ABC has Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter. NBC has Heroes Reborn. FOX has Gotham. The CW has Arrow, The Flash and, soon, Legends of Tomorrow. And now CBS is finally getting its own superhero/comics series, Supergirl.
Supergirl stars Glee alum Melissa Benoist as the titular character. Kara Zor-Ela has a secret: she is not from Planet Earth but was sent here to protect her cousin, Kal El, who we know as Superman, after their planet, Krypton, was in serious trouble. Things didn’t exactly go according to plan, but Kara ended up living with the Danvers family (including her new foster sister, Alex, played by Grey’s Anatomy alum Chyler Leigh) and lives a normal human life.
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In present day, Kara works for Cat Grant, the CEO of Catco Worldwide Media in National City, which owns the city’s Tribune newspaper. She may be trying to live a normal life as someone whose mundane job is to grab coffee and lunch for her boss, Cat, but her powers still come through, like sensing when Cat is coming up on the elevator.
Cat Grant is a Devil Wears Prada-like boss, and actress Calista Flockhart plays her brilliantly. (And by the way, it’s great to see her back on TV.) I guess that would make Kara Supergirl‘s version of Andy Sachs. Either way, the relationship between these two can get tense, and if Kara messes up with anything, she could easily be fired.
At Catco, other employees that Kara works with include IT technician Winn Schott, played by Broadway star Jeremy Jordan, who some of us will remember from NBC’s Smash; and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), former Daily Planet photographer and new art director for the Tribune. During the pilot, it becomes obvious that at least one of them, if not both, will become a love interest for Kara at some point. Both actors are charismatic and play well opposite Benoist.
The first big moment of the premiere comes when an airplane has engine failure and Kara, who feels like she’s been stuck in a rut with her life, decides she needs to live up to her full potential and ends up coming out of the shadows, so to speak, by becoming the superhero that gives this show its premise. It’s quite an amazing scene, with Kara trying to get the plane to safety so that the passengers on board don’t die, and is reminiscent of a similar scene from the Superman franchise.
This ordeal leads to a flurry of excitement all over National City and within the Tribune. Kara opens up to Winn about her secret (which is not a spoiler since this scene has been promoted on TV and online). Afterwards, Kara ends up helping with other trouble spots in the city, as well as making her Supergirl outfit.
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The series doesn’t just take place at Catco or out in the middle of crises; there’s also a secret agency tasked with protecting people from aliens. This is where we’re introduced to Director Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), who doesn’t particularly warm to Kara, but he may have to if they want to put a stop to the villains wanting to cause destruction on Earth, which is all tied in with Kara’s backstory.
There are a whole host of superhero shows on TV right now, but it must be noted that Supergirl is the first female superhero series to debut since Wonder Woman in the 1970s. This brings up the question, how much is gender discussed on Supergirl? In the pilot, there are a couple notable instances, including one that created a lot of conversation online after a clip was released, showing Cat Grant scolding Kara after the latter wonders if calling her Supergirl instead of Superwoman is anti-feminist. Cat says, “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl and your boss and powerful and rich and hot and smart. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”
You can get a sneak peek at this and much more in this First Look trailer:
Later on, after Henshaw deems Supergirl not strong enough when battling someone, he receives a tough response from an agent: “Why? Because she’s just a girl? That’s exactly what we’re counting on.” The gist is that if others perceive her to be weak because she’s female, then that will be their downfall for underestimating her.
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It’s unfortunate that we even have to bring up the fact that Kara is a female superhero. (No one praises the other shows for being led by men, after all.) But because this is a rarity in a male-dominated field, it must be said and we can only hope that Supergirl succeeds both creatively and in viewership so that more shows like this (and even Agent Carter, for that matter) will be made. (On the small screen, Marvel’s Jessica Jones will debut on Netflix this fall and, on the big screen, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel will follow in 2017 and 2019, respectively — this is still not enough.)
Supergirl, simply put, is a fun show, and the producers have done a great job casting the roles, including with lead Melissa Benoist. The superhero side of the show is very strong and those scenes are a blast to watch, but the series also has a lot of The Devil Wears Prada infused throughout (and I can’t wait to see if/when Cat Grant is taken down a few pegs).
Early on, some worried that Supergirl was going to be too much like a rom-com. While it’s obvious that we will see this at times throughout this first season and beyond, I don’t think it will drag the show down creatively, or at least it shouldn’t if executed just right. If the producers and writers can balance everything well, Supergirl will be a show we can look forward to watching each and every week, and it will certainly live up to the hype — based on the pilot, it’s already doing just that.
Are you planning on watching Supergirl? Do you have high hopes for this series? And are you worried it won’t live up to those expectations?
Supergirl premieres Monday, October 26 at 8:30pm on CBS.
(Image and video courtesy of CBS)