October, 1989: A meteor shower rains down on Smallville, Kansas, wreaking havoc upon the inhabitants. Among those killed are Lewis and Laura Lang. Their three-year-old daughter, Lana, witnesses their tragic death while in her Aunt Nell's arms. Outside of town, nine-year-old Lex Luthor, son of corporate mogul Lionel Luthor, and heir to "LuthorCorp," wanders into a nearby cornfield. There he encounters a teenage boy, Jeremy Creek. Jeremy has been stripped and tied to a stake like a scarecrow - the victim of a traditional high school homecoming game prank. The meteors crash into the field, leaving Jeremy unconscious, and young Lex bald. Jonathan and Martha Kent, a handsome, childless couple, are returning to their farm when their truck is run off the road by falling meteors. They awaken from the crash, and see a small boy peering in through the window at them. The Kents discover the boy's spaceship, which has fallen undetected to earth among the meteors. Unable to have children of their own, they decide to adopt the boy and keep his origins a secret. They name him Clark.
The Present Day: Clark Kent is now in the prime of his adolescence. Incredibly strong and fast, handsome yet awkward, he longs to "get though high school without being a total loser." His parents keep him on a tight leash, excluding him from many activities, for fear that his unique abilities will be discovered or cause an accident. Clark pines for the now grown and beautiful Lana Lang. Lana is the quintessential "popular girl" of Smallville High - smart, pretty, a cheerleader, and dating the school's star quarterback, Whitney Fordman. Clark's friends, Pete Ross and Chloe Sullivan, joke that Clark "can't get within five feet of Lana Lang, without turning into a total freak show." Clark's clumsiness around Lana seems to be provoked by the strange green pendant Lana wears around her neck. Chloe is obsessed with folklore about the paranormal activity that pervades Smallville; and Pete has a scheme to join the football team. He wants Clark to join with him, reasoning that membership on the football team will keep them from being chosen as this year's "Scarecrow" - the kid chosen by the football players to be strung up in a corn field. Unfortunately, football is one such activity that Clark's father has forbidden him to engage in. On his way home from school, Clark is hit by a Porsche, driven by Lex Luthor. The car and Clark crash through the side of the bridge, and into the river below. Clark is unscathed, and ripping open the roof of the Porsche, pulls the unconscious Lex from the wreck to shore. Wondering how he survived the crash, Clark revives Lex.
Jeremy Creek, the 1989 "Scarecrow," appears at a auto repair shop one evening, not having aged a day. He attacks a mechanic, who was one of the football players that strung him up in the field. Bolts of lightening shoot out of Jeremy's body, and electrocute the man to death. Meanwhile, at the Kent farm, Clark arrives home from school to find a new pick-up truck in the driveway. It is a gift from Lex Luthor. Clark's father tells him he cannot keep the truck. He reasons that being a hero doesn't require rewards, and besides, much of the Luthors' money was swindled from the residents of Smallville. Clark is very upset by this, compounded with his anxiety about surviving the accident, and having super-human strength. He tells his father, "I'd give anything to be normal!" Jonathan is then motivated to tell Clark of his true origins. He explains how Clark came to earth in a spaceship with the meteor shower. He gives him a strange metal plate they found in his ship, with engravings in an unknown language. Jonathan tells Clark that he is meant for something special, and should look at his abilities as gifts. This doesn't help Clark feel any better, and he runs off to do some thinking. That night, Clark wanders through a quaint local graveyard, where he encounters Lana. Lana goes there to visit her parents' grave, and to speak to them as if they were present. Clark does not feel sick around Lana now, because she has given her necklace to Whitney for luck. Clark and Lana share their angst ("Do you ever feel like your life was supposed to be something else?") and discover that they have a lot in common. Clark walks her home, where Lana kisses him on the cheek. Jealous, Whitney watches them from the shadows.
The next day, Clark returns the new pick-up to Lex at his mansion. Lex knows that Jonathan doesn't like him, but he hopes that he and Clark can still be friends. Meanwhile, Chloe and Pete are at a crime scene, taking photos for the school paper, "The Torch." Another ex-football star has been electrocuted. They notice Jeremy, a strange face in the crowd, and snap his photo. At school, they find Jeremy's photo in the 1989 yearbook, and learn that he was that year's "Scarecrow." They tell Clark that since the meteor shower, Jeremy has been in a coma. An electrical storm came through a few days ago, and all the power went out at the hospital. When it came back on, Jeremy had disappeared. Now he is seeking revenge on the football players who strung him up. Chloe surmises that the meteor strike must have somehow altered Jeremy's body, causing it to have not aged and all, and giving it the capacity to store and control electricity. Clark finds Chloe's theory far-fetched, so she shows him the "Wall of Weird." - a huge collection of articles on the strange occurrences in Smallville since the meteor shower. Clark sees a picture of the young orphan Lana, and suddenly believes that his arrival with the meteor shower makes him complicit in her parents' deaths, as well as all the other unnatural incidents in town. Clark runs from the school, riddled with guilt. He's stopped by Whitney and some of his football buddies. In a rage of jealousy, Whitney grabs Clark. Clark moves to defend himself but Whitney is wearing Lana's necklace, and Clark is weak with pain. Whitney sees Clark looking at the necklace and puts it around Clark's neck. They throw Clark in the back of a truck and drive off.
Night. Clark is stripped to his boxer shorts and hung on a pole in a cornfield, a red "S" painted on his chest. Lana's necklace still dangles from his neck, causing Clark great pain. Jeremy arrives and tells Clark this has to end. Clark warns Jeremy to stay away from his friends, but Jeremy refuses and leaves for the homecoming dance. Lex sees Jeremy leaving the field and goes to investigate. Finding Clark, Lex frees him and the necklace falls off. Instantly revived, Clark quickly dresses and takes off, leaving Lex to examine Lana's necklace. At Smallville High, the homecoming dance is in full swing while Jeremy is outside preparing his revenge. Clark arrives and again asks Jeremy to stop. Jeremy tries to use his electrocution power on Clark, but Clark is unharmed and hurls Jeremy across the alley. Jeremy then drives a truck into Clark, carrying them both through a brick wall and smashing open a water main. The truck begins to fill with water and Jeremy's electricity power rages out of control. Jeremy shocks himself into unconsciousness. As he comes to, he has no memory of what he's done or what has gone on. As the dance ends, Whitney and Lana, the homecoming king and queen, exit only to find that Whitney and buddies' trucks have been stacked one on top of the other. Later, in his loft, Clark tells Jonathan he's glad it was Martha and he who found him. Then Lana arrives. She's come to collect her dance. Clark and she share a special moment as they dance gently, but Clark's reverie is broken by the sound of horns honking. Lana is gone - Clark was daydreaming. "Thanks for the dance, Lana."