I’m going to begin this by stating that I went into watching Supergirl not expecting it to be any good. This has nothing to do with gender bias in the leading role, or DC vs Marvel. Solely to blame is the marketing company who released the terrible trailer a week ago. By now we’ve all read the blogs and articles jokingly comparing it to the SNL sketch of the Black Widow Movie about a girl superhero doing girly things – and honestly this was a fair comparison based on the footage that was first shown to us. Now anyone that believes that the “leak” of the Supergirl pilot was an accident, is truly naïve. We no longer live in a world where bad publicity is good publicity for a TV show or film. Public opinion can get a show canceled or bring it back from the dead. Shows with locked in fan bases are being scooped up by competing networks left and right, and even nontraditional media outlets (read: Netflix, Hulu, Yahoo Screen) because linear TV is going the way of the Dodo. The reason that disgruntled intern finally got fed up with getting coffee and seeded Supergirl out to the world via every torrent site imaginable was for one simple reason: to gauge public opinion before it’s premier this fall. But it’s a double edged sword. Last year there was another DC property that did this, excuse me, had their show leaked early: Constantine. When rumors surfaced that the crescendo of the pilot involved a battle with a hell demon, I was fully onboard. Then there were talks of reshoots, and then the final product. Constantine battling a shadow version of himself – a gripe I had with the Evil Dead Remake, mind you. Stop censoring your art and give me some bad ass demons from hell! The reason for even acknowledging this is Constantine has been canceled by NBC, and while it wasn’t a bad show, they let what people thought of the leaked pilot shape the final product.
So now that brings us to Supergirl. A show that’s the antithesis of what the trailer would have you believe it is. It even mildly addresses a few feminist issues both around being a female hero and being called girl in comparison to her cousin Superman. It makes it even more of a wonder as to why that trailer was cut the way it was after seeing the pilot. As a standalone product, repeat, as a standalone product Supergirl is a solid pilot and very entertaining. On the surface dissenters might believe that this is a rehash or even what Smallville should have been. The sad part is, while part of that is true, Smallville was just ten years too late both in the special effects department and getting Kal-El his powers. While for me the first few seasons of Smallville were very “X-files with Superman” with a monster of the week episode based around kryptonite almost each week, Supergirl not only makes sure to set up its overarching storyline and monster of the week in the pilot it practically combines the two. Unlike The Flash or Gotham where we’ve thrown as many iconic villains at the viewer so far this first season, the Red Hood gang has had zero influence on The Joker or Fish Moony for that matter just at Grodd and Captain Cold never cross paths on The Flash. While I understand that these are specific individual villains of these heroes, in contrast Supergirl looks to be setting itself up in a way to make each villain and episode further a greater plot. What makes it stand out amongst its peers is it wastes no time cutting through the mundane origin story it knows we’ve seen dozens of times and jumps headlong into the action. Does it give us backstory? Sure. Do you get tired of the constant references to “My cousin” aka Superman? Of course, but it’s nowhere near on the level Agents of Shield with its Marvel Cinematic Universe call backs. It’s a solid show with solid performances and I highly recommend it to anyone who is somewhat invested in any other superhero property a la The Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield or Gotham.
That being said DC needs to get it’s shit together. Like it or not Marvel has set a precedent with its TV and film universe all being interconnected. Daredevil, Agents or Shield and all the Marvel movies are all tied together and people eat that up. Hell I remember losing my mind when Detective Munch guest starred on an episode of The X-files. People love crossovers, and Marvel is the king of them. While DC has started to do their own thing with The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow they still come off as though there’s a lot of infighting going on in their headquarters. Flash and Green Arrow will be recast for the films (which is fine, as Grant Gustin is more of a TV actor any way and Stephen Amell can’t keep his mouth shut), Gotham is on Fox, Constantine on NBC (now canceled) and The Suicide Squad film squashed the Harley Quinn plot in Arrow. And while Supergirl eludes to Man of Steel there’s continuity in terms of timeline as well as the fact that we have Jimmy Olsen as a main character while in Man of Steel we had a gender swapped Jenny Olsen. If DC wants to keep the TV and film properties separate that’s fine, however when I talk to your casual viewer about this subject it ends up confusing them, and they just lose interest. To be fair, not everyone who ever creates a piece of art needs to have an interconnected universe either. However if you go for it, just don’t half ass it. Don’t put Supergirl in the world of Man of Steel, which isn’t related to the world of Flash and Arrow but somehow do a crossover with the three shows (if they are, I’m just speculating here) – even that makes my head explode just thinking about it.
In its current state, and forgetting the rest of the DC universe exists, I recommend checking out Supergirl. Whether they reshoot it or recut it before it’s fall debut remains to be seen, but if that happens I’ll see if my opinion needs to be revised at that time. Until then it’s a waiting game. I wouldn’t expect the world from the show, however. Based on its premise it’s a different vehicle to tell a very similar story, but if this is the genre you have a tendency to watch you won’t be let down.