Tag Archives: Supergirl

The Three Faces of Supergirl

Before I begin, I just want to say a few words about season 2 of Supergirl. In fact this whole post has spoilers—look at it as kind of a review mixed with thematic discussion. I highly recommend that you do not continue reading if you haven’t seen it yet, but if you have or do not care, just go ahead. I won’t judge.

Season 2 was considerably watered down from season one, and although there were plenty of exciting moments it was hard to get into. About half the cast of season 1 inexplicably disappeared, and while I enjoyed some of the new characters, particularly Lena Luthor, it seemed like there was too much going on, that the story wasn’t really about Supergirl anymore. The story arcs did not mesh together very well. A lot of the plot revolved around on-again/off-again relationship drama. Also they made James Olsen a vigilante, the Guardian. I didn’t really like that except for in one of the episodes closer to the end of the season where he gets to be a hero for an alien boy. The conflicts mostly involved fugitive aliens and either protecting or apprehending them. There was a Flash crossover but it was kind of lame and it kind of served to prop the love interests in both shows.  Livewire came back for one episode and she was awesome. I liked Kara’s relationship with Mon-el, and I’m sad about how that ended…for now.

But I think one thing to keep in mind about entertainment in general is that, when it comes to what happens next to your favorite characters, don’t expect more of the same. Writers have to keep changing the story, raising the stakes, and creating conflict to keep their usual audience engaged.

This is one of those blog posts I’ve been planning on for a while that kept getting pushed back. But I figured I’d better write down this important post about my homegirl from the DC Universe before I get around to other topics (*ahem*, Marvel and Star Wars).

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Clark Kent and Kara Danvers, S2 Ep. 1, Comic Book

Something I found while watching Season 1 of Supergirl, and occasionally reinforced during season 2, was the fact that the individual we know as Supergirl has to balance multiple identities. We’re pretty familiar with her alter-ego, CatCo reporter Kara Danvers who wears cute clothes, has an awesome sister and loves food. Supergirl, on the other hand, is known for the cape and the skirt and the S-logo, the superpowers, fighting bad guys, and saving the day.

But sometimes in the show we get a glimpse of a third face: Kara Zor-el, the girl from Krypton, an alien refugee who lost everything–her culture, her home, her family–when her planet was destroyed. We see it when she talks to the holograms of her parents at the Fortress of Solitude and the DEO. We see in the flashbacks to Alex Danvers’ newly-adopted sister struggling to find her place on a new planet, struggling to adapt to having superpowers. We see it in the face of a Supergirl forced to confront the truths about Krypton’s end and her family’s legacy.

A few people on the show—Lucy Lane, Winn, J’onn Jonzz, James, Cat Grant, and as of Season 2 Maggie Sawyer and Lena Luthor—have the privilege of knowing both Kara Danvers and Supergirl, and maybe more or less knowing that the two are the same. But very few people have seen the part of herself that Kara brought with her from Krypton—although it’s safe to say that Alex Danvers might be more aware of it than some.

One thing I liked about Season 2 bringing in Superman for the first two episodes and the finale was that Kara had someone she could be open with about her Kryptonian side. Kal-el had discovered his true identity and studied his lost culture secondhand at the Fortress of Solitude. But that had happened in Clark Kent’s adulthood. Kara Zor-el left Krypton as a teenager and got stuck in the Phantom Zone until Kal-el was a grown man. She is old enough to remember her family and her culture. She has an awareness of that lost identity that Kal-el can’t come close to, at least in this version of the DCEU. If Superman comes back at all in Season 3, I want to see this developed. (And for the record, I am googlie-eyes for over Tyler Hochelin’s Superman/Clark Kent).

Kara also has to come to grips with her Kryptonian past a little when she makes the acquaintance of Mon-el of Daxam, a rival planet of Krypton–in other words, having to confront a cultural prejudice she inherited from her planet against his. But, and this was one of the reasons I liked her relationship with Mon-el, she brings out the best in him, and she shows him that it’s not too late for him (or his world) to make a new start.

