The latest, but not the last in a flood of comic book adaptations, Supergirl tells us the story of Superman's cousin Kara Danvers...

16th November 2015

he latest, but not the last in a flood of comic book adaptations, Supergirl tells us the story of Superman’s cousin Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist). Like the man of steel, she escaped their dying home planet, Krypton, and found herself on Earth, greatly empowered by her alien physiology. As Superman is already established as a hero when Supergirl starts out, there’s quite a lot about stepping out of his shadow. She’s consistently compared to her cousin within the show and outside of it.

Supergirl is first female led superhero show in the DCTV universe, and it’s no secret that females haven’t exactly always been best represented by the superhero genre. As much as the DCTV universe has had some really awesome female side characters, it’s good to see shows that centre on a superheroine. She isn’t a Superman spin-off or an inferior version of him, she’s an awesome character whose story deserves to be explored. The pilot episode goes out of its way to make this point, but consistently being told, as opposed to just letting us see, that Supergirl is as capable as Superman feels counter-intuitive.

"It's no secret that females haven't exactly always been best represented by the superhero genre"

Growing up on Earth, Kara lives a normal life, but dissatisfied with this, she decides to use her powers to help people. To her disdain, Kara discovers that she accidently led a dangerous cosmic prison full of the worst intergalactic criminals to Earth, seemingly under the control of her aunt and fellow Kryptonian General Astra (Laura Benanti). The prison gives us a reasonably believable cause for a sudden spike in attacks by alien threats, and her aunt is much more than an ordinary villain – no-one wants to fight their family and in order to protect her new planet, she must destroy one of the few remaining remnants of her home world.

Also seemingly eager to protect Earth is the Department of Extranormal Operations’ director, Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), who is adversarial towards our heroine from the start and only reluctantly allows her to work with his organisation. However, there may be more to Henshaw than first appears…

The DOE also contains Kara’s adopted sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), critical in bringing about the group’s alliance with Supergirl. Perhaps Kara’s closest ally, who despite lacking superpowers is definitely a force to be reckoned with, Alex is one of the show’s strongest assets. The relationship between the sisters adds emotional depth and dramatic tension without compromising the light-hearted and fun-filled tone that show has. Likewise, James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) are valuable allies and potential love interests, both of whom are in on Kara’s secret from the start more or less – which is refreshing within the superhero genre, full of people desperately attempting to hide a double life from the people closest to them.

Supergirl doesn’t buy into the dark, gritty atmosphere that a lot of superhero based media has adopted after the critical and cultural success of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. This decision should please a lot of Supergirl comic fans as she has traditionally been a light, warm and likeable character. Furthermore, Supergirl is produced by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, the minds behind Arrow and The Flash, both very successful and highly enjoyable adaptations of DC properties and successful implementations of the same bright tone. Melissa Benoist is brilliant in the titular role, and is the strongest part of the show. Extremely likeable, fiercely courageous yet relatable, the audience can’t help but root for Supergirl. It’s early days, but in all-in-all Supergirl has the makings of a super show.

Dominic Corrigan

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