Sunday, May 17, 2015

So, if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent...

...isn't the real problem: you?

No irony or sarcasm; I mean that.

Yeah, I bought it. The trailer for Supergirl.  Hook, line, and sinker.

Okay, sure, it begins hilariously like the SNL parody skit of a "Black Widow" movie. which absolutely every single person who has seen both has commented on.  Frankly, I think that's to its credit, rather than a criticism.

First, Black Widow and Supergirl are two very different characters. Black Widow is a kick-ass no-nonsense Russian killer ninja spy-chick human weapon assassin agent (with a heart of gold).  That's why depicting her as a ditzy, overwhelmed girl-in-the-big-city is so funny (and would be wrong).  But Supergirl's story -- like it or not -- has always been that of a young person struggling to fit in on her adopted homeworld, to be an ordinary person with extraordinary powers and responsibilities.  And that is the story the trailer tells.

In case you now just take it for granted, that's kind of Superman's story too, except he's farther along the path than Supergirl and had years with supportive parents to make the transition.  Clark Kent is wage-earner in a demanding media-based profession with a difficult boss in a big city.

Although one assumes Perry White hasn't had implants.

And, essentially, so is Kara in the new trailer.  In the absence of a tv version of Superman, Kara Danvers becomes Clark Kent.  Finally, we will see the ONE thing we have never seen: Supergirl without Superman around to overshadow her.

You COULD have gotten a show where Linda Danvers is Governor of Florida.
So just be grateful.

Now, some would complain about showing Kara as a being hesitant or unfamiliar with her powers. That's not like Superman at all and it's demeaning to show her as an unconfident neophyte!  For those folks, I have one word: Smallville.  There was a series that showed Clark Kent doing exactly that...for ten years.

The Smallville Decade; It's really all just a "Blur".

Besides, nearly every superhero show starts with its hero getting powers and getting used to them (or to using them to Fight Crime).  It's part of helping the audience identify with the main character.

You know what else helps the audience identify with a character?
A horse.  A white horse that saves you in the nick of time.  It's just like the cavalry except without any guys sitting on it.

Is Kara a little goofy? Or course she is. So is Barry Allen.

Nice hat, Barry.

Almost everyone in their early 20s is goofy (particularly on teevee).  Even hyper-competent genius Felicity Smoak is goofy.

No, Felicity. It is not.

What do you expect Supergirl to be?


 The show even tackles some of the sexist belly-shirt/hotpants horrors that have been forced on poor Kara through the years.

Fans: "SuperMAN would never wear that."
Me: "He would if they had hired Mario Lopez."

 Instead of searching for a man to bring meaning to her life, Kara chooses a life of heroing.  A choice she makes for herself, without interference from her (assiduously unnamed) cousin.

Potentially dangerous leg-distorting phenomena, I'll wager.

Good for her. I have spent years making fun of Supergirl for symbolizing futility and determinism and lack of free will.  Finally we have a Supergirl who makes choices. You can make fun of her all you want, but for now I am very much on her side.

However, I am still NOT down with 7-foot muscular super-model Jimmy -- oh, sorry, JAMES-- Olsen.  But I've made a decision.  I will soldier on as follows: I will simply assume that REAL Jimmy Olsen accidentally drank some potion at Prof. Potter's lab or was exposed to some alien artifact at the Fortress of Solitude that caused one of his trademark Amazing Transformations into this:

This is NOT "Superman's Pal".
This is more like "Scipio's Pal".

 My other issue is with Kara's semi-Cisco sidekick, who's posited as an unrequited love interest but smells much much much more like her Sassy Gay Friend.

He...could ALSO be my pal.  My sassy gay pal.

Particularly since all we see him do in the trailer is assume she's a lesbian and then help her pick out her outfit.  

C'mon, showrunners; it's time for a superhero to have a Sassy Gay Friend.  Heck...even Black Widow got one:


John said...

Definitely agreed. The only things they've shown to give me any reason to worry are "Captain Friendzone" or whoever he's supposed to be and a sister who just happens to work for a vague yet menacing government agency that needs Kryptonian help while undoubtedly not trusting aliens as the city is besieged with aliens. And everything else they've shown screams "just trust them."

Another difference with the Black Widow gag is that it was meant to be her entire story, whereas Supergirl's talking about doing that for about forty minutes out of probably a couple of years.

(And crap, really, Smallville was only ten years...? I I feel like I skipped half the series and still got at least fifteen years of passive aggressive, "I always put cream in my coffee, Clark, and I don't keep any secrets about it, unlike some people" Lana harangues.)

ShellyS said...

I am so jazzed for this show. Supergirl and I grew up together. Given how time passes differently in comics then real life, we managed to overlap for high school and then were in college at the same time for a while. The original version of Supergirl is my all-time favorite comic book character and this is her, modernized for the present. I can't wait to watch the show.

Anonymous said...

All solid points. I hope and trust that constant self-doubt won't be a running theme on the show; there are enough good examples of writing a woman these days that they should be able to do better than that. (The second trailer is much more promising than the first.)

I would assume that Superman put Jimmy into that machine Lois used that one time. Except he improved it so that it will turn you black AND buff.

That said, DC still does its best work on the cartoons. Just watched "Batman vs. Robin" this weekend, they managed to merge the "Court of Owls" and "Nobody" storylines together and it actually worked.

