It’s hard to believe that it’s been four decades since a major network has launched a TV show about a female superhero based on a comic-book character. In fact, not since Lynda Carter first donned the Lasso of Truth as Wonder Woman in 1975, have young girls had a super-heroine to call their own, and perhaps look up to.
Too long, in my opinion.
The much-anticipated (and much-publicized) Supergirl television series premiered on CBS last night, and I think it hit on a lot of the right notes – some perhaps a little too often than others – and judging from the ratings, it’s off to a “super” start …if you’ll excuse the (obvious) pun. 😉
In a television and film landscape that is dominated by male superheroes – in which female characters are often portrayed as nothing more than supporting cast, eye candy or in constant need of rescue – Supergirl clearly knows who its target audience is, and doesn’t apologize for it.
Throughout the premiere episode we are constantly reminded of the strength of “girl power” – in fact, we’re kind of beaten over the head with it – but I understand why the producers included them in the script and expect them to wane as the season progresses.
However, if I had a daughter, I would absolutely want her to watch this show and to feel empowered by a character that she can identify with. Therefore, I hope the writers quickly move away from scripting lines like, “She’s tough…for a girl” or “She hits hard…for a girl,” and focus instead on her strength as a powerful superhero, period.
The premiere episode didn’t waste any time, as Supergirl / Kara Zor-El, aka: Kara Danvers (played by Glee’s, Melissa Benoist), quickly embraces her abilities and wants to help people …just like her more famous cousin over in that other city, Metropolis.
Thankfully, the producers didn’t unnecessarily stretch out this part of the story by making Kara the ‘reluctant hero,’ or by having her slowly struggle to come to terms with who she is and what she’s capable of. In fact, Supergirl’s mix of optimism, excitement and adventure is what makes her such a winning character, and one that you can’t help but root for.
As a result, the first episode moves very quickly as we learn of Kara’s origin and relation to Superman, her upbringing with the Danvers, recognition of and embracing her abilities, a potential personal disaster which forces her out of ‘hiding,’ and the introduction to her donning the iconic Supergirl costume…all before the credits roll.
Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of Kara Zor-El / Supergirl is fun, quirky, cute, geeky, enthusiastic, strong and pitch perfect as far as I’m concerned. Her blend of joy, awkwardness and hesitant self-assertion is very charming, and underlies the great potential for where the series (and character) can grow.
We are introduced to Kara in the present day, working for media mogul Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart) fetching coffee, and taking a cue from her cousin’s playbook by sporting her own pair of black rimmed spectacles (a la Clark Kent) …which, as we all know, is the perfect disguise!
Despite her efforts to fit in, she’s still drawn towards a desire to do more and to help people, and it’s when her adoptive sister faces danger, that Kara seizes her opportunity to become who she feels that she was always meant to be.
Kara is joined by a cast of supporting characters, including famous Daily Planet photographer (and potential love interest) James “Jimmy” Olsen, along with the tech-savvy (and lovelorn) Wynn, and her adoptive sister, Alex Danvers, who works as a scientist for a secret government organization called the D.E.O (Department of Extra-Normal Operations); thereby establishing the team she’ll have by her side.
Nice touch. 🙂
All in all I was really happy with the premiere episode of Supergirl and am looking forward to seeing where the season takes her, and how her character will develop in the face of greater (and more powerful) threats.
Although Supergirl appears to be specifically designed to fill a feminine niche that has been too long ignored, it certainly does not exclude male fans of the superhero genre, and is intended to be fun and enjoyed by the entire family.
Clearly CBS also believes in the series, due to the lead-in from its most popular show, The Big Bang Theory, and the quality of Supergirl’s special effects, which are top-notch.
I’m sure comic book fans will nit-pick over minor details and changes to the Supergirl mythos, but their criticism isn’t much different than those who read a book before seeing the movie based on it …inevitably (and initially) they are disappointed simply because they knew more than the average audience going in.
As a comic book fan myself, I am watching Supergirl with fresh eyes and an open mind. I also think it’s important for a show like this to exist and be successful, because I’d want my own (future) daughter to know that girls can be strong and powerful superheroes, too.
So far, so good!