After finding great success on the small screen with their CW shows Arrow and The Flash – and to a lesser degree Fox’s Gotham – Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment will next bring Supergirl to CBS this fall. And while our first look at Melissa Benoist in costume was generally well received, the first footage we saw from Supergirl – a six minute preview shown at this year’s CBS upfront presentation – received a more mixed reaction.
Still, there’s every reason to believe Supergirl has the potential to be a smash hit for CBS: it brings something new and different to the growing landscape of superhero television shows, not to mention that most of those people responsible for the CW’s slate of hit superhero programming are also involved in Supergirl.
Given that talent behind the show, DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer and celebrated writer Geoff Johns has faith in the series, explaining to IGN that the initial reactions are less important to him than the opinions of viewers who will see the show for themselves:
“Everyone deserves to have a reaction, but at the end of the day, I believe in the pilot, I believe in the show. When people see the pilot, they’re going to be blown away.”
The pilot actually leaked in its entirety not too long after its first trailer premiered, and reactions among those who actively sought out the pilot were, again, split between those optimistic, and those still viewing the project with doubts. Obviously, there were still vocal critics of the pilot, but it isn’t as if the series is being as universally hated as the disastrous Wonder Woman pilot from 2011.
But for those still on the fence, or even those who have written off the adaptation of a superpowered character to TV – especially one that embraces a lighter tone – Johns compares the criticism of Supergirl to that of The Flash before it premiered to rave reviews – a connection that’s more than rhetoric, considering that producer Greg Berlanti is leading both charges (as made evident on a recent cover of Variety):
“When they first saw his suit, when we cast Grant, people were like, ‘That’s not the Flash!’ and now people are like, ‘Oh my god, he is the Flash!’ I’m so proud of that show and — in so many ways the Flash was my favorite character growing up — to see it realized and to see people embracing it. And it truly is a Flash TV show, we’re not shying away from anything. We jokingly said, yeah we’re doing Gorilla Grodd and I think people were like, ‘Okay…’ Yeah, no, we’re doing Gorilla Grodd! And we’ve got a lot of great plans for Supergirl in the same vein as that.”
Obviously no television show – and especially no comic book television show – will ever be without its critics. Once Supergirl is finally airing on a weekly basis, it may turn out to be disappointing in every possible way… we just won’t know until we watch it.
Johns also reiterates that Supergirl is being aimed at a different target audience than basically every other superhero show on television: young girls.
“I’ve got to say I’m excited for girls to see it. I have nieces that are seven and eight and they’re going to be able to watch the show with my brother and his wife and I think they’ll love it.
“I’m just really excited that we have a female superhero that’s so iconic and strong. We’re so overdue for a female-centric superhero show that’s really good. We’re going to try to execute to the best of our ability and we’ve got great people we’re working with and I’m really excited about it. It’s really important; it’s an important show for us.”
In the end, Supergirl won’t be for everyone, but as superheroes continue to be television’s fastest-growing genre, it’s nice to see a littler variety among the offerings. Perhaps with time, the idea of a superhero show that prioritizes putting a woman in the spotlight – not a superhero show that happens to star a woman – will be more intriguing to skeptics.
Supergirl will premiere on CBS in November 2015.