Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex my ass. Lois Joanne Lane Kent has bigger, steelier cojones than her husband. She's the essence of tough journalism and I'd bet anything that behind closed doors, she's a dom.
Lois Lane leapt fully formed from the combined foreheads of Siegal and Shuster1 in Action Comics #1, AKA the Holy Grail of comic book collectors. As a side note Action Comics #1 also saw the first appearance of some guy wearing tights, red booties and a bright red cape, and it wasn't Liberace or an ice dancer.
FYI, one of these is worth more than an Aston Martin. (James Bond sold separately.)
Update 2/26/10: One issue was sold this week for over $1 million. No kidding. Honest.
From the beginning, Supes dug on Lois. For a while, he didn't have much of a choice anyways, because the closest thing to another woman at the Daily Planet was Jimmy Olsen. Despite being the smartest woman on the planet (and on the Planet), Lois needed roughly a millennium to get other people to accept her supposition that a spit curl and glasses were a really, really crappy disguise for a guy who had the exact same coloring and build as the Man of Steel. In the years to come, however, people liked to say that they always knew and she was the dumb ass.2
Eventually Lana Lang showed up from Smallville as a rival for Clark's affection, which pissed Lois the hell off. Competition is fine as long as it's competition on her terms, on her playing field and with her paid-off referees. Fact is that Lois never really had to sweat losing her man to the Girl Next Door, since Big Blue always had Big Blue Steel for his tough-as-nails reporter friend.3
As with all long-running comics, Superman history has been written, rewritten, regurgitated and then smeared on toast. In that time, Lois has found out Clark's secret identity (which she always suspected anyways), forgotten again, died, was reborn, married Clark, defied Larry Niven's famous speculations and fucked him (Clark, not Niven) madly, and then died again.
See, Larry? Top of her head still intact.
Grant Morrison even gave Lois a shot at having superpowers in his All-Star Superman stint. No matter what, Superman always falls for Lois, except in those fucked-up alternate universe editions when he's banging Wonder Woman4.
1The goddess Athena sprang fully grown, fully armed and fully ready to kick ass from the skull of her father, Zeus, which begs the question: what the hell did Zeus have to drink the night before that left him with that kind of headache?
2 Tempus in the TV series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman called Lois the most "galactically stupid woman who ever lived", and even Supes himself sometimes wondered in the comics why the hell the glasses and spit curl work. Check out Superherouniverse.com's take on it for kicks and grins..
3 Well, except in Smallville, which turns comic canon into a whiny little bitch, not entirely unlike Jimmy Olsen. More on that later.
4 Miller loves the Superman/Wonder Woman dynamic, but we all know she was thinking of Batman the whole time.
To many, Noel Neill was the end-all, be-all Lois Lane. Hell, she even wanted to be a reporter before her looks got her nearly as much "damn, I need a cold shower" attention from WWII GIs as Betty Grable. She became a pretend journalist instead1, eventually landing the role of Lois Lane in the Saturday morning Superman serials and then the TV show with George Reeves. Neill was the heart and soul of the Let's Do Something Completely Moronic So Superman Has to Save Me Lois era and really never looked much like she got that Clark was Supes or Supes was Clark or, hell, she never looked like she got much, period.
It's folded sheets of paper with black print on them, Clark, but that's not important right now.
Of course, a number of people would argue that the definitive on-camera Lois was Margot Kidder2 from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Her take on the journalista was all 1970s post-bra-burning women's lib: she didn't need saving except when she did colossally moronic things, like jumping into the raging and damned cold Niagra River to prove that Clark is Superman3. The helicopter crash at the start of Superman was nothing like her fault, and hell, she was on her way to force her way onto Air Force One.
Gary Oldman even takes his cues from Lois, see?
The Margot Kidder Lois even scored with Clark, who lost his Supermanhood, as always expected, to the reporter. He gave up his powers to get laid, something he later reneged thanks to Susannah York and a sliver of cheap green Kryptonian glass.
Wait, I didn't use a condom. This is going to come back to haunt me in Superman Returns, isn't it?
Before she was desperate and a housewife and a Bond girl4, Teri Hatcher brought Lois to the world of hotness in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Alongside Dean Cain, she showed the moxie of Margot's Lois but without looking like she borrowed clothes from Janet Weiss5 or The Man in Curious George6. Like the Lois in the comics, Teri's Lois eventually figures out 1+1 = HEY A SPIT CURL AND GLASSES ARE A SHITTY DISGUISE and gets with her Superman before going on to fame and fortune on Desperate Housewives, a show Lois wouldn't be caught dead watching. (She might watch, but she wouldn't be caught watching it.)
