Fans didn’t know what to expect from Supergirl when it was announced to be coming to CBS, not tying into any existing DC Comics property. The first extended trailer showed much of the pilot episode, revealing a superhero serial tailored to bring in a significantly larger network audience. One that the growing world of TV superheroes may sorely need.
There were several nods to the DC Comics universe, from a quickly-dismissed costume based on Kara’s less-modern variations, to a public reveal in line with Clark Kent’s first heroics. But aside from the references and easter eggs called out, there are many more that passed too quickly for fans to catch. Be warned: there may be minor SPOILERS ahead.
Kryptonians in White
Only a brief glimpse of Kara Zor-El (and her newborn cousin, Kal) is offered in the trailer, revealing her to have set out on her very own ship to Earth prior to Krypton’s destruction. Any Kryptonian clad all in white is an obvious nod to Richard Donner’s original Superman (1978), as is the ‘S’ logo being a symbol to represent the entire family.
It’s also the necklace Kara is wearing (which may or may not match her mother’s) that we would point out, since the adult Kara is seen to be wearing it at nearly all times. Is it of value, like the crystal Kal-El brought from his planet, or merely a sentimental token of her family? Only time will tell.
Shortcut to Earth?
For those unfamiliar with the comics, the age difference between these Kryptonian cousins is explained through a number of of means. The simplest explanation is that both Kal and Kara were placed in some form of stasis as they traveled from Krypton to Earth, with Kara’s ship being delayed – meaning Kal landed and aged decades while Kara remain suspended as a child.
The fact that Kal-El is shown as an infant in the trailer implies his story is being adhered to, and his superhero career taking off ahead of Kara’s also implies the age-change will take place. If the strange blue whirlpool in space is a wormhole to Earth, then known physics go out the window (perhaps her difference in mass is all that was needed to have her arrive on Earth several years after her cousin).
Found By a Friend
Now begins the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it montage of images which, when examined piece by piece, actually lay out Kara’s new origin story quite clearly. The telltale blue sleeves pulling Kara from her crashed spaceship are familiar to any Superman fan – meaning the shot of the Man of Steel washed out by sunlight is likely Kara’s first glimpse of her cousin, all grown up.
The shock of seeing her baby cousin suddenly accelerated to adulthood is a common trope in Supergirl origin stories, and seeing him flying above her like a god would help explain why even Kara sees Kal-El as a hero. This also clarifies the producers’ search for a Superman stand-in, as his warm welcome carries beyond her crash site.
The Danvers Family
The first glimpse of what looks to be the Danverses reveals their home to be an ideal one for the aspiring superhuman. With a sprawling sea for a backyard, Kara would have plenty of room to test out her abilities without fear of being observed by the press or government officials.
This may also be an implication that National City, the setting of Supergirl is set close to an American coast – but considering how little we’ve heard of Kara’s parents’ involvement in the series, it’s possible both she and her sister Alex move away from their parents in pursuit of their big city careers.
Why Kal-El would know that the Danvers family is capable of raising Kara (and trustworthy) is a question hopefully answered in the TV series, but make no mistake: all evidence suggests that it is Superman who hand delivers Kara to her new family. The additional still of Kara embracing Kal (identified by his sleeve and cape) drives home the message left with the trailer’s closing moments: that Kal took her somewhere safe, to grow up with a happy family, without being forced to take on any mission, let alone a superheroic one.
If Kara’s new origin story is what it appears to be, then it’s a genuinely interesting twist on the classic comic story. Kara is often depicted as a teenager when she arrives on Earth, no longer in physical need of parents to support her. In the CBS series, Superman casts off the occasional ‘father figure’ role, helping to explain his presence in the show and Kara’s family, as well as his reason for not constantly intruding upon her life.
When Helen Slater (Supergirl) and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) were reported to have brief, ‘top secret’ cameos in the pilot episode, we hoped that the producers had found Kara’s parents – just as the original Flash John Wesley Shipp was brought in to play Henry Allen on The CW’s Flash. This shot seems to confirm the suspicion, since it’s Cain and Slater to whom Superman delivers Kara.
