Superman has been Supergirl's elephant in the room since the first episode, and for the most part that's a good thing. The interesting thing about Supergirl is that, unlike Clark in Smallville or Oliver Queen in Arrow, Kara is not the first hero of her kind. A huge part of the narrative in Season 1 was Kara's fight to be recognized as her own hero, rather than a knock-off version of Earth's greatest protector. And that worked really well. But now it's time to actually meet the Man of Steel.
This has really interesting implications for the show, both from a plot and character perspective. But there is a danger here that Kara will be overshadowed by her cousin, in our world as much as in her own. And here's how the writers can avoid that.
Superman's The Big Damn Hero
Kara is constantly vying for attention in fan's minds, and people can't stop comparing her to Superman. This can't be avoided — as much-loved as Supergirl is, Superman is DC's biggest hero.
It's unfair, but after months of writing about this hero, I can say with some certainty that there are some fans who care much more about a character who is little more than a silhouette in this show, than its lead protagonist. Which means that as soon as Superman appears on the show, the spotlight will be on him.
And yet, this is the perfect opportunity to show how far Kara's come, from budding hero to full fledged savior of humanity. It would be fantastic to see Kara and Clark as equals, kicking bad guy butt together. Oh, and bonus points if Kara saves Superman's hide for a change.
For Kara to fully step out of Superman's shadow, he first has to has substance as a character. Rather than just a cameo as a cape and boots, Kara can handle her cousin's actual appearance on the show, and it might just harken back to some of the best themes in her comic book story.
Kara and her cousin have an interesting shared history. In the original DC canon, Kara arrived on Earth to find Kal-el as Superman. Being only 14, and more than a little disorientated, Kara accepted that Kal was all grown up. The New 52 changed this version of events.
In this continuity, Kara doesn't believe a word Superman says, and the two quickly come to blows. Of course, that doesn't really work for Supergirl, and Season 1 already dealt with Kara's childhood in a really neat way. But there's something to be said for more flashbacks, ones which reveal exactly how Kara dealt with the shock of losing her entire people.
One of the most interesting things about Kara and Clark is their difference in upbringing. There's a really nice irony in the fact that while Clark takes up a big brother role, Kara is the one who has a greater connection to Krypton.
And of course, she still feels protective of him, which is understandable considering her mission to watch over him. It would be nice to see this odd dynamic play out in Supergirl Season 2, to further stress the contrast between these characters. But beyond their differences, the two characters provide a sense of home for each other that they both thought they'd lost.
In Supergirl, Clark's more of an absentee cousin, although his IM chats with Kara are some of the sweetest moments in the show.
But crucially, there's one thing the showrunners need to do to prevent Superman overshadowing Supergirl.
Send Him To Space!
No, seriously. The premiere episodes could set up the perfect situation for Supergirl Season 2 by building up the relationship between the cousins, and contrasting the two as heroes, before sending Superman away for a while.
Imagine this — we get flashbacks of Kara when Superman first taught her about her powers, then we get to see the two in present day, fighting side by side as they were always destined to do. It's clear that Kara's come a long way from that scared child who arrived on Earth, and she's just as much a hero as her cousin. Clark also gains substance as a person, which is pretty essential now that his DCEU counterpart has gone from deadpan to just plain dead.
Just when we've settled into their dynamic, and we're all excited about seeing this new version of the Man of Steel, Superman blasts off on some great cosmic mission (as he is occasionally wont to do). This leaves Supergirl as the sole protector of Earth. Suddenly, she hasn't just got a city to protect but an entire planet, and that responsibility would make for an interesting theme for Season 2. Not to mention Kara dealing with the inevitable multiverse crisis, as she reunites with the Flash for that epic four-show crossover.
It would be great to see Kara truly thrown in the deep end. We already know she doesn't like to use her cousin as a safety net, and Season 2 could really run with this idea, teasing us with Superman only to take him away again. But whatever happens, the mere fact that Clark's involved in Supergirl Season 2 is probably a good thing, as long as the writers make it clear that Kara's still the star of the show.