The supporting cast of CBS’ upcoming Supergirl series has swelled by two, with the roles of star Kara Zor-El’s (Melissa Benoist) older sister, and the former CIA operative-turned-superhuman watchdog Hank Henshaw now filled.
For the part of Alexandra Danvers, Kara’s foster sister, the producers have tapped Chyler Keigh (Grey’s Anatomy). In the case of Hank Henshaw, it seems David Harewood (Homeland) will be playing the brilliant man who, in the comics, would eventually go on to become the tragic figure/half-robotic supervillain aptly named ‘Cyborg Superman.’
The casting news comes courtesy of THR, with Chyler Leigh likely best known to audiences for playing Lexie Grey, half-sister to Grey’s Anatomy‘s main character. Leigh was more recently seen in the unofficially-cancelled Taxi Brooklyn on NBC, playing a police officer who joins forces with a New York cab driver.
Adding the character of Alex Danvers to the Supergirl story marks one of the most significant changes to the comic book origin – and likely one way which the show will seek to tap into the family drama that’s proven so successful in The Flash. However, Alex won’t just be helping to “humanize” the Supergirl story, as the previous character details implied that her brilliance and familiarity with superhuman activity could end up leading her to a (highly secretive) government job.
The casting that will surely fuel even more conversation among comic book fans, though, will be that of Harewood. Previously seen on Homeland and the recently-cancelled Selfie, Harewood’s casting as another high-ranking government agent who plays things close to his vest isn’t surprising in the least. In Supergirl, he’ll by playing Hank Henshaw: a former CIA Agent now overseeing the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, and fulfilling the need to have some shadowy government figure who feels a superpowered vigilante is a threat to national security.
That’s not the most original character description, but it’s what lies in Henshaw’s future that will be getting fans excited. Originally introduced in the comics as a doomed astronaut, Henshaw was able to preserve his consciousness in digital form, eventually viewing Superman as his enemy, and constructing a robotic body including residual DNA of the Man of Steel. Ever since, the hard-to-kill Henshaw has kept a tenuous grip on his sanity, meaning an overall paranoia toward Kryptonians is well-founded.
It’s unlikely that such a story will be pursued in the short term, but then again, executive producer Greg Berlanti’s team didn’t delay too many twists in The Flash‘s first season. We’ve known for some time that Supergirl would augment its own character pool with established “Superman” foes (and even include appearances from Superman himself), so add Henshaw to the ‘villains-in-waiting’ category.
Though fans were kept waiting for some time to see which men and women would be bringing established and original DC characters to life, the recent weeks have seen most, if not all fall into place. With Kara (Benoist), Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), Alura Zor-El (Laura Benanti), Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), and now the show’s central antagonist now cast, only Wynn Schott – the man who will construct the Supergirl suit – remains to be revealed.
As a final bit of news, it was also announced that current Flash showrunner Andrew Kreisberg has also joined Berlanti to executive produce and write the series – a move guaranteed to add fuel to speculation that Supergirl could introduce a cross-network shared universe with The Flash and Arrow.
What do you think of these additions to the cast? Is Leigh the kind of seasoned actress you had hoped to see play Kara’s ‘big sister,’ or do the changes to the origin story have you anxious to see the pilot before passing judgement? Sound off in the comments, and give us your best predictions for if, and when, Henshaw may take a turn to the… cyborg side.
Supergirl is expected to air on CBS in 2015.