written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
We all know the story of Superman, an orphaned child from a doomed planet who finds refuge on Earth as a; growing up amongst the humans as farm-boy Clark Kent, he realizes that unlike them he possesses unimaginable powers. But Superman isn’t who we’re focusing on here, another member of the Superman family wears the emblem of the House of El. Supe’s “older-but-younger” cousin Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), better known to comic book fans as Supergirl.
This pilot episode does a great job breaking down her origin story without letting it bog down the narrative. As krypton fell, two Kryptonians were sent to earth; Kal-El was sent as a wee babe but his older cousin Kara was sent along with him to protect baby Kal from the dangers of a new world. While Kal’s ship crash landed in Smallville and the rest is history, Kara’s ship was trapped in the Negative Zone, a pocket of space where time stands still. When Kara finally made it to Earth, Kal was a full grown man and revealed himself to his world as Superman, but Kara didn’t age a day. Kal wanted his cousin to live a normal(ish) childhood like his, so he left the young Kara with the Danvers, scientists who helped him understand his own powers.
Flash forward 10 some odd years, and Kara leads a pretty normal life. Like her cousin, she works for a media company. Content to just be Kara Danvers, she was willing to just go about her existence blending in, that is until she hears a report of a crashing plane that her sister just so happened to be on. Throwing caution to the wind, she goes full on super, flying to the rescue without hesitation. Catching the eye of her entire city, Cat Grant brands her #Supergirl and plain old executive assistant Kara Danvers takes the mantle of her legacy to be National City’s super hero.
To establish the ongoing plot of the season, Kara’s contacted by a secret government agency tasked with managing and documenting extra terrestrial activity on Earth. Led by Hank Henshaw, Kara was informed that when her ship left the Negative Zone, a high security penitentiary housing some of the galaxy’s most hardened criminals also crash landed on Earth.
The first characteristic of Supergirl that drew me in was how much it reminded me of the classic Richard Donner Superman pictures. The color palette was vibrant with a light… almost airy take on the super-hero genre. With the intensity of such shows like Arrow, Agents of SHIELD, and even The Flash sometimes; a fun super hero tv series was sorely needed.
The comic book initiated will notice a few key characters from the funny pages; Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) was a character introduced in Adventures of Superman back in 1987, Jimmy Olsen (Mechad Brooks) plays a supporting role, with Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) the director of the extraterrestrial task that Kara’s sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) works for. As nice added touch; Dean Cain, who fans will remember played Superman in Lois and Clark, plays the role of Kara’s adopted father Jeremiah Danvers with Helen Slater, the original Supergirl from the 1984 film and played Kal’s mother Lara on Smallville, once again steps into a DC Comics role as Kara’s adopted mother Eliza Danvers.
From the attention given to the source material like how Kara rips open her shirt to reveal the “S” shield to phrases like “up, up, and away” being thrown about, this is a series that understands where the mythos has been; something I feel make me optimistic for where the series in headed. When it comes to superhero television adaptations, I trust Berlanti and company (the minds behind Arrow and The Flash) to be faithful to the source material while creating an exciting television watching experience. Supergirl airs Mondays on CBS.