I finally got to watch the pilot episode of Supergirl and can’t wait for the rest of the season. Supergirl allows people to indulge in their preconceptions about Superman but also have those tested or turned on their side by Supergirl.
If you missed Monday night’s premiere and aren’t faced with region issues, you can watch or rewatch the first episode of Supergirl for free at CBS, Amazon, Google Play (with coupon), iTunes, and other streaming services. Or watch the episode with commentary by Executive Producers Ali Adler and Sarah Schechter along with Director Glen Winter here. [I haven’t watched the commentary yet.]
As someone with a broad palate for all things within the Superman family (even Krypto) I was really pleased with Supergirl especially from the character drama and soapy relationship angle. Basically anytime Kara was emoting, I was engaged, and there’s some adventurous action that does its job.
Of course, as someone who loves Man of Steel, I couldn’t help but admire some of the parallels that show these two takes on Kryptonian cousins aren’t as far apart or as in conflict as some might like you to believe. Rather, there are some elements that show both storytellers looked to modernize and update their respective supers in a grounded, human, and relevant.
Starting on Krypton
Both open on Krypton to establish these are beings from another world. Very different yet also very human, with families who love them, mourn their loss, who feel fear and passion, experience tragedy, and hold hopes and dreams. Both mothers, Lara and Alura send off their children with tearful goodbyes.
Sent With A Mission
Both Kal-El and Kara are sent to Earth with a mission. Kal-El carries Jor-El and Lara’s hopes and dreams for a better world, one without the mistakes of Krypton. Alura wants Kara to survive and from the outset to act as a protector.
Not According To Plan
Yet, both suffer frustrations with the plans of their parents as well was unexpected complications. Clark isn’t a “god” growing up. Kara doesn’t protect or look over Kal-El. Zod’s survival was not a part of Jor-El’s plan. Kara’s 24-year detour with Fort Rozz trailing behind was not a part of Alura’s plan.
Life Changed At Age 13
Both experience a life-changing moment at that critical age of 13. Clark saves a bus full of children using his powers, his alien origins are revealed to him, and he agrees to have a normal childhood. Kara is ripped from her home planet and family, then arrives on a new planet without her mission, and adopted by a new family.
Same Safe Human-Type Childhood
Despite this trials and changes, both Clark and Kara have commitments towards having “safe human-type childhoods.” Clark didn’t become Superboy or act out adventures from Smallville. Kara followed the advice of her Superman and grew up a normal well-adjusted person.
Decided The Best Thing To Do Is Fit In
Despite their great powers, potential, mission, and desire, both Clark and Kara spend their early years fitting in rather than confronting the world with their super powers and alien nature. By the time they make their introductions, they are well and truly citizens of Earth and empathize completely with everyone around them. They don’t view or judge Earth as aliens but consider Earth their home.
Menial Jobs and Disrespectful Bosses
Both start from the bottom with humbleness and humility, busing tables, getting coffee. They have bosses that call them “Greenhorn” and demand they fetch things or threaten to fire them at the drop of a hat. Yet this makes them patient, long suffering, and gracious. At any moment they could lord their power of their bosses and bully them back, but instead they know the quiet honor of submissive servanthood. Not for the sake of their bosses but for the sake of their own character and personal integrity.
The Secret Is Out
The first person in their adult lives to know their secret outside of family is a journalist from the Daily Planet. For Clark it’s Lois Lane and for Kara it’s James Olsen. The potential for love blossoms with both.
Mild Mannered and Dismissed
Both are in establishments with drinks and music when someone takes advantage of their mild mannered nature. Clark easily towered over Ludlow, who nonetheless dismisses him as someone who wouldn’t fight back and thus bullies him. Kara is adorable and tries to engage her blind date, who nonetheless dismisses her as someone who he can bail on without consequence.
Compelled to Rescue
Both are compelled to act and rescue a large vehicle as their first debut. Clark saving the kids on the school bus and Kara saving her sister and the passengers of Flight 237. Both get dunked in bodies of water and emerge wet from their efforts. Moreover, rescue wasn’t effortless or easy. Clark strained on the oil rig and Kara cried out with the plane as fire burnt around both of them. Both rescued these people in spite of the consequences of being witnessed while rescuing others.
Learning To Fly
Both have incredibly joyous scenes where the hero doesn’t immediately fly perfectly, reminding us that flight isn’t something to be taken for granted. However, the utter joy of it is apparent on Clark’s face and Kara likens it to the thrill of a first kiss. Also, both feature flight as explosive and fast. There isn’t much hovering or floating in either.
Guardian Angel or Human Wrecking Ball?
Both get divisive and mixed reactions to their altruistic efforts. “My son was in the bus, he saw what Clark did.” Clark will face those in Batman v. Superman, however, Kara experiences it immediately as the press questions her rookie effort.
“They don’t fear my cousin.”
“Plenty of people do. It’s just not popular to admit it.”
Clark isn’t as prone to talking to himself as Kara, but his inexperience is evident. Kara, however, says exactly what the compassionate comprehend, “Well, you try saving a plane for the first time and see if you don’t make a mess!” / “I- I’m still learning!”
