When CBS announced plans to develop a Supergirl-based TV show, many longtime comic book fans were a little skeptical. Would a character who is so often draped in her cousin’s imposing shadow make for an entertaining and engaging focus for a series? Would casual viewers have any interest in Kara Zor El? And would, much like the recent cinematic incarnation of her cousin, the show end up as a bit of a dud? Let’s find out.
As the first episode of Supergirl opens, we’re thrown right into the mixer as we see Kara publically use her powers for the first time, heroically saving a damaged airplane as it hurtles towards the ground. The scene is reminiscent of the early (and best) moments of Bryan Singer’s ill-fated Superman Returns, and it certainly introduces us to the show’s heroine in a major, major way. Flash forward 15 minutes and we’re seeing the Girl of Steel trying out a host of would-be superhero costumes as she embarks on her journey to fulfilling her potential and becoming the protector of National City. Of course, where there’s heroes there’s always villains, and these initially appear in the form of Kara’s Aunt Astra and the nefarious Luthor-lite Max Lord, but there’s also the prospect of many a villain-of-the-week sort due to a plethora of Kryptonian rogues being released to run amok on the city and surrounding areas. Luckily for Kara, though, she has some pals to help her out in her mission to fight the good fight.
First and foremost, let’s just say that Supergirl is very much a comic book show in its truest form; it’s big, brash, larger-than-life, brimming with colourful characters both in terms of appearance and personality, and it may well divide many of its potential audience. Most importantly, though, it's fun! As Kara Danvers/Kara Zor-El, Supergirl, Glee’s Melissa Benoist is an absolute charm, masterfully encapsulating the innocence, optimism and hope of the show’s titular heroine. Added to that, her nerdy day job (as an assistant at CatCo Worldwide Media) and everyday awkwardness makes her as cute as an online cat video. The bigger topic, however, is whether the show actually works. And the answer to that question is a resounding “yes” for the most part.
Sure, as is often the case with superhero shows, there’s plenty of formulaic episodes crammed with weekly rogues designed to be nothing more than merely fodder for Supergirl to demonstrate her ever-developing powers on, but the show manages to dilute these elements by still progressing the overall narrative of the season and of Kara’s story with each passing episode. In addition to this, the excellent Benoist is joined by a stellar cast of supporting characters; Chyler Leigh is Alex Danvers, the Earth sister of Kara and someone who is a focussed, driven badass of her own as she works as part of a covert government agency; Mehcad Brooks is a far-too-suave Jimmy Olsen than many may be used to, but he still manages to make it work; Jeremy Jordan is Kara’s BFF and resident IT bod Winn Schott… son of a certain Toyman; Calista Flockhart is the fierce, ferocious, scenery-devouring owner of CatCo, Cat Grant; Peter Facinelli is the charming Max Lord, a power hungry sort who wishes to rule the world and even puts a "Bizarro" threat in Supergirl's way; and David Harewood is the mysterious Hank Henshaw, who has a past that will intrigue many a longtime DC fan. Oh, and there’s even some Super-alumni in there in the form of former Superman Dean Cain and former Supergirls Helen Slater and Laura Vandervoort. Plus, did we mention there’s a so-fantastic-it-hurts appearance from Grant Gustin’s Flash?
Supergirl may not be for everyone, and in fairness the season’s second half maybe feels a little dragged out – likely as a result of the season order being upped from 13 episodes to 20 midway through production – but those who like their superheroes to be very much loud-and-proud of their cape and tights will find the Maid of Might’s debut season to be an enjoyable rollercoaster of a ride as the cousin of the Man of Steel firmly steps out of his looming shadow and gets her wings.
Special Features: 2015 Comic-Con Panel / Two featurettes / Gag reel / Deleted scenes
SUPERGIRL: SEASON 1 / CERT: 12 / CREATOR: GREG BERLANTI, ANDREW KREISBERG, ALI ADLER / STARRING: MELISSA BENOIST, CHYLER LEIGH, MEHCAD BROOKS, JEREMY JORDAN, CALISTA FLOCKHART, DAVID HAREWOOD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW