This week, we got our first look at Supergirl’s M’gaan M’orzz (Sharon Leal) when J’onn J’onzz aka the Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) bumped into her at an alien bar in National City. It was an amazing moment for fans of the character, one who remains a fan favorite for lovers of the Young Justice animated series.
Another Martian shapeshifter, Miss Martian is undoubtedly going to have a big impact on the CW series this season. The episode "Welcome To Earth" introduced us to a whole slew of potentially friendly aliens living on Earth, opening up the series to all kinds of extra-terrestrial characters – not just one-shot enemies for Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) to battle. We only got a brief glimpse at M’gaan at the end of the episode this week, but there’s plenty more to come… and in the meantime, we’ve rounded up some interesting tidbits about the green-skinned gal.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Miss Martian.
Don’t let her green skin fool you; M’gaan M’orzz isn’t actually a fellow Green Martian. She’s one of the White Martians. For those in need of a refresher on Martian politics and history, that’s a pretty huge deal. As we saw in Supergirl Season One, the Green Martians and the White Martians have a long and violent history on their shared planet.
The Green Martians were a peaceful, philosophical race, while the White Martians are known to be violent, power-hungry warriors. In the comics, the two races were at war for many years. Eventually, (almost) all the Green Martians were killed off in a terrible holocaust. In the series, we saw the White Martians win the war, killing J’onn J’onzz’s family and the rest of his race. In both universes, the two races are mortal enemies, with the White Martians being far more violent than their green-skinned counterparts.
Given her race’s history, and their reputation for war-mongering and violence, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the gentler Miss Martian wished to distance herself from them. Not wanting to be associated with the bloody history of her race, when she first came to Earth, Miss Martian lied about her background, and pretended to be a Green Martian like J’onn.
When she first appeared in the comics, Miss Martian claimed that during the civil war on Mars, she was sent to the Vega system by her parents. Later, after learning that there was another surviving Green Martian on Earth, she journeyed to our planet to seek him out. She maintains this lie for some time, before her true heritage is eventually revealed. There's a good chance that this storyline will be echoed in the Supergirl series, as she has made her first appearance as a Green Martian, and because it is such an integral part of her character.
M’gann doesn’t just make herself look like a Green Martian to avoid the hatred that most aliens have for her race – she does it out of respect for the Green Martians and as a mark of her desire to be rehabilitated. Miss Martian doesn’t want to be associated with the villainy and violence of the White Martians, and her desire for redemption on behalf of her race is a vital part of who she is. J’onn J’onnz, although shocked when he first learned of her heritage, has accepted her for the good work that she does, and is not offended by her choice to appear as Green, rather than White.
However, as Miss Martian developed as a character, she struggled to integrate her White Martian history into her identity. At one point, she battled a future, evil version of herself, one who had embraced her White Martian side. It was a very obvious way to show just how Miss Martian feels about her heritage, although she has come to accept it more as time goes on.
As for that encounter with her White Martian self? Things...got a bit out of hand.
The battle we mention above didn’t end well for her future self. In a Titans of Tomorrow story arc, the Teen Titans are confronted by future versions of themselves – characters who (understandably) don’t want their timeline destroyed. In this potential future, Miss Martian has re-styled herself Martian Manhunter, and fully embraced her White Martian heritage.
Along with the other Titans, M’gann is at first taken in by her future self, manipulated to believe that she can learn from this older, more worldly version of herself. However, when the future Martian Manhunter refuses to let Miss Martian help her friend, and is then revealed to have been lying to her all along, their battle begins. Despite the future Martian Manhunter’s best efforts to force Miss Martian into becoming a warrior, she fails. Miss Martian shifts into her natural white form, but only for the moment that it takes for her to behead her evil future self. Brutal.
Like pretty much every other comic book character, Miss Martian has had more than her share of death and near-death experiences. As well as being murdered by her younger self, Miss Martian was also (almost) killed by another Martian: D’kay D’razz. A deranged Green Martian driven mad by years of solitary imprisonment, D’kay is obsessed with J'onn J'onzz. She wants to create a new race of Martians with him, and sees Miss Martian as her competition. She hunts Miss Martian down in the Australian Outback before viciously attacking her, claiming that she could never be a true companion for Martian Manhunter.
D’kay beats M’gann to the point of death before leaving her to die alone, but J'onn comes to her rescue. Only recently resurrected himself in the events of Blackest Night, he is able to heal her. If it wasn’t for his ability to tap into the powers of a White Lantern to do so, Miss Martian would have died in the desert.
