Is the term ‘Supergirl’ offensive? The story behind that ‘girl vs. woman …

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Supergirl’ recap: It’s good to be a hero.

BEFORE “SUPERGIRL” even premiered, multiple critics dubbed the CBS drama as one of the strongest new pilots of the fall TV season. Several things are abundantly clear in the first episode for CBS’s big swing at the comic book genre: Supergirl is not going to hide its optimism, its sense of fun or the gender of its protagonist for anyone expecting a broody, Christopher Nolan-esque, masculine take on superheroism.TV has been pretty lacking in the female superhero department for quite a while now, but as of tonight, has arrived to save the world and change the game.

During the series premiere of Supergirl, Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) finally became the titular hero she was always meant to be, though her work has only just begun. You know the one: After National City is in awe of the female hero who saved a commercial plane, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) is thrilled that everyone finally saw her alter-ego’s superpowers. I mean, the first thing we see our hero do is apologize to a guy she bumps into on the street, and then by the end of the episode she will literally stand in front of a semi-truck as it crashes around her.

Among them, the big bad was revealed to be her mother’s twin sister, Astra (Laura Benanti), who is hell-bent on ruling Earth — and making Kara pay for the sins of her mother. I want some popcorn.’ I have to stay on top of my game.” In the DC Comics universe, Supergirl has followed Superman to Earth following the destruction of their home planet Krypton. Unfortunately, Krypton’s destruction created a shockwave that knocked Kara’s ship into the Phantom Zone, a place where space is frozen and where she would remain stuck for 23 years before getting to her destination. Over the course of one first episode, Kara decided to start using her powers, told her friend about it, and suited up before learning about her adopted sister’s secret military job and being forced to fight some superpowered criminals.

Melissa says putting on the Supergirl boots and cape for the first time was exciting and recalled how she showed photos of her dressed as Supergirl to family members, including her mother and husband, actor Blake Jenner. The character has been portrayed by Helen Slater in an 80s movie version and Laura Vandervoort as a supporting role in the Superman prequel series Smallville. Shouldn’t she be called Superwoman? … If we call her Supergirl, something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist? Wanting her to have a normal upbringing, Superman places her in the care of the Danvers (Lois & Clark’s Dean Cain and Supergirl’s Helen Slater), scientists who helped him understand his powers and who also have another daughter, Alex. “Even though I had the all same powers ‘he’ did, I decided the best thing I could do was fit in,” Kara explains in a voice-over. Didn’t you say she’s a hero?” At this point, Cat delivers her best death stare: “I’m the hero!” she says. “I stuck a label on the side of this girl.

She reasoned that, “Earth didn’t need another hero.” (Supergirl will spend most of its series premiere fighting back against this idea and making a case that Kara’s story is just as interesting and worthwhile as that of Superman.) The pilot of CBS’ Supergirl is fast-paced, charming, fun, and incredibly self-aware. While the pilot might not be a great episode — it’s a bit clunky thanks to enormous amounts of exposition, a necessary evil — it is effective and makes me want to return next week and, hopefully, for many more weeks to come.

When we catch-up with Kara in the present, she’s working as an editorial assistant at the National City-based media conglomerate CatCo Worldwide Media, a job that mainly consists of fetching coffee. And, as the show itself notes, it’s a story you’ve already heard, not just because a lot of comic book origin stories have similarities, but because Supergirl (or Kara Zor-El) has the exact same backstory as her cousin, Superman. That’s certainly going to create emotional issues for Kara when she’s placed in situations where, perhaps to save Earth, she’s going to have to end her aunt’s life.

OK, it’s not 100% the same, but it still involves a child being stuck in a tiny spaceship on Krypton (if they had bigger spaceships so many of their problems would have been solved) and catapulted towards Earth as Krypton explodes. A cameo by Dean Cain!—but Supergirl has already lined up an impressive list of guest stars for its first season, giving us just a taste of the heroes and villains we’re about to encounter.

So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent — isn’t the problem you?” So, that speech seems to exist to preemptively stop real-life critics from bashing the “girl” name, right? She was raised by the kind-hearted Danver family but after spending her life trying to hide her super powers, embraces them to help others when she moves to the big city. Non is a former Kryptonian scientist/military officer and Red Tornado is an android designed to be a military weapon who became a threat to the very nation that created it.

Over on the opposite side of the personality spectrum we have Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), Kara’s boss who is the complete opposite of mild-mannered and is an obvious foil to Kara. Exactly what we were counting on.”) On the conference call, though, Benoist says that she doesn’t really focus on the male-vs,-female superhero angle. “I just want people to have fun watching the show and really enjoy watching Kara’s journey as much as I’m enjoying playing it. After a meeting with Cat, Kara meets CatCo’s new art director, James “Jimmy” Olsen, who recently transferred from The Daily Planet in Metropolis, where he made a name for himself with a Pulitzer for snapping the first photo of Superman.

