Kara Zor-El was sent to Earth to oversee and protect her infant cousin, Kal-El. Unfortunately, her pod didn’t escape the destruction of Krypton as easily as her cousin’s. She was trapped in the Phantom Zone, arriving on Earth many years later after Kal-El had revealed himself as Superman to the people of Earth. Now she lives as an ordinary human, keeping her abilities hidden.
This show doesn’t waste any time in getting into the meat of the story. A short prologue shows us what happened on Krypton and what her original role was meant to be, but within 5 minutes we are up to the present. I was glad to see that they did not drag out the origin story. From the very beginning, this show acknowledges Superman’s existence and the fact that everyone knows him, both in the show and us viewers watching. We know the story of Krypton and Superman’s arrival on Earth so they don’t waste any time on that.
Melissa Benoist is a great casting choice here. Her Kara Danvers is awkward, normal and wholly unremarkable in the beginning, but when her time comes to be a hero she is very believable. She isn’t immediately powerful or unstoppable, we see that she is inexperienced and doesn’t know the full extent of her abilities yet. The casting is solid all the way around. Not every character has much to do here, but it’s only the first episode. The focus, rightfully so, is on Kara.
This is the first DC live action show to openly acknowledge Superman, and his presence hangs over the show. He only appears in a cameo and we never see his face. Most likely this show has no connection to the DC movie universe’s Man of Steel, but there is nothing saying it doesn’t either. Superman is almost never referred to by name, only as “him” or Kara’s cousin.
Kara holds true to the ideals we expect from Superman, she is a protector.
First episodes of a series are always awkward. The series creators often haven’t figured out the exact pitch or rhythm of the show yet. There are moments that feel a little silly. The montage of her figuring out her costume and powers isn’t much different than what we saw in the initial trailer. The visual effects at times are on the cheaper side, below what we are used to seeing on shows like The Flash. There are many similar elements that can be nitpicked, however, much of that unevenness is to be expected with a brand new show such as this. Hopefully, many of the issues will be ironed out in the first few episodes.
The initial villain, Vartox, is nothing more than a super-powered thug, and the jailbreak storyline feels like something that Superman should’ve been able to handle on his own. With a character like Superman in the mix, it can make you wonder why he doesn’t come in and help out more.
Supergirl opens strong. It helps that so much of the show is familiar territory and that they don’t need to waste a lot of time on a complicated origin story. It’s a show with a strong element of family between Kara, her sister, and her mostly unseen cousin. They avoid a lot of common cliches and lay a strong groundwork for the future. There is a feminist angle and it’s even discussed by the characters, but it’s never an agenda that they beat the audience over the head with. I’m excited to see where this show will go.