Super Start for Supergirl
Creators: Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler
Supergirl: “I’m not Superman’s cousin, I’m Supergirl! And if I’m going to be defined, it’s going to be by my victories and my losses. No one else’s.” – Supergirl, “Fight or Flight”, Season 1, episode 3
Supergirl is the first DC show to star a super-heroine since 1975’s Wonder Woman. A lot has changed since the 70’s. So is this a job for Supergirl? Or do we need to wait another 40 years? Let’s find out.
James: “Don’t you have a city to save? You know, “Up, up, and away?” – “Pilot”, Season 1, episode 1
As we’ve discussed before, Superman is obscenely powerful. Wouldn’t that make Supergirl too powerful for a TV show? Surprisingly, no. Despite her powers, Supergirl doesn’t have much combat training and uses brute force in many of her fights. Throw in super villains, powerful aliens, and evil Kryptonians, and you get a major threat to the Girl of Steel.
Super Supporting Cast
Cat: “All four of you standing there doing nothing. You look like the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.” – Supergirl: “World’s Finest”, season 1, episode 18
Melissa Benoist traded in her backup singers on Glee for a cape and superpowers to star as Supergirl. She has an eclectic supporting cast. First, there’s James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) more commonly known as Jimmy Olsen. Yup, Superman’s pal. Next up is Winn Schlott (Jeremy Jordan) as tech expert and son of a villain called The Toyman (Henry Czerny).
Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) is Supergirl’s boss and designated scene stealer. Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) is Supergirl’s adopted sister and an agent of the DEO, an organization dealing with hostile aliens. Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) is the head of the DEO and helps Supergirl fight aliens. Unbeknownst to her, Hank is also hiding a secret…
Cat: “Oh, please. Barry shows up, the Flash shows up, his insistence on that silly name, and he was so unfailingly charming and nice that he had to be either a superhero or a Mormon.” – “World’s Finest”, Season 1, Episode 18
Hank Henshaw acts suspiciously throughout the first few episodes of Supergirl. His eyes flash red when no one is around and he performs superhuman feats. A comics-savvy fan might think Hank has transformed into his supervillain identity, the Cyborg Superman. In actuality, he’s someone quite different.
The Flash (Grant Gustin) appeared in the crossover “World’s Finest” and reunited Glee cast members Gustin and Melissa Benoist. Unique among superhero crossovers, the Flash and Supergirl don’t fight each other and work well together. Superheroes getting along and fighting evil in this day and age? Preposterous. Just ask Captain America and Iron Man.
So with The Flash running around, where’s Superman? Supergirl makes it clear early on that she doesn’t want her cousin flying in to save her. If she is going to be a hero, she wants to do it on her own terms. Superman only appears twice, once before she makes that decision, and a second time when Supergirl decides that she needs help.
The main villains are bland. Laura Benanti plays Astra In-Ze, Supergirl’s aunt. She led an organized force of Kryptonian criminals who had survived the planet’s destruction and tried to conquer Earth. Next up in the roles of Big Bads are Non (Chris Vance) and Indigo (Laura Vandervoort).
You might remember Non as one of the villains from Superman II. In Supergirl, he acts like a discount version of that movie’s main villain, General Zod.
Indigo is an alien android related to the Superman villain, Brainiac. While Brainiac follows a corrupted version of his primary programming, Indigo is just a meatbag-hating artificial intelligence. She is an interesting threat, but not an engaging character. And in the small world department, actress Laura Vandervoort previously played Supergirl in Smallville .
The only interesting villain is Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), an eccentric genius best described as Lex Luthor by way of Tony Stark. He hates aliens and often schemes to kill Supergirl. He also works with her when the villain of the week is dangerous enough.
This first season is intriguing. It brings together well known icons, lesser known heroes, and even some original characters. The show, like many Superman stories can get preachy, and the villains aren’t engaging, but in the end Supergirl has proven itself worth your time.