Review: Supergirl

My name is Kara Zor-el” … and she spent 5 years on an island. No, wait, that’s Oliver Queen. My, does Greg Berlanti love that opening.

Anyway, a feeling of excitement and dread followed the announcement of a Supergirl show. The media blitz looked like “OMIGAWWWWDDD!!!! A FEMINIST ICON! OH YAY!”  I’m not sure if I have properly given a phonetic rendering of a Valley Girl there, but that’s what I was shooting for.

Despite the initial commercial, which looked like it would just be Felicity Smoake (from Arrow) with superpowers, the media buzz around this reeked of Social Justice Warrior, Politically Correct bull.  In fact, the closer it got to the air date, the heavier it got. What excitement I had was starting to wane.

Then I saw the pilot.

So, in the first 15 minutes, we’ve got the setup — Kara Zor-El comes to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men, blah blah blah, arrives late, when Superman is already a force to be reckoned with, and decides “You mean I can have a normal life? Okay.”

When Kara’s sister is on an out-of-control plane, Kara flies into action, literally. And Kara decides that she likes being a hero. Kara (actress Melissa Benoist) is girly and excitable and sort of adorable.  She’s very much Felicity Smoake with superpowers.

Though it’s at this point we get that her sister, played by Chyler Leigh, is a bit of a bitch. Yes. Bitch.  Our Supergirl saves a plane with her sister on it, and said sister can’t even be bothered to say THANK YOU for saving her lousy life. Yes, she has good reasons for telling our lead to keep a low profile, but, hi, she just SAVED YOUR LIFE, YOU NITWIT. SAY THANK YOU.

Anyway, after this brush with heroism, Kara decides she wants to play in the realm of heroism, and we’re off to the races. We even get a fan service moment as she cycles through comic book Supergirl costumes … one which looks particularly stupid, and she dismisses it as such. She responds to an armed robbery with excitement and a smile.

So far, she’s far more impressed and excited about her powers than Toby McGuire ever was.

Then, enter spooky government agency led by Hank Henshaw, the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (dumb name, I know). There’s a little bit of Superman: Earth-1 by J. Michael Straczsynski here, with wariness about aliens, with a touch of paranoia — but then again, it’s not paranoia when they really are out to get you.  Henshaw has spent decades dealing with escapees from a prison in the Phantom Zone that landed on earth.

Kara’s from out of town, and he isn’t happy with her existence. Considering how Henshaw ended up in the Superman comics (as a villainous cyborg version of Superman), the initial hostility strikes me as appropriate. When she offers to help, he answers, “Nothing says covert like a flying woman in a blue and red outfit.”  Which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

My fears about the SJW PC BS were quelled with a discussion between Kara and her boss, Kat Grant (played by Calista Flockhart), and the conversation starts with “What’s the matter with the world girl? I’m a girl. So are you. If you have problems with it, maybe the problem is with you.” It was a nice smackdown.

So, at the 45-minute mark, we’ve had our first super-fight. And, since everyone has seen Spider-Man a million times, she quits for five minutes because she didn’t win the fight. She has to be talked into saving the day, and believe in herself, and … why?  Because freaking Spider-Man does this every freaking timeSeriously, enough people. The trope is now a cliche. Stop it.

On the other hand, it was a first episode, and you can see the paint by numbers aspects of the script. I’ll see where the plot goes in future episodes. I would really like it for the episodes to get better as they go along.

Oh yes, and the bad guys are preparing for the arrival of “The General.” I had expect the line “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD” to be coming shortly, but they had a little twist on that.

And no, Kara and her allies are not calling themselves the Superfriends. It was specifically stated. I’ll give them that.

Thus far, fun, and perfectly harmless. Give it a 7/10. Given that it’s up against Gotham, I hope this kills Gotham, because if anything needs to die, it’s the terrible Criminal Minds ripoff that wants to be a DC comic.

About Declan Finn

Declan Finn is the author of Honor at Stake, an urban fantasy novel, nominated for Best Horror in the first annual Dragon Awards. He has also written The Pius Trilogy, an attempt to take Dan Brown to the woodshed in his own medium -- soon to be republished by Silver Empire Press. Finn has also written "Codename: Winterborn," an SF espionage thriller, and it's follow-up, "Codename: Winterborn." And "It was Only on Stun!" and "Set To Kill" are murder mysteries at a science fiction convention.
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1 Response to Review: Supergirl

  1. I refuse to watch Gotham during my comic week round up.

    I’m only bringing it up because they do but the whole “I must believe in myself” – it’s not Spider-man, it just seems to come up any time girls play the hero role. (Korra of the top of my head for example – the original Supergirl, etc) iZombie might be an exception now that I think about it… (another reason to check out a really underrated show)

    But I will point out that Flash and Arrow didn’t do the Spidey thing during their first seasons at least.


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