As the planet Krypton is exploding around them due to its unstable radioactive core, Kal-El is sent rocketing into orbit towards Earth where he is to realize his destiny as the one and only Superman; however, in pursuit of the infant Kal-El’s rocket is his 12-year-old cousin, Kara Zor-El, intended to look after her cousin to ensure his safe journey.
While Kal-El makes it safely to Earth, Kara is driven off course into the Phantom Zone and doesn’t make it to Earth until far after her cousin is grown and notorious throughout the world as Superman. While Kara has the same powers as her cousin, she is encouraged not to showcase them and lives an average life, until one day she finally decides to embrace her true self and be the hero she knows she is destined to be- thusly, Supergirl is born.
“Supergirl” takes the viewer on a journey through a world of evil aliens and good ones alike, all fighting for power over the Earth. While the good aliens such as Kara and her cousin, Superman (who is never referred to by name, only by “he” or “him”) attempt to blend in and live their everyday lives, the evil ones, escaped prisoners from Fort Rozz, the maximum security alien prison, seek to rule over the humans and inflict destruction.
Kara is a typical 24-year-old woman living in National City. She works for the Tribune as an assistant to media mogul Cat Grant, who has a Meryl Streep in the “Devil Wears Prada” vibe to her. Taught to suppress her identity her entire life by her sister Alex, Kara is reserved and somewhat apprehensive, exemplified in her interactions with art director James Olsen who also takes pictures of her cousin and has a professional relationship with him. Pressure from her boss and the potential closure of the newspaper leads her to finally embrace her powers. Later in the episode she is seen saving a plane from free falling into a river. The city then starts to go crazy for Supergirl, but not everyone is a fan. Both aliens and humans alike seek to stop her and keep her from realizing her true potential. Her story is one of rising above what others say, and being true to oneself.
Melissa Benoist does an excellent job as Supergirl, with her girl-next-door demeanor and relatively dynamic acting, even in the first episode.
Other notable acting includes that of Calista Flockheart playing Cat Grant, as she plays the role quite excellently. Throughout the “Superman” franchise, Grant is egotistical and somewhat diabolical. This is exemplified when she ironically tells Kara in response to the anti-feminist naming of her alter-ego, “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl,’ huh? I’m a girl, and your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot and smart. So if you perceive ‘Supergirl’ as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”
In addition, Mehcad Brooks delivers a solid supporting role as Jimmy Olsen, art director for the Tribune and Superman’s personal photographer. Brooks gives Olsen a nurturing attitude towards Supergirl, as he encourages her to embrace who she is and provides further words of encouragement from Superman himself.
As with any superhero saga, the special effects were abundant and well-done. Naturally, the budget is not that of a summertime blockbuster, but the effects are entertaining and not excessive. From an exploding Krypton to Supergirl melting a specialized alien hammer with her heat vision, there were plenty of exhilarating effects shown off in the pilot. It will be interesting to see if they get more realistic if the show ends up catching the eye of the public.
The story has a feminist frame to it, as the lead is a woman superhero. Furthermore, there is no skimpy outfit or gimmicky, overly-sexualized banter or behavior. While she is indeed beautiful, she is down to Earth and intelligent as well. Supergirl embodies a feminine role that is lacking in today’s society.
She is fighting a constant battle within her own life to realize her supernatural potential and be who she truly is meant to be in spite of what others tell her. She embodies true human emotion and is extremely relatable. She is both strong and lovable without being overbearing or cheesy.
As the show progresses and characters begin to develop, it will be interesting to see where the story leads and what further special effects will be utilized. Supergirl is not just any hero, she’s a hero that people can relate to, a hero that needs to be promoted and embraced as an inspiration in today’s diverse and socially conscious society. While there is room for the show to further improve, after one episode a four star rating would be appropriate as the show was both entertaining and heartfelt.