Margaret: What we’re talking about is our expectations going into the Supergirl pilot – what we want and what we are afraid of. I feel like my fear which I talked about before the trailer is that they’re making this into “Yay! Girl Power!” which is never girl power – it is always just talking about how women are different from men – and I’m worried that is what they are going to focus on rather than having an interesting character story about Kara just being a person and trying to learn how she deals with these powers. Instead, it is going to be all about the “girl” in “Supergirl.” I want this to be more about identity and not just about being a woman/girl and I hope the people who are having the problem communicating that are the marketing people and not the showrunners.
Syd: What I kind of am fearing more than anything else is that this won’t be about Kara at all – that this will be about the world she’s living in and that the series will be more about the larger DC brand than any real characters. I’m reminded of something that drove home this problem for me when they did a storyline where Supergirl became a Red Lantern and – this is a problem with shared universes in general – I can no longer avoid stories I hate by not reading them.
Margaret: I don’t know what a Red Lantern is. I’m assuming it has something to do with the Laterns?
Syd: The Red Lanterns were something Geoff Johns introduced in his run on Green Lantern along with various other coloured Lanterns and it was dumb as hell and I don’t want to talk about it. It made me never want to read a Green Lantern comic again, but then it showed up in Supergirl and I realized that a shared universe means that you can’t just enjoy the adventures of characters you like. What I hope is that they build their own world around Kara without constantly making reference to Superman and Justice League stories.
Margaret: That’s interesting because I watch both The Flash and Arrow and they have a shared timeline where the stories are all happening at the same time. They show up in each other’s shows randomly without announcement as well as have crossover episodes, but it requires a strange suspension of disbelief, because The Flash is all about superhumans and metahumans and why aren’t they showing up in Starling City where there’s no Flash? It drives me crazy. Why would they all just stay in this city where there’s somebody who’s superfast who can stop them? Why don’t they go to other places where there are no superheroes? Then it gets even worse because in this next season, they have this huge crisis that is happening where time portals are opening up that are melding between different timelines and universes but right now it’s only around Central City, so it’s only affecting The Flash, but you would think that somebody like The Green Arrow would want to know about something like that. But, of course, his show can’t talk about that or else that would be all that show would be about, too and then you don’t have two separate shows. It’s become a thing where shared universes weird me out. It’s the same thing with the Avengers in Marvel, because you have to ask – wouldn’t the Avengers assemble for when the entire world is under attack by dark elves?
Syd: I love that the first reference you made was to a movie I didn’t watch. I’m assuming that’s a Thor movie?
Margaret: Yes, it was in Thor: The Dark World.
Syd: Well, I never saw that movie and what I love about the Marvel movies is that if I miss one, I can still follow the story of the next one. As much as people complain about the continuity of shared universes, that is how you should do it. What’s interesting about Supergirl is that it’s on CBS and CBS does not have any other superhero TV shows, so you would think that they wouldn’t have to connect this series to any other one.
Margaret: And they said that they’re not going to.
Syd: Then why did they cast Maxwell Lord and Cat Grant and Hank Henshaw? They aren’t from Supergirl comics! When I was reading the casting announcements, it was like they announced an X-Men series with all of your favourites: Wolverine! Captain Marvel! Spider-Man! Mr. Fantastic! Rocket Raccoon! Robin! Except that’s not as bad because all of those characters have actually appeared in X-Men comics. I want the characters in this series to relate back to Supergirl and not to Superman and the Justice League.
Margaret: I think the problem you’re going to find is the same as with Arrow. I’ve heard so many people complain about the fact that Arrow is Batman with Arrows and he isn’t The Green Arrow. He’s basically a stand-in because they couldn’t get permission for a Batman TV show, but they wanted to cash in on the whole Batman/Dark Knight sort of thing. They’re like, “Hey! He’s a rich guy who has a dark past and he becomes a vigilante. Yeah, he shoots arrows, but whatever.” And so they basically made Arrow into Batman, and they make fun of that on the show – he has an Arrow Cave, but Oliver Queen won’t call it “The Arrow Cave.”
Syd: Wait! The Arrow Cave was a thing in the comics!
Margaret: Oh, then it’s fine.
Syd: Say what you will about Green Arrow stealing ideas from Batman, I think the “Arrow Plane” is great and makes so much more sense than the “Bat Plane.” But I see the point that Arrow and Batman can be logically used interchangably.
Margaret: The same way, from the point of view of someone who has never read the comics, really, I won’t say that Supergirl and Superman are interchangable, but they are both incredibly idealistic characters who believe in the best in people and want to find ways to fix things without hurting people and make the world better. I can see how the same guy who decided, “Oh, everyone knows and likes Batman – we can make Green Arrow an analog for Batman,” could try to do the same thing with Supergirl. Everybody knows Superman and his ideals, so they might just want to use that to make his cousin popular. Green Arrow, as far as I know, was not that popular before the show.
Syd: Actually, Green Arrow has a huge cult following and in recent years, I have gotten sick of people talking about Green Arrow – not to the extent that I’m sick of hearing about Batman, but still. As far as Supergirl goes, if you wanted to make a gender-flipped version of Superman, I might not have a huge problem with that. The problem is that I want the characters in the story to be geared for the sort of story they’re in. The obvious example is Cat Grant. From the trailer, it looks like they’re using Cat Grant as J. Jonah Jameson and I think that’s great. You see, Cat Grant was introduced as a gossip columnist at the Daily Planet who hit on Clark Kent, to contrast Lois Lane, who ostensibly loved Superman but not Clark Kent, but by the time Cat was introduced in the 80s, the readers had been on board with Lois and Clark as a couple for decades. So, this show took the name and nothing else and turned Cat Grant into a character who plays off of Kara, and now the character could work in a way that she completely didn’t for Superman. Of course, they didn’t need to call the character Cat Grant, except to have a reference to something the audience has heard of. They could have called her anything else.
Margaret: I understand what you’re saying, but at the same time, comics have a wealth of names of two-bit characters that they are never ever ever going to use in movies or anything else. I can understand the ideal of trying to make the main characters who they are in the comics, but with somebody, as you said, whose only purpose is to serve as a foil for Lois Lane, and to take her essence as a journalist and make her not a sort of misogynistic idea of a third wheel but a foil and a mentor to Supergirl, I actually like that.
Syd: So, I guess, I’m ready for the show to stand on its own, with its own interpretations of characters and their world.
Margaret: Right, and whether it’s going to try and do that by throwing the Kryptonian baby out with the bathwater and go full Superman stand-in or respect the Supergirl source material. Either way, I hope that the show does well. It’s about time that there was a female superhero with a full season, not just 8 episode mini series like the excellent Agent Carter.
Syd: Well, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.