Welcome to Earth: A Supergirl Recap

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This episode feels very “ripped from the headlines,” as it addresses the current refugee crisis using aliens as a metaphor. Lynda Carter guest stars as the President of the United States. Kara interviews the anti-alien Lena Luthor as well as the mysterious Kryptonian who escaped from the DEO who turns out to be a Daxamite, a sister planet to Krypton.

Kara weighs over her pro-alien views with her prejudice against Mon-El, the Daxamite. Most of the time, Supergirl would act on the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. However, she assumes that Mon-El attempted to kill the President. She learns, from working on her interview with Lena and getting feedback from Snapper Carr, that she has to be neutral when reporting, regardless of how she feels about the issue. She also learns that she was wrong to assume the worst about Mon-El because the real villain was a red-headed firestarter alien who saw the Alien Amnesty Act as a backdoor for alien registration.

Since Lynda Carter is guest starring in this episode, there were a couple shout-outs to Wonder Woman. Supergirl does the iconic spinning that Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman was famous for. There’s also a reference to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet towards the end.

However, the biggest surprise in this episode was at the stinger, when one of the bartenders at the pro-alien bar is revealed to be a young female Martian. “Hello, Megan!” or so my brother and I would say. (#onlyYoungJusticefanswillgetthis)

One interesting thing to note in this episode is that it introduces Maggie Sawyer, a local cop who embraced a pro-alien lifestyle. She’s also a lesbian and it’s heavily hinted that Alex is very interested in her. I won’t even bother to give my opinion because Tumblr’s already shipping them.

There are two major drawbacks to this episode. One was that the actual villain of the show wasn’t even given a name on-screen. Given that the redheaded lady was a firestarter, I initially thought she was Volcana, a well-known Superman femme fatale. However, the guide on TV Tropes lists her as Scorcher, a DC villain with no ties to the Superman universe whatsoever.

It’s also clear that Mon-El is intended to be Supergirl’s love interest. Coming from two different planets that used to be sworn enemies? The two of them having prejudices about each other that they have to overcome? Dealing with the loss of their respective home planets? You’re basically asking me to ship them.

Except I don’t. Not yet anyway. If the show intends for Mon-El and Kara to be a couple, I need to see Mon-El as a person first and not just as a representative of an alien species that Kara and the other Kryptonians looked down upon.

I’m really glad that this episode is making fans aware of the issues, but I hope the rest of the season has less ripped-from-the-headlines episodes. Next episode proves to be promising as it’s not only a cool Halloween special, with characters in masks, but Dichen Lachman is guest starring as the villain! As a Dollhouse fan, I’m already hyped!

The Last Children of Krypton: Supergirl Recap

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Superman has arrived on the scene in National City and Kara is enjoying working together with her cousin. To my surprise, the people who aren’t enjoying this are Hank and Alex.  Hank isn’t enjoying it due to the fallout he had with Superman and they don’t agree with what to do with the mysterious Kryptonian who causes periodical outages throughout the building.

Thanks to Cadmus, John Corben has been recreated into Metallo. He shows up again on the bridge, luring the SuperCousins into a trap. After getting defeated by Metallo, the two head back to the DEO and find out about a shipment of kryptonite that went missing. Cadmus reveals themselves to the world in a hijacked message. Winn gets to work on creating anti-kyptonite armor.

Meanwhile, Kara is excited about her new job as a reporter. Unfortunately, her new boss is not exactly as perky as she is. Snapper Carr is not as young or as happy-go-lucky as his comic book counterpart, but he does make angry snap judgments. He wants Kara to prove herself as a reporter, telling her to earn her job. Cat Grant, of course, won’t take any of Kara’s whining, either, telling her that she’s taking a leave of absence. Kara admits that she doesn’t do well with change, which is something I can totally relate to. The two of them share a heartfelt hug and I realize that it’s for the best that Cat leaves because, as I stated before, Kara needs to learn how to stand on her own as Kara Danvers as well as when she’s Supergirl.

Kara goes home with her sister and contemplates moving to Metropolis to be Clark’s sidekick. Alex calls Kara out on the idea of running away from her problems. Alex points out that she made a lot of sacrifices to protect Kara, including giving up medical school. Kara gets a call from Clark who identified the metal skeleton as being made of Prometheum. The SuperCousins finds Metallo under a bridge, but it turns out to be a trap, as there is another Metallo in Metropolis, attacking Krypton Park.

Alex complains to Winn about her anger towards Kara, but Winn, as a former foster child, reminds Alex that she shouldn’t act so entitled towards Kara. The two of them then realize that Kryptonite leaves a radioactive residue and quickly figure out who gave the Kryptonite to Cadmus. Supergirl returns, only to find out that Alex set the mole up…only to get ambushed by Cadmus. Alex stands up to Cadmus, pointing out that she managed to kill a Kryptonian, but isn’t blinded by their extreme prejudice against aliens. Supergirl rescues her sister and the two apologize to each other. The two of them then get the idea to team up. And thankfully, Winn’s armor is ready to go.

