Let me open with the assertion that I am a Supergirl fan and I have been really looking forward to this show. And, for the most part, I liked it.
But, there are some nagging issues that will prevent the show from succeeding. And, that bothers me.
There are no strong women!
Even the president of the largest corporation in the city refers to herself as a "girl". Great wealth does not equal strength of character – only strength of position.
Yes, I understand DC needs to justify their use of Supergirl (the preferred) over Superwoman, so I'll give them a mulligan on this one. But, there is more.
- Where Marvel has Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer),
DC has "Cat" Grant (Calista Flockhart):
Cross Roz and you end up with a marker over a pile of dirt;
Cross Cat and you get a "she-fit" tantrum and somebody gets fired.
- Where Marvel has Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders),
DC has Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh):
Need someone motivated?
....Call Maria – she demands competence and success;
Need someone unmotivated?
....Alex is plastic and looks to subvert her peers.
- Where Marvel has Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen),
DC has girl who monitors stuff? (Agent Vasquez by Briana Venskus):
When May wants attention,
....She glowers from by your elbow until you wilt;
When "girl" wants attention,
....Fear rolls off her until someone feels sorry for her.
The female reporter (Pilar Holland) reporting from the bridge was… – yeah, she contributed to the drama dangling over the angst Kara suffers from not knowing what is her true place in the world, but that woman’s attitude was written so cliché as to be laughable. Although… if I do think about it, she would be exactly what a Cat Grant would hire: Look for the negatives and play on those because the world doesn’t want “feel good” and success doesn’t sell newspapers or draw viewers.
She looked more like she was after ratings rather than having any interest in actually reporting what happened. Plastic.
The Men-in-Charge are Unrealistic
“The Man in charge is unrealistic” may be a better way to phrase that.
What's with this Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) dude? Is that how you run an operation: By berating and belittling everyone in your command? Where's Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)? Didn't this guy ever hear of delegation and empowerment? This is the prototype of a male-dominant, authoritarian society where everyone bows to the man in charge.
His patronizing of the women under his command is very poorly written and unneeded. He doesn’t need to lord it over them then throw them a small bone when they have a spectacular success – he needs to respect them for what they can do and what they offer his organization both in experience and in expertise that he cannot replace – and doesn’t want to replace.
In today's environment, he is not only unrealistic, he is abhorred and shunned. Is this how DC views the world? Men dominate and women "cat around" and look pretty; begging their way into attention?
It is interesting that, in the comics, “Hank Henshaw” is the “Cyborg Superman”, a main villain of, first, Superman then, lately, of the Green Lantern Corps. I’m thinking DC/WarnerBros has something in mind for him and he isn’t long for his current position, anyway. Maybe they’ll bring in an actor and write in a character to take charge of the D.E.O. that exudes confidence not only in himself, but in those around him as well.
Not My Kids
I have three daughters. I guarantee you, cross any one of them and you get "clocked". I have two sons and they are not wimps. But, they also trust those around them and depend on their peers and associates to be competent and dedicated. If those people are not competent and dedicated, they are told of their short-comings and, if that doesn't correct the issue, they seek out different peers and associates. No big deal.
None of my kids tolerate a lack of respect or failure to do what is expected. But, they aren't bullies about it. Do it or not - they'll hang with those who do.
The villains, so far, have been extremely campy and cheesy. The overacting and melodrama drips like that Mattel Slime - the green, oozy, gooey stuff you get in a miniature trash can? Yeah. That stuff. It’s all over the place. Very unrealistic.
They are flat and cliché to the extreme. What is their motivation (other than fearing for their lives if General Auntie doesn’t like them)? Who are they (other than generic bad guys who got dumped in an isolated prison only to miraculously escape and come to wreak havoc on this pretty blue and green mudball)? Do they have families? Do they have any feelings of their own?
General Astra Zod-whatever, sister to Kara’s mom, Alura Zor-El (both roles played by Laura Benanti) is very sinister – in an extreme... comic-book-y sort of way (bwAH-HA-HA!), but not realistically portrayed – or written; her lieutenants and other underlings are simple and flat – poorly acted and badly directed
And, the entire concept of “somehow you drug that massive prison-thingy out of a foreign dimension with your little space pod so it's all your fault” – er – fails.
I don’t mind the villains looking odd – I even encourage it – but, c’mon… let’s take some of the Boris Karloff out of it and have some real people with real issues. Wilson Fisk (Kingpin in Daredevil), Leland Owlsy (Daredevil), Grant Ward (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Dottie Underwood (Agent Carter) and even Loki (Thor & Avengers) were all awesome characters who tilted toward the dark side but were able to exhibit far more than just that one side. And, they all gave you reason to see why they do what they do.
Does DC ever learn from its mistakes?
There were a lot of things I liked, though
The fight scenes were good; although, the acting? Terrible. The CGI and the staged props were effective and non-obtrusive and occasionally even added to the scene.
The overall story was good (other than the villains and how they got here). The direction was cheesy / campy, but the production was good. The cinematography was excellent. And, the writing needed a lot of help in character development. Saving the plane really worked for me and I liked that she had some super-powered antagonists. I just didn’t like how they were portrayed.
I liked Melissa Benoist as Supergirl / Kara Danvers. She ably performs the clumsiness of not yet knowing what is her role in the world and all of the angsts built up from having a manipulative older sister talking you out of your glory and into submission is done to perfection.
I kind of like Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers. Her role as the "ascendant one" cum hanger-on-we-just-hired-you-to-get-to-your-sister is excellently played and scripted, but I sincerely hope this girl, for sure, becomes more of a Maria Hill than a Valerie Tyler (played by Jennie Garth on the TV series What I like About You) as her character progresses and matures into her competences.
She has to be competent. Has to be.
I do like Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. But, her position leaves the show without a strong female character in any important positions. The "I don't like your attitude so I'm going to throw a hissy fit and fire you" presentation is weak. She needs to grow up. I think Calista can play a much stronger character and hope the writers figure out how to get that done.
I love Jimmy Olsen - er, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). He is strong and competent while showing a presence that is approachable, likeable and supportive. Plus, Mehcad dominates the scene when he is in it without detracting from the story. Very well cast. I do miss the freckles and red hair, though. But, this is better.
Jeremy Jordan (Winn Schott) fits his role as an I.T. nerd and supportive friend who, where he is competent, shines brightly, but is otherwise recessive in social interactions. And, his friendship with Kara works well.
And, I liked the story presented. It was easy to follow, but needs a little more depth as the episodes progress. But, I liked it. I am concerned that Kara hasn't had any time with her cousin since he pulled her out of her space pod, though... that reflects poorly on DC's flagship character.
So, DC needs to decide: Do they want a product that is reflective of today's society? Or that of the 1950s... Do they want a product that will air for … about … ehhhh-eight episodes and will fit well on the same shelf as their disastrous Catwoman and Supergirl movies of days gone by? Or, do they want a show that will compete effectively with Marvel’s Agent Carter, ABC’s Bones, CBS’s Scorpion (Paige is awesome!) or even Yahoo’s Other Space! So far, even Yahoo can put out a better product that what I saw last night.
The characters have been poorly written and there is no female protagonist who can stand up to a jerk like a Hank Henshaw. It doesn’t have to be an “in your face” stand, but it does need to at least hint at competence, confidence and a touch of charisma wouldn't hurt.
All of these characters appear to reflect DC’s slanted view of the world where men own the room and women grovel in their presence.
Please, DC. I desperately want this production to succeed. I love this character and am an unabashed Superman (and -girl) fan.
But, what I saw last night… probably will not succeed.