Supergirl called to action in new series

By Andrew Navaroli

CBS’s “Supergirl” premiered last Monday to much fanfare. Having been long promoted by the network, the show was an instant hit. Many still question if the plot is worthy of success.

Played by the ever-cheerful Kara Danvers who recently found fame in Glee, she is not the rough and tumble “badass” we’re used to seeing when it comes to our female action stars. And, despite what some critics might say, that’s a good thing. Because she’s a superhero doesn’t mean she has to abandon her femininity.

Female comic characters have always had a hard time when it comes to mainstream adaptations. Finding a well-written female superhero in film and television is not always easy.

For example, Wonder Woman has been around for as long as Batman and Superman have, yet continues to live under their shadow. Both male heroes have a long history of success in multiple mediums, while Wonder Woman’s most notable property in mainstream media is a cheesy live-action television series that ran from 1975-1979.

There has been a long struggle to get her back into the public eye, most recently with a failed television series attempt by NBC in 2011. Four years later, the character is beginning to make a comeback with an appearance in next year’s ‘Batman v. Superman’ and her first solo film set to premiere in 2017.

Nowadays, though, Marvel’s Black Widow is often seen as pop culture’s leading female superhero. Having been introduced to film audiences in 2010s ‘Iron Man 2,’ the character soon became a fan favorite. Played by Scarlett Johansson, she has now appeared in many films since. Holding her own against the men and often exceeding them in fighting technique, the character has become the epitome of a strong female hero.

Although, there was much backlash surrounding the character in this summer’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ Shoehorned into the film was a romantic subplot involving Black Widow and The Hulk, a relationship that has never occurred in decades of comics history. Many took offense to the treatment of the character, believing that creators were tossing her around man-to-man in movie-to-movie, and protests arose demanding better characterization.

Widow is a flirtatious character by nature, and fans did not want to see her being slut-shamed while male characters such as Tony Stark, or better known as Iron Man, seem to be given a free pass. ‘Age of Ultron’ writer and director Joss Whedon even quit Twitter due to this backlash.

Despite the character’s popularity, Black Widow has yet to receive her own movie, and there is currently none planned. Even more infuriating is the lack of merchandise for this character and all female superheroes in general. We often see the males on t-shirts and their action figures are the ones lining store aisles. They’re front and center on posters, Blu-Ray covers, and cereal boxes, unlike the women.

If men dominate film, TV series seem to be the new place for female characters to thrive. Both the CW’s ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash,’ while led by males, are filled with diverse and strong women, while Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and ‘Agent Carter’ are excelling at creating powerful and influential stories with it’s female characters.

This leads into the new TV series ‘Supergirl,’ the first major production to be led by a female superhero in a long time. The character has a comic history as Superman’s younger cousin, but has not always been big in the public eye. Choosing her to herald in a new age of female superheroes is a risky choice, but one that paid off.

Courtesy of Supergirls’s Facebook page

Yes, the show has a love triangle, but so have ‘The Flash’ and ‘Arrow,’ two shows doing well with male audiences. Kara, better known as Supergirl, lives a somewhat stereotypical life interning for a big media corporation in a big city. But none of this means the show is aimed towards women. Just because it’s not pandering to men doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

Naysayers might say we’re still not ready for female superheroes. I’d say that the 13 million people who watched and made ‘Supergirl’ the biggest new fall premiere are more than ready, whether they like it or not.