Skip to main content

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' Soars with Enthusiasm and Action


★★★★★ (5/5)

It's hard to believe it's taken this long to see a superheroine on network television but it's finally happened and it's good. CBS's 'Supergirl' comes from Greg Berlanti who's helped bring the golden age of comic book television with Arrow and The Flash on the CW. However, there isn't a more important or ambitious venture than bringing Superman's cousin to the ratings network leader. Luckily, Melissa Benoist handles it all with class, passion and enthusiasm.

Sure, we've had Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman (both in the 1970s) and Jessica Jones doesn't arrive until November but when it comes to empowering television female action heroes the gold standards have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess (both ended in the early aughts). Since then there's been a resurgence of superhero shows and movies. 

The biggest movies have been Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and of course the Marvel Studios films. Except there hasn't been a solo film with a female lead to come from all that success. There won't be one until Wonder Woman (2017) and Captain Marvel (2018) arrive in theaters years from now.

Black Widow has been especially popular from appearing in several of the films, but Marvel refuses to make a stand-alone film for her. They barely want to market toys and merchandise of her much less produce a movie. And while great female characters populate current TV shows they are part of a team or supporting characters. So fairly or unfairly, 'Supergirl' carries the burden of being the first in this new hero age to represent superheroines and its success (or not) will be scrutinized. 

The pilot jams a lot of information in one episode. It feels as though everything was riding on the pilot so they crammed it with backstory, present day slice-of-life, learning how to use her powers and showdown with a villain. That's a lot to take in and process, but Benoist aptly tackles the range of emotions with ease making a protagonist that is optimistic, resilient and empowering. 

As Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El, Benoist charms in ways Christopher Reeves did in 1978's Superman: The Movie. She's earnest and energetic with a great sense right and wrong. Twelve-year-old Kara escaped the doomed planet Krypton with her parents’ help at the same time as the infant Kal-El. Protected and raised on Earth by her foster family, the Danvers (Dean Cain and Helen Slater who've played Superman and Supergirl respectively themselves), Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to conceal the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin in order to keep her identity a secret. 

Years later at 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart doing her very best Devil Wears Prada Meryl Streep) and befriends top photographer Jimmy James Olsen (the hottest portrayal ever by Mehcad Brooks). 

The show wears its feminist spirit on its sleeve. The discussions of glass ceilings and proving she can stand on her own away from the humongous shadow of her better-known cousin are peppered in the script. It's a welcomed approach that doesn't avoid the topic even when facing an openly sexist alien villain in Vartox (Owain Yeoman). And this is where the show's ambitions take flight, literally. 

Berlanti could have taken on any superhero in the DC Comics catalog, but he chose one of the most powerful. A character in the Superman family takes a lot of visual effects and stunts and much grander in scale than a guy with a bow and arrow. And yet the third act in the pilot establishes 'Supergirl' as the action show you'd expect from a comic book adaptation, with all the impressive flying and fighting usually seen on the big screen. 'Supergirl' may be a lot of things, but it's not taking a backseat to any other superhero show on TV. 

Again, none of it works without a convincing lead and Benoist brings infectious enthusiasm and charm to Kara. She's excited about using her powers to help people and is invigorated when she saves a plane from crashing. This is the type of hero fans claim they want to see, not the brooding kind we get a steady diet of. 'Supergirl' shares more with 'The Flash' on the CW and 1978's 'Superman' than 'Gotham' or even Berlanti's other show 'Arrow.'  'Supergirl' is a winner, it's smart, it's fun and exciting. It's girl power at its finest. 

Supergirl's premiere airs Monday, October 26 at 8:30 PM. The series will then move to its regular Monday 8 PM slot the following week, November 2.

Need more convincing or want more information? Check out these newly released sneak peeks of the show and a primer about the history of Supergirl below.









