Supergirl Pilot Review

Oh Supergirl, what happened? I’m really hoping the show improves because Monday night was such a disappointment. Now, I know it was just a pilot – and sometimes a bad pilot results in a good show. And it wasn’t “bad” just not as good as I had hoped. And pilots do have a difficult job – you have to introduce everyone and the situation, and the world and it’s rules (especially for fantasy) but both Gotham and The Flash (and even Arrow) had better opening episodes than Supergirl.

First, Supergirl seemed incredibly derivative. Kara Danvers seemed way too much like Felicity from Arrow. I’d noticed this in the on-line trailers I’d seen but I hoped it would work to the show’s favor. Kara should be a strong character, an inspiration to young girls, both in her “real” life and as a superhero. One reason I really love Felicity is she’s a normal person – and she uses her own talents – rather than trying to be whom others tell her to be. Kara seems to constantly strive to “fit in” as she says, to do what everyone else tells her to do, to let others, especially male characters defend her, and to not stand up for what she believes. This isn’t a “feminist” hero.

The rest of the cast is derivative too. Oh, look, Kara has her own “Jimmy Olsen” type – Winn. And the “real” Jimmy, now using the more adult name, James, has just started working at Cat Grant’s Worldwide Media. But, of course, the one character from Superman we might expect to see, the Big Blue Boy Scout himself – Superman, isn’t in the pilot. If others were going to make Kara to accept her identity anyway – why not have Superman show up and actually talk to his cousin? A serious discussion between the two might have made Kara’s flip-flops on becoming Supergirl a lot easier to take.

Then there’s Cat Grant. Cat’s a minor DC character, usually a reporter, whom I’ve seen in a number of DC shows, including Young Justice and Batman: The Animated Series. She’s their generic “girl reporter”. So, they bring her in as the head of a multi-media empire – great, and then go all Devil-wears-Prada when writing her. Pleeeeeeeeaaaaase! Why, why, oh why, does a powerful woman have to be a bitch (and not in the good sense)? Why does a powerful woman have to abuse her “underlings” even worse than a male boss? Why couldn’t Cat be shown as an intelligent, inclusive person who values the input of her fellow employees? And Cat’s retrofit explanation for “Supergirl”, rather than Kara’s suggestion of “Superwoman” made me squirm. Cat’s a “girl”? No, she’s a powerful woman. Not to mention Kara gets belittled again when she’s not even allowed to choose her own name. (Yes, as a long-time DC fan, I know that the “Superwoman” name is, actually, already being used – and for an alternate universe “evil” Superman/Wonder Woman hybrid character.) I also realise the show has to be Supergirl – but at least it should have been Kara taking on that name. Actually the scene would have played better in reverse – Cat suggesting “SuperWoman” and Kara suggesting “Supergirl”.

Moving on to the episode itself. The rescuing the plane scene was very cool – but totally spoiled by the on-line trailers. And I’m not a big fan of spoilers, so I didn’t even look for every trailer – but that was in the main one. Alex, Kara’s adoptive sister changed sides more times than a tennis ball in a championship match, so when she finally decided that she was loyal to Kara and that Kara should be Supergirl – it almost came off as artificial. And Alex’s boss is an evil twit, but, yet again, he’s a somewhat standard and derivative character (for both Marvel and DC actually).

One of the best moments in the entire episode was actually Kara getting the hologram from her mother. I hope (but I don’t expect) that the series deals with Kara remembering her former life on Krypton. After all, if she left home at 13 she’d remember something (unlike Clark Kent / Superman who, since he left Krypton as a baby would remember nothing of his previous life or planet.)

I also like that both James Olsen and Kara’s friend, Winn, know who she is (as well as, obviously, her sister, Alex). It might be interesting to bring Cat into that circle.

I do plan to continue to tune in. It’s a shame Supergirl and Gotham are on at the same time. But I really hope for some improvement.

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