What Was I Supposed To Do?
Both Clark and Kara have protective loved ones that prioritize their Kryptonian secret over their own lives. Jonathan died so that Clark could have a little more time to get ready. He didn’t want to die or relish leaving Clark alone, but he loved Clark more than his own life. Kara’s sister Alex is the same. “What were you thinking?”, she demands, “You exposed yourself to the world. You’re out there now Kara, everyone will know about you and you can’t take that back! … What if people figure out who you are? What you are? It’s not safe for you to do anything like that ever again.” The implication is that Alex may have preferred Flight 237 go down if for Kara’s sake. Both Clark and Kara are discouraged from using their powers by the ones who love them most.
Pursued by The Press
Kara goes into work the next morning to Cat’s call-to-arms on getting the scoop on the savior. Lois Lane relentlessly tracks down Clark.
Sharing The Burden
Kara tells Wynn and Clark tells Lois his story. Both reach out to trustworthy others to help them with the burden of being who they are and into the adventure of their lives.
Suit Comes Second
Both engage in heroism and exploits before donning their respective costumes gifted to them by another.
He’s Kinda Hot / Really Pretty Without Your Glasses
Both have these cute but cringe-y moments.
It’s Not An “S”
On my world it means hope / The symbol of the House of El means hope / It’s my family’s coat of arms.
Knocked Out By A Weakness, Awakens Restrained
Kara by Kryptonite darts and Clark by Kryptonian atmosphere. Both awaken restrained. Both are released by family.
A Skeptical Government
General Swanwick raises security concerns about Clark, just as Director Henshaw does about Kara. Both precipitate escalation with humanity.
You Brought Them Here
Both are facing off against escaped criminals who arguably came to Earth because of them (though with little true culpability). Both are outnumbered by the enemy and facing overwhelming odds.
Named By Someone Else
Neither Clark nor Kara name themselves but by respective female journalists.
Villain Doesn’t Care About Collateral
Kara’s villain gets the greenlight to create casualties, Zod explicitly intends them.
Son of Jor-El / Daughter of Alura
The villains carry generational grudges against Clark and Kara. Zod against Jor-El for stealing the Codex and having a natural-born son, Vartox against Alura for being his judge and jailer.
Military / Family Assistance
Clark and Kara both receive critical aide against their enemies from the military and their families. While Clark was out of the Battle of Smallville, the military was just able to bring Faora down and chase the Kryptonians away. While Vartox has Kara beat, the DEO was able to chase him away. The ultimate battle plan comes from Jor-El (Phantom Zone Singularity) and Alex (super-heating the axe), require more than just brawn to defeat the enemy.
Both Clark and Kara suffer doubt about their calling. Both get encouraged by family and holograms.
Jonathan and Alex’s good intentions are vindicated even if Clark and Kara overcome their fears. Jonathan’s fears are proven true. The world wasn’t ready yet. Clark would have never been able to take on the Suicide Squad or an aggressive Lex Luthor or Batman, without first meeting Jor-El with the time that Jonathan’s sacrifice bought him. Alex, meanwhile, was right that Fort Rozz escapees would begin to target Kara soon after her public debut.
A Different Destiny / Principles over Perfection
Despite the dreams of their Kryptonian parents, both want Clark and Kara to choose their own path. “There is no correct path in life. You will lose your way many times. … Be wise, be brave, be strong.” Pursuing principles instead of absolutes without mercy or grace.
Choice and Freewill
“One day you’re gonna think of them as a blessing. When that day comes you have to make a choice.” / “We wanted you to learn what it meant to be human first so that one day, when the time was right, you could be the bridge between two peoples.” / “He wanted you to choose it for yourself.”
If you keep an open mind and an open heart there’s no conflict for the Super Fan between Man of Steel or Supergirl. There is so much to love in both for their differences and their many similarities. I think it’s an incredible time to be thankful that we have:
- a slate of big-budget feature films with Superman
- an on-going broadcast network TV show featuring Supergirl
- monthly digital and print Superman comics written by Eisner winners
- a Superman mini-series with an all-star list of artists and a Hollywood hype-man writer who has won an Eisner writing Superman before
- a YA novel series starring Lois Lane
- a Justice League animated series with Superman on the horizon
- with almost infinite access to anything and everything Superman-related published throughout time either digitally or through online vendors who can get nearly anything
- the ability to communicate with fans around the world 24/7
- countless podcasts and fan-made media to consume
- and more!
It’s an absolutely wonderful time to be a Superman fan and Supergirl is a big part of it! The heart swells with joy and gratitude.
Rebecca Johnson of the Supergirl Radio podcast adds:
I would also point out:
– Alura knew about Kryptonians becoming super powered when they get to Earth before putting Kara in the pod.
– While heat vision has a different color, the way it goes out of the eyes when both Clark and Kara stop using it is very similar.
– Supergirl is borrowing the way “Man of Steel” depicts breaking the sound barrier during flight (using jets as a visual guide).
– I’d even go as far as to say that Colleen Atwood borrowed the color scheme of Cavill’s Superman suit for Benoist’s look.