Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist: I’m not a comic-book geek

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

“I’m not coordinated in that way … I would have moments where I felt confident and where I felt strong and brave and like I could do anything. 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.

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. To put it simply, follows Kara Danvers () as she embraces her secret identity as Superman’s cousin, flies around throwing shade at her haters, and gets involved in a casual love triangle.

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. Get pumped with everything you need to know about below. (But not so pumped that you hurl yourself off a building in an attempt to fly, please.) For those of you who fear Supergirl won’t deliver on the action and adventure, think again. The show doesn’t shy away from big-budget explosions and effects (Kara has laser eyes, don’t worry about it), and should please even the most discerning fans of the genre.

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. Here’s the deal with Supergirl: She was sent to Earth to watch over her cousin (aka Superman), but her ship got trapped in a time portal, delaying her arrival in the process.

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. 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. It’s no secret that the superhero genre is slightly lacking in female leads, and Supergirl is proof positive that women are just as capable of heroism as men.

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. The show intentionally challenges the idea that only men can be heroes, and Kara even questions her potentially problematic name. “Shouldn’t she be called Superwoman?” she says in the premiere. “If we call her Supergirl, something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist?” Eventually, Kara owns her name and rises above sexism in the most literal way possible. (Get 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.

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. Cat becomes obsessed with featuring an exclusive about National City’s resident flying female, but little does she know that Supergirl’s actually working as her lowly assistant. 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.

One of the most interesting things about our show is that everyone is doing what they’re doing for the same reasons, they’re just going about it in the wrong way. 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.

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. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?” Kara’s fun is cut short when she’s captured (a little too easily but hey, she’s still learning) by the DEO (Department of Extranormal Affairs), a government agency tasked with dealing with aliens that just happens to have Alex on the payroll.

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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