Supergirl returns for its fifth season with some big changes: a new suit, a bigger cast, and the departure of a series original. This all comes after the season four finale surprised everyone with the reveal of Leviathan - the same criminal group currently the focus of the Event Leviathan comic book event. Although it does impart a bit of synerrgy within the DC umbrella, each is its "own thing" according to the show's executive producters.
"We are just doing our own thing," said co-showrunner Robert Rovner. "We are inspired by that, but as we always do - we are gifted these great characters from DC to be able to use and play with them as we like. We incorporate them into the stories we are telling."
The stories they will be telling in the new season debuting October 6 is more focused on relationships and escapism, with last season's political leanings fading to the background - although with some lingering effects.
"That’s what organically brought us into the technology because we felt like there was a lot of work to do to rebuild the society and the nation," said co-showrunner Jessica Queller. "It’s so overwhelming like it is to many of us today that sometimes you want to escape and hide and that’s what technology provides."
One thing Supergirl is't hiding is the new suit worn by the titular star, Melissa Benoist.
"I love the new suit. I think the skirt - I was so happy with it," Benoist said. "Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell have had new iterations of their suits every season, and I never felt the need until we were up in Vancouver and it was very cold. This just feels like the right evolution for Supergirl and Kara. It feels really powerful, more modern, and adult. So, I’m really happy about it."
Along with a new suit, Benoist will be trying on a new role this season - as director.
"I’ve been shadowing some of our directors. I shadowed the prep weeks prior to our first episode, and I think every actor should do prep even if they aren’t going to direct," the actor said. "It gives you a whole new respect for everyone you work with. You see how much of a chess game production is. How complicated it is. How much it takes to make the show we make every two weeks."
Executive producer Sarah Schechter said it was a challenge for the show's lead to schedule time to learn to direct without pulling them from appearing in an episode, but they wokred out a schedule to make it work.
"Melissa expressed an interest in directing a while ago and generally Greg and I are super supportive of our actors and crew members who want to direct, but we just ask that they really do the work to be prepared," said Schechter. "It’s hard when someone is the lead of the show so we have to wait for the beginning of the season or the end of the season so she could really shadow prep and post without having to write her out of an episode. Shadowing sounds simple, but you are really locked at the hip of the director, watching everything they do as they prepare. Melissa is going to kill it. She’s going to do a great job."
At Comic-Con International: San Diego, Mehcad Brooks announced he would be leaving Supergirl this season, and as he tells Newsarama it's "been harder" than he thought.
"I mean I knew I was going to miss everybody, but as that impending deadline approaches it’s tough," Brooks said. "I’m going to cry at some point. I can feel it. So, I’m just trying to drink a lot of water. I have never been part of a show where the cast and much of the crew get along as much as we all do. It’s just family."
Joining the Supergirl family is Andrea Brooks, who has been promoted from guest star to series regular this year with her Eve Teschmacher role.
"She’s very mysterious. I know when we left off, she’s in quite a pickle at that bus stop. So, she has to make some decisions," Brooks said. "Is she going to double down, hide, runaway? Is she going to go in and beg for forgiveness? Is she going to confront her past? She has many pasts and many different layers to her past. We all know Leviathan is going to be explored further, and we are going to take a deep dive into her history a bit more. She’s an enigma. She’s a complicated, complex character. I adore this character. She’s my favorite character I’ve ever played."
In the fourth season, Lena Luthor (played by Katie McGrath) learned Supergirl's secret identity, and the consequences of that revelation will play out in a big way wtih this upcoing season.
"She’s the last to know. We’re not that far in. We’ve only started filming a couple of episodes. So, with 20 episodes to go you have a long journey to plot. We are in our fifth season. We’ve been building up to this. It’s a huge moment," McGrath told Newsarama. "The idea for Lena is what does this do to you as a person when you realize that not only your best friend has been lying to you but everyone has kept this truth from you and how that makes you feel separate."
"I think the Lena you see at the end of Season 4 hasn’t really thought of it yet. She’s just basically trying to survive," the actor continued. "We don’t pick up that far ahead in Season 5. We are about a month later, and I think she’s still coming to terms with this desperate great deep hurt. In typical Luthor fashion she doesn’t decide to go to therapy. She thinks the answer is that she has to save humanity because we don’t think small. Luthors dream big."
Speaking of dreaming big, Jesse Rath (who plans Brainiac 5) is hoping for more Legion of Super-Heroes characters to join - with one specific one in mind.
"I want a Bouncing Boy. I always talk about him, and people always laugh at me, but I’m telling you this character is amazing. Yes, he can turn into a big bouncing ball, but there’s more to him than that," Rath said with a laugh. "I want to see a Lightning Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, Lightning Lass, or Cosmic Boy would be cool too. I want the whole Legion – a spin-off."
Those heroes could very well show up in this fall's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event with Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. David Harewood, who plays Martian Manhunter, is excited for the possibilities.
"I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be awesome. I’m sure you know we have two Supermen, which is great. Brandon Routh to put the suit on again must be awesome," Harewood said. "I actually really enjoyed him as Superman so I’m looking forward to seeing him again and I love Tyler. I think what he brings to the role is fantastic."
One thing that series star Melissa Benoist doesn't want to happen in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is what happened to her character in the original comic book event: dying.
"I hope what happens in the comic books does not happen to me," Benoist said. " I don’t anticipate it happening though."