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As far as Kara knows, the best way for someone from another planet to blend in is to take on a human identity, join the workforce, and then blend in as much as possible. In the beginning, she tries to make Mon-el fit into the same mold. His misbehavior at CatCo quickly gets him fired. He does okay as a barkeeper at the secret alien bar in National City. But for most of his run in season 2, Mon-el is just Mon-el. He doesn’t change or alter himself to fit into different circumstances. When he goes out to be a “superhero”, he just wears black fatigues (although he doesn’t need much more than that, lbr).  He doesn’t quite get the stakes the way Kara does. But in the end, I don’t think he cares about how Earthlings see him—and I mean that in a good way. Kara, on the other hand, chooses to balance multiple roles, and accordingly has to wear a different identity in each one.

Last fall at Salt Lake Comic Con, I attended a panel called “Behind the Glasses” where several experts weighed in on the importance of secret identities. Our very own Jake was there, as was my friend James A. Owen who really, really, really loves Superman. I took notes, because that’s how much of an over-achiever I am, but in retrospect I’m glad I did because they came in useful for this article, and these ideas are pretty relevant to the idea of superhumans and secret identities.

There is not always an immediate need to rush into danger and save the world–you are going to have some down time. Having a secret identity means creating a space where you do not have to be involved with the ordeals of being a superhero. It’s a way to keep supervillains, stalkers, and the press from your daily routine and from your family and friends. But you can’t always leave your job for superheroics. And you can’t always leave your superheroics to do your day job. Sometimes the people you love can be in more danger from not knowing your secret.

If something bad happens and your “persona” is blamed, is it fair for your secret identity to not have to suffer the consequences?

"I'm trying to decide whether I should blog my article myself" - Kara and Mon-El #Supergirl

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The question of superhero identities ties into the human struggle of having different “faces” or versions of ourselves for different settings. Who you are at work might not necessarily be the person you are at home. And neither of those identities are exactly the same as the person you are when you’re doing something you love. James Owen shared a thought from Superman writer Elliot S! Maggin at the“Behind the Glasses” panel: “Clark Kent is who he is. Superman is what he can do.” That’s actually a really deep thought. Maybe the roles of our different personalities aren’t quite as separate, but it’s one way of understanding the different parts a superhero can play through the day. And it’s a way of understanding their limitations in different settings.

Let’s look at Kara Danvers. She’s a reporter at CatCo Media who is very outspoken about doing the right thing. As Supergirl, she also has principles that guide what she does as a superhero. That part of her personality—her indomitable sense of right and wrong—is in every part of her. But Kara learns the hard way in Season 2 that there are rules for being a reporter that she can’t just ignore. Supergirl may be able to break some of society’s conventions but Kara can’t without facing consequences.

(I wonder how Clark Kent does it? If he uses “Superman” as a source in his work for the Daily Planet when he needs to get the word out? Do they just let him get away with it? Maybe Kara needs to ask him.)

Kara Danvers was once Kara Zor-el of Krypton. A girl from an aristocratic family on another planet. When she first came to Earth, she had to create the persona of Kara Danvers as a way to blend in with earthlings. Kara Danvers, as a rule, doesn’t rescue people from burning buildings, stop robberies and car accidents, and fight rogue aliens and alien-hunters. But Supergirl does. Supergirl is who people on Earth know Kara Zor-el by, byt they know her as a hero instead of a girl from an affluent Kyptonian household. They don’t have that context. Supergirl has authority because she saves the day. If Kara Danvers wants to protest the injustices in society, she can do a write-up for CatCo, provided she has legitimate sources for her boss. Kara Danvers and Supergirl are both kind and known for helping others, but while Supergirl does the big heroic stuff, Kara does the little everyday things for her friends.

Según @andrewkreisberg el nuevo jefe de Kara cree en la palabra escrita, cree en los hechos y piensa, ¿eres buena en tu trabajo o no? #Supergirl

Kara versus her new boss, Season 2 (Pinterest

When she’s at home and relaxing with Alex and Mon-el and friends, Kara is Kara but she talks openly about being Supergirl. She’ll sit on the couch and eat ice cream in her suit if she wants. And she can openly reference her past life on Krypton when she wants to. So there are some spaces where the boundaries of her three identities aren’t as rigid.

