Last Monday I got to watch the pilot episode for DC’s new Supergirl show. And I’d have to say I was very happy with what I saw. If the series retains the consistency of the pilot CBS will definitely have another hit on its hands on Monday nights.
Supergirl is what most DC fans like myself want in a live action adaptaion of DC Comics character. It stays true to the source material and captures the spirit of the original character. Kara Zor El goes from Kryptonian protector to girl next door with ease, and the origin of Kara is told in the first ten minutes of the pilot in a way any one could understand without having to read a single comic book.
I’d have to say the first ten minutes of Supergirl were better than Man of Steel and Superman Returns combined. In that ten minutes we got to see Kara’s character established and her mission defined. Not only does she have the same powers as Clark, but the same values as Clark. Plain and simple she wants to be a hero because she’s a good woman who cares about people.
Kara’s reasons for becoming Supergirl are simple. Her boss Cat Grant wants to cut jobs at a paper in her media conglomerate. And in order to save those jobs the city needs a hero. And it gets one when a plane with her sister on board is about to crash. In one of the best action sequences I’ve seen on TV Supergirl catches the plane and shows she is the equal of her cousin in a scene that blows the doors off the plane rescue scene in Superman Returns.
From there we have a cool montage of Supergirl stopping crimes and making headlines. And putting together her new costume. The new suit mixes classic style with modern textures and looks pretty cool. Capturing the spirit of the 1980s Helen Slater Supergirl costume but updating the style for today with texture and shades. Personally I’d love to see the red \S/ filled in with yellow, but that’s something for me to do when they finally make the action figure.
When Kara returns to work we get the introduction of Black Jimmy Olsen. Now I’m no fan of changing character ethnicities for political correctness, but the actor who plays Jimmy Olsen is rock solid. He has great chemistry with Melissa Benoist and can carry a scene. If anything he seems a lot like an older, more confident Jimmy who has gotten a little more seasoning in the field after working at Lois’ side for a few years. From the way Supergirl is written it seems like they’ve evolved the character Superman’s pal is ready to be his own man instead of the awkward boy featured in all the Superman comics It’s a great progression for the character that takes him to another level.
As the new heroine takes flight in National City she’s stalked by a villain named Vartox who’s been sent to kill her. And after her first battle with the villain we learn that when her rocketship was taken off course it led to a prison ship filled with villains crashing on earth. A force led by her sister is trying to capture them. This is where the pilot loses a little steam for me. That kind of plot twist is so by the numbers it’s not funny.
Personally, I’d rather see a little more of an organic build to the rogues gallery. With heroines you really need to establish a bit of a relationship between them and the villain. That chemistry between them is what will get viewers, especially female viewers to keep watching and tell their friends. Having all the villains come from the Phantom Zone is a nice reference to the 1984 movie and Superman II, but kind of prevents the writers from establishing the villains in an organic fashion and adding a little diversity to the bad guys and their reasons for hating Kara.
The fights with Vartox were like something out of a big budget movie. Rock solid special effects and great build on the story with a strong climax. The scenes with Vartox were on the level with a Marvel Studios film; but I wish the character would have gotten a bit more character development. It seemed all he was here to do was Job to Kara and then die. Yeah, his death moved the plot forward. But I’m not liking this direction with Kara’s aunt being behind things. Again, weaksauce writing.
I fear the villains may be the Achilles heel to Supergirl. From the pilot they seem extremely underdeveloped and unclear of their mission. That may impede the show’s progress throughout the season. Villains drive conflict on superhero shows, and they need to be strong if a show hopes to go more than a season. I know it’s only one episode in and there’s a lot of ground to cover in a pilot, but I’d like to have seen some relationships established between Kara and the baddies.
The last thing I’d like to see Supergirl is a Smallville Freak of the Week story model where bad guys just are there to Job to Kara. Supergirl shows a lot of promise in its pilot from a solid origin, a strong and interesting heroine, a great supporting cast and pretty solid storytelling. If the show can get the paradigm right for how it develops its villains it has the potential to be the next Xena: Warrior Princess or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I really liked the pilot for Supergirl There was hope, optimism, and a sense of fun in the hour I watched. This is the kind of adapation DC fans have been begging Warner Brothers for, and the direction most want to see their characters taken in. If Warner Brothers continues to create content as strong as Supergirl they’ll soon be able to create films that’ll allow them to compete with Marvel Studios.
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