You never know where popular culture will decide to incorporate the reverse mortgage product category as part of a story, but the latest instance came from a particularly unlikely place: namely, the fictional town where an alien baby landed, before he would grow up to become the world’s greatest hero, Superman.
“Superman & Lois,” a new TV series which premiered on the CW television network on Tuesday night, sees the iconic original superhero return to his childhood home town of Smallville, Kansas to move with his family back into the farmhouse where he grew up. Unfortunately, one of the things that has taken him there in this new series is the death of his adoptive mother, Martha Kent (played by actress Michele Scarabelli), who we discover has a debt on his childhood home that has been secured by a reverse mortgage loan.
In the episode it is explained that as a result of a farming crisis in the Midwest, Smallville Bank began offering reverse mortgages for seniors. While Mrs. Kent didn’t need the money, she took out the loan and used its proceeds to help another farming family in the community from being evicted from their home, and helped other families afflicted by the farming downturn. This turned her into something of a local hero.
Mrs. Kent also used some of the proceeds to deposit additional cash into the college funds of her grandchildren, but the plot of the series’ first episode sees Clark Kent (played by actor Tyler Hoechlin) and his wife Lois Lane (played by Elizabeth Tulloch) aim to resolve the debt, and to move into the house with their family.
While the episode does see Lois cast some aspersions on the integrity of the loan (which may tie into the story’s resolution of the loan balance since it is Hollywood, after all), it nonetheless offers a surprisingly positive influence from at least the application of the reverse mortgage’s proceeds when compared with some other depictions in media. With her loan’s proceeds, Martha aimed to use the additional cash in a way that could help her local community while also allowing her to remain in her home for the rest of her life.
This isn’t the first time that the Kent farmhouse has been the subject of financial difficulty for Mrs. Kent in live-action. In the 2017 film Justice League, Martha (as played by Diane Lane) was forced to move out of her home when it was foreclosed on by a local Smallville bank. The resolution in that story was somewhat different: billionaire Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) simply bought the bank. A director’s cut of that film is scheduled to be released next month, which may or may not do away with this plot point.
All in all, the story of the first episode of “Superman & Lois” accounts for an interesting use of a reverse mortgage loan from a live-action narrative production. Where many creative entities often use reverse mortgages as fodder for jokes, the creative team behind “Superman & Lois” have instead used them as a vehicle to show how one exceptional woman chose to try and help her community, becoming Smallville’s own “superhero” while her son was flying across the planet saving people.
Beyond the reverse mortgage reference, the first episode of “Superman & Lois” has garnered positive reviews from critics and character aficionados. “Superman & Lois” airs Tuesdays at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central on the CW network.