When The CW’s success with DC Comics triggered a rush of other comic properties being adapted to the small screen, few were as much of a surprise as Supergirl. Not only was the heroine’s connection to the Man of Steel seen as problematic, but finding its home at CBS – a network not known for hour-long dramas targeting The Flash or Arrow crowd – made the show’s tone, angle, and overall identity more than a mystery.
With the pilot episode now completed, CBS has made the full season order official, confirming that Supergirl is on her way, regardless of the details. The trailer impressed those present at its media upfronts debut, and now fans can have their first look at the show as well.
Since the first reports arrived of a Supergirl TV series being led by Greg Berlanti, executive producer of both Arrow and Flash, all involved have seemed to be turning a blind eye to the skeptics (not entirely unfounded skepticism, since the idea of doing a Super-character justice on a TV budget is a tall order). But rather than worry about whether a Supergirl TV show was possible, the producers set out to see for themselves.
Finding a leading lady in Melissa Benoist (Glee) as Kara – pronounced CAR-uh – Zor-El, and bringing in CW veteran Glen Winter (and Flash showrunner Andrew Kreisberg) to establish the look and feel of Supergirl‘s pilot has clearly paid off. It may not be for every viewer (just as Kara was not for every reader), but for a show this far out from release, the special effects and sense of humor seem well-established.
Given all the shared DNA between The CW’s shared universe and Supergirl, the first trailer sending a clear message of the identity of the show isn’t too surprising. That isn’t to suggest WB is planning to mix these properties in either the short or long term, but now that the strategy for adapting a DC Comics superhero has been set, it appears CBS is looking to replicate the success, not blaze an entirely new trail. Even so, Supergirl seems to be notably different from her DC siblings.
As is, sadly, the case, simply placing a young woman at the heart of a bona fide DC Comics superhero story is a refreshing change. And even if CBS is best known for their scripted dramas targeting older audiences, there’s little doubt that a younger audience will respond to several aspects of this extended preview.
Demographics aside, the pilot episode alone seems to carry Kara through the early stages of any costumed superhero’s career, aided in her efforts by her neighbor and co-worker (and, obviously, confidant) Wynn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). And yes, Superman is very much alive and well in this universe, but make no mistake: this is Supergirl’s show.
The trailer is certain to get existing fans of the superpowered heroine excited, and features some additional talent to hopefully turn those merely curious into downright interested viewers. Knowing that former Man of Steel Dean Cain (Lois & Clark) and Helen Slater (Supergirl) are on board to cover the nostalgia will give the show a boost, and classic DC supporting characters Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) are getting a modern re-imagining as well.
Keeping in mind that this is all footage taken from the pilot episode, it would seem CBS is ambitious in the plan for their first episode (The CW would be hard-pressed to assemble such a trailer using only one episode of The Flash). If the trailer even gives a strong enough impression of the entire show to convince some it’s simply not their brand of humor, that in itself is an accomplishment. And at this point, different styles of superhero adaptations are inevitable – and necessary.
Supergirl premieres Monday nights on CBS this November.