Before Wonder Woman made her mark on the DCEU, before Jessica Jones blasted onto our screens, and before Captain Marvel, Batgirl and droves of other female superheroes got their own movies, there was Supergirl. Two seasons in, it's easy to forget just how revolutionary Supergirl truly is. At Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London, Mehcad Brooks — better known to fans as Jimmy Olsen, a.k.a. Guardian — gave us a fresh reminder about how Supergirl has always put its revolutionary heroine front and center.
Supergirl To The Rescue
When asked about green screen work, Brooks remembered a scene early in Season 1 where Supergirl flew a mind-controlled Jimmy and Wynn around the CatCo building, holding each secure under an arm. In reality, this was a ridiculous scene to film — he and his colleagues were hung in front of a green screen, held by a green harness tied under their clothes, dangling on green ropes. They stayed there for over 45 minutes, with fans blowing the wind in their faces.
On the screen, though, this translates into something very powerful indeed — something that clearly left a mark on Brooks. As he said:
"There's something very humbling about seeing a man my size, held like that."
He's right; think about the symbolic power of this scene. You have the physically powerful man, well-built and muscular, carried with ease by the slim blonde woman. In that one scene, you have the ultimate inversion of gender norms. In that one scene, you see the symbolic power of Supergirl.
Putting This In A Wider Context
The scene becomes even more symbolic when you place it in the context of the Superman mythos. One of the most iconic images of Superman and Supergirl together is the former carrying the limp body of Supergirl. Not to mention, how many times have we seen the Man of Steel effortlessly pluck Lois Lane from danger and carry her to safety? It practically happened in every single episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman — and it symbolized their entire relationship. Superman was the god who reached down to earth as a rescuer and a defender; Lois was the mere mortal saved by his power. And yet, Supergirl inverts this. It is the Girl of Steel who flies; it is the Girl of Steel who carries the physically-imposing man.
You can push this still further. The concept of flight, you see, has always been irrevocably linked with utopia; that's why the science-fiction utopias of the past always had flying cars, symbolizing freedom and even a hint of divinity. It's no coincidence that Superman, the Man of Tomorrow who was featured at the 1939 World Fair, has the power of flight. But in Supergirl, the utopian hero is the woman.
As Mehcad Brooks made clear at #HVFF, this was one of the most powerful scenes he has filmed. I think I can see why; it's more than just a cool moment, it's also a powerful symbol. It runs to the core of what makes Supergirl special; a reminder that this series explores powerful symbolism, and dares to stand against contemporary culture.
Do you appreciate the symbolic aspects of 'Supergirl'?
(Poll Image Credit: The CW)