At the end of this week, Warner Brothers treated the public to our first glimpse of Whiplash‘s Melissa Benoist in her next role as the star of CBS’ proposed Supergirl series. The CW had been handling the honors on DC Comics’ TV universe with Arrow and The Flash, but Superman’s best cousin will be movin’ on up to the larger, more powerful network that hopefully won’t skimp on the effects budget or require her to endure contrived crossovers with CSI: Cyber.
The full suit is pretty modest and consistent with her most well-known costumes of Earths and timelines past. I’ve seen online complaints about the darker colors that seem standard-issue for DC heroes beyond the printed page nowadays, but to me changing blue-and-red to dark-blue-and-dark-red isn’t worth nitpicking. Heck, I’m relieved they didn’t pose her in black leather swimwear. And I like to think the darker colors don’t have to mean DC wants her depressed and grouchy. I refuse to imagine a grim-‘n’-gritty Last Daughter of Krypton who sulks and snarls about the world’s problems, or who agonizes over whether or not to snap a dude’s neck.
If the first photo is any indication, maybe Supergirl will be spared the fate of Serious Heroes and harken back to different times. Because look up there: WB allowed a photo of one of their heroes smiling.
No, really! I think that’s Benoist’s real smile. I’m 98% certain her blatant display of happiness wasn’t Photoshopped by over-50 hackers who hate DC’s New 52. (In a way she reminds me of an extra-bold Ellie Kemper.) Maybe this is a positive sign that Supergirl will be allowed to like being a super-hero. Older readers like me might remember ancient times in comics when super-heroes could be motivated into their roles by reasons other than guilt, shame, vengeance, or merchandising. DC and/or WB all but banned that approach from the movies and shows, possibly because Joel Schumacher’s Bat-films occasionally had smiling characters in them, and their embarrassing failures ruined the concept of smiles by association.
(Granted, yes, Barry Allen smiles sometimes on The Flash, and that’s one of the dozens of great things about that show. As he and Joe have moved closer to solving the mystery of his mom’s murder, Barry’s been understandably grave in recent episodes and his smile has been missing from the daily call sheet. Here’s hoping it returns from hiatus soon.)
How radical would it be to have a major-media super-hero who accentuates the positive, embraces the responsibilities, maybe even endorses the role-modeling aspect that used to be part of the job? Believe it or not, there are normal humans in the world like that today. It’d be awesome if we had a super-hero who grew up to be just like them.
I realize I’m reading an awful lot into a single photo, but that simple expression represents a revolutionary departure from the Serious Heroes party line. Most press releases implied that studio executives knew this happened and were fine with it. That’s surprising and refreshing, and I’d like to hold on to this surge of optimism for a while if I may, before we next see photos of future Supergirl characters wearing grimaces and spikes and the blood of their victims.
I may even have to start paying closer attention to future press releases and think about watching the show. That pic is the first time that possibility’s occurred to me.