For the second time in a year, the Girl of Steel has had to find a new home.
After being rocketed to Earth from Krypton in last year’s first season on CBS, “Supergirl” now finds itself in a new world where superhero television shows are a lot more common: The CW.
Despite sparks toward the end of last season, don’t expect any romance right away from Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and James “don’t call me Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). Mutual feelings are obvious, but Kara Danvers/Supergirl is leaning toward being a little more independent this season, wanting to concentrate on her life behind a pair of glasses and her career at a news organization. More than likely, the writers on the show are realizing that superheroes falling in love quickly doesn’t always make great television (see “Arrow” and Olicity) while taking the slow approach to super-love has done wonders for another CW superhero hit (see “The Flash“).
Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) is still around, continuing an on-screen tradition of unrealistically mean and grouchy heads of news organizations that no one would work for in real life. She’s part “Devil Wears Prada,” part Huffington Post with a dash of TMZ. What she remains is “Supergirl’s” comic relief. Her funniest line last season on CBS, when she declared her staff to be an “attractive, nonthreatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show,” has come to life.
There is one slight major change this season on “Supergirl”: Superman is here.
Tyler Hoechlin made his debut in the “Supergirl” Season 2 premiere and gives a surprisingly enjoyable performance as both Superman and Clark Kent.
Considering how consistently moody (and dead) our big-screen movie Superman, Henry Cavill, has been as we get closer to a “Justice League” movie, Hoechlin’s Superman is something we haven’t seen in live-action since Dean Cain — a Superman smiling on the job, having fun and inspiring hope, not fear of being crushed by a building, as was the case with Cavill’s Superman in his battle against Zod in “Man of Steel.”
There’s some Christopher Reeve inspiration in Hoechlin’s performance and you quickly forget little annoying fanboy gripes like Hoechlin not being that tall (Brook’s Jimmy Olsen towers over him), that funny-looking cape (a rare misfire for CW superhero suits) and his teen-heartthrob frame that is a far cry from Cavill’s comic book triceps.
But why would “Supergirl” play the Superman card so soon? Especially if we know Hoechlin’s Superman is only here for the first few episodes and not sticking around all season. This is Supergirl’s show after all. Perhaps she could have been given another season of being a solo superhero before calling her cousin in. And Benoist has done a fairly good job of conveying a superpowered transformation when she takes off her glasses. She didn’t really need the help. So why is Superman here?
Here’s a theory, and it has to do with the shadowy presence of the bad guys thinking they’re doing good on “Supergirl” this season: Project Cadmus.
At the end of “Supergirl’s” season two premiere, Cadmus, a secret scientific organization, has gotten its hands on Jon Corben (Frederick Schmidt), a bad guy who unsuccessfully tries to take on Superman and Supergirl.
Cadmus will turn Corben into this season’s first major supervillain: Metallo. Metallo of course is a classic Superman villain know for having a robotic body that is fueled by Kryptonite.
Kryptonite gets a lot of mentions in “Supergirl’s” season two premiere when Superman confronts Hank Henshaw (who we know is secretly the Martian Manhunter) about his secret government organization (the one Supergirl and her adoptive sister, Alex, works for), which carries lots of the radioactive rock. Why all the extra chitchat about Kryptonite? We know it will be used to fuel Metallo, but what if this specific plot point has another intention — to make Superman bleed?
Those well-versed in Superman comics of the ’90s will remember that in his comic book adventures, Superman was cloned by Cadmus. The result? One of the most ’90s superheroes ever: Superboy. Not Clark Kent as a kid Superboy. A lab experiment Superboy, with Superman’s DNA, who was supposed to be grown to adulthood, but escapes before his “growing up” is complete. This Superboy was a hormone-fueled teen who woke up realizing he looked like and could do many of the things Superman did. It made for some very funny comics.
Could cloning Superman/creating Superboy be why Cadmus is here? Could this be why we have Superman in the first few episodes?
We already have the presence of Mon-El, who in this episode was revealed as the being inside the spacecraft that crashed to Earth in “Supergirl’s” Season 1 finale. With Mon-El, who has similar powers to Kryptonians because he’s from a planet not too far from where Krypton used to be, Supergirl will already have someone to babysit. But what if Mon-El turns bad late in the season? What if Superman is too busy to come back to help because his CW contract limits the amount of times he can save the day?
You’ve got a show with Project Cadmus, Supergirl, Superman, Kryptonite and a villain that provides the potential for spilled Kryptonian blood. Why not start some cloning experiments and give us the kid? Take a look at some of those Tom Grummett-illustrated Superboy comics from the ’90s and tell me Superboy isn’t the perfect teen hero for the CW.
It’s a long shot, but so was Superman actually appearing on this show. We’ve seen the Man of Steel. Is the Boy of Steel on the way?