Alex and Kara team up to take down John in National city while Martian Manhunter and Superman take down the other Metallo in Metropolis. I also love that Alex is wearing the armor she originally used to fight Supergirl from last season. The fight scenes are awesomesauce with both Metallos keeping the Supercousins on the ropes. Thankfully, Martian Manhunter and Alex are able to take the Metallos down. Supergirl sends a message to Cadmus that she is ready for them while the lead scientist is all “Bring it on.”

Supergirl goes to CatCo to wish Cat all the best for her leave of absence. She tells Cat to visit sometimes and then changes back to Kara to return to her job. James Olsen takes over Cat’s old job as CEO of CatCo and Kara submits a report about the Metallo attacks to Snapper, putting on her best tough face. It’s left to be seen if Snapper has a heart of gold underneath his jerk exterior, but I like him so far.

Hank hands over the kryptonite to Superman. Winn gets to hug his idol and Supergirl hopes that they can team up again soon. Clark lands safely in Metropolis and gets a call from Perry White. Meanwhile, Kara sits at the side of the mysterious Kryptonian who wakes up and grabs her by the throat, ending the episode.

This episode pushes things forward. I’m glad that Kara doesn’t have to worry about standing in Superman’s shadow. And thankfully, Superman doesn’t outshine our leading lady at all. It’s sad to see Cat go due to Calista’s refusal to work outside of LA, but Snapper Carr will be a good character to get to know, especially since he’s different from his comic book counterpart. I just hope that the mysterious Kryptonian won’t be some stupid love interest for Kara because SuperFlash ship aside, it feels very, very contrived and way too convenient.

The Adventures of Supergirl: A Recap

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The beginning of the second season picks up where the first season left off, with Supergirl and Martian Manhunter discovering a mysterious pod from Krypton. Supergirl looks inside and discovers a Kryptonian man inside. After discovering this mysterious Kryptonian, J’onn takes Supergirl to a new DEO facility, with some jokes at the old base from the first season. This is the first indicator of the network jump. Since the show films in Vancouver as opposed to Los Angeles, it makes sense that some locations would change as well. It also explains why Lucy Lane, who joined up with the DEO last season, is nowhere to be seen in this episode.

Kara returns to work the following morning and discusses her new promotion with her boss, Cat Grant. At first, Kara thinks her ideal career would be marketing because she got that result from an online quiz. Cat, of course, ain’t buying it.

Kara is given some time off (48 hours to be exact) to figure out what career she wants, but she spends some of that time on her first date with James Olsen. However, the date gets interrupted by breaking news of a spacecraft called the Venture crashing into Earth. Supergirl goes to save it, but this time, she’s not alone. Her cousin, Superman (played by Tyler Hoechlin), also arrives to help. Once they land the Venture on the ground, the two of them revel in the moment of working together for the first time. Supergirl then proceeds to tease her cousin in front of a few civilians who were biking along the way.

When the SuperCousins arrive at the DEO, everyone reacts as if, to quote my brother, “the President just came in.” Winn goes into total fanboy mode. The only one who greeted Superman in a less than friendly demeanor is J’onn and Alex takes notice. The SuperCousins examine the mysterious Kryptonian, but not much information is given aside from the fact that he’s around their age. Then they decide, along with Martian Manhunter, to investigate why the Venture almost crash-landed, starting with Clark doing some work at CatCo.

It is hilarious to see the usually unflappable Cat Grant falling all over herself for Clark. What’s even more hilarious is how Clark is totally aware of said crush. Thankfully, he’s perfectly happy with Lois Lane. Kara gets a call and tells Clark that one of the passengers who was supposed to be on the Venture was Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor’s sister.

We cut to a mysterious underground lair where a man named Corben tests out a drone weapon. He kills the man selling him the drone and gets a call from someone who works for the Luthors. Meanwhile, the SuperCousins investigate Lena Luthor (played by Katie McGrath aka Morgana LeFay from Merlin). She tells them that she’s planning on renaming the company to try and restore the company’s reputation and get it out of Luthor’s menacing shadow. She gives them information on the part of the Venture that exploded since it was created by a subsidiary of LutherCorp.

After investigating LutherCorp, Clark and Kara take a walk out on the street. Kara asks him for advice because her life feels out of balance while Clark seems to have it all. He tells her that she’ll figure things out eventually.

