October 28, 2015

The panel I was most excited about being on last weekend at MileHi Con was called something like, Superheroes in Movies and TV: Oversaturated or Raising the Bar?  I argued for “Raising the Bar” of course.  We’re living in a golden age of live-action superhero drama and I’m absolutely loving it, because it means I can skip the drek and still have plenty to watch.  And because yes, the bar on these things is now high.

It also stands to reason that with this massive proliferation of superhero movies (how many is just the MCU planning in the next four years?  A dozen?) & TV shows, that eventually we’d have to get a good one starring a woman superhero.  Statistically, the powers that be just couldn’t keep avoiding making a movie or TV show about a woman superhero without it looking like they’re just avoiding it.  And the longer we went without one, the worse that avoidance looked.  But everyone was scared of failing.  I get that.  Nobody wanted to be the one to screw this up.

So, I’m very, very happy to say we finally have a thing to point to say, Look, yes, it can be done.  It can be done well.  It can be FUN!  Because yes, I watched the first episode of Supergirl, and I really liked it.  Now maybe Hollywood will get off its ass and stop making excuses.

Two things to talk about with this, besides the fact that I cried like a baby through most of it — Kara is here, she’s adorable, and she’s super-heroic, and that’s all most of us wanted.

First, the pacing is astonishing.  Conventional TV show pacing would have had Kara saving the airplane (the first superhero outing is usually either an airplane or a tenement fire, ever notice that?) at the end of the first episode and spent the rest of the time angsting and building up to it.  Instead, it happened in the first fifteen minutes.  And then we got maybe two more episodes’ worth of action packed in under an hour.  This was a little jarring — I had to think about it some, because I’m not a fan of opening prologues/voice-overs, but I think this one worked because the show made a decision to blow through the backstory as quickly as possible.  And as far as packing in so much other story:  this is a pilot, and the show gave us an entire foundation right at the start.  My guess is things will slow down from here out, but I kind of love that we’re not going to spend ages on an origin story, and that Kara gets to be a hero right out of the gate.  The show is going to be about her being a hero, not her trying to figure out if she should be one.  That’s excellent.

Second:  you know how one of my big pet peeves about stories featuring Strong Women Characters (TM) is when they only have one strong woman character, which makes the story about a Chosen One and not strong women, really?  Supergirl is FILLED with strong women.  It has as many named women characters as men.  Kara’s boss, her sister, her mother (and can I tell you how much I love that it’s her mother who inspires her, who she turns back to?), that mysterious bad guy at the end…  Much like Agent Carter, this is a world filled with women, and lots of different kinds of women, with lots of different strengths.  Just like, you know, the actual world.  This is so appropriate for this story.  We need women heroes because women are here, and they’re heroes.

So yes, I liked this show a lot.  We’ll see if I like the second episode as much.  Don’t screw this up, people.

(Also, I’m going to have to watch Ep. 1 again just because I missed the Dean Cain and Helen Slater cameos the first time through.)

Addendum:  I’m suddenly debating about whether to call Agent Carter a superhero show.  It’s a spin off of Captain America of course.  She’s an amazing character, but I think what we’ve all been waiting for is a woman with superpowers.  That’s been the missing ingredient. So while Agent Carter is magnificent, Supergirl hits that target we’ve been missing for way too long.


5 Responses to “Supergirl”

  1. jdtargett Says:

    Looking forward to Supergirl (it premieres here in the UK on Thursday night). I do like the team behind Supergirl and the Flash and the Arrow – one of the things I have enjoyed about Flash and Arrow is the amount of characters played by people of character filling out the worlds of the two shows, as well as the range of female characters.

  2. Rachel Says:

    There’s also the new Jessica Jones series slated to come out on Netflix next month, with Krysten Ritter and David Tennant. As with Netflix’s Daredevil, this series looks gritty, with added overtones of noir. Not sure how many female characters will appear or how significant their appearance will be on the main character and story/plot/motivation, but it is still a female superhero.

    Though, she’s probably going to contrast a great deal with Supergirl. Supergirl seems fairly clean, fresh faced, and is just starting her hero career, while Jessica Jones is struggling with retirement.

  3. ArcLight Says:

    I’m glad they jumped right into things, but I wouldn’t have minded if it had been maybe a 90-minute premiere.

    I thought Melissa Benoist did a great job and loved Kara just plain enjoying getting out and doing her thing. All these super-powered characters running around like they’re miserable because they can bend steel in their bare hands and leap tall buildings in a single bound just end up making me miserable, too. It’s also why I’ll always love Billy Zane’s Phantom movie – he was having fun so it was fun to watch.

    Glad that between The Flash and now Supergirl, DC/Warner Bros. is beginning to let their characters lighten up a bit. Now if they’d only lighten up the color palette….

  4. Benjamin Says:

    I really enjoyed it too.

    One other thing I liked was that they used a tiny bit of John Williams’ original Superman score after she saves the plane, or at least music very close to it.

  5. I’ll admit, while I am glad that comic book movies have become successful, I’m more than a little burnt-out with the number of them we’ve been getting each year, especially from the MCU; even though theirs are the only ones I really bother with right now, it’s still kind of exhausting trying to keep up with all of them, and the fact that they’re all interconnected makes me feel like I can’t just cherrypick individual titles.

    Based on what I’ve heard about The Flash and Supergirl, however, I might give those shows a chance, even if the rest of DC’s offerings have become so ridiculously grimdark.

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