By Jack Rico
The 1-4-0: The producers behind Arrow and The Flash present an excellent, uplifting vision of Supergirl.
The Gist: Accidentally arriving on Earth 12 years after her cousin, Superman, Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) grows up under the protection of the Danvers family while learning to hide her powers. Now an adult living in National City with her foster sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) Kara works as an assistant for media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). But after a daring airplane rescue reveals her powers to the world, Kara follows in her cousin’s footsteps and becomes Supergirl.
What Works: Even as an unapologetic fan of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, there is something amazingly refreshing about the pure uplifting tone of CBS’s Supergirl. Whereas the DC cinematic universe seems focused on creating “grim-dark” adaptations of their properties, series creators Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, (Arrow, The Flash) and Ali Adler are more intent on creating a series which hues closer to the joy and optimism of the original comics. They are clearly fans of the property, imbuing the series with clever nods to creators such as artist Jamal Igle and writer Sterling Gates, as well as brilliant cameos by former-Superman Dean Cain and the original Supergirl, Helen Slater, as Kara’s adoptive parents.
Melissa Benoist is perfect as Supergirl. Approaching the role with infectious glee, Benoist creates a hero who is both thrilled by her ability to save people but is never naïve. She fully understands what it means to wear the “S” yet cannot contain her joy when she sees bullets bounce off her. The creators also wisely never fully show Superman, keeping his appearance at the beginning of the show brief and obscured. And while his name is mentioned a number of times throughout the pilot, the focus is always on Kara and her journey. More importantly her decision to be a hero isn’t because it’s what her cousin does, it’s because it’s what she wants to do.
But what is perhaps most refreshing about Supergirl is it portrayal’s of female superheroes. Supergirl’s outfit perfectly evokes the comics, looking distinctly feminine but is never needlessly revealing. This isn’t to say female superheroes shouldn’t be sexy, but gone are the days when their outfits would be used as lures for male readers. This is a show that will inspire audiences and remind them that the greatest heroes are women. Most importantly, Supergirl is fun. While the pilot takes about ten minutes to find its feet, the show comes to life during Kara’s airplane rescue, a fists-pumping sequence that left this reviewer grinning ear-to-ear.
What Doesn’t Work: The first few minutes of the pilot are clunky with exposition and the final half feels a bit rushed (perhaps due to editing down a longer version of the episode), but none of it takes away from the exuberant tone that fills the show from beginning to end.
Watch, Binge, or Skip: Watch! The producers behind Arrow and The Flash have scored yet another successful adaptation of a DC hero, creating one of the most fun new shows of the season.