Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane and Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent in Superman & Lois

‘Superman & Lois’ Just Introduced Its Most Realistic ‘Villain’ Yet

**Spoilers for Superman & Lois season 3, episode 2, “Uncontrollable Forces,” lie ahead.**

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Superman & Lois season 3’s second episode, “Uncontrollable Forces,” premiered on March 21 and introduced an unexpected but realistic “villain” to the series. Viewers will recall in season 3, episode 1, “Closer,” that Lois (Bitsie Tulloch) suspected she might be pregnant. While she and Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) share twin sons, Jordan (Alexander Garfin) and Jonathan (Michael Bishop), Lois expressed excitement at the thought of welcoming a third child. However, viewers’ excitement about a potential new addition to the Kent family was cut short when it was revealed that she was not pregnant.

In fact, excitement quickly turns into concern when Lois learns that her symptoms can’t be explained by pregnancy and that she must undergo more testing to find the root of the problem. “Uncontrollable Forces” picks up here and sees Lois continuing to undergo testing under the watchful eye of Dr. Irons (Angel Parker). When Dr. Irons pinpoints the cause of her symptoms, Lois is devastated and shocked to learn she has stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).

Lois’ cancer diagnosis in Superman & Lois, explained

Bitsie Tullock as Lois Lane in Superman & Lois
(The CW)

Lois has always been a hero in her own right in Superman & Lois. She is the most badass reporter in the country, fearlessly investigated the crimes of Tal-Rho (Adam Rayner) and now Bruno Mannheim (Chad Coleman), and has managed to keep two teenage boys safe despite one having inherited his father’s powers. However, even she is daunted by the thought of battling cancer. As a result, she keeps the difficult news to herself before letting it slip in front of Clark. Afterward, she emotionally tells Clark and then the boys, tearfully explaining that the cancer is rare and aggressive and that she didn’t want to make them scared or have them look at her differently because of her diagnosis.

While Superman and Lois have faced threats from Kryptonians, cult leaders, and crime lords, cancer is the one threat that they can’t face with laser eye beams or investigative journalism. However, it may be one of the very first threats and villains that viewers will find relatable and realistic. Tulloch touched on this as she told TVLine,

I was a little shocked when [the producers] first told me that’s what they wanted to do, but I actually think it’s pretty wonderful. This storyline hasn’t been done, and cancer is such a prevalent force in so many people’s lives. This villain is so relatable and so real, and more than anything it’s one that Clark and Superman can’t just go handle. For Superman, who is this all-powerful superhero, to be faced with something he’s completely powerless against is even more grounding for the show, and it places a greater emphasis on the strength of us as a couple and the family dynamic. I thought it was exciting, and I hope the fans feel the same way.

How Superman & Lois will accurately portray IBC

Tulloch also discussed with TVInsider how she prepared to tackle such an emotional and serious storyline in season 3. To prepare, she met with multiple survivors of breast cancer, as well as breast cancer surgeons and oncologists. So far, Superman & Lois has realistically portrayed IBC, explaining how it is so difficult to detect that it is seldom diagnosed before stage 3. The difficulty in detection is partly because it doesn’t manifest as a lump, with the earliest symptoms being swelling and tenderness in the breast.

As the show also explained, IBC is very rare, making up only 1%–5% of all breast cancer diagnoses. However, it is very aggressive and rapidly develops and spreads, meaning that detecting it early is especially vital. Hence, awareness of the unusual symptoms of IBC could be potentially life-saving. What Superman & Lois also highlights is that IBC tends to affect younger women. Lois tells Clark that one of the reasons she quickly dismissed her symptoms was because she was “young” and thought the swelling could’ve been caused by anything. While breast cancer is known for rarely affecting those under the age of 50, IBC tends to impact women who are under 40.

Many of the women Tulloch talked to emphasized that “awareness needs to be out there” so that women don’t mistakenly dismiss symptoms because they think they’re too young or there’s not a lump. In addition to raising awareness for IBC, Superman & Lois is also shaping up to raise awareness for the incredible strength of cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

(featured image: The CW)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.