of that electric performance was a guiding light for Elsass, aptly so considering the circumstance the character finds himself in.

A fallen hero

Unlike Ledger's Joker, the Bizarro version of Jonathan did not start out as a cold-hearted villain. In Bizarro World, Superman and his family proudly live in the public eye, turning into celebrities that bask in the spotlight. The family deteriorates when their super-powered father becomes overly concerned with his public persona, neglecting his children for fame. Jon El eventually becomes detached and spiteful towards his father due to his spiral into stardom and it leads the son of Superman down a path of no return.

Jon El becomes a pawn in the greater scheme of the season's villain, cult leader Ally Allston (Rya Kihlstedt), an altered version of classic Superman villain Parasite. She promises the citizens of both worlds that they need to merge in order to be whole, which convinces a fractured Jon El to fight for her. While he becomes a full-fledged villain for our protagonists, Elsass tells EW that, "There's still some innocence in him and there's still some good in him. But he's a villain in the making, definitely." In a series that is built on the foundation of the word "hope," it is not surprising that there is still some good left in the big bad of season 2. 

The second season of "Superman and Lois" sometimes struggles to consistently produce quality episodes, but the introduction of Bizarro World is by far one of the highlights. A smaller-scale family drama, the superhero series deviates from the formula and delivers a refreshingly modern take on the decades-old source material.