Supergirl: ”The Adventures Of Supergirl” Review
By Mitchell Sigal
The first season of Supergirl was fun. The Girl of Steel hasn’t appeared all that much in media recently outside of the comics. With this show she was introduced to a generation of fans that probably know her by name, but not the actual character. Melissa Benoist’s peppy portrayal made Kara a likable protagonist. The show introduced a bunch of lesser known villains while also having cool new takes on popular ones, such as Bizarro and Brainiac. Compared to the first seasons for Arrow and The Flash, the writing in Supergirlwasn’t as strong but nonetheless succeeded in delivering an engaging adaption of the source material. Many were disappointed that CBS would not be airing a second season. Thankfully, the show made the jump to the CW and now Season Two will be airing on there. “The Adventures of Supergirl” made its debut today. It often doesn’t feel like an eventful episode, but factors such as Superman’s interactions with Kara and some good dialogue from Cat Grant makes it a solid start to the season.
The opening few minutes remind the viewer what happened at the end of season 1: the arrival of a supposed Kryptonian rocket. This is an interesting plot point because it has the viewer trying to guess who could be in it. Superboy? A young Zod? This is perhaps the most interesting plot point of the episode, but by the middle it’s pushed to the side in favor of Kara’s romance subplot with James Olsen and the assassination attempts on Lena Luthor. Lena’s plot wasn’t bad, but the romance one deserves a paragraph or two detailing how badly written it was.
Kara and James almost never had chemistry in the first season. They worked well as friends, but as a couple? To put this in perspective, in just a one episode guest appearance Barry Allen had much more chemistry with Kara than she did with James the entire season. Putting that to the side, as a viewer one can accept a romance later on if there are actual strong moments between the two or somehow the actors are able to make it seemlike they have feelings for each other. The greatest example of this is early on in ArrowSeason Three to early Season Four. Oliver and Felicity just didn’t work as a couple. The dialogue was forced and there was barely any indication Oliver had feelings for Felicity at any point in the prior seasons. Yet, later in Season Four the two shared some genuine moments and the true love the writing wanted to convey to the viewer actually started to look real. This could have been the case with Kara and James, because some chemistry started to manifest in the premiere. By the end however, it’s seemingly done away with completely.
Going back to the Arrow example, soon after the viewer could actually get behind the idea of Oliver and Felicity being together, the writing decides to have them break up and give us some of the most painfully written dialogue sequences in the entire show. While not as drastic in Supergirl, one has to question Kara’s response to James’ question about being together, “Now I don’t know.” Kara had been in love with James throughout the latter part of Season One. It makes no sense for her just to change her mind about it all. The final part of the episode has her decide she and James should just be friends. In a way I’m glad because they worked best as just friends. But in the show’s context, it makes development in Season One irrelevant. Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl are great at being superhero stories but they all share one negative aspect: none of them have quality romances.
Unarguably the most awaited aspect of the premiere was the arrival of Superman. The Man of Steel was around in the first season, but aside from blurred images the viewer never actually saw him in action. When he arrives on the scene to help Supergirl stop the falling rocket the viewer is filled with excitement. (This is his first appearance on the TV screen since he donned the costume at the end of Smallville five years years ago after all.) The first dialogue sequence between the two heroes was excellent and showed the close cousin relationship between them. Melissa did an excellent job showing the admiration Kara has for her cousin. These excellent scenes continue throughout the episode and by the end the viewer is left wondering why we weren’t getting this sooner.
As for Superman himself, his portrayal is interesting. It’s almost as if the writing wanted to make a stark contrast to the Superman we’re currently seeing in the films. In Man of Steel and especially Batman v Superman, Superman is an almost depressed figure. It would be almost impossible to find a scene with him smiling. In Supergirl it’s the complete opposite. From his opening scene he’s smiling, winking, and even joking on the battlefield. This portrayal is refreshing and reminds the viewer that Superman is meant to be a beacon of hope, a figure to aspire to. With that said, the writing sometimes goes overboard with this approach of being opposite to the aforementioned films. For example, him saying, “You should have brought something stronger” to the enemy sounded like something Spider-Man would say. This is not to say all his light-hearted scenes were bad, because quite a few them were really good. (Such as him telling Kara about having sway with Cat Grant.)
Tyler Hoechlin is a very good actor here, but the writing often has him being funny when it isn’t needed. The few scenes with him being serious are very well done. We have the scene where he walks into the DEO base for the first time. The viewer can see on his face that he doesn’t like the setting. One of the best scenes was the interview with Lena Luthor. Clark saying her last name is Luthor showcased the bias he has for the Luthor name, which made for an interesting mini-character arc. With better balance of these serious scenes and upbeat portrayal going forward, the writing could give us the best live action adaption since the George Reeves Adventures of Superman show. Right now he lacks the majestic persona Superman is known to have.
One of the biggest plot points was Kara deciding on her new job at CatCo. At the end of Season One Cat Grant told Kara about moving up in the company. Often in that season their interactions were painful to watch, mainly due to the unrealistic character of Cat. (Not to mention watching her constantly belittle Kara was annoying.) Sometimes however the writing would show a different side of Cat, a nurturing, leadership side. This is evident in most of today’s episode. Her telling Kara to “keep daring, keep diving” was excellent. Some of Cat’s dialogue is still exaggerated, such as yelling at her new assistant, but for the most part this is the best representation of Miss Grant. At the end of the episode, Kara decides to be a reporter. This should open up some interesting plot points since both Clark and Kara are reporters. (While they are teaming up as superheroes, they could also be reporting a case together.)
The antagonist of the episode is John Corben. He doesn’t add anything to the story and ended up being incredibly generic. This is kind of fixed when the viewer remembers that Corben is Metallo from the comics. Even then, there isn’t much to his character. It seems going forward he’s just going to be a thug working for Cadmus. (The episode’s cliffhanger features Cadmus transforming him into Metallo.) The best adaption of Metallo might be from The Animated Series, because the viewer can see the hate he has for Superman. It remains to be seen what Supergirl does with him. On one last important note, one of the most interesting plot points was the tension between Superman and J’onn J’onzz. Apparently J’onn jeeps Kryptonite at the D.E.O. base, justifying that it could be needed. Superman doesn’t agree, since it can injure, even kill him and Kara. Hopefully the season spends a good amount of time exploring this dynamic between Superman and J’onn.
Overall, Season Two starts out with a good premiere. It can’t be called great, mainly due to the handling of the romance subplot. Kara is still one of the most likable protagonists to fly into the TV screen. Her interactions with Superman made the episode a blast. The action is more on the minimal side, since there aren’t any major fight scenes or notable sequences. Superman is a fun character to have around, someone to look forward to as the season progresses. The writing sometimes overdoes it with the cheerful portrayal, but it doesn’t ruin the character. Lena Luthor is surprisingly engaging, portrayed as someone wanting to right the wrongs of her family name. (Hopefully the story doesn’t go the generic route and have her be evil after all.) While not perfect, The Adventures of Supergirl sets the show’s signature fun tone for the season.
Verdict: If we exclude the awkward Jimmy/Kara development, “The Adventures of Supergirl” was a flawless season premiere that felt like the perfect issue of your favorite comic book. While I didn’t touch upon the ending with Brenda Strong’s debut, that is now creating Metallo, I called it, that she would be revealed as the evil Doctor of Project Cadmus. It will be fun to see how Cadmus plays as a big bad for the new season and what sort of threats we can expect. But overall, the season two premiere of Supergirlwas (pun intended) absolutely super.