Miss Martian first made her appearance with the Teen Titans only ten years ago, making her a comparatively new character within the DC universe. She’s also quite a young character, and appears as a teenager. This explains why she chooses to join a team made up of teen superheroes, one that's usually led by either Tim Drake or a young Dick Grayson. Although she is most commonly associated with the Titans, she has left them from time to time, but she rarely stays away for too long.
The character is perhaps best known for her appearance in the criminally short-lived animated series Young Justice, which ran from 2010 to 2013. In the series, she joins the Titans at the request of Martian Manhunter, who wants her to learn how to fit in on Earth. She is a major character for much of the show, and she even forms a romantic relationship with Superboy. She has also appeared in DC Superhero Girls, and in two video games (Young Justice: Legacy and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham).
Although the original Miss Martian is a teenager, the Supergirl version is definitely not. For one thing, she’s a bartender – clearly not a profession for a teenager in the US. Of course, she does work in a secret alien bar, and maybe the legal drinking age on Mars was much younger… still, we doubt it. She also looks significantly older than she does in the comics, and Sharon Leal (who plays her in the show) is actually in her 40s. (She turned 44 this month – Happy Birthday, Sharon!)
While Leal still looks much younger than she is, the choice to cast an actress in her 40s suggests that the series isn’t concerned about keeping Miss Martian as young as she is in the comics. It would have been simple enough to find an actress in her teens or twenties, so this choice is almost certainly a deliberate one. Of course, Martians are shapeshifters, so it’s perfectly possible that M’gann is still a teen Martian, one who deliberately appears as an adult woman when she is in human form. But could the casting of an older actress mean that J'onn J'onzz just found himself a love interest? For now it seems, fans will just have to play the waiting game.
Like Martian Manhunter, Miss Martian is incredibly powerful – potentially even more so, courtesy of her White Martian background. She is super-strong, super durable (to the point of invulnerability), and has enhanced reflexes and agility. She can fly and is a shapeshifter, and her shapeshifting abilities also allow her to make herself appear invisible. She can use her “Martian vision” to expel energy from her eyes (similar to the Kryptonian heat-vision), and can use super breath.
Miss Martian’s most powerful ability, however, is her telepathy. Martians are telepathic and telekinetic, and these powers can be used not only to read minds, but to control them, induce sleep, create a ‘brain blast’, project illusions, speak and understand multiple languages, sense other minds, and astrally project themselves. Martians are an incredibly powerful race, and Miss Martian could easily go toe-to-toe with Supergirl. We can assume that we will see most, if not all, of these powers in the series, as we have already seen most of them displayed by Martian Manhunter.
The actress playing Miss Martian on Supergirl may not have superpowers (that we know of), but she’s a skilled performer who is certainly multi-talented. An incredible singer as well as an actress, Leal spent many years on the stage honing her skills. Although she started out in television on the show Guiding Light, she took a break to star in Rent on Broadway, and then in the national tour of the same production.
In the year 2000, Leal returned to the small screen for a major role in Boston Public before making the leap to the big screen (and showing off her singing talent) in the movie Dreamgirls. She’s even released a studio album. Since then, Leal has worked on a range of series and films, including roles in Grimm and Suits. She may not have much reason to show off her pipes in Supergirl, but we’d love to see it. Who knows, maybe she'll find herself with a juicy role in the (now-confirmed) crossover musical episode for the Arrowverse. Obviously, she would be a perfect fit.
Most comic book stories take place in the US (albeit in mostly fictional cities in the pages of DC Comics), with only a few scattered teams and heroes based elsewhere in the world. Australia has a few famous exports in the DC Universe, including the villainous Captain Boomerang, but it’s not exactly an area known for superhero activity.
Miss Martian, however, spends quite a bit of her time in the Australian outback. She’s primarily based in San Francisco, operating out of Titans Tower, the Teen Titans’s current headquarters. Previously, when the Titans were based in New York, she was with them at the earlier incarnation of the Titans Tower before it was destroyed. M’gaan M’orzz spends a solid chunk of her planetary wanderings exploring the outback, saying that it reminds her of her home on Mars. She doesn’t appear to keep a base there, but if she’s not with the Titans, there's a good chance that she's in the Australian desert dealing with the occasional case of homesickness.
