Release: 25th July 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Born on the doomed planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped at the same time as her cousin, Superman, but didn’t arrive on Earth until years later after being lost. Raised by her adopted family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to hide the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin. Now, at the age of 24, Kara is finally learning to be the hero she always knew she could be.
‘Stand back Superman, Iceman, Spiderman. Batman and Robin too’…and so it goes. But forget about Supergran for a moment, because there is a new and a more exciting female superhero on the small screen, Kal-El’s cuz has done gone and taken the limelight in Supergirl. Marvel may own Hollywood right now, but it seems DC has found its bread and butter on the airwaves.
There is something to be said about the newest incarnation of Supergirl in that this, Arrow and The Flash are all very much aimed at a teenage audience. For those able to remember the E4 friendly days of Smallville, then you won’t be far disappointed by what arrives here in a mini skirt and knee-high boots. The trade off is that Supergirl is poles apart from the dark skies and grey complexions now familiar in the universe of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. The angst Kara suffers feel less weighty than her cinematic counterparts and her world is waaaay more preppy and hip. But aside from a few eyebrow raising moments of gratuitous leering (see Arrow for the estrogen alternative), Supergirl is, for the most part, a pretty fun and engaging show that genuinely seeks to establish a credible world.
As ratings dwindled and then rose in time for the excellent episode 6 (“Red Faced”), Supergirl stood a tough time finding her core audience on TV. And an uneasy set of ratings throughout season one illustrate just how uneven the show feels. But with moments that include love, loss, secrets and lots and lots of quipping, there is plenty to keep Supergirl alive for at least two more seasons; especially as the second half of season one looks and feels way more engaging than the first. For crossover fans, look out for episode 18 (“World’s Finest”) and those who enjoy a bit of comic book lore then episode 16 (“Falling”) is one for you. There are cameos galore, and for diehard Superman / Supergirl fans, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth of nostalgia.
The show’s action scenes are pretty standard (no collapsing Metropolis here), and Mellisa Benoist poses an impressive physique in making that work well. She is no Scarlett Johansson when it comes to kicking ass, but she does a damn sight better than Wonder Woman did in Dawn of Justice; or at least the CGI version of Wonder Woman. The visual effects in general are rather generic, and are of course on a very tight budget, but little is evident to show that the Supergirl feels cheap or unloved.
Benoist proves to be a solid Kryptonian. Her plucky strength plays to the show’s lighter mood, while a willingness to submit to the more ludicrous elements help salvage a few of the awkward creative choices. It is an honest compliment to say that she is maybe too corny at times, but in a way that does not play against any sense of self delusion. Supergirl is legitimised as a playful and empowering character for female viewers, now if only we could have a female superhero who wears clothes that are a little more practical. The rest of the supporting cast do a great job of bolstering the show’s looser moments – think, a less rounded version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s supporting cast – and prove that at its core, this really is an ensemble piece.
Film Grade: C
The Gag Reel is pretty fun, while the Deleted Scenes and 2015 Comic-Con Panel are for the more interested viewer. But the big finds here, The Man From Mars, is a neat look at that elusive member of the Justice League known as Martian Manhunter. A recurring character in the show, this is a juicy documentary on a fan favourite begging for his own film.
The other feature of note is A World Left Behind. We all know that the Sci-Fi channel is looking at making a show devoted to the history of Krypton, but this documentary gives some neat insight into a world heretofore only glimpsed at in the shared DC universe.
Special Features Grade: B-
Comic book fatigue may well be setting in for some, and Supergirl will not likely change that. But for the rest of us, you’d do worse than dip a toe in.
Overall Grade: C+