Yesterday in my trailer breakdown for the season finale of The Flash I said it would be my last DC TV breakdown for a while. I woke this morning to the happy realization that I was wrong. Exciting news for fans of DC TV: the very first Supergirl trailer dropped this morning! As is my custom with Arrow and The Flash, I'll be doing a trailer breakdown for it here, and then offer my initial thoughts as well. So, without further ado, let's begin! Here's the trailer.
The official description for the show was also released last night, reading:
SUPERGIRL is an action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), Superman’s (Kal-El) cousin who, after 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be. Twelve-year-old Kara escaped the doomed planet Krypton with her parents’ help at the same time as the infant Kal-El. Protected and raised on Earth by her foster family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), and learned to conceal the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin in order to keep her identity a secret.
Years later at 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul and fierce taskmaster Cat Grant (Golden Globe Award winner Calista Flockhart), who just hired the Daily Planet’s former photographer, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), as her new art director. However, Kara’s days of keeping her talents a secret are over when Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), head of a super-secret agency where her sister also works, enlists her to help them protect the citizens of National City from sinister threats. Though Kara will need to find a way to manage her newfound empowerment with her very human relationships, her heart soars as she takes to the skies as Supergirl to fight crime. Greg Berlanti (“The Flash,” “Arrow”), Ali Adler, Sarah Schecter and Andrew Kreisberg are executive producers for Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The pilot was directed by Glen Winter (“Arrow”).
Meet Kara Zor-El!
You've probably met her cousin, Kal- as she says in the trailer. Far lesser known than her cousin, some quick facts about Supergirl herself. Kara, in many versions, is actually older than her cousin is; in others, she's younger. Here, it would seem that she's older than Clark, but that's in accordance with the New 52. Just as Kal-El is a member of Kryptons' ancient house of El, so too is Kara. She's one of the few survivors of the destruction of Krypton who ends up fighting for the side of good - there really aren't that many - and has always been an icon as a female superhero for the fact that, while she deals in real life stuff as an alter ego, scarcely conformed to the stereotype of what a female 'should be.' She's rarely a "female superhero" - she's a superhero. Equal to all of her male, alien and variations thereupon counterparts.
"My name is..."
Given this is made by Greg Berlanti, who has been hugely instrumental to the success of Arrow and The Flash and is still heavily involved with the pair - as in executive producer kind of involved - this is a nice Easter Egg to how both of the other popular superhero shows air. And, what's more, it may even be a nice indicator they're being shaped up to fit in the same universe. We received confirmation they can cross over not long ago.
Glimpses of Kal-El, and Superman in costume!
The odds, to be straight, of seeing Superman himself in this show in the flesh are fairly low. Batman is off limits to TV, as is Superman, and as is Wonder Woman- the rest, from what we know, are all possible candidates. But here we see Superman as an adult glared by sunlight (very similar to the shot in the Batman V Superman trailer) and even baby Kal-El rocking the curl.
The "first photo" James Olsen took of Superman appears in the trailer too, and, funnily enough, it has a great resemblance to the initial Superman movie poster painted by Bob Peak.
We get a pretty awesome look at his arm, too, odd as that sounds. The texture of the costume is very similar to Man of Steel Superman's.
We weren't sure if we'd visit Krypton itself in this series, but now we know for sure that we will, and see the House of El in action. This could potentially still tie into Krypton on SyFy, but that's the only DC TV project we haven't heard a lot about in a while (Titans got an update very recently). The shot of Kara's parents Alura and Zor-El in appearance is also similar to Supes' parents appearance in The Animated Series. Well, they are related.
Despite the amazing imagery we saw in the Krypton sequence in Man of Steel, those kind of visuals simply don't happen on TV (although the effects are excellent - see below). This is our best look at Krypton.
We do get a shot of it as - presumably - it's about to be destroyed and ripped apart as baby Kal and Kara shoot off into space, just like all the other stories, and then we'll follow Kara's pod from there- something we really haven't done properly before.
Kara's crashed pod!
Also different from the Man of Steel Easter Egg which hinted at Kara arriving through the Fortress of Solitude when it was still in action, we have her arriving in a Clark-esque way here - it just took her longer than him, probably.
Jimmy - James- Olsen!
Mechad Brooks' Jimmy Olsen is a figure of controversy - and, oddly, not because his skin color varies from Jimmy's for a lot of people. Primarily it's because he's the polar opposite to what Jimmy often is - he's strong, well spoken and confident, not nerdy, funny and a bit shy. But he is friends with Superman, and potentially a love interest for Kara, so we'll see how this new take goes. At the very least he's still a photographer friend of Superman.
