This article contains potential spoilers for the Supergirl TV series.
Supergirl is coming to CBS in November, but we just saw six minutes of the first episode…and it’s pretty impressive. The Supergirl pilot reportedly cost a whopping $14 million, and you can see quite a bit of it on screen.
But what’s even crazier than the fact that we’re getting our umpteenth superhero TV series of 2015 on a major network, is just how packed with references to DC Comics and Superman mythology these six minutes are. I took a close look at it, and here’s what I found…
So, this is a fairly standard establishing shot of Krypton, the homeworld of Supergirl and Superman. As this is a Greg Berlanti production, it’s nice to see that they’re sticking with the “My name is…” voiceover opening. It does make me wonder about the back and forth of does this or does this not take place in the same universe as The Flash and Arrow.
Why is that so complicated? Well…
The show isn’t shying away from Superman imagery, that’s for sure. Since neither The Flash nor Arrow have gone anywhere near that stuff (let alone a mention of Metropolis), I have to wonder where this would all fit in. But that’s for another time.
Right now, I just want to ask if anyone else gets a Superman: The Animated Series vibe from Jor-El and Lara up above?
I just included this image because it’s amusing to see baby Kal-El already rocking the iconic spitcurl. That’s something we’ve only ever seen in comics and animation before. But, y’know, just in case you didn’t already know that’s Superman, there it is.
Also, the red blanket he’s wrapped in here is what Jimmy Olsen gives Kara at the end of the trailer to be her new cape.
Oh, look…it’s Superman again. I don’t think we’ll ever get more than stuff like this with the big guy, at least not during season one, but it’s good to see that the show isn’t trying to do any weird timeline stuff.
So now the question becomes: how long has Superman been operating in this universe? Five years? More? And what does that mean for The Flash and Arrow connections?
This is Laura Benanti as Alura, Supergirl’s mother. Apparently she’s going to have a recurring role on the show, so perhaps she pulls a Jor-El and has her mind implanted in some kind of Kryptonian supercomputer to help Kara out down the line. Anyway, if that does happen, there’s no indication of it in the trailer.
Zor-El is the brother of Superman’s Dad, Jor-El. Which makes Alura Superman’s aunt. Anyway, here they are.
One of the biggest legacies of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie was the introduction of the “S” as a House of El family crest. It’s nice to see that’s brought back once again for this show. I wonder if they’ll take the Man of Steel route and make it “a symbol of hope” (which in itself was an out-of-context but appropriate quote from the Donner film), as well. They did tease the “it’s not an S” line from Man of Steel…
So, this is where things get weird. This shot is clearly of a planet about to get destroyed. In the comics, Supergirl’s family left Krypton at the time of its destruction (it’s a long story), but essentially…a chunk of Krypton ends up surviving somewhere/somehow. There are a bunch of different versions of this, so I’m not going to get into it here.
Anyway, the thing is, eventually Supergirl has to leave there, too. They might be condensing things here, where Kara is simply Kal-El’s older cousin, leaves at the same time, and the peculiarities of faster than light travel and/or a rocket knocked off course make her land on Earth years later than him, despite not having aged. In other words, it’s possible that Supergirl is older than Superman, left Krypton when Krypton was destroyed, arrived here afterwards, and ends up younger than him.
Comics, everybody! And also…quantum physics? I don’t know. Don’t think too hard about it.
So, here’s Kara Danvers at age 24. Now, they establish pretty quickly that she’s been aware of her powers for a long time. And since she doesn’t yet have a secret identity, why is she wearing glasses and acting timid? I have a theory:
I suspect that her awkwardness isn’t a put-on, and some of it is a result of having to try not to hurt people or step through a wall every time she sneezes. I’ve always thought it would be cool if the glasses were something that a Kent (or in this case, a Danvers) ends up with them because developing super-vision powers are screwing up their perceptions.
That might be a little too much of a deep read, though.
CatCo, the media conglomerate where Kara works, looks suspiciously like Den of Geek headquarters. Actually, no. It doesn’t. At all.
Anyway, what is it with people in the Superman universe putting their names at the top of buildings like that? You know who else does it? Lex Luthor.
Which makes me wonder: in the DC Universe, do people on the internet or in politics resort to calling other people “Luthor” when making lazy arguments the way they do with “Hitler” in our world?
Here’s Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. I don’t think we’ve had a live-action Cat Grant since Tracy Scoggins on the underrated first season of Lois Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It’s nice to see that she isn’t just some sexpot cougar, either.
So, this is the first actual photograph of Superman taken in this world. It’s nice and everything, but it also recalls the original teaser poster (painted by the great Bob Peak) for Superman: The Movie.
See for yourself:
I love that poster. Anyway…
So, we know not to call him “Jimmy” Olsen. But meet Mehcad Brooks as James Bartholomew (they’ll keep his middle name, right?) Olsen. He’s still got a fondness for ties…just not bow ties.
The way they’re playing Olsen here makes me wonder about the timeline of the show, as he’s considerably older than most versions of the character. He left The Daily Planet to come and work for CatCo, so how long did he work at The Daily Planet? Also, it’s clear he knew about Kara’s secret before she told him, and he must know Superman’s secret identity as well.
