Supergirl Review – S01:E01 – Pilot

Rarely do I watch a premiere of a television show twice in such a short amount of time. During the summer months, I was privy to the pilot of Supergirl, as were most since it “leaked” from CBS. I saw what everyone else saw in the leak, and I was actually impressed, barring issues and concerns I had for the show. Did they introduce everyone properly? Is Supergirl being portrayed correctly? Do I realize she’s a… girl!?

SPOILERS ABOUND

Supergirl in the heat of battle.

The premise is simple. Supergirl is a character that comes from Superman’s home world. It gets a bit complicated when it’s discovered that she’s Superman’s older cousin. She looks younger, but she’s biologically older. She also follows a hauntingly similar storyline to her younger cousin. She’s adopted by an Earth family.

There’s a small list of players so far that play important roles. Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, whose ship crash landed on Earth after being trapped in a space vortex for so many years. Winn Schott is her best friend, who kind of has the hots for her. It’s the typical “friend-zone” relationship that leads to some funny one liners. There’s Cat Grant, owner of CatCo Media, employer of Kara and Winn. She’s one note, one key, and full of herself. So far, there’s nothing to like about her whatsoever.

In most cases, I would have introduced someone like James Olsen earlier in a review since Ms. Grant is also his boss. I waited because unfortunately I don’t see Mr. Olsen as a character – not yet at least. The writers have caught themselves with creating a “tool,” and not a “character.” I don’t mean to say that Olsen’s a tool; he’s not a jerk. There’s potential for a strong supporting character, but now he’s serving as Kara’s information box.

James Olsen moved to National City, Kara’s city of living and saving, to keep an eye on her and tell her what steps to take, per request of Superman, a character purposefully unseen. So far, he comes to Kara’s rescue at work and that’s about it. If the writers aren’t careful, we’ll see a bland character for the rest of the season, and potentially the entire series.

The first time I watched Supergirl, I had extremely high hopes. I always felt DC Comics handled their female leads well, doing just as good of a job in their animated adaptations. A few years ago, I developed a love for Kara Danvers, reading some of her key issues and watching her in Justice League cartoons. The potential, strength, and oddball time logic of her character had me hooked from the moment I laid eyes on her.

In the past, writers have treated Kara with the utmost respect. There wasn’t much of a need to bring attention to the fact that she is female. It’s in her name. The more intelligent writers bring to light that she has to face her cousins legacy, a person who has been a superhero for two decades. The show attains fault in its overzealous shouting of what Kara is instead of who she is.

I decided to stop counting the amount of times the live action adaptation assured me that Kara was in fact a “girl.” That’s cool and all, but you can’t just act like the last few years didn’t happen. At one point, and I’m certainly paraphrasing, there’s mention of a twenty year gap lacking powerful women good-doers. That’s rubbish.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in upcoming Batman VS Superman
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in upcoming Batman VS Superman

It’s the DC universe, and more so, the “arrowverse,” a television universe based on the DC comics franchise that started with CW’s Arrow. That series already introduced several strong women, including Black Canary, another favorite of mine, on television.

Considering we’re dealing with DC, it’s also incredibly safe to assume that Wonder Woman exists in Kara’s universe. So, while it’s nice to have a show dedicated to a famous female superhero, to pretend like no others exist is pointlessly annoying. It was like the show didn’t know that I’d be able to understand what I was watching, and decided to bash me over the head with an idea I’m both extremely comfortable with, and ready to consume for an unhallowed amount of time.

After getting over how the show wasn’t developed for people accustomed to the source material, myself included, and that it was instead made for those only being introduced to super heroes now (aka – people under rocks), I was able to enjoy it for what it was – a superhero show.

Kara obtaining the trust of the D.E.O.

There are other shoddy elements however. The CGI isn’t top-notch. I can’t even really say it’s great. I’d say it’s somewhere between lazy and uninspired. By doing a quick YouTube search for “after effects flying,” or something similar, videos of youngsters making themselves fly on camera via Adobe’s After Effects program look on par with the flying on Supergirl. There’s a lot of flying, and watching it was an eyesore to say the least.

Kudos to modifying traditional villains though. When Kara’s ship crash lands, she accidentally brings a space prison along with her. The prison opens up, and there’s a bunch of baddies to capture. Her step-sister, Alex, who works for the Department of Extra-Normal operations, D.E.O. for short, started to help Kara in the capturing of the space criminals, much to the D.E.O.’s caution.

The highlight of the show came somewhere in the middle. Alex, situated on a crash landing plane, is maneuvered to safety by Kara’s super powers. It’s one moment that Supergirl is fully realized as an unstoppable force. What’s confusing is how she was barely able to stop a villain with a similar power level later on. It’s like the writers are unsure how strong Kara is, which makes it confusing for myself, and the rest of us.

WRAP-UP

Supergirl  has kinks to work out, but it’s not terrible. I would have preferred something of potency from the jump. Instead, the show seems way too concerned with telling the wrong audience what the show is, and how it’ll cater to that idea for its existence. I think the show is afraid of what it is. I’ll sit back and watch it hopefully blossom into something unique. Keep it cute, and keep it funny, but don’t skimp out on the power-hungry Supergirl anymore.

7/10

Daniel Mihailescu
danjamllc@gmail.com