One of the 2015 Fall TV season’s most anticipated new shows, Supergirl, hit television screens with a bang Monday night, leading the charge for a new generation of female superheroes. Glee‘s Melissa Benoist made a super-powered debut as Kara Danvers (or Zor-El, depending on who’s asking), the Kryptonian cousin of Superman, who found herself unable to resist the temptation of donning the red and blue and taking over the family business, so to speak.
In many ways, Supergirl is the show we’ve long been missing in the world of superheroes. In fact, it really has been been a long time coming–the last female superhero on the small screen was Linda Carter as Wonder Woman back in 1979. To say we were overdue is a bit of an exaggeration.
While the pilot episode did a lot of things right, as with any show, there are a few kinks to work out. In celebration of show’s premiere, we’re looking at what made the pilot soar, with a few crash landings along the way.
Soaring high: Melissa Benoist charms as the show’s leading lady
A new series can easily fail if its star can’t live up to expectations. Luckily for Supergirl, Benoist seems well equipped the bear the weight with relative ease. As a fledgling superhero, Kara has moments of deep vulnerability as well as the unyielding confidence only a Kryptonian could possess. Benoist has no trouble in that department, adding in an affable charm that makes Kara instantly likeable and easy to root for. Then again, I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising, considering the Glee‘s track record with graduating superheroes (ahem, The Flash‘s Grant Gustin).
Crash landing: The heavy-handed “girl” talk
Don’t get me wrong here–I am excited as anyone to see a superhero show starring a woman–but being hit over the head with reminders that Supergirl is (gasp!) a girl, went from sweet to awkwardly self-congratulatory very quickly. By the time they’d slipped in the waitresses’ line about there finally being a hero for her daughter to look up to, it felt like we’d been whacked over the head with it. I can only hope that moving forward the conversation will turn to Kara’s abilities as a hero rather than her gender.
Soaring high: James Olsen
Supergirl finally has a fresh take on the character of Jimmy Olsen in the form of the fantastic Mehcad Brooks. Olsen’s introduction is a terrific way to bring back elements of the original Superman story while adding new life to it through Kara. Opposed to a nerdy sidekick, the reinvented James is a cool, confident character that can act as both a liaison between Kara and Superman as well as a much needed mentor. Not to mention that Brooks and Benoist have great chemistry together. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a love connection sooner rather than later.
Soaring high: The terrific female cast
Just as we’d hoped, Supergirl boasts an outstanding female cast, from Calista Flockhart’s intimidating turn as Kara’s boss Cat Grant to Laura Benanti playing double as Kara’s Kryptonian mother and evil supervillain aunt. The most memorable honour has to go to Chyler Leigh as Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers. Romantic chemistry is one thing, but successfully pulling off a relationship between two sisters is something different altogether. Not to mention it’s an added element that we’ve never really experienced with Superman, given that Clark Kent is an only child. I’m looking forward to seeing how they explore the dynamic between them and how Kara’s superhero status may affect it.
Crash landing: Jeremy Jordan as the awkward sidekick
Anyone who has ventured into the world of Broadway in the last five years, or tuned into Season 2 of Smash, knows that Jeremy Jordan is a bonafide Broadway stud. While it’s true that in the magical world of television all teenagers have flawless skin and look about 25, it’s still hard to believe that Jordan’s Winn can’t land a date. Aside from that piece of surrealism, Winn was the least memorable character in the episode. He gave off the “nice guy” vibe a little too much, and seemed to fall into the background in comparison to James and Alex. Jordan’s got the acting chops, so let’s hope Winn improves after his rocky debut.
Soaring high: The action sequences
We can officially retire the notion that “fighting like a girl” is an insult. Kara might be timid and unassuming at the office, but once she dons her costume it’s no holds barred. That moment where she nonchalantly stood in front of a massive explosion turned Kara from a wannabe superhero to a full-on action star, and her confidence is bound to grow from here.
Soaring high: The phantom zone threats
Alien supervillains have always been a big part of the Superman lore, but most Superman origin stories tend to starts off with human threats, be it armed robbers or billionaire megalomaniacs. Thanks to her ship dragging in the worst criminals from the Phantom Zone, Kara’s journey to becoming Supergirl is already full of looming threats from around the galaxy. Which, of course, is bound to lead to a few epic battle scenes that hopefully won’t resort to a dose of unexpected Kryptonite to add a moment of tension (I’m looking at you, Smallville).
Were you impressed with Supergirl‘s premiere? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Global and CBS.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.