Jonathan Schneider, who played Jonathan Kent on Smallville, changed the original plan for Clark (Tom Welling) becoming Superman in the show’s series finale. The two-part episode saw Clark reach the end of his Smallville journey by learning how to fly, defeating Darkseid, and acquiring his iconic suit and cape.
Despite dying of a heart attack in season 5, Schneider’s Jonathan Kent returned for both episodes as a ghost. When Clark was trying to move on from his past, Jonathan appeared to Clark and reminded him of the importance of everything he had experienced in Smallville. He was also spotted at Clark and Lois’ wedding, sitting next to Martha (Annette O’Toole). His ghost made another appearance in “Finale, Part 2” at the Fortress of Solitude, near the end of the story. Jonathan handed Clark the Superman costume, which had previously been made by Martha but taken away by Jor-El. After suiting up as the Man of Steel, Clark flew into action to intercept Apokolips.
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According to Schneider, he had a part to play in putting together the pivotal moment where Clark finally got his hands on the costume [Comic Book Central Podcast #70]. He stated in an interview that he was only supposed to appear in “Finale, Part 1”, and not the episode where Clark would actually become Superman. It would seem that Clark was to either get the suit from his mother or simply find it in the Fortress. But Schneider, who had discussed the situation with Welling, felt that not having Jonathan there was the wrong way to do it. Schneider pointed out that even though Jonathan was dead, he continued to have a presence in Clark’s life through the watch and other reminders of his influence. He said that it seemed right for Jonathan – and not Martha – to be the character who gave him that final push into fulfilling his destiny.
The problem though, is that the “powers that be” didn’t have the budget to put Schneider in “Finale, Part 2”, even though they agreed with his idea. So for that reason, the actor told them to just pay him scale, “because it’s important”. He called this decision “the most Jonathan Kent-esque thing I’ve ever done.” Thanks to Schneider accepting less pay, Jonathan was worked into the finale to have one last scene with his son, despite his tragic death, and arguably one of the most memorable moments the two characters have ever shared together.
Schneider’s comments on Jonathan Kent importance and the need for him to be there when Clark became Superman hit the mark, considering how deeply influential his role was in Clark’s journey. During Clark’s high school years, it was Jonathan’s fatherly advice and moral character that helped shaped Clark into the hero he ultimately became in Smallville. He had a lot to do with Clark’s strict adherence to his no-killing rule, along with other values that he held throughout the series. When looking at every way that Jonathan inspired Clark, it felt fitting for him to be there with him at the very end.
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