There’s a new alien in town on Supergirl. The man in the pod is up and awake and revealed to be Mon-El, a familiar character from the Superman comics.
But Chris Wood’s version of the character on Supergirl is a different take on the super-powered Daxamite than the one in the comics. Wood got on the phone to talk about how Mon-El’s introduction is going to affect Supergirl, just how tense relations between him and Kara are going to get and how he’ll fill the void Superman left behind.
IGN: The first couple of episodes dealt a lot with Kara sort of feeling alone in the world and how she felt like she had someone that understood her when Superman was around. How does bringing in another alien like Mon-El help potentially fill that void for Kara?
Chris Wood: Well, I think there’s also that void from Kara always feeling like she came to Earth to fulfill a purpose that she wasn’t able to fulfill because her pod got knocked off and she didn’t get to sort of mentor [Kal-El]. In fact, it sort of turned out the opposite that he was already up and running in the massive entity by the time she even started to be super. So I think there’s a bit of a void there, too, where she feels like this is a guy who has a very similar experience to me. He’s the last of his kind. He’s here and doesn’t know anything about this planet and he’s got a lot of the same powers, although Mon-El’s seem to be less developed or less fully realized. She sees that he’s got this really high capability for greatness and I think she wants to redeem that opportunity she wasn’t able to have with her cousin.
I think also that there’s probably something in her, that sort of tandem fighting with someone who’s exactly like her. She had such a positive experience with Clark getting to do that and being with somebody who is fully like her, that made her feel really great. There’s definitely a void there and I think she might be rushing him almost to start of find that again with someone who also is like her and hoping that he’ll have the same qualities. As she finds out, he’s a bit more of a partier and a fun-loving pleasure seeking frat boy. It doesn’t got over perfectly well. She finds patience somewhere along the way.
IGN: Andrew Kreisberg had teased leading into the last episode there would be some of this Daxamite/Kryptonian bias we’d see come out. Are we going to see more of that between the two characters? Will that lead to a little bit of ugliness on either character’s part? Or did we get past it in the last episode?
Wood: I think you see it explored even more fully in this episode in that any frustration that Kara has with the way Mon-El works might be amplified because of her bias against his planet. Anything that happens that’s bad, she goes, “Well of course you can’t do that, you’re a Daxamite.” Then Mon-El might sort of have the same experience. When she’s explaining something and can’t quite grasp it or isn’t of the same mind, of course, you’re being like this, you’re from Krypton. And that’s not a fair prejudice that either of them have, and it’s not grounded in any sort of reality, it’s grounded in a history of hate from both of their home worlds. They obviously both have to let that go to in order to cooperate and learn and get along.
IGN: It was interesting in the Flash this week, there was a funny moment with Barry where he was talking to Jesse Quick and giving her some advice as a mentor for a second and he goes, “Oh, I’m Oliver.” Now we see Kara taking on the mentorship role in Supergirl. How is she as a mentor with Mon-El when she is still getting over being mentored herself?
Wood: I think she struggles at first to let go of her animosity toward Daxam. And I think it’s a really nice ingredient that they threw into her character this season because seeing that Supergirl herself has biases that are unfounded and some prejudice feelings toward this other guy’s not really giving her any real reason to distrust him, but she just has this thing in her head about Daxamites and he called her out on it and said, hey, you’re treating me differently because of that. And she’s resistant to it and I think eventually she really finds out about herself that she is holding onto that and you start to see that in [episode 3]. They sort of move past it in [episode 4] so that they can become friends and she can become a better mentor.
IGN: What’s been interesting for you for in really developing Mon-El’s powers? As you said, they are sort of under developed at first.
Wood: Winn tests his powers out at the DEO in this next episode and to sort of find out what he can do, how strong he is, which is really fun for both of them because they’re both sort of like kids in a candy store when it comes to super powers. That creates a really fun dynamic. But yeah, he, I think, Kara wants him to sort of fill that role, as you said, that Clark had next to her. She recognizes that he’s just like her and that she gets to sort of do that thing she didn’t get to do with her cousin, but this guy just keeps wanting to like drink and goof around and not pay attention, so how I can help somebody who doesn’t want to help themselves?
IGN: What do you think is driving that?
Wood: Well, I think part of it is it’s part of who he is and part of what he’s always been about in his life. Maybe even a little bit of how he’s coming with the fact that his planet is gone. He doesn’t know anybody. He’s just focused more on the positives and all the things that could be fun and exciting and bring him joy and pleasure. I think sort of his backstory in combination with the excitement of being in a new place with infinite possibilities creates sort of a bit of a child of Mon-El.
IGN: A couple episodes ago when Clark grabbed the Kryptonite that was at the DEO they made a point to say that it was in a case made out of lead. Now knowing Mon-El’s story from the comics, how important is that lead factor either in that specific circumstance, or maybe that the DEO has a bunch of these lead containers around, going to prove to be a factor in the story coming up?
Wood: That’s something that the writers and the producers had to sort of balance to figure out, I think. All of the things from the comic book about this character, bringing them into the show, what works, what doesn’t, what can we add that’ll bring dimension and color and story to the show, and what things will sort of hold us back. I think the lead thing is a difficult thing because our buildings, there’s a lot of lead just around and obviously the cases for the Kryptonite, I think that was something they definitely had to figure out. How that affects him, if it affects him, that’s something that will play out as the story continues.
The whole process of adapting Mon-El from the comics into the show took a lot of filtering, I think. Bring the things that work, amplify the things that are going to make the show raise the bar and also makes the character compelling to watch and exciting to watch. And also bring a level of fun because that’s part of Mon-El. He’s a fun guy. He’s fun to be around, he’s loud, he’s goofy. He likes to have fun and live life to the fullest. That’s something that the show sort of found in Winn. Those characters often bring a new dimension to our sort of heavier, more focused characters like Kara. It’s sort of fun to put her with somebody like them, which is a result of them sort of picking and choosing from the comic inspiration.
IGN: One of the big changes to Mon-El’s story in the show is that it’s Kara that finds him in the pod instead of Clark that finds him in the comics. Obviously that could move things from a brotherly relationship to maybe brother/sister, and a lot of fans are assuming it might go into a more romantic direction for Kara and Mon-El. How is that change to his origin going to affect the story you’re telling this season?
Wood: Right. I think obviously the first step once they can sort of let go of this animosity then her trying to get him on the right track becomes the story. They do ultimately become friends. Then his place in this world is sort of, that’s left up to question. What’s he going to do? What’s he actually going to be about? Does he get a job? Does he just sort of wander around? Can they keep him on the right track? He’s a bit of a wildcard sometimes. He’s got to sort of work hard to prove that he can be trusted. In terms of anything else with Kara, all I know so far is that they become friends and she’s got high hopes for him. Sometimes he’s a bit of a let down when he chooses to drink over to go do something positive.
IGN: Yeah, I’m sure that doesn’t jive with her idea of what people with these abilities should do.
Wood: No, it’s not exactly Kara’s M.O.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
Terri Schwartz is Entertainment Editor at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.