Superman’s younger cousin comes to television in her own series starting Monday October 26th and, even though Kal-El is not slated to appear any time soon, the Man Of Steel casts a pretty long shadow. However, Supergirl (both the character AND the TV series) has the potential to outshine her more famous relative. Here are 10 reasons why…
1. A Sense Of Fun
Superman’s last two big outings in movie theatres were a bit of a drag–2006’s Superman Returns saw him struggling to find his place in a world that had largely moved on during his absence, while 2013’s Man Of Steel emphasized the hero’s alien nature (while also seeing him lay waste to both Metropolis and Smallville, with seemingly little regard for the safety of civilians). But, based on what we’ve seen so far, Supergirl focuses on Kara’s exuberance and positivity, as well as her desire to do the right thing. She also looks like she’s having a good time being a superhero, which is not something you see much of these days.
2. A Bigger Rogues’ Pool
Let’s face it, there hasn’t been a whole lot of variety in Superman’s big screen nemeses. He usually winds up facing Lex Luthor, General Zod, Richard Pryor, or some made-up villain like Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’s Nuclear Man (don’t ask). But with the weekly series format, the creative team behind Supergirl (also Arrow and The Flash) are free to pillage 75-plus years of DC Comics history for Supergirl’s roster of rogues. Kara is already set to face Vartox, Hellgrammite, Reactron, and the Red Tornado. Who knows what other scoundrels are waiting in the wings? Hopefully not Nuclear Man!
3. Unexplored Depths
While her older cousin has been published continuously across multiple titles (not to mention guest shots in other series, and appearances in team books like Justice League Of America), six feature films (with more on the way), serials, novels, newspaper strips, cartoons, and multiple TV series of his own, Supergirl has had exactly one big-screen appearance (the 1984 box-office bomb starring Helen Slater), guest appearances on Smallville and the recent Superman & Justice League Unlimited cartoons, and a few comic series of her own, none of which lasted longer than a few years before cancellation. It’s hard to find a new story to tell about Superman, but storytellers have still only scratched the surface of Supergirl’s potential.
4. A Cooler Olsen
In the past, Jimmy Olsen is usually best remembered for getting into trouble and calling Perry White “Chief”, much to his boss’s chagrin. But Superman’s pal has been rebooted for the new Supergirl series–the now-adult James Olsen (played by True Blood’s Mehcad Brooks) comes to National City on behalf of his Super-friend to keep an eye on Kara, and to shepherd her through the early days of her crimefighting career.
5. Step Aside, Boys
They may not always have been torn from the pages of comic books, but there is a precedent for awesome female crimefighters on the small screen, whether it’s Buffy Summers, Sydney Bristow, Veronica Mars, or Charlie’s Angels. Male do-gooders are a dime a dozen, but Supergirl has the opportunity to join an ever-growing roster of influential, inspiring, and super-cool women heroes. Kara Danvers and her super-powered alter ego have the opportunity to say a lot about the struggles of a career woman in a male-dominated industry–specifically, the superhero industry! Even with all the superhero stories being told across multiple entertainment platforms these days, it’s still largely a boys’ club. The new Supergirl TV show will hopefully represent a large step forward for equality in the crimefighting workplace.
6. Back Off, Bats!
No matter how many times Superman saves the world, he’s always going to be compared unfavourably to his undeniably cooler and more versatile JLA teammate (and sometimes rival) Batman. It’s hard to compete with a character like the Dark Knight, who has proven himself open to such a variety of interpretations and tones (from the campy, colourful Adam West incarnation to the gritty, earthbound Christian Bale version). Even though they’re arguably the two foundation stones of the superhero archetype, creators have always struggled to make The Man Of Steel as cool and relevant as The Dark Knight. Thankfully, Supergirl has no such standard to live up to–it’s not as though she has to be as cool as Batman, or even Batgirl! She just has to be the best Supergirl she can be.
7. The Legacy Of Reeve
As long as the shadow of the Batman may be, live-action interpretations of Superman will always be measured against an even longer one–the one cast by Christopher Reeve’s iconic performance in Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie (and its three sequels). Few would argue that Reeve’s portrayal of both Superman and Clark Kent is anything other than perfect, and as such, every live-action version of the character has struggled with the comparison. But Supergirl’s two live-action precedents–the aforementioned Helen Slater film, and Laura Vandervoort’s appearances as Kara on Smallville–aren’t nearly as revered or well-known, so star Melissa Benoist is free to make the role her own.
8. Go Big Or Go Home
Superman has come to the small screen before, most recently on Smallville and, before that, on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman. But the former focused on Clark Kent before he took up the mantle of The Man Of Steel, and the latter saw superheroics take a backseat to the will-they-or-won’t-they romantic shenanigans of its title characters. Supergirl, on the other hand, is a straight-up superhero story, not a ongoing prequel or a romantic dramedy masquerading as a superhero show. Expect big action from the Girl Of Steel on a weekly basis–there’s surely going to be plenty of drama in Kara’s personal and professional life, but this show is called Supergirl, after all, not National City or The Adventures Of Kara Danvers! But, while we’re on the subject of drama…
9. Love Is In The Air
When it comes to the love life of Superman, the conversation usually begins and ends with Lois Lane–sure, Lana Lang, Wonder Woman, Maxima, and the mermaid Lori Lemaris may enter the picture on occasion, but everything comes back to Lois and Clark eventually. However, Kara/Supergirl isn’t bound by any such romantic conventions–expect sparks to fly between her and James Olsen, but don’t count out her co-worker Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), either. Complicating matters further, Olsen’s old flame Lucy Lane (sister of Lois) is set to appear, played by Jenna Dewan Tatum. And this is still only the first season–who’s to say Supergirl’s green-skinned, computer-brained love interest from the 31st century, Brainiac-5, won’t make an appearance someday? Or Bill Starr, the human alter ego of Comet, The Super-Horse? Okay, that last one might be a bit too weird for prime-time TV, but it happened in the comics, so anything’s possible!
10. Cat Person
Sure, Superman has his faithful pooch Krypto, but let’s face it–people on the internet, and the real world, are wild about cats these days. It doesn’t seem terribly unlikely that Kara’s small-screen counterpart will one day adopt a cat named Streaky, just like in the comics. And even if the feline doesn’t gain Kryptonian super-powers, having a cat around the show will always make for great water-cooler conversation the day after a new episode drops (not to mention meme and GIF fodder). There’s no actual word yet on whether or not Supergirl will have a feline companion at any point, but it feels like a safe bet.
Supergirl premieres on Global TV Monday October 26 at 8.30 et/pt!