Out of all the recent DC Comics-to-TV adaptations, it seems that Supergirl has gone from a pipe dream to a confirmed series faster than any other (given her set of superpowers, perhaps that's fitting). Now that Superman's cousin has officially landed a series at CBS, some officially details are beginning to surface; and if they confirm other rumored information, then DC, WB and CBS are planning some significant changes to the character's traditional origin story.
Strictly speaking, next to nothing is actually known about the Supergirl series, beyond the fact that Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash) and Ali Adler (Chuck, The New Normal) will act as executive producers, and that The CW apparently felt the Kryptonian heroine wasn't the right fit for their Arrow/Flash universe. Even so, it didn't take long for most comic fans to assume that they were in store for an origin story fairly reminiscent of Smallville, but with a feminine twist.
Rumors claimed that the series would offer a "new interpretation" of the classic character, and the latest DC All Access (the work of DC Entertainment) has helped confirm the first hint of just how far the writers will stray. Here's the description of the series given by host Tiffany Smith:
The series will follow Kara Zor-El, a Kryptonian girl who's been hiding her powers here on Earth, but decides to embrace her powers, and become the hero she was always meant to be.
That's clearly a vague description, but it bears a strong similarity (read: word for word) to a description given just days ago by IGN. At the time, IGN failed to explain exactly where they had gotten their description, so some (ourselves included) were hesitant to claim it as an official release - especially given the extral details:
Based on the characters from DC Comics, Supergirl will follow Kara Zor-El. Born on the planet Krypton, Kara escaped amid its destruction years ago. And since arriving on Earth, she’s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.
If the shared wording is a sign that both are citing the same DC-scribed plot synopsis, then it stands to reason that the TV series - still without a name - will also feature a version of Kara Zor-El at age 24, experienced in concealing her Kryptonian superpowers. That might seem like a predictable synopsis for casual fans who witnessed a similar premise put to work in Man of Steel, but comic fans know that it's a large departure from the character's comic roots.
The continuity changes and reboots Supergirl has undergone since her introduction in 1959 have led to a variety of versions, but most in the modern age have stuck to a short list of details. Kara Zor-El was a teenager when her cousin, Kal, was sent to Earth by his Kryptonian parents. Kara managed to escape as well, but for one reason or another, arrived on Earth years behind, finding Kal a full-grown man (and superhero).
It then falls to Kal to help his cousin control her newfound powers until she can adopt a 'Super' mantle of her own -and a secret identity along with it (a story played out on Smallville already). But going by the apparent synopsis, that isn't part of the new show's identity at all.
Regardless of how much time is spent establishing how Kara got to Earth, skipping forward to an adult version - already used to hiding her powers from the public - lays the groundwork for a story sharing little in common with comic book canon. However, it does open the door for a version of Supergirl that follows the traditional path of her cousin Kal; using her powers, crafting a costume, establishing a secret/dual identity, etc.
That would seem an even more logical solution if the plan was to effectively remove Superman from the story altogether (which seems likely for a number of reasons). All things considered, a decision to skip over Supergirl's actual origin story of arriving on Earth, instead focusing on how she became a hero could be a risky move. But it would set the show apart from much of the coming competition - and that could prove a strength.
What do you think of the changes in comic book canon that seem to be coming? Is an older Kara Zor-El wise, to appeal to more than just younger audiences? Would a chance to see the classic, fantastic elements of Superman fiction adopted on TV help soften the blow of Man of Steel's updates? Sound off in the comments.
Supergirl is expected to air on CBS sometime in 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on Supergirl as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.