Following the success of Arrow and The Flash on CW, solid ratings (albeit divisive critical reception) for Gotham on Fox, and positive performance from Agents of SHIELD on ABC, it came as no surprise that America’s most-watched TV network, CBS, was be eager to add their own superhero drama. However, the choice to back a Supergirl series still came as a surprise to some – given that Superman isn’t particularly easy to adapt, even on the big screen – much less primetime TV (on a network budget). Skeptics were quick to criticize the series as a paint-by-numbers cash-crab, designed to woo female viewers who were tired of male superhero domination on TV but still relied on a heavy mix of girl-power cliches.
In the months since its announcement, Supergirl has begun to emerge as a much more thoughtful and earnest exploration of self-sacrifice and heroism, regardless of gender – a story that takes its cues from the fun and hopefulness of Richard Donner’s original Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. Still, that doesn’t mean Supergirl isn’t going to avoid potential romances; though, one of her suitors might have a super-good reason to steer clear.
In our interview at New York Comic-Con, James (aka “Jimmy”) Olsen actor Mehcad Brooks hinted at the possibility of a Kara (Melissa Benoist) and James romance – admitting there is an attraction between the two (while also teasing the could-be couple’s biggest hurdle: Superman).
“There’s definitely an attraction between the two [James and Kara] but there’s kind of a bro code with Superman. If Superman asked you to go check in on his cousin, you can’t just go hitting on Superman’s cousin, because you start getting hit on by Superman – and that’s not a good thing. He will heat vision you and freeze breath you to death.”
Some fans might still hold a candle for a “Kimmy” (“Jara”?) romance but Brooks also made it clear that Olsen’s primary goal is to support Kara – a major facet of his part in the CBS series. This isn’t the young and nerdy Jimmy that many fans will have seen in comics and in live-action; James Olsen is an older, suave, and more mature, confidant for Superman – sent help guide (not date) Kara.
“He’s very protective of her. He’s very protective but he also allows her the room to grow. Being Supergirl is just the metaphor for all of us being our higher selves. When it comes time to be a hero, when it comes time to be proud of yourself in a moment where you can choose your lower frequency or your higher frequency – and you choose your higher one, you need room to grow. But you also need support. He fits that role very well.”
That all said, as Brooks hints, there’s definitely an attraction between the two characters – meaning that a romance isn’t off the table. After all, there’s a precedent for storylines that feature a close (though not typically romantic) relationship between Jimmy and Kara. In fact, Jimmy was first responsible for introducing one version of Supergirl to DC Comics in Superman #123 (back in 1958). In the comic, which DC had used to test interest in female heroes, Olsen wishes a Super Girl into the world (thanks to a magic totem) – as a help to Superman. Unfortunately, the Super Girl is mortally wounded protecting Superman and Jimmy wishes her back out of existence.
More recently, Supergirl appeared as a love interest to “Jimmy Olsen” (Aaron Ashmore) on Smallville – after the Daily Planet photographer becomes estranged from his girlfriend Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack). That said, despite his namesake, this version of “Jimmy” is later revealed to be Henry James Olsen, the older brother of James Bartholomew Olsen. It was James Bartholomew, not Henry James, that would grow up to be the iconic Daily Planet photographer sidekick to Superman. Nevertheless, since Ashmore’s Henry was essentially Jimmy in nearly every way imaginable, until the show decided to kill Henry off as part of Sam Witwer’s jealousy-fueled Doomsday arc, fans have seen one version of a Olsen/Kara romance on screen – even if unofficially.
Ultimately, with only one Supergirl episode available to the public, we’ll have to wait for more scenes between Brooks (as Jimmy) and Benoist (as Kara) to determine whether initial attraction between the two is just a fleeting moment of humor – or hint of a more complicated relationship that CBS intends to explore in-depth. Considering the show already features a handful of eligible bachelors, such as best-friend Winslow “Winn” Schott (Jeremy Jordan) and Maxwell Lord (Peter Facinelli), there are plenty of suitors for the showrunners to develop. After all, with Laurel Lance in the first episode of Arrow who would have thought, rewinding to season 1, that Oliver and Felicity would be Starling City’s power couple?
Kara might be fated to end up with someone else (though Supergirl doesn’t have one definitive love interest in the comics), but if Brooks and Benoist have great onscreen chemistry and an interesting dynamic, would Olsen remain true to his bro code with Superman? Given all that we know about Jimmy, it’s easy to imagine Kal-El would give the pair his blessing – especially if Supergirl really is a show about an empowered heroine who makes her own choices and can take care of herself (emotionally and physically).
Supergirl premieres on CBS at 8:30pm EST on October 26th, 2015. It will air at 8pm EST on Mondays thereafter.