The only question now is how frequent an appearance they could make. Slater has claimed that she is credited as a guest star for the pilot, but if The Flash is any indication, cast chemistry and fan reactions could create larger roles for both Cain and Slater– pardon us, Mr. and Mrs. Danvers going forward.
A Surprise Sister
As mentioned before, there was already one daughter of the Danvers family at home when Kara was delivered: Alex, played by Chyler Leigh. The average person could understand that looking out your window to see Superman handing you a brand new sibling would lead to some… painful changes. Without knowing whether Kara’s arrival was good news or bad, all we have to go on is Alex and Kara’s adult relationship, which seem more than healthy.
In fact, Alex seems to have taken more than a passing interest in her sister’s alien heritage, becoming a member of the US government’s Department of Extranormal Operations.
In Mark Waid and Francis Leinil Yu’s “Superman: Birthright” (2003) – an updated origin story which greatly influenced Man of Steel – it was Martha Kent who wound up becoming something of a UFO and extraterrestrial expert, given her adopted son’s origins. That was dropped for WB’s feature film, but it’s nice to see the idea carried over in Supergirl, with Alex becoming an authority on aliens operating in and around our planet.
One thing made abundantly clear in the first Supergirl preview was that her closest ally in her burgeoning superhero career would be friend and co-worker Winslow “Wynn” Schott. To comic book fans, that name is forever remembered as the villainous ‘Toyman,’ an odd criminal mastermind with a knack for toy creation.
Going by actor Jeremy Jordan’s performance, a villainous turn seems doubtful for now. But that didn’t stop the show from tipping their hat to his comic book origins, showing a number of toys spread across Schott’s CatCo desk.
Otto Binder Bridge
When Kara enjoys her first superheroic exploits on TV – having rescued her sister’s crashing airplane from the ground AND a National City bridge – the ticker at the bottom of the screen reveals it to have been the Otto Binder Bridge. Named for the comic writer who first created the famous version of Supergirl in the Action Comics storyline “The Supergirl From Krypton” (1959).
The first word of a villain for the Supergirl pilot hinted that The Lumberjack, a past foe of Superman would be arriving on the scene to see if Kara measured up to her superpowered cousin. Later, Owain Yeoman was cast as Vartox, an alien powerhouse best known for his… eccentric fashion sense.
It seemed unlikely that Vartox, based on Sean Connery’s role in the sci-fi/fantasy Zardoz (1974), could really be taken seriously in live-action – now, things seem a bit clearer. The alien foe in the trailer is clearly Yeoman, bearing the name of Vartox, and apparently coming to Earth to attain what looks to be an alien axe.
Vartox has been outright confirmed, so it would seem that the initial reports of The Lumberjack – a large villain who wields an axe – may have simply been a misunderstanding. Whatever the case, Vartox looks to be dealt with by the episode’s close, if the preview is to be believed. But the claim that far greater forces are at work than Kara realizes means this villain could return in the future.
Aliens to Come?
The show’s universe is one in which Superman has been active for some time, meaning the investigations and monitoring of extraterrestrial– or extranormal activity is no longer carried out completely in the shadows. But it turns out that Superman and Supergirl aren’t the only aliens viewers will be seeing, as a glimpse of the monitors in the DEO reveals several other people of interest.
It’s almost too easy to guess at which comic villains they may be, from Parasite to Despero, but all we can hope is that they’re are more than just placeholders. It’s worth pointing out that the use of the term “extranormal” as opposed to “extraterrestrial” implies the group is looking for special specimens originating from Earth. Leaving the door open for other superheroes, perhaps?
Those are all the easter eggs, bits of comic book trivia, and subtle references fans can look out for when Supergirl hits CBS this November, but if you have any that have been missed, please share them in the comments.
Supergirl premieres Monday nights on CBS this November.