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. 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.