Project Cadmus. We first heard the name in Season 1 of #Supergirl; a dark and shadowy organization who poached science and technology from the Department of Extra-normal Operations. In a shocking twist, Cadmus were also revealed to be holding Supergirl's adoptive father captive. From the get-go, it was clear that Cadmus was being positioned as the main villain of Supergirl Season 2.
So far, we've not been disappointed. Cadmus has been revealed as a deadly group of scientists and soldiers who believe the alien presence on Earth is a threat to humanity. Already, they've used their advanced science to transform Frederick Schmidt's John Corben into the Supergirl equivalent of Metallo. Project Cadmus is clearly a force to be reckoned with — but who are they?
Meet the Comic Book Version
Over in the comics, Cadmus are legendary. They're a scientific organization who use the advanced science of DC's comic book world to create fantastical beings, while empowering champions to support the world's superheroes. They've actually often been allies of Superman, and have even cloned him on occasion!
One of the most notable Cadmus scientists is Dabney Donovan, a character who follows the classic "mad scientist" trope. He created a race of beings known as the DNAliens, humans who were cloned and then genetically altered to unlock superhuman potential. He also created a race known as the Hairies, essentially a bunch of super-hippies who lived in a forest of living tree-houses.
After the famous "Death of Superman", Cadmus created a youthful human-Kryptonian clone who ultimately became known as Superboy. Another of their ill-advised experiments was transferring the mind of Lex Luthor into a younger cloned body after the original Luthor was nearly killed in a plane crash!
In the "New 52", Cadmus was reinvented as a stem cell research center that had become a world leader in mapping the human genome. They were established as part of the government spy agency 'Checkmate'.
So Cadmus Aren't Villains?
Like any organization, Cadmus's precise role essentially depends on who's running it at the time. It's been more common for #DCTV shows to use Cadmus as villains.
In Justice League Unlimited, Cadmus was reinvented as a group of "power brokers, politicians, criminals, and black-ops mercenaries with one thing in common: they're humanity's last hope against (metahumans)". That version was something of a cross between the traditional comic book version of Cadmus and Suicide Squad, and was created to deal with Superman should he ever go out of control (in the #DCAU Superman was once brainwashed into leading Darkseid's invasion of Earth, so this was a very real concern). They also played the role of the villains in Young Justice.
Perhaps the most famous version of Cadmus, though, was in Smallville. This series established Cadmus Labs as a science company bought by Lex Luthor, which began secret genetic research to clone Lex. It ultimately created a young hybrid clone of Lex and Clark Kent, who was teased as the show's Superboy.
Who Can We Expect to See?
Although Cadmus has had many members over the years, two key characters really stand out as likely to appear in Supergirl.
Dubbilex is a DNAlien who was created by Dabney Donovan. Donovan's experiments with the genetic code mean that Dubbilex has a distinctly non-human appearance, but has gained powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Given that Cadmus has already lost the advantage of Kryptonite as a physical weapon against the Girl of Steel, it seems likely that they'll use Dubbilex's psychic attacks against her.
So far, Supergirl hasn't shown any hint that the Cadmus we're going to see will be proficient in cloning. Instead, this version of Cadmus seem to be focused on altering existing humans; given that's the case, they can easily alter the DNA of a human being to create Dubbilex. I admit that I wouldn't be surprised to find out that's the ultimate fate of Supergirl's adoptive father — that when she finally finds Jeremiah Danvers, he's no longer quite so human...
Guardian is perhaps the most intriguing ally of Project Cadmus. We already know that Supergirl will be deviating from comic book canon with this character — Mehcad Brooks's Jimmy Olsen is taking up the mantle of the Guardian in Supergirl. The comic book version of Guardian, Jim Harper, has often served as the moral conscience of Cadmus, keeping the organization on the straight and narrow. Is it possible Season 2 of Supergirl will end with Cadmus rehabilitated, and Jimmy — or a clone of Jimmy — staying with them?
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One thing's for sure: Cadmus takes Supergirl in a whole new direction. Season 1 was focused on defending the Earth from alien threats; Season 2 looks set to be focused on protecting humanity from our own paranoia. It's a smart, culturally-relevant concept, and uses Cadmus as an overarching plot device to give the Girl of Steel some threats that can really take her to the brink. Bring it on!
Do you want to see Jeremiah Danvers become Dubbilex?
Poll Image: Cartoon Network