1 Much like the people at Fox News.
2 At least before she lost her mind and started wandering around in people's bushes late at night.
3 Or letting go of Superman's fingers when he takes her flying for the first time, like she thinks that maybe, just maybe, his mega-manly Superman Aura will keep her skinny ass aloft. Not.
4 Hatcher was Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, in which she plays one of Bond's Great Loves, and we all know what happens to those chicks.
5Honestly, if you have to look for information on Janet Weiss, what the fuck are you doing reading this website? Go watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show and come back when you're finished, virgin.
6Margot wore a horrible yellow plastic hat on the Ill-Fated Helicopter Flight, and Curious George's sidekick wears a yellow hat everywhere, presumably including helicopter rides, 'cause that's how he rolls.
Smallville began as a show about life in that eponymous Kansas town for your average, everyday Superboy-Next-Door, Clark Kent, and his buddies, named for folks in the comics, including some who didn't grow up in Smallville or were anything near Clark's age.
Only we didn't care about the Lex-at-Smallville-High part, since we all loved Michael Rosenbaum.
In Smallville, Clark's high school sweetheart was Lana Lang, just like in the comics...but then the series started to resemble the Superman comic book mythos as modern politicians resemble the Founding Fathers. Lois was a Smallville chick too and, like the rest of the gang, went like the swallows to Capistrano to Metropolis after high school graduation. She landed a job with the Daily Planet and had to wait through at least four hundred episodes of Clark mooning over Lana before she finally got her shot at him.1, 2
Erica Durance currently holds the Lois Lane reins thanks to her spunky portrayal of Lois in Smallville, with more balls than Hatcher demonstrated and a lot more sex appeal than Kidder. (See comment about fashion above.) When the writers are giving her something to do, she kicks ass, takes names, splits wigs, and tells her editor and publisher to shove it. She must know that Pulitzer is in her future, and from the way her publisher and editor react, they must know too. That, or she's nailing them both because, hey, anything to get the headlines, right?
Because of Durance's winsome independence and "I can take care of myself, asshole" attitude, we had all the more reason to cringe at Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns. Putting to one side that the plot was horrible, let's focus on the newest movie Lois. She's a mommy, but a mommy of an asthmatic four-year-old who's somehow managing to be in a school where he gets grades for something other than not pooping in his pants and where parents don't get reamed if they let their kids sit outside for hours waiting on them. Best of all? She's shacked up with her editor's nephew Cyclops and he doesn't even know that Superboy isn't his kid. Nice.
Lois, Cyclops and Superboy live in a swanky waterfront home in what looks like the Hamptons of Metropolis, leaving us to wonder how working schlubs landed jobs that paid that well. Granted, Bosworth's Lois does the Very Lois thing of sneaking onto Lex Luthor's yacht to do some Solid Investigative Journalism, but she brings the kid with her. If, IF Margot Kidder's Lois would have been so stupid as to have gotten knocked up, she would have locked Junior in the car before taking him on an assignment.3
You're telling me this kid's not Superman's but he's afraid of Kryptonite and bald guys?
The worst part of Superman Returns's Lois is not so much that she's not wholly Lois-esque because she does some fun things, like going after the non-Superman story that she wants despite what her editor, Count Vlad von Nixon4 tells her to do. It's that she's so freaking bland when she does what she does and she always has that inhaler-whiffing kid and her wannabe husband attached to her that she can't be all "Fuck you, I'm Lois Lane," to the world. We can't believe she's an ace reporter because she comes off like a recent college graduate who can't believe she has to balance her career and family because she got knocked up by the school quarterback. And that's it in a nutshell: Lois Lane is a career woman, and if you really want to give her conflict, don't make her choose between family and journalism. Make her choose between saving Superman from a Kryptonite-laden trap and winning a Pulitzer Prize for writing about his death. Now that is conflict.
My bet? She'd be escorted to the Pulitzer ceremony by Bruce Wayne, the guy who really owns the Daily Planet.
1 And even then, the Smallville writers keep dicking her over about the whole Lois and Clark relationship and sometimes behave as if Clark would still rather have Lana attached to his super-boner despite her history of attaching herself to Lex's.
2 All right, to be fair, Lois also diverted from the One True Love course by banging Justin Hartley's Oliver Queen, who was 1) richer 2) better-looking 3) gutsier and 4) not Lana-whipped. My question here might be why she even left the guy.
3 And come on, people, an Audi station wagon? Lois Lane wouldn't be caught dead in something that domestic, though we can almost see her blowing off the whole car seat thing just to get to the story (and her Pulitzer ceremony) on time. Couldn't you have given her at least a Land Rover?
4 Frank Langella played the most famous vampire of them all (screw you, Edward, you sparkly pansyboy) as well as the late Richard Nixon, who sucked in a very different way, per history.