Although Miss Martian has made several appearances in the DC Animated Universe (including in Young Justice, Teen Titans Go, and DC Superhero Girls), Supergirl will be the first time that the White Martian is brought to life in live-action. This isn’t too surprising, given the fact that she is both a relatively recent character and not a major one outside the Teen Titans and Martian Manhunter storylines – neither of which have been the focus of a live-action adventure of their own.
Supergirl is the first time that we're really seeing DC’s Martian mythology explored on-screen. Supergirl and The CW also aren’t shy about making changes to comic book canon, so the version of Miss Martian that we see on the show might be a very different one than fans are used to. We already know that she will be older than in the comics, and that we won’t see her with the Teen Titans, but we won’t know what other changes have been made until we’ve seen a little more of her.
The closest that we have come to seeing Miss Martian on screen was in the hit CW series, Smallville. The series ran for ten seasons, and followed a young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) through high school in Kansas and into his early twenties, as he becomes the Superman we know and love. Various fan-favorites made appearances in the show, including Lois Lane (Erica Durance), Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort), and Green Arrow (Justin Hartley).
Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris) also popped up in later seasons of the show, making sporadic appearances in episodes from seasons six through ten. It would have made some sense to see Miss Martian in the series, but she didn’t enter the picture until the comic book continuation. M’Gann appeared in several issues of Smallville: Season Eleven, Smallville: Continuity, Smallville: Harbringer, Smallville: Alien and Smallville: Titans. Her stories here are very similar to those in the main DC continuity, with lots of emphasis on her backstory and relationship with J’onn J’onnz.
The CW was host to Smallville long before the Arrowverse came into being, giving the network a lengthy history with superheroes. It also has something of a history with Sharon Leal, the actress tapped to play Miss Martian in Supergirl. Leal appeared on The CW back in 2010 as Vanessa Lodge in Hellcats. A show about competitive cheerleading, Hellcats lasted only a single season before cancellation, with Leal playing the team coach.
Despite this not being her first turn on The CW, this will be the first superhero show that Leal has worked on to date. She does have one more tenuous connection to the network and its superhero history, though. Hellcats was produced by Tom Welling, better known to Smallville fans as The CW network's orginal Clark Kent. For Supergirl, however, the Big Blue Boy Scout is portrayed by Tyler Heochlin. And although he may return for a future episode with Leal -- he might even get his own series! -- Supergirl’s Clark Kent has seemingly already returned to Metropolis by the time M’gann shows up.
It’s not unusual for an actor to audition for one role and end up landing another, and that’s exactly what happened with Sharon Leal. In an interview with Moviefone, Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg revealed that she originally auditioned to play Arrow’s Amanda Waller. “She actually auditioned for us, I think it was to play Amanda Waller, and we've always still wanted to work with her.” This audition must have happened several years ago, as D.E.O. Director Waller first appeared on Arrow back in Season One (although she wasn’t fully revealed until Season Two). The part of Waller went to Cynthia Addai-Robinson, and the character was eventually killed off in Season Four.
This means that the CW has been waiting for just the right part for Leal since at least 2012 – and we’re thrilled that they found it with Miss Martian. Kreisberg was about as on board with the casting as he could be, saying, “She's just smart and beautiful and tough, and when we meet Miss Martian, she's in a rather tough predicament. So we needed somebody who could fight, who could be physical, but also had a soulfulness because of all the tragic backstory that they have. So we were excited that Sharon wanted to do it.”
Miss Martian’s relationship with Martian Manhunter has always been central to her character. He’s spent years believing himself to be the last of his kind, which makes the appearance of a second (seemingly) Green Martian an absolutely world-shattering game changer for the stoic alien. Add to this her hidden White Martian heritage, and you have a storm brewing in Supergirl.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Executive Producer Kreisberg revealed that her arrival on the show will mean big changes for J’onn J’onnz. “He’s dealing with survivor’s guilt, and he’s spent the last few hundred years burying that. It’s only because of his interactions with Kara and his deepening relationship with Alex that he gets to start to tap back into that. The arrival of Miss Martian is really going to open the flood gates.”
So far, J’onn has been somewhat closed off, although his relationship with Kara and her sister has started to change that. We’ve glimpsed his heartbreak over the history of his race, and it will be fascinating to watch his character develop through his interactions with M’gann. It looks like we have an exciting second season ahead of us!
What else should fans know about Miss Martian? Are you excited to see her on Supergirl? Sound off in the comments.