At one point in season one, Cat Grant—the boss of Kara Danvers and the critic/patron of Supergirl, fully aware that they are both the same—asked her to quit her job and be a superhero full-time because she could help more people that way. Kara begged Cat to let her stay on at CatCo because her normal job gave her a link to a normal life.  Having a day job is how you pay the bills when you put the glasses on. Not everyone gets paid to be a superhero. Kara has nothing material to gain from it—or at least Cat doesn’t offer to PAY her to be Supergirl. But Kara doesn’t see herself as someone who can be a superhero full time. It matters to her to still lead a normal life and to be with her family and friends in her down time. And she needed an income to pay for food and a roof over her head when she wasn’t wearing the cape.

In Season 2, the premise was supposed to be that she would figure out how to be Kara. Looking back, I think the show approached that issue in some interesting, albeit indirect ways.  So who is Kara Danvers? What does Kara stand for, can Kara push the same limits that Supergirl can? Can she work within the lines that society sets? Or is it more important for her to get the truth out because that’s just who she is, as both Kara and Supergirl. It’s really not that tacky for her to follow in Clark Kent’s footsteps: a writer can make a real difference through the ideas they share.

Kara having a love interest has to address all three sides of her. The girl from Krypton has to figure out how to get along with the guy from Daxam. They can put their differences aside and find solace in both being exiles on a strange planet. Does he get along with her Earth family? Most of the time. He can be as outspoken at times as she is. As Supergirl, how does she balance protecting him from her enemies that would endanger him and protecting her city? And does he necessarily need to be a superhero just like her? Can he help her save the day? I think Mon-el was a great addition to the series because he was a good foil for Kara.

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Supergirl continues to hold a special place in my heart, even after a rough season 2, because she still has to balance a lot of the same issues of family, friends, and identity, albeit in different ways. Kara Zor-el, Kara Danvers, Supergirl—at the end of the day, what ties all three together and make Kara who she is are the virtues of honesty, respect, compassion, and valuing life. She always sees the best in others. In season 1, she did her best to reach out to and rescue her last surviving Kryptonian relatives, and although she failed, she was a better person for having made the effort. And now in season 2, she gave Mon-el the benefit of a doubt when he came to earth and she showed him that being the spoiled prince of Daxam didn’t have to be his legacy. I know from my friends who are Superman fans that that is who Superman is supposed to be, and Tyler Hochelin’s brief appearances this season as Clark really made a good impression on me—but more importantly, Supergirl not only lives up to her cousin’s reputation but she is the kind of person that I want and need to be.

Supergirl can continue to be a great show that explores the themes of identity and heroics—as long as we don’t get too caught up in the drama.

Living with Super Powers: A Survey

The cool thing about science fiction and fantasy is that it allows us to examine what makes us human. Because more often than not, the genre features a protagonist or group of protagonists with capabilities beyond those of ordinary humans. And sometimes we watch how extraordinary humans cope with still living an ordinary life, or learning to adjust to a different one.

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10 Things that Happened in One Year Plus with the Geeky Mormon

Summer of 2015, Jake asked for people to come co-write for The Geeky Mormon. I posted my first article in July. So it’s been more than a year—more like a year and two months. But better late to get around to an anniversary-type post than never. This isn’t really to brag on my achievements but to look back on what else I’ve been doing with my life in addition to The Geeky Mormon as well as some of the changes that have happened, some I may have mentioned in writing, others not so much.

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Villain for a Day at Salt Lake Comic Con

You should never underestimate the power of cosplay in groups.  I’ve been a part of a charity group for a while, but for this Comic Con I planned to do something a little different. Livewire was my favorite villain in Season 1 of Supergirl. Since her outfit didn’t look too hard to imitate, I decided to cosplay her. Then a few months ago, one of my Facebook friends decided to put together a DC Villains/Arkham group for comic con. I decided to volunteer Livewire.

