[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Supergirl‘s premiere episode]
Forget added bonuses or extra bits of trivia for devoted fans – these days, a comic book adaptation on film or TV simply must include plenty of easter eggs and nods to the original comics to get a passing grade. And with the series premiere of Supergirl now aired, we can say it certainly didn’t disappoint. The CBS series will be making some significant changes to the accepted Superman mythology, but that doesn’t mean they forget to pay homage to the creators, writers and artists who helped Supergirl find her way in the DC Universe.
There’s a good chance that even eagle-eyed fans may have missed one or two of the DC Comics easter eggs scattered throughout the pilot episode (considering the rest of the action taking place), but our list of easter eggs should be just as entertaining to casual viewers. And if you feel like a second viewing of the premiere is in order, then there’s no better excuse!
We hope you enjoy our look at the Supergirl Premiere: 12 Easter Eggs You Missed.
The series opens on a familiar scene: baby Kal-El being stowed away on a rocket bound for Earth, as the planet Krypton is just minutes away from total destruction. The dress of the alien humanoids should be familiar to long time fans of Superman in live-action, since Kara’s white robe (emblazoned with the signature ‘S’ insignia) is a clear nod to Richard Donner’s original Superman (1978), as is the ‘S’ logo being a symbol to represent the entire family. Where Marlon Brando’s costume used an ‘S’ that strongly resembled that worn by George Reeves in the original Superman TV series, the ‘S’ on Kara’s chest is pulled right from the modern comic book page.
It wasn’t long after the first rumors broke of actress Helen Slater (Supergirl) and actor Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) joining the pilot in ‘top secret’ cameos, that we hoped they would be playing Kara’s adopted parents, The Danvers, and the inclusion of two former live-action Superman Family members even tops the original Flash John Wesley Shipp returning as Barry Allen’s father on The CW. After appearing as Kara in the failed Supergirl spinoff of Christopher Reeve’s film series, Slater appeared on Smallville as Lara, Kal-El’s mother. Cain fared better on Lois & Clark, but worse on Smallville, playing an organ-hungry immortal surgeon.
It took Supergirl fans by surprise when it was revealed that Kara would be working alongside a man by the name of Winslow “Wynn” Schott (Jeremy Jordan). – better known to comic fans as Toyman, a supervillain. Even stranger was that Schott wouldn’t be fighting Kara, but helping her become a superhero. The show’s version of the character is obviously a friendlier one, with his name simply meant as a nod to the comics – but it’s not the only one. Schott may not be building an army of crazed toys, but his desk is covered with seemingly placid ones.
The disaster that finally forces Kara into action may seem a bit familiar to Superman fans, since the need to keep a damaged airplane in the air – especially with a loved one is on board – was also the Man of Steel’s first rescue in the film Superman Returns (2006). In that movie, the rescue was meant to be a throwback to the hero’s debut in the comics continuity (in John Byrne’s origin/reboot, “Man of Steel”). The same idea seems to be at work here, with James Olsen even calling out the resemblance confirming that the classic Superman origin is also the one at work in the show.
Otto Binder Bridge
Of course, Kara doesn’t just have to deal with a crashing airliner, but a bridge too. She saves the day by angling the plane between the bridge’s supports, but a news report later that night also claims she may be as much of a “wrecking ball” as a guardian angel. Pay close attention to the news ticker at the bottom of the screen, and you’ll notice that her heroics took place over the Otto Binder Bridge – named for the comic writer who first created the caped, Kryptonian version of Supergirl in the Action Comics storyline “The Supergirl From Krypton” (1959).
It has to be something of an honor to be the first villain defeated by a budding superhero. If that’s the case, then the Supergirl premiere might be the most honorable appearance of Vartox ever seen. The alien character from the comics is notably different than the ax-wielding alien played by Owain Yeoman, originally inspired by Sean Connery’s role in the sci-fi/fantasy Zardoz (1974). Thankfully, the villain’s outrageous fashion sense and flair for debauchery was tossed aside. The new version may be more forgettable, but naming such a generic enemy after such a strange being shows there are still fans at the helm of the show.
Kara didn’t land on her final costume right off the bat, instead showing that Schott isn’t always an innocent minded friend to his co-worker (with whom he is also in love). The first costume Kara dons is actually a nod to the costume troubles that have plagued the comic version of Supergirl since her introduction, changing with the times and often straying into… experimental territory. The headband, for instance, is a nod to the 1980s costume – the one worn when Kara sacrificed herself during “Crisis on Infinite Earths” – and the bare midriff and hot pants have also been hotly debated outfits in the time since. Melissa Benoist’s expression says it all.
6th and Sprang
The nods to the original comics writers don’t stop there. When Kara and Wynn start looking for crimes in progress, an armed robbery is heard over a police scanner, taking place at West National City Bank, located at the corner of “6th and Sprang.” That’s almost certainly a reference to comic artist Dick Sprang, who made his name on “Batman” titles beginning in 1941. Although he didn’t receive clear credit for his work at the time, Sprang has become known as “the good Batman artist” in the crimefighter’s early career, and also provided art for the first issue introducing a prototype Supergirl (in this case, a dreamed-up partner for Superman, spawned from the mind of Jimmy Olsen).
Gates and Igle
The pair soon move from armed robbery to a building on fire. Kara never makes it to the blaze, since she’s hit with kryptonite darts and captured by the DEO before she can arrive. But when the fire is first reported over the radio, it’s address is stated to be at the corner of “Gates and Igle” – named for writer Sterling Gates and artist Jamal Igle, two masterminds of yet another acclaimed run of “Supergirl” comics in the modern era.
When Kara learns just how many incarcerated aliens escaped on Earth when her ship crash landed, fans are given a good look at the DEO’s observation screens, keeping tabs on several of the at-large aliens. Speculation and investigation into the figures displayed started immediately, with many pointing to the pinkish brute as a possible version of Despero (minus the headfin), a powerful telepathic conqueror who has gone toe to toe with the Justice League on more than one occasion. It’s impossible to guess which of these creatures are simply placeholders, and which are truly going to appear in the show, but viewers will probably be returning to the above image more than a few times in the future.
Who says only the comics and movies get alluded to in comic book TV these days? Apparently, much, much more of Superman’s fictional history is canon in the world of Supergirl than fans would have assumed, since Wynn asks Kara if “the Super Friends are back.” Does it mean the animated series starring Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the Wonder Twins also took place while Kara was living in secret with the Danvers? Only time will tell…
It’s difficult to know just how much comic book mythology has gone into the show’s version of Allura, Kara’s mother. In the comics, Allura has been killed on Krypton, survived in the bottle city of Kandor, led a pro-Kryptonian movement on Earth, and even freed some of Superman’s greatest enemies from the Phantom Zone. The introduction of her twin sister in the episode’s closing scene is something new, but the idea of a power-hungry and potentially misguided woman – who looks an awful lot like Supergirl’s mother – isn’t. Bonus points to Wynn Schott, however, for replicating Kara’s mother’s belt before she received the hologram message from her sister Alex.
Next: Supergirl Premiere Review: Up, Up, and Okay!
Those are the references to classic comics and creators we spotted in the first episode, but if you know of any we missed, be sure to name them in the comments! Hopefully a few more will be dropped in the coming episodes, so are there any villains or heroes you would most like to see join the series?
Supergirl airs Mondays @8pm on CBS.