Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Supergirl’s debut season! Here’s our review of this delightfully cheery show…
One area that superhero TV definitely trumps the movies in is female heroes. Whereas we are still waiting for a Black Widow or Wonder Woman film, we have the supercool spy Agent Carter, flawed anti-hero Jessica Jones and in Supergirl, a good-natured hero who stands as a symbol of hope.
The debut season of her self-titled show is built around the optimistic outlook of its hero, which means it often falls into fairly high levels of cheese or schmaltz. Thankfully, its fun tone ensures this is endearing and if you do find yourself rolling your eyes, you’ll do it with a smile. The series should also be commended for pushing at its format now and again, making sure that there are some great surprises packed into the 20 episode run.
Supergirl can be a frustrating show as well, however. For everything it does right, there will be a notch in the opposite direction. One big issue is the series’ commitment to tired superhero cliches like keeping certain characters in the dark about secret identities and love triangles between the protagonists (to be fair, this is something other shows struggle with too). Without spoilers, Supergirl also makes some bizarre decisions with its story arc, and ends up shooting itself in the foot for the sake of a couple of extra twists.
On the other hand, the cast is near uniformly excellent. David Harewood is as reliable as ever, helping to turn a potentially one-note character into the second best character in the show (SPOILERS:because he’s flippin’ Martian Manhunter!). Callista Flockhart also gives a surprisingly fun turn as media mogul/Kara’s boss Cat Grant.
The star of the show, however, is Melissa Benoist, who carries the show – as well as the fate of National City – on her shoulders as Kara Danvers AKA the Girl of Steel. She is perky, yet tough when she needs to be. Light-hearted, but able to pull off heavier scenes when called to. Thanks to her, Kara is a hugely relatable protagonist and perfectly suited to the show. Kara also has a well-portrayed relationship with her sister – a female friendship that is often lacking in superhero stories (even in those with female leads).
Another plus is its hints to a wider superhero world. Though we never meet him, Superman is very much a strong presence and inspiration to his cousin, though without overshadowing Kara. As well as the aforementioned Martian Manhunter, a highlight of the season was undoubtedly the crossover episode with The Flash. More of this if the show gets renewed please.
Apart from giving us a great female superhero, Supergirl also presents a much-needed lighter take on the Superman mythos compared to the movie’s Man of Steel (regardless of your opinion of Henry Cavill’s Supes, you can’t deny he’s a super-sourpuss). In Kara Zor-El, we have a Kryptonian who exists in a brightly-coloured world and isn’t afraid to smile. Sure, it has issues, but for those reasons we have to hope Supergirl will return for a second flight.