Supergirl - “Pilot”
Starring Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart and Jeremy Jordan
Directed by Glen Winter
Written by Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg
Airing on CBS
Review by Lan Pitts
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
With the emergence of the CW’s Arrow and The Flash, Gotham on Fox, and the upcoming DC's Legends of Tomorrow, it was time that there was room for a female-led super-show. With DC Entertainment seemingly becoming more aggressive with their live-action presence, a show like Supergirl on a major network like CBS is exactly what they needed. The campaign for the show went viral with star Melissa Benoist posing with young girls in her costume and being portrayed as the opposite of Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel, truly showing that the S-crest still really does mean “hope.” It’s a solid start to what could be a new fan favorite, but has a few issues that need to be ironed out.
Once the exposition gets out of the way, explaining how Kara actually made her way to Earth, with nods to Superman mythos like Lois and Clark alum Dean Cain and former film Supergirl Helen Slater, you’ll notice that the presentation is completely different from the aforementioned shows. It plays out a little bit too much like The Devil Wears Prada at first, with mousy Benoist’s Kara playing to Calista Flockhart’s Kat Grant, with Kara just wanting to have a normal life. However, when Kara’s sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) is in a plane accident, Kara sheds that ideology and saves the plane, making herself known to the world. “I embraced who I am, and I don’t want to stop,” she says to her best friend and co-worker Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan).
Benoist, who was primarily known for her stints on Glee before donning the cape and crest, excels at both parts of Kara’s personality. She’s determined, but humble and eager to help those in need. The montage of her first day on the job handling car chases and bank robberies is entertaining enough as she starts to figure out her limits is a nice touch. Better yet, Benoist does it with a smile. Even though she’s hesitant about the actual prefix usage of “Super,” she tries to live up the mantle and her cousin’s name.
There’s a moment where Kara gets a message from her long-dead mother Alura Zor-El that’s strongly reminiscent of any moment that Clark has had with Jor-El, but it essentially explains that her path should not be compared to her cousin’s. Supergirl is entirely her own show , so you shouldn’t expect a lot of Superman cameos, but maybe a few Easter eggs sprinkled in and winks along the way. Benoist is surrounded by some incredible talent, including a more mature and grown-up James “Don’t Call Me Jimmy” Olsen.
Yet there are a few bits that slow Supergirl down. The climactic fight scene with Vartox (who is much less Zardoz in this interpretation) is slightly clunky, lacking some of the intensity that Arrow and Flash has shown us. Additionally, while this is the beginning of her heroic journey, I hope to see Kara done with her doubting phase sooner rather than later - it might be rough to get a full season of her constantly flip-flopping on whether or not she should be doing this in the first place. Hopefully, as we see her come into her own, we'll see Supergirl own her destiny than be insecure about it each week.
Despite that, Supergirl’s pilot felt more cohesive and stronger in presentation than both Arrow’s and Flash’s, but that could be chalked up to a possible bigger budget and bigger stars attached. It’s a solid enough pilot that I want to see where this goes from here, particularly how Kara deals with her long-lost aunt, who happens to be a Kryptonian general who wants her niece dead and Earth conquered. Supergirl is fun, and doesn’t feel as though it has a long way to go for it to grow on me.