Toyman - the early days!
Keeping in the tradition of having villains - Slade Wilson, Caitlin Snow, Harrison Wells - among the team in the early days, we have Jeremy Jordan portraying Winslow Schott a.k.a. Toyman, a Superman/Supergirl villain. It'll be interesting to see him go down the path which turns him into the wacky, deadly villain with a passion for toys and gimmicks with a lethal twist.
Also a character firmly embedded in the comics, it'll be interesting to see Supergirl's take on Cat Grant, as she actually more often plays in to Clark Kent's story as a potential love interest than she does Kara's. And that's a good thing for the show- like Harrison Wells at the beginning of The Flash, we have something of a fresh slate for this character. At this rate, she seems villainous, but I'm not sure if the show will take her in that path. She's probably better compared to figures like Detective Lance; an obstacle to the hero at first, but then will become something of a mentor like Detective West.
Alex Danvers - Kara's sister!
Now, oddly, Alex is an entirely new character for the show. She is not grounded in the comics, at least to the best of my knowledge. She seems negative at first to her foster sister's abilities and then begins to embrace them, but I can't help but feel there might be some negativity or tension between them throughout the series. Many have already pointed out the similarities between "Lex" and "Alex" if she goes down a dark path.
Kara in earth gear - where's the inspiration?
Yes, if you're an Arrow fan, Kara looked scarily like Felicity Smoak in her first appearance in those clothes. Like, doppelgänger outfit and glasses kind of thing. However, while there may be some influence there, the strongest influence would be undoubtedly from Clark Kent, the nerdy reporter, himself, as Cara's jobs vary in the comics, including but not limited to also being a barrister. Shall we call her Felicity Kent?
Her awkwardness and bumbling some have suggested is a put on like Clark's but I saw a nice theory that she's so shy with her powers that suppressing them has spawned this kind of manner and attitude. We'll see - outside of her work clothes, she does seem very confident, so I think it may be a ruse.
Episode One's villain - the Lumberjack!
When we say there are minor villains, there are minor villains, and then there're guys like Lumberjack. He's reaaaaaaly tiny in the DC mythos. He doesn't do much. "But they should use a major villain for the pilot!" you cry. Tell that to the originally created Adam Hunt for the Arrow pilot and Clyde Mardon, Weather Wizard, from The Flash. Anyway, this version of Lumberjack has traded blows with Supergirl, and now he's after Kara. In this version he seems to be an alien brandishing a vicious hammer/axe weapon which gives him his name.
You only see the man himself very briefly. But we do get to see Kara kicking him square in the chest, which is pretty awesome.
As well as her pinned under his hammer/weapon of choice which I can't really think of an appropriate name for...either way, he'll be portrayed by...
Hank Henshaw is being played by David Harewood, who's confirmed he'll be in the rest of the season, too. Better known as Cyborg Superman, Henshaw is another character that becomes a villain worthy of trading blows with the Man of Steel in his later life - it's certainly interesting to see this scientist among the military at this point in time.
"Otto Binder Bridge"
This is a nice reference to Otto Binder, co-creator of Supergirl and huge comic writer during the Golden Age. Already Berlanti's inserting his clever Arrow and The Flash technique to paying homage to all of these clever and influential comic writers and artists with things like street names.
Original Lois and Clark actor and Supergirl actress are Kara's foster parents - nice Henry Allen-esque touch!
You'll only see it very briefly during that early montage, but Dean Cain and Helen Slater - Superman and Supergirl in Lois and Clark and Supergirl (The Movie), respectively - are Kara's parents in this show, obviously not playing their old characters. This is a really nice nod and 'passing the torch' sort of thing akin to John Wesley-Shipp playing Henry Allen in The Flash after playing Barry in the '90s.
Powers discovery in an alley!
It's not a cliche so much as an obligatory trope of the superhero genre which we love to watch. It happened in The Flash, it's happened in Spider-Man, it happens in the comics. Alleys are dark places where crime takes place but they're also where heroism is born accordingly, if you want to know the origins/analysis of how that trope came to be.
The Department of Extranormal Operations!
We've got ARGUS in Arrow and The Flash, but here's another DC governmental group. The DEO keep watch on superhuman threats to the general public and shut them down as necessary, but they end up being more villainous in the comics. Perhaps here is where the Hank Henshaw/Harrison Wells kind of vibe fits in with these guys eventually going rogue. They can introduce all kinds of cool villains including Amazo.