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

WONDER WOMAN OF THE DAY: Fitness Model Gia Macool Embodies the Amazon Princess

The closest we'll ever get, probably, to superheroes in real life is through the great work of cosplayers. You see them at every pop culture convention from the very basic to extremely elaborate costume design. However, you don't have to be a cosplayer to enjoy dressing up as your favorite superhero from time to time. Take fitness model and entrepreneur Gia Macool for example. An accomplished fitness competitor and model, Macool is also a big fan of DC Comics' Wonder Woman. She shows her love of the iconic Amazon Princess in her fitness wear, meal prep accessories and even a full blown photo shoot in a Wonder Woman costume. 

For decades comics have featured very muscular superheroes, male and female, epitomizing the human form at its strongest. So when bodybuilders and fitness pros decide to suit up as these costumed heroes, they are the embodiment of those fictional characters in the flesh. Macool looks like she stepped out of the pages of a Wonder Woman comic with a suit …

Fitness Women in Superhero Body Paint by J.M. Manion

J.M. Manion has long been a successful photographer covering the fitness and bodybuilding industry. He has photographed some of the strongest, well-defined physiques on the planet. He's also had a love of super-heroes and comic books. So much so that Manion began publishing his own comic book, Iron Siren Comics, featuring some of the fitness competitors he's covered as superheroes themselves. It's no wonder he sometimes incorporates superhero cosplay and body paint into photo shoots. Here are just some examples of his work:

KICKSTARTER SPOTLIGHT: Tyler & Wendy Chin-Tanner's 'Dead Beats' Music Themed Horror Anthology

Dead Beats is a 160-page full-color anthology of music-themed horror comics centered around the curiosities for sale at one peculiar record store by its enigmatic Shoppe Keeper.

..if you're looking for new or used vinyl, cassettes, CDs, gear, or merch, Dead Beats has the best selection in town. Of course, everything we sell has a story and our friendly Shoppe Keeper is happy to tell you all about it. All sales final Edited by Joseph Corallo (Oh S#!t, It's Kim & Kim, Mine!) and Eric Palicki (This Nightmare Kills Fascists, All We Ever Wanted), Dead Beats features more than twenty comics stories and more than forty up-and-coming creators and industry veterans, as well as cover art and interstitial narrative illustrations by Lisa Sterle (Long Lost, Submerged).




From the Dead Beats introduction, illustrated by Lisa Sterle



From "Vanishing." Illustrations by Sally Cantirino from a script by Matthew Erman.

From "The Cursed Saxophone of Skasferatu." Illustrations by…

Poison Ivy's Rebirth From Child to Sexed-Up Adult on 'Gotham' Covered in New Featurette

The wacky world of Fox's Gotham has long embraced its brand of crazy. "Anything goes," seems to be the motto as the show has tried to fill in the blanks of a pre-Batman Gotham City. Besides making the future Commissioner Gordon an erratic hot-head, his future wife a sociopath, and brought back a villain from the dead, the latest stunt involves aging-up a teen Ivy Pepper magically into an adult to use her powers as a seductress.
Executive producer Ken Woodruff explained this creepy premise to THR: We made the change for two reasons: The character Ivy in the comics, one of her greatest powers is the power of seduction. Everyone was much more comfortable with that with an older actress as opposed to a teenager. We want to explore that classic, canonical power of Ivy. And we didn't just make her older with that attack. When she's changed and transformed, there's a real character change as well. She'll still have some of the same traits, but she'll be much d…

An Artist Will Get His Revenge in The Post-WWII Original Graphic Novel SIMON SAYS

Image Comics announces an all-new, original graphic novel Simon Says by Andre R. Frattino and Jesse Lee which will paint a post-World War II Europe in a scarlet shade of revenge this September.


Simon Says is a drama-filled, crime noir story that follows a former artist to the Führer who hunts down and seeks justice upon the Nazis he witnessed murder his friends and loved ones during the war. It is an original graphic novel inspired by true events and by a real-world Holocaust survivor, Simon Wiesenthal, an artist who lost his family and took justice into his own hands.
"Simon Says is about an innocent and gentleman, an artist, whose family and life are destroyed by a real-world event. Not something sci-fi or fanciful, but something that has happened and could happen again. In that way, it's the story of any of us, and how we would respond if who we were and what we had were lost,” said Frattino. "The real-life, famed Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, was quoted as once sayin…