When I first heard that they were making a Supergirl series, my first thought was “why”. Supergirl is one of those characters that has been reworked many times over the years, but this isn’t uncommon among superheroes. However, Superman, Batman, and Spider-man have very consistent origin stories, but Supergirl has changed a number of times.
It is interesting to see that although superheroes are becoming very big on TV and movies, and it is good to see that woman superheroes are about to become a thing. Netflix will soon release Jessica Jones, who is a superhero woman on the edge, but Supergirl seems a little too kind. When the first trailer for the Supergirl series came out, it was a sad victim of bad timing. Saturday Night Live had released a fake movie trailer for a Black Widow movie subtitled “Age of Me”, and it was essentially a bad combination of chick flick and superhero. The Supergirl trailer had a lot in common with it.
The pilot of Supergirl started rather promising, and although it does take place in a universe where Superman exists, the show goes out of its way not to show him. The origin is strange as apparently Kara Zor-El was launched from Krypton with her cousin Kal-El, and was supposed to take care of him before he became Superman. Unfortunately, Kara’s spaceship was trapped in a Phantom Zone where no time passes, and by the time she got out, twelve years passed. Superman didn’t need Kara anymore, but Kara needed a family, so she was adapted by the Danvers (played oddly enough by Helen Slater, the original from the 1985 movie and Dean Cain who played Superman on Lois and Clark). Kara also has an adopted sister, and I’ll get into her later.
Kara apparently decided not to become a superhero like her cousin, and ended up working for a media mogul named Cat Grant. This is a character plucked from the comics, played by Calista Flockhart. Kara actually has a pretty good job, honestly, but Kara doesn’t feel like her potential is being used. All that changes when her sister is on a plane, and the plane is about to crash. Kara then saves the plane in a scene that looks pretty good, effects-wise, for TV, at least.
From here, the pilot episode becomes an origin story, and a well-developed one except for reasons that I will get to. Origin stories are like the frosting of comics, as it establishes the character’s powers and big events in their life to keep the series consistently going.
There are then the scenes where Supergirl realizes that she has to don a costume, and become a fighter against evil because…she has powers, and she really just should be doing that in the first place. Actually, I had no problem with that part of the show.
Here’s where it gets a little dumb. Kara’s adopted sister works for a spy agency that keeps tabs on extra-terrestrial life on this planet. Apparently, this Phantom Zone had a prison known as Fort Roz and this prison crashed into Earth, without destroying it. So there is no shortage of super-villains for this show.
The first villain she faced was Vartox, a weird alien who is actually based off a comic, that was based of a Sean Connery movie known as Zardoz. Yeah, it’s weird, and so was the villain.
It’s pretty clear that the villains and the spy agency are the downfalls of this show, but it does have some saving grace to it. Melisa Benoist, a Glee alumni, plays her pretty well.
In short, it is an awkward start, and I’m not certain what the long-range plan is for this show. I am reminded of Smallville, a show that I loved back when it was not tired out by too many seasons. Will Superman show up and take some part? I can see why, but he didn’t exactly show up and tell Kara, “I love what you’re doing”. It almost feels like the show doesn’t even have the rights to this character. Speaking of rights, it would be interesting if Arrow and Flash show up.