And what villains can we see on their monitor?
Computer and TV screens are always a good place to look for Easter Eggs. There are a few alien looking guys on the screen here, but only one of them really stands out. The purple one in the middle is most likely Despero, not Parasite, as many fans assumed - he bears a great resemblance to his current DC counterpart. He's lacking a fin, but other than that it's close.
You perhaps call it a cliche - what it is is actually a staple of the Superman mythos. On the note of cliches, just remember many of these things defined what you and I know as cliches. In these stories, they're crucial plot points. Most Superman origin stories or those for his family have them stopping a natural, man made potential disaster which brings a lot of attention to them- a.k.a. a plane crash. It happened in Superman Returns, it happened with various other aircraft across the likes of Lois and Clark, Superman: The Animated Series and many more comics (I doubt Smallville had the budget to pull it off).
...how good are those effects?!
These are very different kind of effects to those on The Flash, which are full, wacky powers, but they look superb. The shot of Kara holding the plane up, stopping the truck by standing in front of it, and her flying are great. I was very impressed with what CBS has done with this. Reportedly it cost a good $14 million to make this pilot - so I read on Den of Geek- and it sure looks like it could be the case. It'd fit right in with the excellence of The Flash.
Yes, Kara can fly, and she's pretty good at it. Jumping up the walls in the alley are a nice nod to Superman nearly always jumping before he can fly, like in Man of Steel - which still, sorry Kara, holds the best "first flight" scene across all of live action and animation to date.
This is my favorite shot in the trailer. I wasn't an enormous fan of the initial photo of Kara's costume but the brightness here and the iconography of her just striding towards soldiers with guns made me a happy fan.
...super punches and kicks!
What's amazing for me - and I say this as a male - is seeing a woman do these things on screen. Marvel is over ten movies into their cinematic universe and we haven't got a female led movie yet. Agent Carter was great, but she's not a superhero - Wonder Woman isn't coming for a couple of years yet, though she'll make her big screen debut next year as played by Gal Gadot. It's fantastic to see Supergirl leading her own series though, as a superhero who also happens to be a female, not a supehero defined by being female. Seeing those punches and kicks from any gender is awesome. No doubt Supergirl is going to see a lot of Frozen costumes drop away for a red cape instead.
Filled with bullet holes after her first encounter, it's a nice idea to bring in Superman's blankie as her cape, tying him directly to her and making part of her costume super, too. Complete, I think the full costume looks great.
What are my thoughts?
I'll be honest, I was extremely happy when I saw Krypton and baby Kal. When we hit earth, though, while Melissa Beniost instantly won me over as Kara, I wasn't so sure on it. But then we saw the actual Supergirl stuff, and that was amazing - hopefully most of the series is like that. Because I was genuinely excited watching those scenes, marking the first time I've really been pumped for this show. There was some spotty dialogue here and there, but that kind of stuff irons out over time, and the cast seems strong and interesting enough. I'm very excited to see the direction this series takes with its big villain and who that's going to be, potential crossovers with Arrow and The Flash, and embracing this alien and human side of Supergirl's mythos.
So, even if it was bad, I'd be willing to give it a chance, because Greg Berlanti has produced not one but two of my favorite shows - but as it happens, besides some of the earth-based stuff and some off dialogue (probably shared by the earliest The Flash trailer, but I was more biased towards that one as a long time Flash fan who needed the show to work as it did) the trailer really impressed me in all the right ways, and I'm excited to see the show. Turns out the last Supergirl in Smallville, Laura Vandervoort, is also happy to pass on the torch.
My favorite part? All of the negative comments on the trailer are exactly the same on whole to those on The Flash's first trailer. And look how that turned out. So, my suggestion, feel free to take it on board: keep an open mind. If you're not impressed, that's fine. If you don't want to give it a chance, that's cool, but it's probably worth doing, given what these trailers contain vs. the contents of the actual show - but if not, don't go around saying "this show sucks so bad." You haven't seen it. To any reasonable person such comments make you look like an idiot. Wait until you see the show itself before passing final judgement. That isn't to say you can't be critical, but don't be ridiculously negative.
See something I didn't? Be sure to let me know in the comments! Supergirl has a full series order already, so the pilot must have impressed some important people, and will air on Mondays staring in November - unless, of course, it leaks early, like a certain Speedster's first episode!