Supergirl’s Sinister Moms Redefine the Typical Female Villain

The CW
The CW

There’s no one quite like your mother. Moms can be absolutely amazing people who cheer us on, support us when we need it most and defend us against those who try to harm us. Plain and simple, many of us truly don’t know where we’d be without our mother. As we all prepare to celebrate the women in our lives that mean the most to us this coming Mother’s Day weekend, it’s pretty safe to say there’s some Supergirl characters who won’t be doing the same.

To say that the CW superhero show has mommy issues in Season 2 would be an understatement. While Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) are lucky to have a wonderful, accepting and loving mother in Eliza, there’s others who cannot say the same. In fact, the two Big Bads of Supergirl Season 2 are both mothers and both the kind of deliciously evil villains I love most. With Brenda Strong as Lillian Luthor, head of Project Cadmus and Teri Hatcher playing Queen Rhea of Daxam, Supergirl is once again delivering complex, sophisticated and powerful female characters to our television screen. Though they may be evil, I cannot help but love and celebrate them on Mother’s Day.

For most of the first half of Season 2, Lillian Luthor was behind much of Supergirl’s problems. After it was revealed that she was the mysterious Doctor and head of Cadmus, Lillian attempted to use familial ties, whether it be with her own daughter Lena (Katie McGrath) or the Danvers’ father Jeremiah (Dean Cain), to get what she wanted most. Lillian truly believes that her son, and clear favorite child, Lex was treated unfairly and wrongfully imprisoned, and will not stop trying to get back at those she blames for it. Lena has been the unfortunate pawn in her mother’s game and another layer to their relationship was revealed when we found out Lena was not just adopted, but the product of an affair Lionel Luthor had.

CW
CW

While Alex and Jeremiah put a temporary stop to Lillian by blowing up Cadmus’ headquarters in “Exodus,” Hatcher’s Rhea has amiably filled the void and looms as an evil force over the back half of the season. The Queen of Daxam, dead set on getting her son Mon-El (Chris Wood) to return home, Rhea solidified the fact that her evil knows no bounds when she killed her husband, King Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo), because she thought he stood in the way of her goals. She’s a clear frontrunner for worst possible mother in-law ever as well, since she loathes Kara so much that she not only put a hit out on her with some space bounty hunters, but also stabbed her with Kryptonite. Unfortunately, Lena is her new mark and Rhea is ready to play on Lena’s mommy issues in an effort to continue her evil plan to stop Kara and get Mon-El back.

Lillian and Rhea are two big bad mamma bears who will stop at nothing to protect their cubs, giving them motives that ring true and are more complex than if the show gave us a villain solely intent on wreaking havoc and bringing chaos to the world. These women are not caricatures up on screen, but rather fully fleshed out villains with a backstory that allows viewers full insight into why they do what they do. It’s a luxury not afforded to all villains, especially female villains, and yet, Supergirl also allows these women to be sinister and truly evil, which in turn has been an absolute pleasure as a viewer to watch.

CW
CW

Sinister and truly evil are not often words we associate with female villains, but Supergirl doesn’t deliver female characters that are expected. The show instead has allowed Lillian and Rhea to buck the trend that women are only good, soft and loving creatures. The playing field has been equalized through them and the show has proved that the kind of stereotypical thinking used on many female villains in the past is not representative of biological facts. Look no further than fellow comic book villains Catwoman or Harley Quinn for examples of female villains that are given backstories meant to leave us feeling sympathetic towards their actions. Selina and Harley don’t want to necessarily be evil, they were just pushed into it by their circumstances. Supergirl understands that human beings can be evil and flawed regardless of their gender.

There’s also the unwritten rule in Hollywood that when a woman reaches a certain age she’s no longer seen as desirable or watchable. Interesting roles for “older” women seem to decrease at an alarming rate, but Supergirl didn’t seem to get that memo. Both Strong and Hatcher have had long, successful careers in television, but are proving they aren’t done by any means or prepared to fall by the wayside. Yes, Rhea and Lillian may be older women, but they are a terrifying force to be reckoned with and the exact type of character television could use more of.

These Supergirl villains aren’t all about wearing tight outfits, having beautiful long hair or using their sex appeal to get what they want. Instead, they are cunning, motivated women who have a way of using their brains to outwit their opponents, preying on their weaknesses. While they may not be the best mothers out there in the traditional sense, it’s clear the love they have for their children is very real, albeit a little twisted, and more than worthy of celebrating. While we ultimately want both Lillian and Rhea to fail in their quests, one thing is very evident, both Strong and Hatcher, along with Supergirl’s writers, are going to make sure we enjoy their journey every evil step of the way!

 

What do you think of Supergirl‘s evil moms? Sound off in the comments below!

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Showcase and The CW.

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