How 'Supergirl' Succeeds in Making Superman a Supporting Character
How 'Supergirl' Succeeds in Making Superman a Supporting Character
Beth Reynolds
Beth Reynolds
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Supergirl's transition to The CW for its sophomore season has hit a few speed bumps along the way, but it swiftly not only found its footing, but finished off by hitting a full stride. Superman has made a couple of cameos throughout the series, sparking buzz around whether or not the Man of Steel would be too dominant of a presence, overshadowing his cousin, the title character of the show. In the season 2 finale, "Nevertheless, She Persisted," Supergirl shows us just how strongly the Girl of Steel can stand beside, maybe even a step or two in front of, her super-cousin.


Chivalry Can Stay Dead

Aside from being one of the best on-screen representations of Superman in recent television and film, Supergirl's version of Clark Kent/Kal-El also succeeds as a supportive, feminist ally to Kara. Instead of playing the tough guy or older brother figure, Clark acquiesces to Mon-El's role as Kara's boyfriend, noting that he must be a good man if she is with him. Clark also doesn't attempt to prevent Kara from being the one to take on Rhea in a death match to save the planet. Some might complain that he isn't being chivalrous, but I say he's being a supporter of equality.

The reason Kal-El doesn't volunteer to take Kara's place in the battle against the Daxamite takeover is what really makes this show stand out in its representation of male and female superhero dichotomy. Supergirl beats Superman in a fight, and Superman acknowledges his defeat at least three times during the episode. The first time he recognizes the loss, Kal-El consciously ensures Kara knows that even though he was under the influence of silver Kryptonite, he was at full strength when they fought. 


Since Supergirl has bested Superman, she is now the Champion of Earth and is responsible for protecting it against the Daxamites. She's the one, and she's earned it. Supergirl made a bold move pitting the heroes against one another, but it was an important statement to finish off a season that's been full of episodes drawing political battle lines and featuring female empowerment like no other show on television.

The second time Superman makes his defeat known is when Mon-El scoffs at the notion that Kara is battling Rhea on behalf of Earth instead of Kal. Not only is Kal-El unashamed to admit his loss, he's proud and progressive enough to make sure everyone else knows it too. The concept that a man should protect a woman is archaic and unnecessary if she doesn't actually need protection. Women are powerful and strong, and not only can they usually protect themselves, they have the ability to protect those around them too. 

Stronger Together

As if the display of physical power and the acknowledgment that Kara is indeed the Champion isn't enough, Supergirl goes one step further and has Kal-El praise Kara's emotional superiority as well. After Kara sacrifices her boyfriend's existence on Earth for the chance to save all of humanity, Kal-El reveals that he likely wouldn't have had the strength to make the same decision in her place. 


Just in case viewers missed any of the obvious, grand gestures of Supergirl's goal to cement Kara as a champion in every sense of the word, Kal-El literally looks at her and says, "You are so much stronger than me." Supergirl is tough enough to handle the weight of the world and selfless enough to sacrifice her own happiness for the future of the rest of the people. 

Only a woman could willingly walk into the depths of personal despair and immediately muster up the courage to hold her head up, turn around and claw her way out. Sometimes the world isn't on her side even when she's protecting. Kara was betrayed by friends, doubted by family and beaten down by heartbreak, but nevertheless, she persisted, and that's why Supergirl stands alone as "Champion of Earth."

What did you think of the way Supergirl handled Superman's presence in the finale? Do you think Kara is stronger than Kal-El? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Supergirl will be back in the fall with season 3 on Monday nights at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)