The world asks us to adopt a lot of different identities. Myself, I play the personable barista, the healthy jogger, the encyclopedic comic nerd, and the good little Quaker. That is a fair number of hats cluttering up my little apartment. Yet with all those personas, I still have room in the storage area for a cape or two.
I make no apologies for my complete and utter love of The Flash. I think it is a tremendous show. It is fun and light and makes my inner nerd very content.
Then there are other super hero shows that I have given up on. Arrow seems obsessed with either killing or making a killer out of everyone on the screen. Gotham started to lose me from the very beginning. Throw in a woman cutting out her own eyeball with a spoon and an old couple willing to fight to the death over a plane ticket and I had to officially bow out. From the one episode of The Walking Dead I saw and stories I have heard about Daredevil (Slamming a car door until a guy’s head goes squish? I think I shall pass, thanks).
Then along comes Supergirl to save the day.
Say hello to Melissa Benoist. She is delightful. (You might know her from Glee or Whiplash.) She comes across as a very upbeat, pleasant, and kind individual. After I heard that the team behind The Flash was crafting the show and Benoist would be the lead, I was ready to hear more. And then the promo came out this week.
Bliss. Yes, the first part (after Krypton/ Argo) has a little too much of the SNL/Black Widow vibe to it. But there is plenty to like; Benoist being chief among them. In her, we find the amiable, ambitious, and affable Kara. She does not have it all together and she certainly does not have it all figured out. However she is far from the dark and brooding character that plagues far too many super hero shows.
To be honest, she looks quite spiffy in the suit. (Kudos to the writers for making fun of one of Kara’s old costumes. Oh headbands…) She wears boots, not heels. Logical! She has no boob window in her costume. Also logical! She wears a skirt that is a little short. …Not entirely logical, granted. But it has a classic look to it. Besides, she is bulletproof. She will be fine. And you cannot change costumes too much.) If you want nerds to get all in a huff, just get them started on Wonder Woman wearing pants. Oy.)
Take a look at how bright that trailer is. The vast majority is shot in daytime with bright windows, sunny rooftops, and office spaces that actually look livable. Arrow does not use that much sunlight in one season, let alone an episode. Supergirl, and Superman for that matter, is supposed to be a bright character. Below is an examination of Man of Steel’s coloring and how it simply does not match the character.
Sure Supergirl has a scene or two in the dark. If you are going to have your heroine go out and save the day in public for the first time and possibly give away her identity, it is best that it happens at night so the picture phones take fuzzy photos. And if you are going to have your first villain-fight, it helps to have it in the dark so the CGI department does not have to spend as much money on cleaning up the effects. Plus, the explosions just have better contrast and night.
The Flash looks great running in daylight or dark; the joy he has comes across either way. Flash should be a fun character. He should be smiling as he runs around, relishing himself and not being tormented by the demons that so many others have.
Supergirl is the same way. She lacks an axe to grind. She only wants to help. If she can feel like she is being useful and maybe feel great while doing it, so much the better. In the end, it all comes down to Kara wanting to make the world better.
I was amused and intrigued right up until Kara’s sister shows up at her door after the rescue. That is when they sucked me in and never let go. The song that is playing in the background (My Fight Song) is pretty great all by itself. However, when you pair that with, “The world needs you to fly”…
Sold. They had me. I still get a lump in my throat at that part.
Thankfully, Kara does too. She is new to the game and will make some mistakes. When she confronts the general, you can see a look of nervousness about her. But she shoves the lump in her throat down, nods confidently, and sets off to do make things better. This hero is human. (Well, she is alien, but you know what I mean!)
She gets nervous around Jimmy Olsen. She has qualms about what to wear. And probably has concerns about being as effective as Superman. That alone opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Imagine having an older relative. They are basically perfect and you are under their shadow from day one. Now imagine that relative is Superman. How do you live up to an example like that? One choice is to be resentful and bitter (cue supervillain origin). The other is to try to clear the high bar that they set. In her sixty years of being around, Kara has always strived to be as good as her cousin. (Oddly enough, in some stories Kara is older than Kal-El. Kara was sent in a ship as a teenager. Kal was sent as a baby and was in suspended animation for the entire trip. Kara could pull the, “I’m older!” card. That would be a fun little arc to play out.)
Then one gets to thrown in the notion that both Superman and Supergirl are solar-powered. Their bodies take in energy from yellow suns like a battery. Superman has had decades to build up his reserves while Supergirl is still the newcomer to the scene. She has the opportunity to get more powerful over the seasons. Simultaneously, she might be frustrated at things that Clark can do that she cannot. Yet.
While all of this is going on, Supergirl encourages the audience to be who they are. The promo tries hard to get people to be their best selves. Whether it is an alien or a woman, they want people to be who they are, not apologize for it, and complete what is theirs to do in life.
The lead looks like she is having fun. The theme seems to be hopeful. Even the stuck-up, self-assured, cellphone-clinging boss gets taken aback enough to put down her phone and stare out the window. And Man of Steel, did get one thing right. The “S” is the Kryptonian symbol for hope. It only makes sense that Kara embodies that as well.
That is what I want; a show that encourages us to get out of our own dark moments and look up. Maybe instead of watching murderers and cheering for heroes that kill as much (more?) than the bad guys, we can root for those that truly aspire to be good.
Give me a well-crafted show with those kinds of aspirations, and I will be a fan. That identity I will refuse to keep secret.