As readers of Pop Goes the World knows I am a big fan of Superman anything to do with its universe with the exception of the New 52 (can’t stand they broke up Lois and Clark). Of course the bulk of my Superman love comes from Smallville but I was none the less excited to learn that we will get a Supergirl TV series.
I had high expectations considering it comes from Greg Berlanti, the man that brought us Arrow and The Flash so when I saw the pilot during preview night at San Diego Comic Con 2015, I had some high hopes. Even after seeing the trailer from the upfronts, I was a mixture of excitement but also trepidation.
The trepidation mostly comes from Melissa Benoist being cast as Kara Zor-El because of her time on Glee even after seeing the trailers, it didn’t make me go, she’s perfect for Kara when I had similar doubts with Grant Gustin as Barry Allen but those got wiped away the moment he appeared on Arrow.
The pilot to Supergirl got leaked months ago but I decided not to see it until Preview Night. I wanted to see it on a big screen so let’s recap the action.
As with all the Greg Berlanti superhero shows, we open up with a “My Name is….” narration from Kara. Kara explains the story of before Krypton’s destruction, her cousin Kal-El was sent as a baby to Earth by his parents Jor-El and Lara. To protect and keep an eye on him, Zor-El and Alura send their 12-year old daughter Kara after him. Alura gives Kara her necklace as a memento. Unfortunately, after Kryton’s destruction, Kara’s ship ended up in the Phantom Zone where she sleeps for the next 24 years.
By then Kal-El grew up to become Superman, Earth’s greatest protector. Superman took Kara under his wing and brought him to the Danvers, scientists who someone know a lot about aliens and would raise and protect Kara along side their other foster daughter, Alex. The Danvers are played by Helen Slater, the movie version of Supergirl, and Dean Cain, Superman from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. When Slater and Cain appeared on screen, a huge cheer erupted from the audience. While Slater said some kind words to the young Kara, Cain had no lines, which I was saddened by but hope this isn’t the only appearance by the Danvers on the show.
We fast forward to a now grown up Kara (Melissa Benoist) now the assistant to Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) of CatCo, fetching her coffee and layouts. Kara is the object of affection to Winn (Jeremy Jordan), a co-worker in IT, who asks her out but she is busy with an Internet date. Kara uses her superhearing to know when Cat is coming so she is prepared.
We learn that Cat wants to cut a newspaper out of her empire, which Kara disagrees and says that the Daily Planet is successful. Cat says it is only successful because it covers Superman 54% of the time. If the Tribune were to succeed then they need a superhero too.
Also at CatCo is the new art director, a one Jimmy, sorry James, Olson (Mehcad Brooks), formerly of the Daily Planet. Kara is all goofy around him and even more so when she sees a photo that James took of her cousin, which he gifts her. When James mentions how Kara looks like Superman, Kara gets all adorkably flustered.
Later, Kara gets her foster sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) to help her pick an outfit for her data. Alex recommends blue since it is a family color. Kara complains how she wishes there were more to her life than just being an assistant, that she would like to use her powers for good like her cousin. Alex advises against such notions. Alex then rushes off to catch her plane to Geneva
Kara is on her date, which isn’t going well at all. The date takes a call and Kara uses her superhearing to learn her date has ditched her. When Kara hears that Alex’s plane has engine failure, she springs into action and flies for the first time in years to save the plane and its passengers. Smartphone footage captured her rescue and National City has their very own superhero.
I did like the scene when Kara gets all excited watching press coverage of her coming out. While Kara is all excited, Alex is not and is not very supportive of Kara wanting to become a superhero.
The next day, CatCo is a buzz about this new superhero and Cat wants to get an exclusive on her.
Kara, needing someone to be excited for her, confides in Winn that she is the mysterious saviour and proves it by falling off the CatCo roof only to fly back onto it. Winn then helps Kara with her costume, which goes from the skimpy outfits we’ve seen the comic Supergirl have and also tries to argue against a cape. Winn then sends Kara off to stop certain crimes from happening and concedes that a cape is a good thing. I did like this sequence of Winn helping Kara and her being game for anything.
