As some of you may or may not know the CBS pilot for Supergirl had “leaked” carrying on a fine tradition with the ilk of Arrow, Constantine and The Flash. Putting the great marketing debate aside for now let’s talk about this pilot which really should be the only thing that counts.
The plot structure of this is bog standard pilot making it as broad and as open as possible to all viewers as not to alienate their frail minds with anything outside a 3 act structure. There are a lot of very shtick tropes probably in the hopes of gaining as wide an audience as possible.
Kara Danvers nee Kara Zor-el played by Melissa Benoit the button down and over worked assistant to the ageing media tyrant in oh so expensive shoes in a dying news format. The cruel virtuoso Cat Grant played by Calistia Flockhart see’s the end of print news coming and heartless as it is begins to cut away at the supererogatory elements to save the head of her Catco media empire. Of course unless they can start selling paper! Like in Metropolis the Daily Planet have never been better but then of course they have “HIM” on the cover. Which is the first thing that perks Kara ears till now there has been no indication she has or ever wanted too ever use her powers. Only ever desiring to live a normal boring life.
Up until now her adoptive sister Alex Danvers played by Chyler Leigh always discouraged her from using her powers at all. To the point where she is so rusty she isn’t even sure is she can fly anymore. When that same sister is in peril Kara dusts off the super cob webs and makes the very familiar rescue. Then after nearly twenty years of indifference towards the human criminal element the first thing she decides to do is to reveal her powered status too her fellow assistant from who the day before wanted nothing more then too pitch woo at.
A costume montage ensues, Kara first walks out in a scantily skin revealing number chosen by the guy of course be cried by Kara as so revealing she wouldn’t even wear it at the beach. Obviously the scene was there for comic effect but it’s not funny it’s pretty lazy joke that all men want women in small revealing outfits. The notion is about as sexist to men as it is to women.
Minor saves under her belt she gets what she wants, kind of. Her boss Cat Grant brands the new female hero in National city performing all these saves as Supergirl. Much to her chagrin storming into her bosses office in her now secret identity demanding an explanation in the name of feminism no doubt! Why isn’t she Superwoman you say? What follows is a 5 minute scene I assume meant to eschew this same argument and criticism in the media. Which could have been done much simpler and not engaged in an argument that no is having. Especially for a woman who’s supposed to have been running a media and newspaper empire for quite a while now. She never brings up the simple alteration of it, three syllables Supergirl. Simple easier to remember and to write.
Kara gets introduced to her sisters night job and to her boss Hank Henshaw head of the Department of Extra-Normal Operation or DEO for short. Were also introduced to some cringe inducing dialogue in the vein of well she’s not strong enough. WHY BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN!. Well no maybe it’s because she just decided to start fighting crime like a week ago. Hadn’t flown in years also questioned her own powers and abilities so arguably it was perfectly valid criticism that had nothing to do with gender.
I’m left really questioning Kara’s motivation as a character. Aping the Zach Snyder Man Of Steel film She is highly discouraged from using her powers by he adoptive family a sentiment also implied and inferred by her cousin most often refereed to as “him”. Getting a few saves under belt she decides to go into the family business and does it with a smile on her face. But I don’t understand her joy. A smile is not happiness in the same way that a frown is not depression.
If flying and exercising her powers granted by Earth’s yellow sun is such a natural and amazing reflex then why did she turn her back on it for so long? The story seems to be about a women in her late 20’s quite literally empowering herself and finally coming into her own not in the shadow of her cousin. But how is “he” a looming presence over her if up till now she’s not donned cape before? This is where I think sticking a little closer to the books could have yielded some better stories. It’s kind of a ridiculous notion to think you can do Supergirl without Superman her origin is tied into his. But when she as a 16 year old girls lands on Earth to find her baby cousin a grown man known to the planets inhabitants as Superman he does everything next to forbidding her from joining the family business. In an act of adolescent rebellion she started fighting crime and even collection her own rogues
Cringe inducing dialogue aside I’m still left wanting a reason to like Kara and too have a good reason to believe why she’s now saving people. After again living on a planet for nearly 20 years with the power of a living god to end violent crimes in the street with a wispier. But choose to do nothing not because of punishment from a higher power but because it was convenient. Showing a bizarre level of apathy I don’t think we should have in our super hero’s not afflicted with manic depression.