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13 Fandom Deaths That Will Always Be Too Soon

Here’s a short tribute to the saddest deaths in some of our fandoms, to the ones who die without being likely to come back.  None of these are necessarily in order, and I don’t have time to discuss the hows and whys of all their deaths today. But see if you can make it through this post without crying. Also, spoilers for just about everything.

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Soaring with Supergirl

(Spoilers ahead, obviously)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the first DC superhero I have ever really liked. I’m not joking. Batman and Superman both bug me because they are both so popular. And Superman is just so perfect.  But, ICYMI, Supergirl just wrapped up its first season on CBS and it was spectacular. Supergirl is my new favorite superhero because she’s 1) not dark and brooding and 2) a modern (slightly clueless) twenty-something just like me. I didn’t have terribly high expectations for the TV show but it delivered.  It’s not the best-written but it’s still very high-quality storytelling and family friendly to boot. After Star Wars Rebels, this is my second time watching a television series all the way through, but allow me to break it down for you.

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Of Villains and Victims

“It is our choices, Harry, that make us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  Over the last few years, I have come to realize that there is a lot of truth to this statement. Choices are what decide whether we’re good or bad, not what we’re capable of doing.  Choices also determine our character more than the bad things we put up with in life. There was a banner on the wall of my high school gym: attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. That is the difference between a villain and a victim.

WARNING: Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want spoilers for Supergirl

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This Week in Geek Jan 31-Feb 6

Another week is in the books, and we are bringing back our “This Week in Geek” feature. In this feature we are going to take a look at a few of the stories that happened this week in the world of Geek. We aren’t a news site, so this won’t necessarily be a comprehensive list, just a few highlights. If you see a story throughout the week that you think should be featured here, then send it along to me and I will include it. You can send it directly to thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. Alright, let’s get to This Week in Geek.

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My Thoughts on Supergirl

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This past Monday saw the premier of the latest DC television series, Supergirl. The series is brought to us by the same folks who brought us Arrow and The Flash, so expectations were pretty high. I was curious to see if the quality would be just as high as those two shows, or if this would be just a “girl version” of a superhero show. More on that later. It seems like the reception for the pilot has been pretty positive, which is a big deal. Make no mistake, she may wear the “S” ( I know, it’s not really an S) on her chest, but this was still a really big risk for DC. Historically speaking, female driven superhero titles have not been huge sellers. Partially, that’s because female superhero title haven’t been very good, historically speaking. Well, I have watched the pilot for Supergirl now, twice, and I have to say, I have a lot of hope that this series could rewrite history for the genre.

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Supergirl: A Brand New Hope?

There is a problem in the world of geek, and it’s not a small one. No, it’s a large problem, and one that doesn’t seem to be going away, even in the forward thinking, super tolerant society that we have become. It’s one that has been around forever, but I really started noticing it on a personal level about six years ago. It’s basically this: Go down the superhero aisle of any toy store and you will find a lot of different characters. You will find Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, etc. You won’t find any Black Widow, or Batgirl, or Wonder Woman. In fact you’d be lucky to find any action figure type toys that represent any strong female protagonist. Yes, you might find some purple and pink Superman logo or Batman logo merchandise in the girls’ section, but that’s probably it. I am also not talking about the collectible figures that cost $25 that are targeted to the collector and not the kids. Why can’t you find any of these female characters in the superhero aisle? Simply put, boys don’t want to play with girl figures. This is what the marketing people believe and what the toy manufacturers believe. This was highlighted recently when a toy was released, based on a scene from The Age of Ultron movie, in which Black Widow is launched from a Quinjet on a motorcycle to help Cap out. Problem is, in the toy version, it is Cap on the motorcycle instead of Black Widow.

