A Super Non-Spoiler review of CBS’s Supergirl Pilot episode!
So if you haven’t heard, the pilot for CBS’s upcoming series Supergirl got leaked and embedded to various websites around the internet, and I managed to find a site with a working stream. I know it’s bad but I really couldn’t help myself; not after last week’s trailer for it. So I’m going to be writing down a few of my thoughts on the show without spoilers for the majority of you reading this who most definitely want to have your own opinions as well. This is all strictly my opinion and I urge you not to let what I have to say influence your expectations, as I am not a DC comic reader and only know Supergirl via The CW’s Smallville and the Red Lanterns comics.
I’ll reiterate and confirm what I said on the latest Geeks On Screen podcast where we talked about the trailer’s debut. Everything you see in that trailer comes from this pilot episode. This is all about her origin, introducing characters, and introducing non-Supergirl/Man readers to that universe and its characters. They do this quite well in this pilot episode. I’m extremely excited that ever since The CW’s The Flash series started, that TV shows have been willing to take risks and go further into the more sci-fi or extraordinary parts of these comic book characters than they have in the past. Smallville did this a bit, but still shied away from showing too much. The Marvel cinematic universe still doesn’t want to give us straight up magic, but with Guardians of the Galaxy being popular I feel that people are willing to accept the risk of making shows like Supergirl include the extraterrestrial side to her character as well as the human side. So this show really starts the way all Superman movies and shows have, with Kara’s departure from Krypton. The CGI and special effects used in this show was actually quite good for a TV series. CBS must have put a good amount of money and faith in this show and it shows.
We get some introductions on all of the main characters and yes it’s very ‘Gossip Girl’ at times. While those scenes are very prevalent in the trailer, the show was much more focused on Kara herself and who she is in all aspects of her life. But for you fans of the comics, she embraces her “superness” quite quickly in this pilot. They wasted no time jumping into the action and I think that’s a good thing. People have seen the Superman origin a dozen times, and there is no need at all to “Smallville” Kara as well.
One thing that a lot of people were worried about after seeing the trailer was that this show would be very feminist in its undertones, but I can tell you it’s not… it’s Super-Feminist. They aren’t hiding the fact that this is a woman power show, and they really lay it on heavy handed. Having been raised in a house with only women in it, I consider myself very pro-women and think females are awesome, but this show almost unnecessarily lays it on a bit too thick. Heard the controversy over James Olson being portrayed by Mehcad Brooks (he’s fantastic by the way!)? Well don’t get your underwear in a bunch until you see who they changed at the end of this pilot. I was fine with the super pro-fem undertones in this episode for the most part, but if the character they tease at the end of this pilot as Supergirl’s big bad got changed into a female, I may have to say it’s gone too far. It’s possible this character (again not spoiling) isn’t who I think she is, but I really hope she’s a classic Supergirl villain that I don’t know and not a classic Superman villain that I know. (Clarification: I’m not entirely negative about this possible character change, please don’t get me wrong. I just feel it was unnecessary for the show. With such a strong cast of female characters, I’d much rather see Supergirl pound a male version of this “big bad” into the ground with her fists than a woman, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.)
Melissa Benoist is absolutely adorable as Kara Danvers and even more bad ass as Supergirl, and they even threw in a few jokes about what hair color she has (eluding back to her casting announcement) which was fun. Calista Flockhart was great as always and plays just the meanest ‘Devil Wears Prada’ boss you can imagine, while Mehcad Brooks and David Harewood do a good job playing some of the only downright masculine males on the cast. Jeremy Jordan is great as the (hopefully) constant comedic relief that this show needed and the rest of the supporting cast seemed to fit well into the world as well. While we get to kind of see Superman, I think this show is including him far too much to not have him appear in the show a few times a season. They need to just address the elephant in this show’s room and give us a Clark Kent. While I don’t want this show to focus on Superman at all, I do find it weird that his cousin begins her superhero career without him stopping by and teaching her some stuff.
The rest of the show was pretty okay. The choreography on the fight scenes was mediocre and I really hope it gets more polished and exciting later in the season, but it’s very understandable that Kara has no clue how to fight having not used her powers in a long time. From what I know of Supergirl, this will be a pretty disappointing Supergirl for fans of her in the comics. Kara in Smallville and in the comics from what I know is quicker to anger, stronger than her cousin, and isn’t always able to keep her composure like Kal-El can. I’m really hoping that Kara in this show ends up becoming more like her comic self, because I felt that this Kara needs to toughen up a bit before she starts to feel like Supergirl to me. She knows what powers she has based on her cousin, but doesn’t use her super-speed or super-breath at all in this introduction.
While I found this pilot as a whole to be just “okay”, I can see the potential the show has. The risks they’re taking by making it less grounded and with the strength in the actors on-cast I feel after the first season is over, there will be just as many fans for this show as there is for its CW counterparts. I got some Lois & Clark/Smallville vibes while watching this and those shows had a good following that I’m sure will also greet this show with open arms. If they can stop being so heavy handed with the women power messaging and just deliver strong female characters we can look up to, super or not, then this show will go a long way at inspiring a future generation of male and female superhero fans. I can’t wait to see more of this show and what it’s going to bring to the table and to the future of the female led superhero genre.