Something has loomed over Kara since Supergirl began and it’s not the comical overabundance of TVs in her boss Cat Grant’s office. No, Supergirl has been living in the shadow of her much more famous cousin, Superman. Superman is probably the most talked about character on CBS’ Supergirl, yet he has never appeared. (Well if you don’t count fuzzy outlines and text bubbles as appearances.) Supergirl should keep it this way, Superman should never appear on the freshmen superhero series. In fact, Supergirl would do well to stop mentioning the Man of Steel altogether.
The Show Is About Supergirl, Not Superman
If I had my druthers, Superman wouldn’t even exist in Supergirl. This not for any kind of disdain I have for the character of Superman. I think Supergirl would be stronger if it took place in a universe where Superman and Clark Kent never came to Earth. If it was just his lesser known cousin Kara who escaped the dying planet Krypton alive.
I understand why Supergirl went in the direction they did. Superman is not only one of the biggest superheroes, he is one of the biggest figures in pop culture. Supergirl probably needed to address Superman to avoid audience confusion. Supergirl has long since crossed the line though. The Superman references have gone from establishing who Kara is to slavish name-droppings. There is a lack of faith that Supergirl can support her own show. Everything that Kara does is compared to Superman. Kara has never been able to stand on her own as she is constantly being measured to Superman. It gives the impression that the CBS show has no idea who their leading lady really is if they can’t relate her to Superman.
Episode 3, “Fight or Flight,” did better in the reference department. It was the heaviest episode yet on Superman mentions but it was also about Kara breaking free of her cousin’s shadow. “Fight or Flight” was full of quotes about Kara determined to become her own person and heroine. She’s not just Superman’s cousin, she’s Supergirl and that’s just as impressive a title as Superman. Supergirl finally showed that they have real interest in who Kara is and not just who is in relation to her cousin.
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It is for this reason that “Fight or Flight” should be the last episode that is heavy on Superman references. “Fight or Flight” should be the end of the introductory chapter of Supergirl. Even the laziest of audiences know that Supergirl is Superman’s cousin. Now it is time to give Kara Danvers her chance to shine outside of Clark Kent. Therefore, the text conversation Kara has with Clark is the most Superman should appear on the show.
Supergirl Doesn’t Need a Superman Safety Net
If Supergirl wants to keep true to the promise Kara made to herself in “Fight or Flight” Superman’s unseen presence has to disappear. It doesn’t matter if Kara wants to be different from her cousin if Supergirl keeps referencing Superman. The audience will never get to know Kara on her own merits if they are constantly being reminded of Superman.
This makes it even more imperative that Superman can’t show up on Supergirl as an actual character. The specter of Superman has been domineering enough. Superman himself would threaten to engulf everything Supergirl has done since its premiere to build up their leading lady. Superman is too big a figure that all the attention would be on him and none of it will be on Kara. The exact opposite of what the show should do since it bears the name of Supergirl.
Superman shouldn’t just be absent from the first couple seasons. Supergirl should go its entire run without the audience ever really meeting the last son of Krypton. The last daughter of Krypton is who this show is about and as Kara tells this is her story. It’s no one else’s story.In the grand sense of Kara’s story, Superman is irrelevant.
There is no reason for him to show up because Supergirl needs to be her own hero. Kara can’t partner or rely on Superman and neither can Supergirl. Even if Superman appears two or three seasons down the line on Supergirl, it won’t be right. Superman shouldn’t be the stamp of approval for Kara as hero. Kara’s morals and personal goals should be the stamp of approval for making Supergirl a hero.
But what do you think? Can Supergirl go on without showing Superman? Is Kara her own hero or does she live too much in Clark Kent’s shadow?
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8pm on CBS.
(Images courtesy of CBS)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.