That was why we were so excited to get Laura Benanti, because Laura plays Alura as this benevolent angel, but she can also convincingly play the bad guy. Tiny sparks start to fly between Kara and James (only Superman and his mother call him Jimmy), and we can already see that the writers are planning to create a love triangle between Kara, James, and Winn. You can take the writers out of The CW, but you can’t take The CW out the show. (ASIDE: The CW passed on Supergirl before it landed at CBS, its corporate sibling.) Tonight, Kara has a date with someone she met online, but can’t figure out what to wear on her date. As Alex rummages through her closet, Kara worries aloud that she’s not living up to her potential because she chose to live a normal life even though she can do everything her Boy Scout cousin can.

Clad in a blue sweater (it’s her color), Kara rushes into an alley and, after a few false starts, she is up, up and away, literally carrying a 747 to safety with her bare hands. The way we talk about the Fort Rozz villains is if the gates of San Quentin suddenly opened and everybody ran out, every single person who got out of there wouldn’t instantly go back to doing what they were doing. After performing her first act of heroism, Kara does not retreat to brood in a cave — she eats pizza and watches herself on the news, booing a reporter for being mean and squealing when her silhouette appears onscreen. They all have a wide range of reasons for doing what they’re doing, which is what makes them — even though some of them can do pretty fantastical things — somewhat grounded.

In a twist on the fashion montages you’ve seen on Sex and the City and the like, Kara tests out a variety of costumes, ditching a midriff-baring option for a sleek skirt-and-cape ensemble (capes are good for aero-dynamics says Winn, and we just go with it). She takes her new outfit out for a test drive, but is ambushed by the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO) and is knocked out using kryptonite tranquilizers. Later, she wakes up in the DEO’s underground base and meets Hank Henshaw (Homeland’s David Harewood), the agency’s head, who explains that the DEO protects Earth from extraterrestrial presence and/or invasion.

The not-so-subtly dismissive leader, Hank Henshaw, has no time for Kara, and blames her for the landing of a much more dangerous alien ship: a prison that landed at the same time as she did and unleashed the universe’s worst criminals on Earth. One of those criminals, the also not-so-subtly misogynistic Vartox, was the one who tried to crash the plane, and after learning about Kara’s existence, he calls her out to try to kill her. She remembers her mother, her father, her friends and her schoolteachers, extended family, and everything that any one of us who lives in a world knows. There’s definitely more to it: Based on his concerns about Superman’s presence on Earth, it’s clear that he also doesn’t trust Kara because she’s an alien.

The next day, Kara returns to work and learns that Cat has christened her alter ego “Supergirl” in the press. “I don’t want to minimize the importance of this,” Kara says as she objects being called “girl” instead of “woman.” Becoming a voice for the producers, Cat defends the name. She brings Kara a present in the form of a holographic message from her biological mother (the always-lovely Laura Benanti) which has just the right amount of love and inspiration to get our Supergirl back on track. Cat and Kara’s argument is about to end with Cat firing Kara, but James interrupts with an exclusive, clean photo of Supergirl and gives Kara all the credit for acquiring it.

Impressed, Cat tells Kara that she needs to start speaking up for herself and taking credit when she does something good or else she’ll never get anywhere. You’ll see in subsequent episodes, too, that they have a room in the DEO that they can adjust the level of Kryptonite exposure in it to even the playing field, so to speak, for Kara. What’s fun about Kara and Alex (Chyler Leigh) is that Kara obviously has all the superpowers, but Alex is like Sydney Bristow, she’s a trained secret agent. The irony of the whole situation is as she’s being a mentor to her put-upon assistant, she doesn’t realize that she’s also helping to mentor Supergirl.

Part of her relationship with Jimmy is Jimmy acting as a conduit for Superman — this is the way Superman did things, these are the things he thinks. The most successful love triangles I’ve ever seen on television are the ones where you have to be able to root for the other person who won’t necessarily ever actually be the winner. It was really important for us to find a Lucy Lane who was strong, beautiful, and awesome, but different from Kara, but not so different that she didn’t like her, compelling enough, interesting enough and likable enough that you understood why James would want to be with her if he could be with Kara — we really feel like we found all that in Jenna. She actually works for her father, General Lane, which adds an extra level of complication since General Lane is not a fan of any aliens on Earth, including Superman and Supergirl. What’s interesting about Winn is, as he says to her in an upcoming episode, “I liked you before I found out about the S.” That’s the thing that’s interesting to Kara.

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