Was anybody worried that there weren’t enough comic book based TV shows on our screens at the moment? No? Well you wouldn’t mind seeing another one then! Supergirl started this week, giving us a show which feels new but similar at the same time. Set in the universe of Superman but involving a character that is not widely known. Say Supergirl to someone and they might think of Helen Slater in the 1984 film
Other than that they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about her. This show brings us her origin story and then fast-forwards to her as an adult as she tries to find her place in a world that already has a god-like hero. Here’s our recap and review of the pilot episode.
Right from the start of the episode you can feel the influence of Greg Berlanti. It has the same opening as Arrow and The Flash, the title character is talking to the viewer by saying “My name is….”, in this case her name is Kara Zor-El. This is the first example of the show feeling familiar but still new.
Her origin is very similar to Superman, she is from Krypton, she was sent in a pod after baby Kal-El but it was knocked off course by the exploding planet and she ended up stranded in the phantom zone for 24 years. After escaping this she found her way to Earth and was greeted by Superman who had grown up to be his well-known caped self. This explains how even though she is his older cousin, she is technically younger than him. Her alien origin is kept within the introduction to the show, this allows the viewers to get straight into the here and now aspect of the show.
We then see the set up of Kara as an adult, she is an assistant to the Chief Editor of a Magazine (played by Calista Flockhart).
This entire sequence feels like a carbon copy of Devil Wears Prada, even Flockhart’s character seems just like Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Miranda Priestly. Throw into this the stereotypical colleague of the main character who has a crush on them but their affections go ignored. Kara thinks of Winn as just a friend but he was so much more.
Unfortunately for him he appears to be very much in the friend-zone! His quest for her love will be made even harder with the introduction of Jimmy….sorry James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), a super hot, super tall photographer recently employed at the magazine.
Her exchange with James is awkward and she gets herself all flustered as she clearly finds him attractive. There is a suggestion that James thinks there is more to Kara than meets the eye, does he know who she is?
Kara’s first call to action involves saving a plane (which her sister is on) from crashing into the city. It had to be a plane rescue, after all you can’t be from the house of El without saving a plane or two, just like Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh, even Jimmy Olsen reference the saving of a plane by Superman.
The difference between this show and previous super-incarnations is that Kara is super excited to have been the hero she knew she could be. She wants people to see her as a hero, and jumps for joy when she sees herself on TV.
That joy is quickly washed away when her adoptive sister comes in and says she shouldn’t have done that, put herself out in the open. She says it is dangerous for her to be known, Why is it dangerous?
Kara reveals her secret to Winn almost immediately! He becomes her more than willing partner in her mission to be the new superhero. He designs and makes her outfit for her, and we see a couple of scenes of her tackling some crimes whilst trying out difference costume options.
How Winn is an expert in all types of clothing material, particularly ones that are resistant to shredding, I don’t know, it’s not important I guess. It’s not long before the complete Supergirl outfit is complete, including the House of El coat of arms, or the ‘S’ to us. Kara is now officially active as a hero and unfortunately for her it has put her in a dangerous situation.
We soon get introduced to the episode’s villain Vartox, a very strong man with a very strong Nuclear Axe. When we first see him, just in case you don’t know he is a bad guy, he is wearing all dark clothes and has a very mysterious, brooding appearance!
During conversation with another presumably bad guy (in which they mention a General? Zod perhaps?) we find out that the they know about Kara’s family, and state that she will pay for her mother’s debt. What did her mother do? Well it turns out that her mother was the one that sent a load of Alien criminals to a super-prison. This prison was stuck in the Negative Zone, eventually released by Kara’s pod and then crashed on Earth. These criminals have been underground for years but are now drawn out due to the appearance of Kara.
We learn all this after Kara is shot down out of the sky with some glowing green darts, which we later learn are filled with a Kryptonite sedative. An organisation called Department of Extra-normal Operations (DEO) have known about her pretty much since she arrived on the planet. They are tasked with protecting the world from people like her and the criminals she helped set free.
They have her ship she arrived in, and more importantly one of their agents is none other than Kara’s adoptive sister. Much of the next few minutes is taken up by exposition as Hank Henshaw (bring on the cyborg superman asap please!) explains the purpose of the DEO, Kara wanting to help, Henshaw not wanting her to, and Kara being upset that her sister has lied to her for so long!
Kara inevitably rushes straight into a trap after being called out by Vartox and she is clearly out-matched in a fight. The axe he wields hurts her and she has to be rescued by her sister and the DEO. This causes Kara to regret becoming a hero and she decides to stop, but her sister then suddenly starts supporting her and gives her a message from her mother which encourages her to find her own path, which she does by going straight back out to fight the bad guy.
This time around she is suddenly a much better fighter and also has a trick up her sleeve as she uses her heat vision (which becomes stronger if she believes in herself!) to heat up the nuclear axe so that it explodes. The tactic was to pretend to be a weak little girl to lull Vartox into a sense of security, and it worked! Vartox clearly doesn’t want to be captured as he promptly kills himself!
Jimmy reveals to Kara that he knows her secret and it was her cousin that sent him to keep an eye on her. He gives her a gift of Kal-El’s blanket, which she then uses as an extra special cape. Apparently Supes wanted her to choose this life for herself and that’s why he hasn’t been around to interfere. We get a very brief scene at the end where the General that was mentioned before is revealed to be Kara’s auntie, Allura’s sister (twin sister by the look of it)
Allura clearly ticked-off a lot of people, so this appears to be the motivation of the season’s villains. It’s going to be a family affair and some the family of El will undoubtedly have some skeletons force out of the closet!
As this was a pilot there was a lot of stuff they tried to cram into the episode. Some of it worked, some of it really didn’t. Here’s a rundown of some interesting aspects of the episode!
- The actress playing young Kara thinks she is on a theatre stage!
- We see the sleeve of Superman as he holds Kara’s hand, his suit appears to be made out of the same material as the one from Man of Steel!
- Dean Cain and Helen Slater are playing Kara’s human parents! Super-family!
- The adult Kara’s look appears to be modeled on Felicity Smoak,
- There is a nod to Superman’s ability to fly, as the character originally started by not being able to fly instead leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Kara jumps a few times before finally taking off into the sky.
- Kara uses the same sort of disguise as Clark Kent….glasses ans a different hair style…impenetrable.
- From the footage obtained by the news crews someone would definitely be able to tell who the mysterious flying woman was
- Nobody ever says the word Superman. Is there a legal issue around this? Will we always have to hear him described as the ‘cousin’ or ‘my friend in blue’?
- Hank Henshaw is awesome, he has the best lines in the episode. “It’s Agent Danvers and her sister from another Planet”
- Why is her heat vision blue?!
- We get the traditional “rip-shirt-open-to-reveal-super-outfit” moment.
- “Cool guys don’t look at explosions”
It was an average episode. Some pretty cool stuff but some very bad dialogue and some of the effects weren’t great, but this is probably because of the financial restraints of a pilot episode. It feels a bit like an up-to-date version of the show that Smallville would have been if it kept going. Maybe Smallville:The Later Years! I’m going to need to see a couple more episode before I can decide if i like the show as I can’t really tell what direction it will take at the moment.
The Flash and Arrow pilot’s were a lot better but both of those shows improved with time which I’m sure this will too. Melissa Benoist played the role really well and I’m looking forward to how she deals with some of the darker aspects of the character. Will be see a rage filled Supergirl? Who knows!
What did you think of the pilot? Let us know in the comments below.