Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is the new Supergirl sensational or superficial?

There was quite a comic book fan buzz last week as the first trailer for the upcoming Supergirl series on CBS was released. Many people were thrilled to see what appears to be a female friendly take on the superheroine while others frowned upon the light hearted elements added to the character.

A few days later, I'm still not satisfied with this approach to Supergirl,aka Kara Danvers(why not Linda Lee Danvers, at least, like in the earlier comic books?). To be fair, the action sequences look great and having a more mature and confident Jimmy("Call me James") Olsen on board is the perfect bridge to bring this into the Superman saga.

However, the whole "Devil Wears Prada" take on Cat Grant(who is a bitchy Lois Lane rival) with Kara being the bumbling assistant just feels like the wrong note to play. Also, the rom-com set-up with her office buddy,including a "oh, you must be gay,that's why you're not attracted to me!" joke leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Seriously, that kind of humor would even make the campy ladies of 2 Broke Girls shake their heads in disgust at such lameness.

Maybe I'm being too picky but a lot of this trailer reminds me of the recent SNL parody of a possible Black Widow movie and that's not the pop culture reference that I think the folks behind this show want to come to mind for their potential viewers:

Supergirl has had a history of being lost in translation when it comes to adaptation as the 1984 major motion picture version of her proves in abundance. While it is kitschy of the new show to have Helen Slater make an appearance in the pilot(along with Dean Cain), it's not the best reminder either.

 Not only was it a major flop at the box office, it earned a couple of Razzie nominations and is considered one of the low points of the Superman film franchise. Don't get me wrong, I do like Supergirl: The Movie but for all the wrong reasons.

It's very cartoony, packed with a Love Boat set of stars such as Peter O'Toole, Mia Farrow and a even more campy than she is in Mommie Dearest Faye Dunaway. The movie does have it's charms yet is far from a good introduction to the character:

Her previous small screen showcase was on Smallville, where Kara arrived in season seven as a lost in space new arrival to Earth. There was a nice quirky tone taken with the character at first but as time went on, it seemed like the series didn't know quite what to do with her.

Eventually she was shipped off to the Phantom Zone, making a final appearance toward the end of the show's run. I did enjoy having Kara on the scene but she did lead to my quitting the series.

The story line had her father show up in the Fortress of Solitude with an evil scheme that lead to a battle that landed Kara in Detroit with a case of amnesia. I'm sorry but in Detroit with amnesia?! That was just too random. I did try for a couple of more episodes after that but the thrill was gone for me there:

 Fortunately, the animated versions of Supergirl have given her a better stage for her talents. From her debut in Superman: The Animated Series to her appearances on Justice League Unlimited and in full length animated features such as Superman: Unbound, she has depicted as smart,capable and determined to contribute to the good fight.

I really wish that some of the live action adapters of not only Supergirl but other comic book creations would take a few cues from the folks making the animated versions. The people putting out these series have even more restrictions placed on them than movie studios and standard TV networks do(since cartoons are made and marketed for both adult and kid audiences) and yet they manage to not dumb down the characters as well as give solid showcases for their emotional weaknesses and strengths:

Look, I would love to be wrong about the new Supergirl series and have it be a big success as a bold step forward for fans old and new. However, I can't shake off this bad feeling that the trailer has left me with so easily.

I know that many of the online onlookers are countering this displeasure with their version of "Why so serious?" I'm not asking for Supergirl to be all gloom and doom, I would just like her to be given the same respect as The Flash, for example. That show has a good positive tone to it that helps to enhance the characters not subject them to worn out stereotypes in order to be considered "likable."

Ironically enough, one of the producers on Supergirl also handles the Flash and Arrow, both of which are making strides for the DC universe on the small screen. There was hope for crossover potential with Supergirl and the CW team but it's been placed on the back burner so far. Frankly, I would be more confident about Supergirl if the trailer resembled anything like the one put out for the 2016 superhero series, DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

Now, that show looks amazing! Action packed, a nice mix of heroes and villains and two formidable females(Hawkgirl and White Canary) included on the team. It's not quite the Justice League but it's a start. If Supergirl were being handled in the same way, the shouts for joy would drown out any whispers of doubt-alas, the joy and the sorrow are in equal measure here:

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