Here’s the thing, marketing people and toy manufacturers are probably right. Most boys don’t want to buy the girl figures. I have two boys who would probably agree with that. But you know what? I have three girls who would probably love to play with a motorcycle toy that featured a girl instead of Captain America. And there is the real issue. There is a growing number of young, geeky girls today. Geeky dads and geeky moms don’t see gender when raising the next generation of geeks. In their minds it is just as necessary for their girls to grow up as geeks as it is for their boys. My girls love the superhero movies just as much as my boys do. I would buy them just as much superhero merchandise if there was any of it made for girls. It’s all targeted at the boys.

It extends beyond the toys as well. In the next 5 years, there will be a billion superhero movies made, and two of them will have a woman as the main antagonist, we assume. One will be Wonder Woman, scheduled for the summer of 2017, and Captain Marvel, scheduled for the end of 2018. Black Widow has been deemed a side character and will not be receiving her own film. Which is good, because she is not an interesting character at all (I know sarcasm does not come through in type, so let me just tell you that last sentence was oozing with it). We have heard that Captain Marvel will be the Carol Danvers version of the character, but who knows? Maybe they will instead use the original version of the character, who was a male. In any case, it is easy to see that women as the main protagonist are hard to come by, and that is frustrating as a dad.

Being able to share my geekiness with my kids is pretty awesome. I love it when they get excited about the stuff I am excited about. I love when my boys run around pretending to be their favorite heroes, and it makes me sad that the girls don’t because they don’t want to pretend to be boys. My oldest will usually pretend to be Wonder Woman, the one female character everyone seems to know. My other girls pretend to be Batman or Thor (imagine their excitement in finding out that there is now a female Thor). Unlike my boys, though, they don’t get to see women being heroes like the men on the big screen, or even the little screen, and that’s hard as a dad. Don’t get me wrong, I don;t consider myself to be super feminist or anything, and I am trying to not make this a political discussion. All I am saying is that I want my girls to see heroes on the screen who are like them, and are just as awesome as their male counterparts, instead of always playing a supporting role. I don’t view my marriage that way. My wife Dani both have the leading role, and we are equal partners. I just want my girls to have an opportunity to see some of that too. And, I want to buy them cool toys like I buy the boys.

Supergirl

 

So what does this have to do with Supergirl? Well, DC finally has a shot to beat Marvel and be ahead of the curve. With their upcoming CBS series, Supergirl, they have an opportunity to be the first of the two companies to have a show centered on a strong female lead. They don’t come much stronger than Supergirl. The preview for the show looks promising, and I hope it is a smash hit and really popular. Movie makers and show runners have it in their heads that girl superheroes don’t sell. I think that was probably true 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, but I am hoping it has changed. I am hoping that this series will be the one to break the mold, and show Hollywood that there is an audience for this.

If Supergirl is successful, it will open the doors for future series and movies. It could open the door for more girl targeted merchandise in the stores for both companies. It could be a real beginning. In a lot of ways, it would be kind of cool. Superman was the first successful superhero, and because of him we have all the different superheroes today. If he had not been successful, who knows where the comics industry would be. Now, maybe his female cousin can do the same for the super heroine. Maybe her success can lead to many more successful superpower females on the big and little screens and on merchandising shelves.

I know that Marvel seems to be ahead of the curve on a lot of things related to superhero stuff, but this seems to be one where they are holding themselves back. I should say, it’s Disney, not Marvel, that’s holding them back. Marvel has a stable of strong female characters, but none of them seem to show up on screen or on toy shelves. Disney has always had the strict boy/girl lines. They have their characters for girls (usually princess something) and now with Star Wars and Marvel, their characters for boys. It is going to take a lot for them to break this mold, and let’s be honest, they have had years and years of success in their marketing format.

DC and Warner Bros. are not hindered by that. They can finally beat Marvel at being the pioneers in something superhero related. I’m not saying it will be enough to put them on top at the box office, but it might start them on the path to discovery. There may be geeky parents who are drawn to DC simply because they show the same respect for their female children that they do for their male children. I am hoping it will be enough to at least keep DC in the game. I am still holding out hope that somehow DC will end up on top. In any case, I will be lining up to watch Supergirl this fall on CBS.