Warning: this article contains spoilers for this week’s new episode of “Supergirl”!
“Welcome to Earth” was a very eventful new episode of Supergirl, with several characters making their debuts and the reveal that J’onn J’onzz isn’t the only Green Martian living on Earth. But perhaps the most intriguing reveal of all is that President Olivia Marsdin (played by Lynda Carter) is some sort of shape-shifting metahuman in disguise. But who is she really? Was she always a shape-shifter, or has the real President Marsdin been kidnapped and replaced?
It may be some time before the series answers those questions. However, we have an interesting theory. We think President Marsdin may be an iconic Superman villain in disguise. She may actually be Cyborg Superman.
Perhaps a little background is in order first. In the comics, Cyborg Superman was originally an astronaut named Hank Henshaw. In a storyline inspired by Marvel’s Fantastic Four comics, Henshaw and his crew were exposed to solar radiation and began to mutate. The rest of his crew died (including his wife), but Henshaw managed to survive by bonding with Superman’s Kryptonian Birthing Matrix (don’t ask) and eventually returned as a cybernetic villain who partially mimicked the appearance of his hated enemy.
Cyborg Superman has battled the real Superman several times, but he can never truly be defeated since his digitized consciousness can always create new bodies. That’s actually the core tragedy of the character – he wants to die but can’t find the means to end his un-life.
At this point you might be wondering what Cyborg Superman has to do with Supergirl’s version of Hank Henshaw. That’s where our theory begins. Supergirl’s series premiere introduced Hank as the gruff, no-nonsense leader of the DEO. Over the course of Season 1, viewers learned that this Hank was actually the Martian Manhunter in disguise. The original Hank Henshaw apparently died along with Jeremiah Danvers when they were sent by the DEO to find J’onn in Peru.
Shortly after, J’onn began impersonating Henshaw and leading the DEO onto a more noble path, and the rest is history. However, recently our heroes found evidence that Jeremiah is still alive and being held captive by the mysterious Project Cadmus. Is it much of a stretch to believe that the real Hank Henshaw survived as well?
We think that Henshaw may have been transformed into a cyborg, either through exposure to some sort of Martian technology or by the scientists at Cadmus. Like the comic book Hank Henshaw, he can now alter his form and transfer his digitized consciousness from one body to the next. Our theory is that Henshaw is now masquerading as President Marsdin.
Consider this: one of Henshaw’s defining traits is his distrust of all alien lifeforms. He didn’t even trust Superman. He made it his mission to police the globe and ensure that no aliens infiltrated ordinary human society. His ordeal in Peru probably did nothing to soften his stance on alien immigration. Furthermore, the scientists at Cadmus have a similar anti-alien stance. Could that be because they’re being controlled by Henshaw? Was the creation of Metallo in “The Adventures of Supergirl” a sort of test run for the debut of Cyborg Superman?
It might seem strange that Henshaw would impersonate the President, only to introduce a pro-alien immigration bill that would theoretically work against his plans. But he’s probably playing the long game. Tensions between humans and aliens are at an all-time high in the aftermath of Myriad and Non’s nearly successful attempt to wipe out humanity. And now, every time President Marsdin makes a show of promoting peace and understanding, she’s attacked by a vengeful, fire-wielding alien. Bad luck, or is she secretly trying to turn public opinion even more against aliens?
There’s also the simple fact that when Marsdin briefly showed her nonhuman form, her body flashed with red and blue energy. Is it just a coincidence that she channeled Superman’s colors?
Marsdin being Cyborg Superman makes a lot of sense. It ties the anti-alien hysteria and Cadmus storylines into one larger conflict. It solidifies the idea that this season is all about the quest for tolerance and understanding between humanity and their alien neighbors. And it allows the show to take the lingering Hank Henshaw/Jeremiah Danvers mystery in a crazy new direction. We wouldn’t be surprised if Hank takes Jeremiah’s form when he appears as Cyborg Superman, essentially allowing actor Dean Cain one more chance to don the Superman costume. How cool would that be?
What say you? Do you buy into this theory? Do you have other ideas as to the true identity of President Marsdin? let us know in the comments below.