Supergirl trolled its comic reading audience when revealing the true identity of Hank Henshaw. He is not an evil cyborg as the Hank Henshaw of the comics. He is, in fact, not Hank Henshaw at all but J’onn J’onnz. A superhero in his own right, Martian Manhunter, from the dead planet of Mars. While “Hank’s” real name is exciting for a couple of reasons there is a huge problem with the big reveal. There is absolutely no reason for J’onn and Alex to shut Kara out of the secret.
J’onn Can’t Be the Best Mentor Possible for Kara
There are plenty of reasons why nerds, such as myself, were excited to see J’onn reveal himself in “Human for a Day.” Putting aside the Martian Manhunter of it all, it was twist that could only benefit Supergirl. Supergirl should still keep the references and “appearances” of Kara’s older cousin to a minimum but it would be nice for her to have a superhero mentor, even an alien mentor.
Cat Grant is Kara’s mentor in life but the young heroine is pretty much on her own in figuring out how to save the world. J’onn would be a great person to fill that position. He has a lot in common with Kara. He is the last son of a dead planet, has to keep his identity secret and has these unbelievable powers.
Yet if J’onn insists on keeping Kara out of the secret he can’t be that mentor for her. He can be Hank Henshaw but he isn’t Hank Henshaw. Supergirl is limiting itself and J’onn’s character with this self-imposed rule that he can’t share his secret. Instead Supergirl has paired Alex and J’onn together which would be fine if Kara knew too. If one character on Supergirl should be under J’onn J’onzz’s tutelage, it should be the alien superhero, Kara, not the human spy, Alex.
Secrets for Secrets’ Sake
Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg (with other talented people) are behind Supergirl. They also run Arrow, The Flash and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow. While these men have brought us some quality superhero television, all of their shows have this nagging problem. They all love to have secrets in their storylines and the secrets are always perfunctory and annoying. The secrets are secrets for secrets’ sake. They rarely have any other purpose but cheaply drumming up drama and tension between characters.
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Secrets can work. The Supergirl pilot was busy, maybe too busy, but there was one benefit of all that plot movement. By the end of the first hour, nearly everyone in Kara’s life knew that she was Supergirl. The only hold out was Cat Grant, but there was an obvious reason for Kara not telling Cat. Cat is a media mogul, always looking for a story and she would’ve posted Kara’s identity on the front page of CatCo immediately, even if she spelled her name as Kiera.
Yet in “Hostile Takeover” Cat learned Kara’s identity mainly because Kara’s “disguise” is terrible. The reason that reveal worked though is because there were nine episodes of Supergirl previously where Cat and Kara’s relationship developed. Cat knowing Kara is Supergirl no longer as big a threat because Kara and Cat have built a relationship together with mutual trust. Supergirl earned Cat finding out that Kara is Supergirl.
Supergirl Has Hit the Pause Button
The J’onn situation is the mirror image of the Cat one. J’onn and Kara’s relationship is stalled the longer Kara goes without learning his secret. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Kara’s relationship with Alex. The more time that passes with Alex lying to Kara, through omission, the more reasonable it will be for a rift to grow between the sisters and that’s infuriating because it would be so needless.
There is no reason for J’onn not to trust Kara with his secret. Superman apparently knows given the reference J’onn made to him in “Hostile Takeover,” Why can’t Kara know too? It shows a lack of trust between Kara and J’onn. It makes their relationship seem less important. J’onn being on the show is cool but it makes it hard to care if that reveal can’t be shared with the main character of the series. No one would blame J’onn for not telling James, Winn or even Alex of his real name but Kara is a whole different story. The more estranged J’onn is to Supergirl, the more the Supergirl audience will be estranged to J’onn.
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But what do you think? Should Kara find out that “Hank” is really J’onn? Do you enjoy J’onn’s interactions with Alex more? Are you excited to have Martian Manhunter on Supergirl? Or do you even not know who Martian Manhunter is, let alone J’onn J’onzz?
Supergirl season one airs 8pm on CBS.
(Images courtesy of CBS)