It’s a bird! It’s a plane! What it is not is Superman.
The new series is based on the premise that the Krypton native has resisted using her superpowers growing up and now has begun to embrace them as she protects her earthly home, National City, from both alien and human criminal activity.
Since her cousin is Superman and she has many of the same incredible powers, the question is, why is she not Superwoman, rather than Supergirl?
That’s an issue that’s openly discussed among the characters in a very pointed manner in the series pilot. Executive Producer Greg Berlanti explains, “That speech was in the original pitch for the show. We really wanted to be protective of the name of the show. We wanted to have a conversation with our characters that we believed the audience would be having, and that others might be having.”
While Supergirl is exploring her newfound powers she’s also living as her alter-ego, Kara Danvers, a mild mannered low-level employee at a multimedia corporation. To find the balance showing that Kara is a both a grounded young woman and a super hero, producer Ali Adler says that the creative team employed a unique technique. ““We always talk about this character as if she didn’t have superpowers. How would she approach a given situation if she was just like you or me, but she has this bonus skill set? That’s really how we look at each villain of the week or problems in her emotional or romantic life. We definitely look at it with the perspective of being powerless, and what her powers then bring to it.”
Supergirl will need to learn to use her powers quickly as she’ll face off with a variety of villains, as producer Andrew Kreisberg points out that she’ll have her hands full this season. “We always have a traditional ‘Big Bad’ for the season, this sort of uber-villain who is setting the plan in motion,” Kreisberg said. “But there’ll also be villains of the week.”
The producers point out that Supergirl certainly isn’t alone her endeavor, she’s surrounded by others who help her understand her newfound role.
“I think something that separates Superman from Supergirl is that he’s sort of autonomous,” producer Ali Adler said. “Something that we’re really proud of is that this really is not just about a woman that’s readily able to accept help, but also Kara learning how to hone her powers, how to be herself and how to stay attached to the people that she’s protecting. Having said that, Kara has very differentiated parts of her world – her professional life, her personal life, her Supergirl life, – and part of the fun of the show is that she’s keeping things separate as best she can, but as the show moves forward they start to bleed into one another in fun complicating ways.”
The rapid pace of the series is a necessity say Kreisberg, “We know that at any given moment there’s a film or a TV show about the Dark Knight or Thor or another superhero so you can get your kicks in a lot of places. That means we have to provide something special and singular every week to keep people entertained so things have to move fast. Adler jumps in to say, “This is not ‘Relaxed Girl,’ this is ‘Supergirl!”
Series star Melissa Benoist adds, “It’s challenging because it’s like we’re making a movie every week.” But she admits that she wouldn’t have it any other way, saying, “It’s a beautiful story to tell in a sometimes scary world. I just want people to have fun watching the show and really enjoy watching Kara’s journey. She kicks some serious ass!”
Kreisberg wants viewers to know that although there are villains who put Supergirl and others in danger, the series isn’t dark or grim. “There’s something about Supergirl that represents light and hope in people. It’s important for our time and our world.” To which Adler adds, “And it’s important to note that the qualities of hope and strength and courage are genderless, so we hope to inspire both men and women with the stories we tell.”
Now, Supergirl is really ready to fly, as Benoist admits, “Yeah, if I had to choose one superpower, I’d want to fly. Hands down that’s the one I would want.”
Supergirl is getting the opportunity to lift off soon, whether she’ll truly soar is now up to the audience.
Supergirl premieres Monday at 8:30pm on CBS. The series regular timeslot will be Mondays at 8pm.