The pilot episode of Supergirl 'leaked' online a couple of weeks back, so does the Girl of Steel fly high, or falter on takeoff?
Around this time last year the pilot episode for The Flash leaked online about 5 months before it was due to debut on US network television. Instead of destroying any buzz the show was slowly creating it only added to it. In droves! It also silenced many of the critics who had complained about an ex-Glee cast member destroying their favourite DC Comics comic-book character.
Twelve months later and the same team who bought you The Flash are now facing the exact same concerns from many about their latest DC Comics comic-book adaptation. And whadda you know? Someone has leaked the pilot episode! The producers must be soooooo mad.
Whether this was a planned leak or not will likely never be confirmed either way, but if it was planned then it was a smart move. Any concerns that anyone may have had over casting Melissa Benoist as the title character are completely unfounded. She rises to the challenges of portraying a duel identity role, equally as comfortable as the goofy, awkward Kara Danvers, as she is as the action hero Supergirl.
This is no drawn out origin series either. Before we're half way through this episode Supergirl is suited and booted and taking to the skies. A wise move which will likely please those who sat through 10 years of Smallville for 2 minutes of cape and flight. And it's really that series which Supergirl will be compared to, rather than Arrow or The Flash, and not just because of the House of El connection.
Supergirl is a series of discovery, as the 24 year old Kara finds herself and her place in the world. Who even needs a Supergirl when there's a 'Man' doing the job just fine? And that's why she'd been suppressing her Kryptonian powers and living as a regular person in National City, taking a thankless job as Cat Grant's assistant at media conglomerate CatCo. Her childhood was also about hiding her true self, largely down to her famous cousin who placed her with her adoptive parents, the Danvers.
But when her adopted sister Alex finds herself in a life threatening situation, and Kara finally releases the inner powers she's always known she had, there's no re-corking the bottle. And the ripple effect of the reveal of her true self would appear to be the set-up for at least a season long story arc.
Along with Benoist the assembled cast are largely impressive. Calista Flockhart steals many a scene as Cat Grant. Mehcad Brooks as James Olson (yes, that one) is there as a potential love interest and confident, as too is Jeremy Jordan's Winslow "Winn" Schlott. Also in on Kara's secret is her Earth sister Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh, who just happens to work
for the Department of Extra-Normal Operations who have been monitoring
super-activities. Wonder how she got her job, eh? Alex's boss Hank Henshaw may be the one weak link in the ensemble. Played by Homeland's David Harewood, I know he can do better but his portrayal here comes across as too cliched, a little bit pantomime and closer to the cheesey style of the Supergirl movie from 30 years ago.
Talking of which, in not-exactly-a-blink-and-your-miss-it-but-not-far-off moment, Kara's adoptive parents are played by 1984 Supergirl Helen Slater, and Lois and Clark Superman Dean Cain. Presumably we'll see more from them as the series progresses. And, you know, they might actually talk next time!
The special effects are very good, with the main action scenes reminiscent of both Superman Returns and Man of Steel. There are certainly 'no strings' visable, and it appears the budget has been spent very wisely. Clearly, whether this quality is kept up over the course of a 22 episode season remains to be seen, as is if the series can navigate its way through the 'freak of the week' territory which it seems to have set itself up for. I'm quietly confident it can.
In short, Supergirl is a lot of fun. A show that's definitely worth at least checking out, even if you're completely against the idea you may well be won over in this first instalment. Female superheroes have often been difficult to successfully realise on screen or in the movies, but on the strength of this 45 minutes alone it looks like Supergirl is bucking that trend, and DC Comics will have yet another big television hit when the Girl of Steel finally takes flight in November.