Anonymous said...

... though to be fair, why make Kara Danvers work for a powerful fashion magazine (or whatever) at all? There are at least six or seven other career paths in a big city, why give her the "Devil Wears Prada" route and try to live that sort of life?

There's a part of me that wants her to be befriended by Abby and Ilana from "Broad City".

Scipio said...

It's a news conglomerate. Most people aren't paying attention to that because the boss is a woman.

The tradition of superheroes being involved in news media is pretty strong. Before the internet, newsreporters were the first people to hear about stuff. Instead of nowadays where they just try to keep up.

So, being a reporter of some kind helped heroes get INTO trouble as fast as possible.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I like the news conglomerate thing. But about "the boss is a woman" ... I think the problem is that Callista is being played more like Prada-Devil and less like Perry White.

Hah, I just realized that "The Devil Wears Pravda" could be an alternate title for "Superman: Red Son".

CobraMisfit said...

"Super Horse" is the name of our next quartet.

Also, the whole Supergirl midriff booty-shorts thing is completely...

What was I saying?

Mark said...

I don't get the Devil Wears Prada issue - so basically in the entire history of film and TV, we can only have one woman in one movie who is a demanding boss? And this is Cat Grant not Lois Lane. Accounting for changing roles, she makes more sense than Not Jimmy Olsen.

I can see how the sensibility of the show might not appeal to everyone (no tv show does) but I have a hard time understanding the argument that the sensibility of the show isn't right for the character. I just hope the show can live up to the ratings demands that come with being on CBS (though it will also be nice to see what the show does with the larger budgets associated with the Big 3 networks).

I know fans of the Great Integrated Universe must be upset but I'm glad that DC is allowing their properties to be explored with multiple sensibilities across different platforms.

Scipio, the question is - "National City," a preexisting fictionopolis or a new creation?

I kind of love how TV and filmmakers are embracing DC's history of fictional cities while the people in comics desperately run away from them.

Dean said...

I would watch a TV show where Supergirl was governor of Florida, just btw. I imagine it as like The West Wing, but with more giant robot punching.

Scipio said...

Mark: The times when DC wanted a proxy for Washington, they have traditionally used "Federal City". I have read "National City" in an old comic book before, but it was obscure enough that I don't remember where.

Dean: Yes, I knew someone would feel that way. And if there is a state of which a superhero would be the governor, it would be Florida.

Bryan L said...

Linda Danvers would be a much better Florida governor than what we've got.

Hey, Scipio, coming to DC first week in June. Any can't miss comic shops I should see (now that yours isn't open)?

Slaughter said...

I could't actually watch the trailer yet, kept forgetting then no internet for the moment.

That guy ins't not-Jimmy, he's closer to Bizarro-Jimmy. Pretty sure Jimmy Olsen is supposed to be:
a) Audience surrogate. Most of the audience are nerds, geeks, normal dudes, etc. Probably less than 1% of the audience is composed of black, buff male models. This might actually be obsolete - because in the Silver Age, Jimmy was needed because it was hard for the young audience to relate with the older, archieving Superman who was like the ultimate perfect authority figure.

b) A geek, nerd, total dork, etc. Barry Allen should look cool and hip next to Jimmy Olsen. I believe in keeping close in everything (including appearance), but if they want a black Jimmy, they should go with a urkel-style look - unless they want to play Not-Jimmy as one of these new age nerds who are also into getting buff and stuff (could work, but...).

c) A total weirdness magnet. Yet, while average and nerdy and sometimes even a goober, Jimmy was not cowardly, often charging head-fist into situations most people would run from.

ShellyS said...

I was never a big fan of Jimmy Olson, so they can make him whatever they want.

John said...


In a purely hypothetical world where someone in the production line leaked the pilot episode to BitTorrent sites, and were someone to then very hypothetically either not care about the copyright implications or figure he (or she) was going to watch the show when it aired regardless, and so hypothetically download and watch said leaked pilot...

In a world where all those hypothetical conditions happened to come true, it would be well worth that hypothetical person's time, because the show is amazing. Henshaw's attitude is a bit of a cliche. Captain Friendzone is too stalker-y for my tastes and (of course!) the IT guy. The flying-in-flight effects or choreography need work. Oh, and they strongly imply a few times that they don't live in the Flash/Arrow universe.

But other than that, I'm impressed and excited for the fall. They're not afraid to put women front and center of the show, and not afraid to make them worthwhile characters. It works every bit as well as you'd expect from creators that made Felicity Smoak more than just Ronnie Raymond's hot, rich stepmom who steals every scene she's in.

(And it's an older Jimmy Olsen, so the fact that he's buff and successful makes sense, at least to me.)

Hopefully, it can pull high enough ratings to stay on the air, since CBS isn't going to be happy with CW numbers.

Bryan L said...

If there were hypothetically two hypothetical viewers of this hypothetically leaked pilot, the second hypothetical viewer would agree with John. The show is darn good. The FX were a bit clunky, especially compared to The Flash. It's a weird world when CBS does crappier FX than the CW. But the second hypothetical viewer will be watching in the fall.

Vartox, though? I gotta think about that one.

Redforce said...

Do gay men get Sassy Gay Pals? I thought gay men only got Dour Straight Pals.