Back at the DEO, Alex finds out that J’onn and Superman had a falling out after they found a meteor made entirely out of Kryptonite. J’onn made the decision to keep it. Superman did not agree with it. Winn gets information that indicates Lena was targeted in the Venture crash. The show cuts to Lena on a helicopter, surrounded by attack drones.

Corben, speaking through the drones, gives the SuperCousins an ultimatum of either letting him kill Lena or have his attack drones let loose on the city. Thankfully, the two of them are able to work together. Supergirl saves Lena from the helicopter while Superman took care of the drones that were let loose onto the city.

Kara returns to work and has another talk with Cat, who tells her that starting a new chapter in life means becoming a new version of yourself. She tells Kara to keep taking risks, to take the plunge, so to speak.

At the DEO, Winn examines the drone and forensics links the drone to Corben. Martian Manhunter and Superman have a talk after Alex’s prompting. They discuss J’onn keeping the Kryptonite.

Kara walks with Lena to the press conference announcing the LuthorCorp rebranding. Alex and James are in the crowd, keeping an eye on things. Suddenly, the whole plaza is riddled with explosions, including one at the LutherCorp building. The SuperCousins keep the building from falling while Alex fights off Corben, who is dressed as a police officer. Supergirl goes to fix the building, with some information that J’onn and Winn provide her.

The action in this scene is top notch, with Alex fighting off Corben and Supergirl using her laser vision to weld some I-beams onto a broken column. Once that’s done, she comes to her sister’s rescue, only for Lena to shoot Corben.

Things settle down at the newly made L-Corp with Lena congratulating Clark on his article and complimenting Kara on her investigative skills. This prompts Kara to return to CatCorp with her decision as to what she wants to do: she decides to be a field reporter. Cat congratulates Kara on her decision and then shows Kara the resume she submitted. Cat had a feeling that Kara would eventually become a reporter because of the kind of person Kara is.

There’s also some foreshadowing in this scene that implies that Cat might retire or change her job somehow. This is because Calista Flockhart is now a recurring cast member as opposed to a member of the main cast due to her refusal to move away from Los Angeles. I’m glad that she still wants to be a part of this show in spite of the distance between LA and Vancouver, and I hope I can still see as much of Cat as possible in this season.

Meanwhile, Winn joins up with the DEO since he can do more than just IT work there. Kara and Clark have another rapport where Clark decides on staying in National City for a little longer to help Kara out and reconnect with the stuff he misses about Krypton. Then they go on to save the day, up, up, and away.

The episode ends with Corben in some kind of dark laboratory in Cadmus with a woman injecting him with something that turns him into Metallo. It’s clear that Cadmus Labs, or whatever they’re called here, will be the Big Bad for this season.

This episode centers on Kara trying to figure out what she wants to do with her civilian life, given that she has finally hit her stride as Supergirl. Cat advises her that she needs to figure out her career beyond an internet search. I know that Cat’s speeches can be a bit overbearing at times, but I related to what she told Kara in this instance. Like Kara, I feel stuck in life and there are times in life when I don’t really know what I want. Trying new things, such as going to cons, and meeting new people helped me with understanding my vocation.

Clark Kent’s establishing scene was pitch-perfect, showing Clark as the mild-mannered reporter who answers to a very demanding Perry White. They cast a wonderful actor for the role because he’s able to carry that mild-mannered demeanor while having a totally different air when he becomes Superman. It’s so weird for me to say this, but I like Tyler when he’s Clark rather than as Superman. He’s way cuter being the clumsy adorkable reporter. I just hope that he doesn’t stay for the whole season. I want the season to focus on Kara standing on her own as Supergirl and it’ll be hard to do that when she finds herself under Superman’s shadow.

Another subplot in this episode focused Kara’s relationship with James Olsen. I know that I was really rooting for them last season, but I only wanted James to be with Kara because my first priority was that Kara would be happy. (Translation: I shipped them, but they were not my OTP.) I was essentially happy with any guy she wanted to be with, which was why I never shipped her with Winn. I still think that while Kara and James could’ve taken things slow while Kara got used to her new job, I’m glad they broke things off amicably. Mostly because the guy I really ship her with exists in another show. You might know him. He’s the fastest man alive, totally adorkable, and perfect for Kara given how they teamed up before.

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Yeah, I ship Superflash. Save the hate for tumblr. I don’t care!

This episode gets a 9/10. Season 2 is off to a great start!

Top 5 Supergirl Episodes (Season 1)

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I. Love. Supergirl. So. Frickin. Much. No, the show isn’t perfect. The pacing can be a bit too quick at times, some emotional scenes are heavy-handed and the more cynical critics out there will probably argue that there aren’t really any original plotlines. “It’s just Supergirl given Superman’s stories,” they say.

