Do We Need a Supergirl?

 

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Monday night CBS debuted its new series Supergirl, the first female-led superhero show on television since 1975’s iconic Wonder Woman. The show is being hailed as an important step towards giving young girls a heroic role model to call their own, and seems to be embracing the challenge. Besides the lead, most of the important supporting roles are also strong females. The media company she works for is led by a woman and the main bad guy is her aunt. After our hero reveals herself to the world, a waitress is heard saying “its nice for my daughter to have someone to look up to.”

But is this necessary? My daughter has already shown a strong interest in all things superhero. She’s dressing as Captain America this Halloween and it’s never occurred to her that perhaps Black Widow would be more appropriate. Marvel Comics have introduced a new female Thor and Wolverine. ย Doesn’t this perpetuate the idea that little girls shouldn’t like boy stuff unless it’s specifically tailored towards them?

I’ve never been a big fan of Superman. Even as a kid I found the “glasses and clumsiness” disguise to be absurd, and never bought into the idea that a guy from another planet would look exactly like us. Hawkman and Martian Manhunter were much more believable aliens. ( Yes, I know how silly that sounds. ) He was also too powerful to be interesting. Kryptonite was a fine counter to this, but if his planet was 27.1 million light years from Earth, how is there so much of the stuff lying around?

My daughter, however, loves Superman. Too young to be concerned with most of the effects of yellow sun solar energy absorption on Kal-El’s physiology, what she likes is that he can fly. Superheroes that can fly make much more interesting action figures to play with. It’s a valid point.

So we watched Supergirl, and I’m glad we did.

For those not familiar with the backstory, thirteen year old Kara Zor-El is shipped off from her exploding planet to go look after her baby cousin, who you may have heard of before. Due to a detour into the Phantom Zone and some time warping, she shows up on Earth after he has already grown up and become Superman. Stuck without a purpose, she is dumped off with a family, cleverly played by former Superman Dean Cain and former Supergirl Helen Slater, and left to find her own way. The show picks up with her now twenty-four, an awkward young adult played by Melissa Benoit.

Some of the fight scenes were surprisingly brutal and I’d have rather the bad guy got captured at the end of the episode instead of stabbing himself to death, but it’s a fun show and we’ll keep watching.

I asked Alaina if she liked Supergirl better than the boy superheroes and she replied that she liked them all, “as long as they aren’t bad guys.” She may not need a symbol of female empowerment to look up to quite yet, but this was the outfit she choose to wear to school on Tuesday. I didn’t let her wear the cape, but I’m guessing this means she liked it.

 

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34 thoughts on “Do We Need a Supergirl?”

  1. I’ve loved the Superman movies since I was a child and my 6 year old daughter now loves them too. Yes you have to get past the glasses/no-glasses thing but when I was a child that never even occurred to me. Christopher Reeve was my first ever crush when I was 8 (didn’t know how much older he was than me then!) and I still think he was the most gorgeous man that has ever lived (with my husband a close 2nd!) Do we need a Supergirl? My answer is yes – but only because I love the whole story. I really didn’t like the Dean Cain TV series so I hope this is better than that was. I can’t wait until we get this in the UK!

    1. I like this better than the Smallville series, but having a little girl next to me yelling “go Supergirl” certainly adds to the enjoyment. I didn’t realize the show hadn’t started in the UK yet.

  2. I used to love Superman. When I was little, Christopher Reeves was such an iconic actor, and I didn’t mind the glasses/fake clumsy personality one bit. I remember hoping for a female version (and how lame Superwoman was!). Supergirl sounds pretty cool actually. #ftmob

  3. Buffy is all I’m saying! I’m not that big a superhero or comic fan and anything to do with Superman is probably my least favourite. Too saccharine and ridiculous. So from that point of view, I would say no don’t need Supergirl. But I read something a while back about the reasons that Buffy was groundbreaking, but how the terrible thing is that it remains groundbreaking and fairly unique. It made some good points. #ftmob

  4. This is so funny that you write about this because while I loved Superman as a kid (hello, Christopher Reeve!), my youngest son isn’t a fan of Superman but he loves Supergirl. He watched the first episode with me and just this morning before school (I DVR my shows) we watched last night’s episode. He actually adores Supergirl over Superman! To answer whether girls need her or not, I am a Buffy fanatic and I loved watching a female ass kicker every week when that show was on. As a young woman at the time, Buffy helped me in a lot of ways, particularly with my confidence so I think we do need Supergirl but not just for girls though. I think boys can and will learn a lot from her.

    1. we watched this morning also. Its interesting to me hearing the female perspective as to whether or not a female ass kicker is necessary.

