When it comes to the big screen, it feels like DC is constantly playing catch-up to Marvel, oftentimes feeling as if they are a hair’s breadth from achieving their goal of breaking free from their rival’s shadow, only to stumble at the last hurdle. Fortunately, on the small screen, their footing is much more even, with shows like Arrow and The Flash meeting with praise, and Supergirl looking set to join those ranks.
Supergirl’s story is much like that of her cousin, Superman. Kara Zor-El was born on Krypton and sent to Earth when the former was destroyed, to help protect the baby Kal-El and make sure he grew up knowing the history of his home planet. Unfortunately, something went wrong and Kara ended up arriving on Earth an indeterminate amount of time after her cousin and ultimately going through a similar childhood as he did, albeit with a different adoptive family (the Danvers) and Superman occasionally checking up on her. Season One starts with Kara working as a PA to Cat Grant, owner of CatCo Media, and firmly suppressing her super heroic side until a major incident requires her to take action and save the day.
If you’ve ever watched one of the many Superman TV series of the past couple of decades (Lois and Clark, Superman: The Animated Series, Smallville) you will almost certainly recognise the premise of the show. A lot of the episode plots deal with stories that have been covered in previous incarnations (Supergirl loses her powers, Supergirl becomes infected with Red Kryptonite, Supergirl fights Brainiac etc.) so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of the first drafts simply had the words Superman and Clark scratched out and Supergirl and Kara written over the top. Fortunately, unlike Smallville, Kara starts the Season with all her powers intact, so there isn’t any need for several series of waiting for her to don the cape and fly.
Taking on the important role of the Girl of Steel is Melissa Benoist. Her bubbly and charming exterior fits perfectly with both Supergirl and her alter ego of Kara Danvers, but also belies a more steely resolve that helps her to become a better hero as the series progresses. Supergirl also sees cameos from previous Kryptonian alumni such as Dean Cain, Helen Slater and Laura Vandervoort (who both played Supergirl in previous incarnations); their roles may be different from their original characters but they are still fantastic fun to watch. Also of note are many of the supporting cast, most noticeably David Harewood playing Hank Henshaw, leader of the DEO, a secret government organisation designed to help combat any alien threats that may arise. One of the most important story-arcs comes out of his origins and alliance with Supergirl.
Whilst the stories and acting are a delight, the musical choices sometimes feel a little too on the nose. Most egregious is using Charlie Puth’s “One Call Away” as the backing for the end of the final episode. The lyrics “Superman’s got nothing on me” just feel a little over the top and slightly boastful as we are shown the main cast regrouping and relaxing after the climax.
Supergirl is very enjoyable to watch and, with any luck, Season Two will follow suit while also hopefully coming up with some original storylines that take us away from retreads of Superman mythos. Personally, I’m hoping for the introduction of Comet the Super-Horse, because that weird psychosexual can of worms is certainly something that has never been attempted before on TV, and it would be interesting to see how they make it work.
SUPERGIRL IS OUT ON DVD & BLU-RAY