Although I do question if telling Winn will bite Kara in the ass in the future as we know Winn is actually Winslow Shott aka the villain Toyman.
Regardless, Winn sends Kara to stop a fire and on her way, she is shot with Kryptonite darts. When she wakes up, Kara is cuffed to a table with low-grade Kryptonite to subdue, so tells the director of the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations), Hank Henshaw (David Harewood). Henshaw pretty much tells Kara that the DEO was created because of Kal-El and her as they believe they are a menance to Earth. Kara is also surprised to learn that Alex is an agent with the DEO. Kara is hurt when Hank won’t let her help or use her powers for good and is hurt that Alex is part of this organization.
Less we forget, we are introduced to our villain, I think he was called Vartox, who is sent by some unknown person by orders of a general, to kill Kara.
The next day at CatCo, Kara is not happy that Cat called her alter ego Supergirl and not Superwoman. Cat gives a speech on why it is not a bad thing to be referred to as a girl. Cat is about to fire Kara until James comes in to say that Kara got a clear shot of Supergirl in action. Cat gives Kara a reprieve. One of the best things of the Pilot was Flockhart, who is pretty good as Cat and I like this version of the character than any I’ve seen before on screen.
When Kara and James leave Cat’s office, Vartox sends a message only Kara can hear for them to meet. When they meet, Kara gets her ass handed to her by Vartox until Alex and the rest of the DEO chase Vartox away.
Back at DEO Headquarters, Hank explains to Kara that when she emerged from the Phantom Zone and came to Earth, she also brought a alien prison where all of the inmates escaped. This is the episodic part of the show, catching an alien prisoner every week. Kara doesn’t feel that she is the one to stop the alien prisoners but after a pep talk from Alex and showing a pretty cheesy recorded message from her mirth mother, Kara is ready to be a hero.
Kara and Vartox meet up again and eventually, Kara uses her heat vision to destroy Vartex’s staff. Vartox takes remnants of this staff to kill himself as he rather die than face the wrath of the general.
One of things I liked about the pilot is seeing Kara use her different powers throughout and like that she already has all of them but just is a little rusty using them.
Alura was mentioned by Vartox during one of this encounters with Kara and we learn that Alura must have been some kind of Krytonian judge and sentenced him to prison.
As Kara embraces her role as Supergirl, she learns that James knew all along that she is Superman’s cousin and he was the one that asked James to keep an eye on Kara. Kara figures that Kal-El wanted her to become a hero but wishes he would have just said so. James said that Kal-El wanted Kara to decide to do this on her own. James then gives Kara the blanket that Kal-El was sent int that I believe Kara uses for her cape.
Kara gives a cheesy voice over as she flies around National City and Cat’s office. We then hit the coda where the Commander tells the General the bad news about Vartox and not killing Kara. We think that the General could be Zod but instead it is a woman also played by Laura Benanti seeking revenge and wanting her niece dead. I am not 100% sure who this character is supposed to be so if anyone knows, say so in the comments.
Overall, I think Supergirl shows some promise. Benoist was fine as Kara and while watching the Pilot, I can see how much she loves being in this role and is having fun. Smallville, Arrow and The Flash director Glen Winter, directed the Pilot and continues to do amazing work in the superhero genre as the first episode was stylishly directed.
While I didn’t love it immediately like how I loved The Flash, I will let the show grow as it finds its footing and voice.
During the Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment Screening Block, the Supergirl cast and creatives mentioned what we can expect in season 1:
- Livewire and Reactron are going to be some of the villains you will see in season 1
- Maxwell Lord will be a recurring character on the show and will be played by Peter Facinelli. It is unknown if this will be good version or bad guy version. The last time we saw this character, he was played by Gil Bellows in season 9 of Smallville.
- The tone of the show is based on the Donner Superman films with lots of humor and heart, a show that families can watch.