ByTom Bacon, writer at Creators.co
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

In the comics, Jimmy Olsen is Superman’s best friend; the hapless photographer with an unfailing faith in the Man of Steel. In Supergirl, though, he’s become much more. Supergirl Season 2 has seen Mehcad Brooks’s character transcend his pigeonhole of being Supergirl’s confidante; he’s become her stalwart ally and a vigilante in his own right, adopting the mantle of the Guardian. Now, at Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London, Mehcad Brooks has revealed how the Guardian came to be.

Preparing For Season 2

Supergirl famously changed networks between Seasons 1 and 2, joining the likes of Arrow and The Flash over on The CW. But even in the midst of this tumult, showrunner Andrew Kreisberg already had big plans for Jimmy Olsen. He took Mehcad Brooks aside, and revealed just what he had planned for Jimmy Olsen.

As Brooks tells it, Kreisberg started by telling him: “Basically, you’re going to become Batman.”

Needless to say, it was a comment that left Brooks more than a little confused. What did Kreisberg mean? Batman’s in Gotham City, how could James Olsen become Batman? Kreisberg swiftly explained what he meant; that Olsen would become a costumed vigilante who used martial arts and advanced technology to take on street crime, and become an invaluable ally to Supergirl.

Brooks recounted to the audience at that he was, unsurprisingly, blown away. He was going from super-friend to superhero. From the child who grew up loving superheroes, jumping off the couch with a towel round his neck in lieu of a cape, Mehcad was finally getting the chance to play a real, actual superhero in a DCTV show! He laughed as he remembered it, declaring that he was sat there almost crying into his coffee, fanboying over the sheer wonder of it all.

Getting The Guardian Ready

From there, it was all a matter of preparation. Supergirl recruited Arrow's stunt coordinator to work with James and his stunt double. It was a smart choice; like the Green Arrow, Brooks is playing a non-powered vigilante.

As Brooks began to train for the role, he also started working closely with the costume department — and it sounds like putting together the Guardian armor was something of a nightmare! Brooks described the first version of the suit as little more than a onesie, and he quipped that if you thought rompers look bad on men, you should have seen that costume. In that first version, he found that he couldn’t walk; in the next one, he couldn’t breathe. Brooks had nothing but praise for the costume department, chuckling as he remembered the hassle he put them through as they worked to get this outfit right.

The Guardian’s First Outings

If you watch Supergirl Season 2 carefully, you’ll see that the Guardian’s stunts become gradually more ferocious as the series progresses. And there’s a good reason for that; in the first few episodes, Brooks insisted on playing the part himself, so no stunt doubles were used.

The show needed to really get you to believe that Jimmy Olsen is the Guardian, and Brooks believed that a liberal use of stunt doubles would undermine that. With the character wearing a mask, Brooks felt it was important that the eyes you saw peering out from underneath the helmet were really his — at least early on. Meanwhile, Brooks also wanted to understand the character in a truly visceral way. He soon found that wearing the armor forced him to stand differently, to hold his shoulders back and his chest out; he was able to subtly alter how Jimmy Olsen stood to hint at the change in his character, helping tie the identities together.

The costume, it seems, truly makes you feel invincible. Brooks remembered one occasion when he absent-mindedly strode under a crane, much to the horror of the crew. Needless to say, this was incredibly dangerous — if anything had fallen from the crane, he could've been seriously injured, or even killed. When one of the crew yelled at him to get away from the crane, Brooks turned to him and yelled back:

“Dude, I’m the Guardian!”

Yes, those words actually came out of his mouth. That super-suit had actually given Mehcad Brooks the confidence to throw caution to the wind and take risks that only a superhero should take. Brooks admitted that the words sounded foolish as soon as they came out of his mouth, and that he wound up on the receiving end of one seriously incredulous look!

Little by little, though, you’ll have noticed that the Guardian’s stunts becoming more spectacular. And Brooks was absolutely honest, explaining that stunt doubles have gradually taken over. If you see Guardian jumping from a motorcycle, or performing stunning spin-kicks, then odds are it’s his stunt double.

Supergirl Season 2 has really seen the character of Jimmy Olsen step up in a way he was never given a chance to in the comics. While there’s clearly been a lot of work involved in this newest iteration of the character, you can also tell that Mehcad Brooks has been having a blast. It’s allowed him to move on from being the sidekick, and become a superhero in his own right. For this childhood superhero fan, it’s a dream come true!

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