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PopCultHQ: CBS “Supergirl” Pilot Review!

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I was able to watch the pilot for the new CBS Supergirl series coming up in November. As a whole it’s not a bad beginning for a new comic series. While it has some hang ups, I’m going to try and be positive before I become negative.

A little about the pilot:

24 years ago, Krypton was destroyed and Superman was sent to us. So Kara comes from Krypton and was sent to protect him. If anything she is the older cousin now and Kal-EL is the younger cousin. This is a first. So Kara, in theory, serves as the Eradicator in this instance. However, Kara was lost in the Phantom Zone. Superman saves her when she crashes on Earth, sort of a reference to her first appearance. She is sent to be raised by the Danvers, scientists who helped Kal-El understand his powers growing up. The Danvers are played by both Dean Cain and Helen Slater, both known for their past portrayals as Superman and Supergirl.

Superman rescues Kara El from a pod
Superman rescues Kara El from a pod

Kara has grown up, a girl without a mission now, and was raised to fit in with the people of Earth. Obviously Earth didn’t need another hero aside from Superman so Kara ends up working for Cat Grant in National city, who owns a huge multinational media corporation. Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant is like Bizarro Ally McBeal. Cat comes across a bit too much Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada. However, Melissa Benoist, who is Supergirl, is not Anne Hathaway. She fluctuates between being a strong minded woman and a mild mannered clutz like the Reeves version of Superman. Not so much a clutz but more timid and quiet.

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Kara is introduced to the world much like her cousin had been in the John Byrne 80s revamp and the film Man of Steel by saving a plane which is having troubles in the air. The plane, I imagine, is a reference to both of these versions of Superman as with the event taking place at night is no coincidence since Superman saved Lois Lane from a falling helicopter at night in the very first Superman film. News media does address the damage which she has caused from saving the plane. Kara is utterly elated that she was able to save this plane. Her ‘sister’, Alex Danvers, was on the plane and is the naysayer for her adoptive sister to become the world’s next huge hero.

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Some things to watch out for:

There is a Metropolis and Superman is known. This however does bring into question… will we ever see him? Superman’s face was obscured from any shot he was in briefly in the beginning of the episode. The costume though does have some resemblance to the Man of Steel costume.

Jimmy Olsen played by Mehcad Brooks who, while I am mostly opposed to changing the color of characters, I am more relieved he is a man in this over a woman. Brooks’ Jimmy Olsen is nothing like we have ever known. He’s confident which is something different from the other TV/ film incarnations of the character of the past. Jimmy was sent to National City to aid Kara. This is where she acquires the cape as Jimmy gives her the blanket Kal-El was wrapped up in as a baby.

We get a stereotypical scene of Kara trying on various costumes. The end result of the costume is fantastic. Winslow is the first person she actually shows she is Supergirl and he helps her design her costume which looks incredible once completed. An other interesting bit is Winslow is also the Toyman; he is even credited as the Toyman so one is left to wonder who he plays into the greater scheme of things in the series.

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The DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations) and Kryptonite make an appearance. The other huge reveal is Alex Danvers and Hank Henshaw are a part of the DEO. Kara’s inadvertently pulled a Kryptonian prison ship, which was sent to the Phantom Zone, free and back to Earth releasing a plethora of detained aliens and superbeings. Hank Henshaw is also the director of the DEO in this city. We all know who Hank Henshaw becomes. I assume due to his New 52 connection to
Supergirl he was included in the supporting cast.

Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant from ‘Supergirl’
Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant from ‘Supergirl’

The villain of the episode is Vartox, who is a long standing Superman villain pre-Crisis villain. It’s cute how Vartox uses the same means to contact Supergirl that Lex Luthor uses in Superman the Movie. Vartox is a Phantom Zone escapee who was sentenced their by Kara’s mother, Lara Lor-Van. The fight between Supergirl and Vartox is fantastic!

General Zod is now a woman and the aunt of Kara Zor-El. Well it could be General Zod; the woman is Kryptonian and the aunt of Kara and referred to as General.

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The downside of this pilot is the beating over the head about feminism. It happens very seldom and isn’t done a lot but when it is done it is way over done. For instance, Cat Grant names the mystery flying woman, ‘Supergirl,’ thus giving her a name and a brand. However Kara fights Cat over the name because it comes across anti-feminist. The same is when she confronts Vartox. He comments on how in his world women bow down before men. Another scene is when Henshaw assumes Supergirl isn’t strong enough to defeat Vartox because she is a girl. It comes across a bit much. I just hope the show doesn’t go out of it’s way to have a message or an agenda. It doesn’t need that because it can be extremely feminist and pro-woman without bashing us over the head.

The second downside is the whole shared universe aspect which was announced back in November…

In November 2014, Berlanti expressed interest in Supergirl existing in the same universe as his other series Arrow and The Flash, and in January 2015, The CW president Mark Pedowitz revealed that he was also open to a crossover between the series and networks (due to Berlanti executive producing all three and The CW co-owned by CBS). However, Tassler stated that month that, “those two shows are on a different network. So I think we’ll keep Supergirl to ourselves for awhile.”

I was looking forward to a shared universe with Arrow and Flash, however the inclusion of Superman always left me wondering how does his existence impact the other two series. Supergirl will probably remain on her own. Perhaps it’s not so much a downer but a blessing in disguise. I’m just not a fan of so many disconnected DC series on TV but that is another monster of discussion.

The series comes across light and full of color. The characters are down to Earth and very fun. The creative team sets the pace and lays out her new mission on Earth with a deeper plan and plot regarding all these escaped aliens. Kara is paired with working with the DEO and almost everyone seems to know Kara Danvers is Supergirl or so it comes across.

All-in-all this should be a fun series.

Manny Popoca
I'm funny, I'm cool, mainly I'm just a geek at heart. Follow for celebrity interviews and pop culture news.
http://www.popculthq.com

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