Let’s get this out of the way. I’ve never been entirely sold on the idea of Supergirl, nor indeed any of the female superheroes who seem merely to be created to fill a quota without the need to invest in creating new worlds or histories.
Need to up the amount of girls in a comic book universe? No problem, just make Superman a woman – it has always struck me as writing of the laziest order. Not to mention, the 1984 film starring Helen Slater in the central role was so bad as to have effectively killed the franchise for 30 years. So it was with skepticism overflowing that I tuned in for this CBS reboot, brought to British shores by Sky1.
Unfortunately, by the end of the pilot episode, much of that skepticism remained in place. It suffers from a number of flaws inherent in the universe – kryptonite is the single worst thing ever introduced into a comic book world and in a genre full of pitiful excuses for people not recognising the hero’s alter ego, a pair of glasses is just about the weakest possible. Some of the effects were also decidedly poor (I certainly didn’t believe a girl could fly), and there was dialogue so cheesy it was like trying to force down great chunks of stilton.
However, there were some positives, and probably enough to have the majority of the audience at least give it a few more weeks to settle down. Chief among them was the performance of Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl. The show neither aims for the standard dark tone we have come to expect of the DC universe nor the quick-witted jokes of Marvel, it treads a middle ground which is summed up in Benoist’s performance, full of heart and having fun.
There is also the potential for an interesting dynamic between Kara and her adoptive sister, Alex (played by Chyler Leigh, best known as Lexi in Grey’s Anatomy). The tension between the pair sparked quite enjoyably and the show will hopefully choose to dig deeper into their shared history.
The relationships Kara has at the newspaper in National City are far less interesting though, mainly consisting of single note, clichéd characters which, certainly in the case of Calista Flockhart’s editor, Cat Grant, grate within minutes of their appearance.
As a show, Supergirl has the potential to be an entertaining, family-friendly, fun entry into the burgeoning superhero genre, but the writing will have to improve a great deal if it’s to hold the attention of its audience through its entire series.