Supergirl Rips Off Marvel Again - Except This Time It's Venom

Supergirl and Venom

The latest episode of Supergirl, "Menagerie," seemed to introduce an incredibly unsubtle rip-off of Venom into its universe. While the character of Menagerie was originally created as a parody of anti-heroes with living costumes, the execution of the character on Supergirl lifted multiple elements from the recent Venom movie.

Supergirl season 4 has drawn off of a variety of sources, as is typical for the series set in the Arrowverse. The show's many subplots have drawn upon elements of the Superman stories Red Son and Superman vs. The Elite. Yet the last two episodes have directly drawn upon concepts introduced by DC Comics' marvel-ous competition. Episode 11 of Supergirl season 4, "Blood Memory," saw Supergirl fighting frat boys who were transformed into raging, super-strong monsters after taking party drugs that had been tainted by gamma-radiation. Comic fans will recognize this as the unique energy that transformed Dr. Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk.

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Episode 12, "Menagerie", was based around the titular villain - a jewel thief named Pamela Ferrer, who became attached to an alien parasite called a symbiote. Pamela began using her new friend to become a more productive robber, with the symbiote ripping the hearts out of Pamela's victims and eating them. This is exactly what happened to reporter Eddie Brock in both the comics and the 2018 movie Venom, though his symbiote expressed a preference for brains over hearts. The episode also depicted Pamela referring to herself and the symbiote in the third person ("We... are... Menagerie!"), the symbiote communicating with Pamela as a raspy voice only she could hear and the symbiote manifesting as a series of snake-like tentacles - all touches taken directly from the Venom movie.

Menagerie The Elite DC Comics

Interestingly enough, the original version of Menagerie from DC Comics was inspired by Venom, but the character was meant to be a parody rather than an outright rip-off. First appearing in Superman #775 in March 2001, Menagerie was part of a new superhero team called the Elite who challenged Superman's morality by claiming that they were the better heroes because they would use lethal force if they had to. Superman tried to teach the Elite a better way, before ultimately facing the entire team in a duel where he proved that he could subdue them all without violating his ethics. Now considered to be one of the greatest Superman stories of all time, the issue was later adapted into an animated movie, Superman vs. the Elite.

All of the members of the Elite satirized popular anti-hero tropes of the Dark Age of Comics. In the case of Menagerie, her living alien armor (which was made up of many "symbeasts") parodied both Venom and Witchblade - a popular bad-girl character of the 1990s, who drew power from a sentient magic artifact. The Witchblade could reshape itself into any weapons or armor its wielder needed, though it had a curious habit of ripping their clothes off as it did so. Menagerie was similarly scantily clad.

Curiously, Menagerie's background in the comics would have allowed her to be easily introduced into the Arrowverse, as she was the product of a DEO experiment to bond a human to the alien symbeasts. Supergirl season 4 episode 10, "Suspicious Minds," featured a similar story in which the Morae (a quartet of alien assassins, tortured since childhood by the DEO) turned against their masters. Perhaps Menagerie's origins for the show were changed for fear that they would seem too similar to those of the Morae. Nevertheless, the way in which Menagerie was adapted for live-action made her seem more like a half-hearted rip-off of Venom than the satirical figure she was meant to be. Hopefully, the character will find her stride along with the rest of the Elite, when Supergirl returns on March 3 with the episode "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?"

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