So here’s that other show I’ll be reviewing.
Supergirl got off to an interesting start. It was getting a lot of attention, and criticism, before the pilot even aired.
Let’s start at the very beginning, with the trailer. It came out with really bad timing. I remember that around the same time, people were really angry about Age of Ultron and Black Widow’s role in the movie and the abysmal representation of female superheroes in general, and then SNL made a parody trailer of a Black Widow movie that was basically a romcom with the tagline “Marvel gets girls”. It was ridiculous and funny and everyone who was mad about AOU and female superheroes, including me, laughed along with it.
And then the Supergirl trailer came out, and it also felt strangely romcom-ish, but without any of the irony of the SNL sketch. It was for real. So of course people compared the sketch and the trailer and the general consensus seemed to be “Is DC for real?? Is this really what studios think we want for female superheroes??” Admittedly, I had a similar reaction at first, but after giving it a bit more thought I felt those reactions were a bit premature.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think having a female-led superhero thing be girly and light-hearted is necessarily a bad thing. I think it would be a bad thing if they were all like that, but having just a few like that doesn’t have to be. I think what’s most important is variety. Just like we have all kinds of different male superheroes, we need all kinds of different female superheroes. There isn’t just one “right” way to write a good female character and we need to let go of the idea that there is.
A girly romcom-y movie about Black Widow would be ridiculous, because that’s not the sort of character Black Widow is. But Supergirl, from what little I knew about her before I started watching the show, is a much more light-hearted character. A girlier, more optimistic show for her is more fitting. Black Widow and Supergirl are not the same type of character, and they need narrative tones that reflect who they are and those are of course going to be very different.
On top of the Supergirl trailer’s unfortunate timing, it also had a disadvantage of being the first show with a female superhero leading it (I mean, there was Agent Carter, but as wonderful as Peggy is she doesn’t technically count as a superhero in the usual sense). So, of course people were going to be hypercritical of it from the beginning, and having the first female superhero show be so unabashedly girly would probably raise a few eyebrows.
But like I said, what’s important to me is variety. We need light and fun like Supergirl, we need dark and intense like Jessica Jones, and we need everything in between. And I hope we’ll get more and more adaptations with female superheroes, and I hope we’ll see all different types of characters, and of course it’s okay for people to prefer one character type or tone over another, but it doesn’t mean that’s the only right way of doing it.
If people just aren’t into Supergirl, I get that. It’s not going to be for everyone. For my part though, I really love this show. I like that it’s light and fun while still being smart and emotional and thought-provoking, it’s a welcome break from the grimdark adaptations we’ve been getting lately.
Supergirl did get off to a bit of a rocky start, but I was rooting for this show from the beginning. I wasn’t very familiar with Supergirl as a character before the show, basically all I knew about her was that she existed, but I’m so starved for female superheroes in anything that I wanted to watch this show the moment I knew it was going to be a thing. I wanted it to be good, I wanted it to do well, and I wanted it to lead to more female superheroes getting their own shows and, hopefully, their own movies.