It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a female driven superhero series!
Supergirl premieres Monday Oct. 26th at 8:30 EST on Global/CBS with an exposition and action packed pilot episode. Unlike the dark reboots of many of our favourite characters, Supergirl is campy and self-aware. It’s a show where the baddies are so very bad, the quest for justice is pure, and a girl just can’t get a good date (sigh).
Kara Zor-El is you-know-who’s older cousin sent to Earth to protect her kin. However, after departure from Krypton, her pod was shot off course into a stormy space cloud where time doesn’t pass and makes it to our planet a couple decades late. By that time, Clark Kent is a grown man and has revealed himself to the world for who he truly is. Her mission to come to be his protector is ostensibly null-and-void.
She takes name Kara Danvers (played by Melissa Benoist) and is placed under the care of foster parents played by Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Helen Slater (1984’s big screen Supergirl) giving us a throwback thrill.
She decides to be like us normals, hiding her powers from the world. Charming and likeable, Kara isn’t quite soaring in her career, and is struggling under the oppressive and perfectly manicured thumb of boss Cat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart doing her best Devil Wears Prada). However, Kara’s humdrum life is changed forever when she saves a plane that’s about to crash because her foster sister is on it. (Question: Is this seriously the first time she’s had the urge to save the lives of others? Like, only when someone she knows is involved?) Now in the public eye, Supergirl is born. Not Superwoman, or Superperson, but girl.
What’s wrong with being a girl? Nothing. Girls can be strong, smart, dynamic individuals and the negative connotations that come with the infantilizing and degrading use of the term girl should be ejected from our lexicon. Cat Grant is the mouthpiece for the girl versus woman argument (having coined the name Supergirl for her magazine), which is an interesting choice given that her sartorial quips and comical materialism make her seem like kind of a Superasshole.
Question: Why does Supergirl need a tiny skirt to go about fighting nefarious looking aliens and preventing crime? She doesn’t wear skirts that short to the office. I concede to the fact that a quick Google search will reveal previous highly sexualized (and frankly offensive) iterations of this character, and in comparison her costume seems quaint.
The show flimsily tries to address this issue with a scene where Kara’s BFF/wannabe lover sews her a tiny costume and she’s all like, HELL NO. It’s almost like the show is saying to us, “See, it could be so much fucking worse, guys!” But I’m still not buying it. Until we get this girl some pants or I see some equal opportunity objectification (shirtless Batman or Captain America in ass chaps) this is where I stand.
Speaking of objectification, Jimmy (Oh, I’m sorry James) Olsen is played by the statuesque Mehcad Brooks and he gives a wink that delivers two shots of kryptonite straight to the knees. James is there as her cousin’s proxy because apparently Superboy is too busy to come say hi?
On one hand, the absence of her cousin allows Supergirl to be the central focus of the show. But it does seem weird that he wouldn’t at the very least be part of her life. They both seem to be living in North American cities and like, can fly. Part of me hopes that even though she claims that he doesn’t need her, that perhaps in a future episode we might actually be able to see Supergirl come to his rescue.
Besides sexism, it seems that Supergirl will be battling a different villain each week. Given that it’s like, kind of all her fault. When her pod landed on Earth it just happened to bring with it a prison containing some of the vilest criminals the universe has to offer. Sure, great. Her cousin brought along with him the promise of justice and peace, but she brings a wave of fresh hell for the alien police. Like Pandora, she’s another powerful woman who unleashes evil upon the world.
Heartfelt, although slightly uneven in tone and message, Supergirl does offer the promise of an entertaining tale where strong women are celebrated. And to that I say: Up, Up, and Away!