Why I love Supergirl

supergirl season 1 hope why I love supergirl melissa benoist smile poster hd

So, the last couple of posts I’ve written have been fairly negative, and I wanted to write about something a little more positive. An obvious solution presented itself to me, and now here we are.

It’s been quite a while since I last properly wrote about Supergirl; I managed to review the first three episodes, but in the end other obligations took over and I couldn’t really keep it up. That’s a shame, really, and in a way I feel worse about not having been able to keep up with my Supergirl reviews than my corresponding reviews of The Flash. And that’s because I’ve been enjoying Supergirl more than The Flash, of late, and I genuinely kinda miss writing about it.

I’ll tell you why.

Supergirl is an unabashedly optimistic and positive show, which makes a strong case for the intrinsic value of heroism motivated by compassion. And that’s wonderful. At a point at which so many heroes are grimdark and gritty – even Superman himself – it’s really, truly heartening to see Supergirl rejecting that entirely, and quite firmly taking the stance that caring matters.

The above clip is a brilliant example of that, and it’s why I love Supergirl so much. They take the time, even in amongst the ongoing plots of Kryptonians and Martians and government agencies, to show us the small scale moments of heroism. Kara takes a moment from her day to go and reassure a young girl. How brilliant is that?

Honestly, I love the fact that Supergirl gives us this. The fact that we do see Kara saving a child’s pet from a tree (in a fantastic twist on the usual image, it is in fact a snake called Fluffy), and we do see Kara working with firefighters, and yes, that we do see Kara reassuring a young girl.

Maybe this is just a case of my own idiosyncratic interests and particular tastes in superhero fiction, but I love the fact that Supergirl does “present us with an ideal, and inspire us to be our best selves”.

We can learn a lot from that.

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TV Review: Supergirl – Fight or Flight (1×03)

supergirl cbs logo review season 1 retrospective analysis melissa benoist greg berlanti ali adler andrew kreisberg superman kara danvers

How am I supposed to really become a hero if Superman has to keep saving me?

This was a really important episode, because it was clearly directly positioned as a response to all the inevitable doubts and complaints about the premise – doubts that I myself was guilty of, admittedly, but happily have been proved wrong about.

In this episode, Reactron, an obscure yet dangerous Superman villain, shows up in National City. He’s trying to pursue a vendetta against Superman, and as such, targets Supergirl. At first, she seems outmatched, and Jimmy Olsen (who is terrified of Reactron, given past experiences in Metropolis) calls over Superman, who saves Supergirl. When Reactron attacks again, however, Jimmy doesn’t call Superman, and Kara is able to defeat him on her own.

Now, that’s the basic plot (uh, spoilers). Whilst it sounds a little simplistic in many ways, I’d actually argue that this episode was essential to the continued development of Supergirl, as a program – but also, I think, to Supergirl as a character.

If you’ll forgive me for branching out into another company, I’d like to talk about the Avengers, for a moment. I quite like the Marvel movies, but a fairly common series of complaints directed at them is the question of where the other superheroes are all the time. You know, like, why doesn’t Captain America call up Tony Stark to help him with Hydra that one time, or why won’t Thor bring Bruce Banner with him to London, and so on and so forth. Whilst they’re not necessarily the most sensible questions to ask (there’s an obvious real world, after all, and it’s that RDJ is expensive) they do end up being noticeable little niggles in the narrative.

It’s a bigger problem for Supergirl, I would argue, given that her character appears very much defined by her relationship with Superman; it seems like, I suppose, the equivalent of a Nightwing show before a Batman one (or, for a CW comparison, a Roy Harper show before Arrow).

supergirl cbs fight or flight season 1 reactron ben kroll melissa benoist superman tyler hoechlin

But with Fight or FlightSupergirl has managed to put forward a simple – yet effective – reason to keep Superman out of the narrative. Kara simply doesn’t want his help; her journey as a hero requires her to be independent.

I really think that’s great, honestly I do. On one level, this is a rejection of ever doubt and complaint ever lobbied at the concept – Supergirl does not need Superman to be an interesting, compelling programme, because Kara Danvers is every bit the hero as Clark Kent. And, for the same reason, Kara Danvers doesn’t need Clark Kent. Yes, she’s still learning, and yes, she looks to her cousin as an inspiration – but that doesn’t mean she isn’t every bit his equal.

Having an episode centred around this was, I think, really important – and really effective, too. Supergirl is making a case for why it should be allowed to stand on its own – and that’s something it’s earned, definitely.

Melissa Benoist gave another great performance in this episode, doing a brilliant job of conveying Kara’s frustration at Jimmy, and her need for independence. I’m really liking Kara as a character, and Melissa Benoist does a fantastic job at playing her.

Again, fond of the other characters too. Cat Grant continues to be a great foil for Kara; the interview and subsequent articles about Supergirl formed the basis of a great subplot to this episode, with some great interactions between Kara and Cat. Jimmy and Winn were also entertaining; I really like Winn, actually, and he’s proving to be a lot of fun. True, he’s not quite Cisco or Felicity, but he’s getting there – his reaction to finding out about Clark Kent was pretty funny. ‘Twas also interesting to be introduced to Maxwell Lord, who I’m thinking will be our Lex Luthor substitute for the duration of this series.

supergirl fight or flight superman season 1 melissa benoist tyler hoechlin red blue blur cw cbs ali adler greg berlnati

Reactron himself felt a little perfunctory, I admit; the villain in pursuit of vengeance is not the most interesting or original concept, and there was no new development of the concept on display here. But, to be fair, I don’t think it mattered – he was simply a function of the plot, there to escalate tension and provide a sense of threat, which was something that worked well enough.

What I did like, though, in relation to Reactron, was Kara’s initial decision to simply go and talk to him. I can’t find the exact quote at the minute, so I’m paraphrasing, but she essentially says that no one ever knew who he was before now – no one knew about his trauma and suffering – but now that she did, she’d try and talk to him and understand him.

That was a nice touch, I felt; ultimately, for Kara, the choice to become a superhero was one of compassion, based around helping others. The fact that’s she not discriminating, and she’s just as committed to helping the bad guys as she is the innocent victims, is a really great little character detail that was nice to see on display here.

So, Fight or Flight. This was a really strong episode; possibly the best of the three we’ve seen so far. Very impressed by the whole thing, in fact.

9/10

Related:

Supergirl reviews

The Flash reviews

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