Did Clark Kent send Jimmy to National City to keep an eye on his cousin and help her become a hero?
This is Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Kara’s adopted sister. Alex works for the Department of Extranormal Operations as a scientist.
I can’t help but wonder about the Alex/Lex similarities. Lex Luthor had an estranged sister named Lena, and Alex is scientifically minded. Nah, I’m imagining things.
The “running down an alley” change is such a classic Superman trope that I had to include it here. It was most notably deployed early on in Richard Lester’s Superman II, but it’s always around.
The “plane rescue” or all around “aircraft rescue” is the most tried and true way to introduce a member of the Super-family to the world. In the original Adventures of Superman TV show, it was a blimp. In Superman: The Movie, it was a helicopter. In the 1986 Man of Steel comic book as well as Lois Clark episode 1 and Superman Returns it was a space shuttle.
Nice to see it at work here. That’s not the only nod to John Byrne’s Man of Steel comics, though…
When John Byrne rebooted Superman in 1986 with the Man of Steel comic book, Clark Kent was forced into action by a crashing space plane. Not a big deal, except he didn’t have a costume or a secret identity at the time, and he found himself exposed to public scrutiny. Well, here we are with Supergirl…
Oh, and the bridge that she flies the plane over? A news crawl identifies it as The Otto Binder Bridge. Otto Binder was the writer who co-created Supergirl with artists Al Plastino and Curt Swan, way back in Action Comics #252 in 1959.
With all of those K-call letters we now know that National City is on the West Coast. That puts things far enough away from Metropolis to explain why Kara and Clark’s paths aren’t crossing all the time.
I was looking to see if there were any national broadcasts in here, but apparently not. So, sadly, no Channel 52 from Arrow or The Flash. But also, no sign of Galaxy Broadcasting, WGBS. C’mon…shouldn’t WGBS have a west coast affiliate? KGBS?
Also, even though we don’t get the magic DC Comics number of “52” here, there is a “Channel 25” prominently displayed.
That’s Jeremy Jordan as Winslow “Winn” Schott. He’s a potential love interest for Kara, but Superman fans might know him as fairly minor villain “The Toyman.” I don’t think we’ll see them go down that road any time soon, but that’s just me.
We’ll get to see the evolution of Supergirl’s costume, which is amusing, I guess. There was an infamous “selecting the costume” montage on the first episode of Lois Clark, which we’ll hopefully be spared here. However, the above photo is interesting, and not just because Melissa Benoist is stunning and showing some skin.
Supergirl has had some unfortunate costumes in her time. This combines elements of three: her 1970s “hot pants” costume (not the best), her late 90s/early 2000s bare midriff look (she’s had worse, I suppose), and her short-lived 1980s “headband era.”
I actually have a soft spot for the headband costume, and I kind of hope they find a way to work it in here someday. Comic book Kryptonians were traditionally depicted with headbands, so this seemed to make sense. Anyway, enough about that.
I will never ever not be amused by watching George Reeves look annoyed/bored by criminals shooting their useless bullets at him on old episodes of The Adventures of Superman. I wonder if Kara will ever get bored by watching bullets bounce off her, or if we’ll always get this fun/surprised vibe from her.
Anyway it’s a neat sequence, and then she kicks their asses appropriately.
The show borrows something else from John Byrne’s mid-80s reimagining of Superman…the cape isn’t bulletproof. Well, at least not until she replaces it. But the basic idea here is that Kryptonian invulnerability is more than just a dense molecular structure. Instead, Kara (and Clark) generate kind of a field that keeps any fabric pressed right up against them from getting torn or dirty.
The colors of the Supergirl costume are considerably brighter than the early promotional photos indicated. This is a good thing. And like The Flash, they aren’t afraid to show her operating in daylight, either.
Our first look at the Department of Extranormal Operations reveals a few potential alien supervillains on the screen. But one in particular stands out: the purple guy in the middle there is almost certainly the Parasite, a character who we’ve never really seen done justice in live-action. Here’s hoping…
This is exceedingly minor supervillain the Lumberjack. Why do they call him the Lumberjack?
Oh, that’s why.
Anyway, supposedly the Lumberjack has already tangled with Superman, and he’s here to see what Kara is made of, as well.
I love everything about this shot. But what I love most about it is how much it recalls the Christopher Reeve/Helen Slater super-era. It’s framed very much like some classic Reeve flying shots in Superman: The Movie, while Kara’s arms outstretched flying style recall Helen Slater’s Supergirl.
Look, that Supergirl movie wasn’t very good, but Helen Slater was great and it had some excellent flying sequences.
This is David Harewood as Hank Henshaw, the head of the Department of Extranormal Operations. Henshaw has a villainous future ahead of him. In the comics he becomes someone known as the Cyborg Superman. While I don’t think that’s exactly what’s in store, bad things will probably happen to him down the line.
I’d expect a similar approach to what we saw with Harrison Wells and the Reverse-Flash over on another Greg Berlanti production, The Flash.
Did I miss any fun DC Comics references? If so, please let me know!
Supergirl premieres on CBS on Monday November 2nd, 2015 at 8 pm.