The season premiere (and debut of its new CW-era status-quo) for Supergirl brought a lot of big changes, not the least of which was the first full onscreen appearance of Tyler Hoechlin as the series' incarnation of Superman in the first of a two-part guest appearance. And while it was an occasion for humorous self-reference and nostalgic callbacks to prior versions of the character, previews for the next episode featured a scene harkening back to one of the darkest moments for both Kryptonian characters in comics history.
Glimpsed in the promo for the second episode of the season, fans got an eyeful of Hoechlin's Superman carrying Melissa Benoist's Supergirl in his arms, seemingly unconscious. For longtime fans of the character (or DC comics readers, period) the echo was unmistakably that of the most famous moment of the 1985-86 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths - a particularly ominous callback, as the scene in question depicts the aftermath of Supergirl's death in the same series.
The series was originally intended to bring an end to the era of DC comics continuity taking place in multiple alternate realities (featuring multiple variations on a host of DC comics characters) via a story where a cross-universal conflict resulted in a collapsing of all realities into a single timeline. DC also utilized The Crisis to achieve broader storytelling goals such as "simplifying" Superman's backstory and cast by removing all other Kryptonian characters - with the original Kara Zor-el's tragic death meant to serve as a fitting send-off for the character. Now, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg has revealed more to CBR about that iconic scene and what it means for Supergirl. According to Kreisberg, the reference to this scene was originally planned for an episode featuring the villain Reactron in the first season:
“It actually says, ‘We’ll have a “Crisis on Infinite Earths” pose here.' When Superman rescues her from Reactron, we actually wrote in there that [the shot] was going to cut off his head so you could just see his body holding her in that classic pose.”
While the appearance of the new Superman has been big news and one of the more positively-reviewed aspects of the new season so far, fans should not expect his presence to overshadow the main character or to become a regular onscreen feature of the series. Instead, the aim is for Kara's older (though, technically, also younger) cousin to serve a mentor role going forward. Explained Kreisberg:
“He was coming in to play a cousin and a mentor. We wanted a Superman who is relatable, and fun, and everything you remembered from your childhood, and, at the same time, de-mystifying him a little bit. The character also provides a little bit of tension as Superman proves the rule that there’s always someone more famous than you.”
Of course, given the positive reaction to Hoechlin's take on Superman, it remains to be seen whether these two episodes are his only appearance in the series. Still, DC comics fans will surely appreciate the Crisis on Infinite Earths reference featured in 'The Last Children of Krypton' while the Man of Steel is featured on Supergirl.
Supergirl continues next Monday with ‘The Last Children of Krypton’ @8pm on The CW.