  5. I’m not a superhero fan, but I think that having female superheroes can only be a good thing. I think one of the reasons I didn’t like superheroes as a child was because they were almost all male and so I couldn’t really relate to them. I do remember watching Wonder Woman when I was very, very young and enjoying it, partly because she was a woman with special powers and I thought that was cool, and partly because I liked her outfit. I was also obsessed with a book called Lightning Lucy which was about an eight year old girl who was struck by lightning and developed special powers as a result. She didn’t quite go around saving the world, but she could fly, which is, of course, brilliant. The more diverse the range of role models for girls, the better.

  6. As a strong independent non feminist female, I always argued the fact that woman can play rugby and are just as cool as guys. But how could this be true when all the superhero films were about male heroes.

    I used to love Wonder Woman comics…okay, I still do! Now I have blonde hair, I don’t associate myself in the same way. Having a blonde superhero to look up to is great. The more common place these things become, the easier it’ll be for our daughters. Just think how far the world has come in the last 50 years.

    1. The X men always had a very high number of women, but for some reason never seemed to gain a large female following. Wonder Woman seems to be the standard

  7. The gender stereotype thing drives me bonkers! I got my daughter age 4 a puppy surprise for xmas. (as I had one when I was a kid and loved it. Its a dog with puppies in their tum. The one I had as a child was brown. Nowdays they are all totally pink or lilac. You can’t one that’s even slightly not so sickly pastel in colour! Why does it have to be pink and then in turn (due to more gender stereotyping with colours) aimed at girls!. What is particularly girly about a puppy!? I feel a blog post rant coming on!

    1. thats pretty funny. In Living Color used to have a very un-pc character named Handy-Man that my wife would probably say I’m closer to.

  8. I love Alaina’s Supergirl outfit and the fact that she isn’t bothered by the gender of her superheroes, just as long as they aren’t baddies. Having strong female role models is a good thing although I have mixed feelings about trying to “feminize” things to make them more appealing to girls – particularly with toys that seem fairly unisex as far as I can tell. I have to admit though that I never got into superheroes as a child (or adult) – male or female. I did always wonder why no-one seemed to be able to see that Superman and Clark Kent looked quite alike other than the glasses and clothing! Thanks for linking up to #ftmob ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I never liked superman as a kod and still dont now. Far too squaky clean for my liking. No-one is that good all the time.
    I like the idea of female superheros working alongside their male counterparts, the likes of Black Widow or Storm, Rogue and Jean Grey but I dont think it does any good repackaging male characters like Thor as a female. It almost feels a bit patronising.
    Thank you for linking up, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

  10. My husband and I watched it and were pleasantly surprised. We quite like the marvel shows. I wasn’t sure what to make of Supergirl as you never know how they are going to portray women in these things, I’m still making up my mind on that point, but even so, the programme was entertaining #sundaystars

  11. I think it’s more of a kids show than the other superhero stuff on at the moment, but we’ve been enjoying it all the same. Old school Superman is actually my fave superhero, but I’m not a big fan of the overblown fight scenes in everything these days. Rescuing pet snakes from trees makes for a pretty good alternative. ๐Ÿ˜‰ #sundaystar

  12. Like you, I’m not a big Superman fan because I think a superhero needs to be a little more vulnerable than he is. However, I’m glad things like Supergirl are becoming big. I watched a video of Joss Whedon talking about all the interviewers who have asked him why he always writes strong female leads and he gave all sorts of answers but at the end when he was asked he said, ‘Because you’re still asking that question.’

    #SundayStars

  13. I watched the first episode of Supergirl tonight and wasn’t a great fan. I’ll probably continue watching, but more for something to watch to pass the time rather than enjoying it. As for the gender points you raise, I think it’s great to have a female led superhero show as it gives more choice and options for both boys and girls.

    1. I wouldn’t watch it on my own, but I’m happy to have a show to watch with my daughter that we can both enjoy. If it was a male-led superhero or sci fi show that I felt was appropriate for her, I would watch that also, but there really aren’t very many out there other than cartoons. I’m not sure if it’s important that it’s a female lead, but it can’t be a bad thing.

  14. My 4 year old is the same way. Even going as far as we changed the entire theme of her room to superheroes. (Not a single piece of pink or purple left) She was Iron Man for Halloween. She insisted on cutting her hair short, threw away all her “girlie” underwear cause she saw superhero for girls ones on the Internet, and she will no longer shop in the girls section at the store…boys section ONLY! I was a tomboy too so I can’t be disappointed as she is an exact replica of me and I grew up to be very strong willed and independent. She’s also the middle child. I will have to check out the show with her. #justanotherlinky

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