Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) is Supergirl, a young Kryptonian woman living in secret in National City, where she works as a P.A for the head of media conglomerate CatCo. The upcoming CBS show will see Kara thrust into the role of a superhero – and into the limelight – when she takes flight to save her city from disaster and save her sister’s life.
From creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow, The Flash) and Chuck producer Ali Adler, Supergirl is a bold move to inject more strong female characters into the comics-based TV genre and fill the gender void female audiences have been asking for. The show will take the opportunity to deliver a message about female strength and coming of age through the concept of power and identity. Kara must make the choice to “Be Super,” taking her destiny into her own hands. Nods to this message from the previous trailers have included a joke about Supergirl’s sexy and impractical original costume, and a speech from Calista Flockhart’s character, Cat Grant, defending the use of ‘girl’ instead of ‘woman’
With only a few weeks to go before Supergirl‘s October premiere, CBS has been stepping up the marketing campaign. The network has just released a fresh trailer, encouraging viewers to “Be Super”. This trailer takes a more melancholy tone than the previous clips we have been shown. Kara has been presented so far as a tenacious yet charmingly goofy young woman, motivated by the draw of her superhuman abilities and newfound desire to save lives. The scenes shown with her strong female influences – her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) and boss – allude to a younger sister element to her character, whose innocence must be shed to unlock her true potential. The trailer drives this point home with the somber piano score and clips we have seen before, edited differently to reflect the difficulty and sacrifice that comes with becoming a hero.
Although Berlanti and Kreisberg have promised the inclusion of other powered characters within the Supergirl comic, the show will not rely on the presence of Kara’s famous cousin Superman (although he will mentor from afar).
Adjusting the tone to hone in on Kara’s weaknesses provides a necessary contrast to the empowering message the marketing has been capitalizing on. The proven reason that the young, evil-fighting female superhero formula works is the juxtaposition between courage and vulnerability. The brutal fight between Supergirl and Vartox drives this home; it is the failures and struggles that will give this alien heroine the human complexity the audience needs to be rooting for her when she gets up to bravely try again.
With the premiere date looming it will be interesting to finally see whether Supergirl has the factors needed to impress the genre’s existing audience and attract the desired demographic needed to be a success. The marketing is certainly working hard to show the series is as multifaceted as it will need to be to achieve this goal.
Supergirl premieres on CBS at 8:30pm EST on October 26th, 2015. It will air at 8pm EST on Mondays thereafter.