The DC cinematic universe expands… Except that Supergirl, who flew onto the screen last night, doesn’t connect to the Flash/Green Arrow TV shows or the Man of Steel / Justice League franchise. Or, thank Rao, to Gotham.
Will she connect with viewers?
Director: Glen Winter
Writers: Allison Adler, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg
Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers
Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen
David Harewood as Hank Henshaw
Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant
Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers
Briana Venskus as Agent Vasquez
Pilar Holland as Female Newscaster
Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott
Laura Benanti as Alura Zor-El
Laura Benanti as Astra
Faran Tahir as The Commander
Helen Slater as Sylvia Danvers
Dean Cain as Fred Danvers
Malina Weissman as Young Kara
Kara Danvers, another survivor of Krypton’s destruction, bides her time being an awkward nerd before following her celebrated cousin’s lead into superheroics. Unfortunately, ancient, alien enemies of her family have been living in the shadows on earth….
She’s a hero. Sure, there’s self-doubt, but in this version of the DCU, everyone admires Superman, and Supergirl wants to become a symbol of hope, and an inspiration. The series, for its part, has cast a likeable young actress whom we can rally around.
Apparently, someone working for Warner Brothers understands every character doesn’t have to be the Dark Knight, and that certain characters require a healthy side order of cheese.
They’ve also decided we can handle a female superhero.
This version of Supergirl would have had to try to be even less original. They’ve shoved Kara Zor-El into the Clark Kent mold, with a media job, nerdy double identity, confident co-worker, and admiring fanboy coworker.1 Her support staff seemingly resulted from a boardroom brainstorming session that tried to copy the key elements of Team Flash and S.H.I.E.L.D. The story unabashedly borrows from Superman: The Movie. It’s well-done, but it has more to do with other successful superhero franchises than it does with DC’s Supergirl, especially the recent version of the character.
And when Kara (why not “Linda Lee?” Kara was always her Kryptonian Supergirl name) finally dresses for success, my wife said, immediately, “She looks exactly like Felicity!”
Originality: 1/6 Okay, they did give her a sister.
Effects: 6/6 The pilot obviously has a budget for convincing comic-book effects, and they gave us more superheroic action than I was expecting.
Acting: 5/6 The show has a strong lead, who seems to understand the blend of tones necessary to make a superhero show work. The stunt casting of Dean Cain and Helen Slater worked fine.
Story: 5/6 It’s a pilot and it was entertaining.
Emotional Response: 4/6
Overall: 5/6 I accept changes—they have to bridge the Otto Binder version and the more recent incarnations with a saleable TV character—and I’m willing to give the show a shot.
In total, “Supergirl: the Pilot” receives 32/42
Note and Lingering Question
1. Although Jimmy—sorry, James— Olsen is in the cast, he’s the attractive coworker, and not the admiring fanboy. I’m fine with the fact that he’s not a redhead, but the rewriting of his personality seems off.
2. So, did Superman just never see Kara ever again? Because that’s just stupid.