The thing about an adaptation, though, is that the best ones can stand on their own without the need of knowing all that there is to know about the source material. What makes Supergirl work is the emotional drive that’s within every episode and all the dynamic, endearing characters. I’ve waxed poetic on how I felt about the characters in a previous post, so since the first season has ended, I’m gonna list off my Top 5 favorite episodes of Supergirl.

WARNING: SPOILERS ENSUE

5. Strange Visitor From Another Planet

When I think back to when I knew this show was starting to get off the ground, I think about this episode. It centers on J’onn J’onzz as he not only has to deal with anti-alien Senator Miranda Crane and the possibility of General Lane taking over the DEO, but he also has to confront the White Martian, an extraterrestrial species from Mars that killed all the Green Martians except for J’onn. What’s scary about the White Martian is that it can take the form of any person.  In this case, it takes the form on Senator Crane, on a mission to destroy the last Son of Mars once and for all.

My friend Cordelia lovingly refers to Martian Manhunter as a “telepathic marshmallow” in the sense that underneath the rough exterior, J’onn is a real softie. While we don’t get to see much of J’onn’s soft side, a crucial part of his backstory gets revealed in this episode. The reason why he’s so willing to protect Alex and Kara is because he had two daughters of his own on Mars.

But the best parts of the episode center on Supergirl. Not only was she able to rescue the real Senator Crane, but she was able to stop Martian Manhunter from killing the White Martian. And both of them were done without her using her powers. Instead, she appeals to the better nature of both Crane and J’onzz. Supergirl’s resolve to do the right thing without resorting to violence softens Senator Crane’s heart and gets the DEO another prisoner. The best thing about the episode, though, is that the bond between J’onn, Alex, and Kara became stronger than ever.

4. Falling

There’s always going to be at least one episode in a series where the protagonist goes evil for a day. Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Season 2 opener “When She Was Bad” showed Buffy acting like a b-i-t-c-h because of her unresolved issues that lingered from defeating the Master in Season 1. In Smallville, Clark would fall under the influence of Red Kryptonite, which would cause him to act in the most selfish manner possible. Unfortunately, the same would come for Supergirl in this episode

While saving a team of firefighters, Kara gets infected from Red Kryptonite that was stuck on the roof of the burning building. Like in Smallville, Kara’s most selfish instincts come to the surface. She acts like a petulant teenager and dresses up for work like she’s gonna walk onto a runway instead of the very preppy, sweet looks that Kara is normally associated with. I have to give the wardrobe department points for not dressing Kara up like a Playboy Bunny. Just because you act like a skank doesn’t mean you dress like one!

One good thing that came from Kara’s bad girl attitude is that the equally bratty Siobhan Smythe gets fired for trying to sell a story undermining Supergirl to the Daily Planet. But other than that, Kara’s bad girl attitude completely destroys everyone’s faith in Supergirl, especially towards the end when Supergirl essentially turns into her Aunt Astra. I hated seeing her act out against Cat, cause chaos in National City, and forcing J’onn to expose himself as Martian Manhunter. It hurt me more that National City stopped lauding Supergirl as their hero (from the girl throwing away her homemade costume to the firemen taking down their sign).

But what makes this episode different from the other two shows is that Kara’s actions aren’t easily forgiven. She is held accountable by Cat and the people of National City. In Buffy and Smallville, the heroics of the main characters are always done in secret. Buffy’s bad actions are easily forgiven by her friends and Clark’s actions under the influence of Red K are swept under the rug. The characters, as heroic as they are, aren’t forced to deal with the fallout caused by their mistakes. Kara, on the other hand, spends a few episode picking up the pieces and I like that for a while, she has to atone and make things right again. It feels a lot more realistic.

3. World’s Finest

Somebody in Heaven must have connections with the show’s creators because as soon as I heard that there would be a Supergirl/Flash crossover, I was immediately hyped up. Watching the crossover after Superman vs Batman felt like a big sigh of relief because Supergirl and the Flash got along as soon as they met and they worked well together as a team, even if they had a bit of a rough start in battling Livewire and Silver Banshee. (And yes, I totally ship Kara/Barry and want some kind of infinite crisis to happen so that these two adorable baby dorks can be together again. Shut up!)

The pacing in this episode is a bit too fast and there wasn’t enough scenes of Kara as Supergirl and Barry as the Flash actually doing well in a fight together. If anything, this should’ve been a two-parter. But for what it’s worth, it’s still an emotionally compelling crossover.

One reason why I loved it is because the more experienced Barry is the only one who understands Supergirl’s issues. Supergirl is desperate to redeem herself after the Red K incident, but Barry knows that finding forgiveness takes time. So it’s majorly heartwarming when, after Supergirl gets zapped unconscious while saving a helicopter from Livewire, that the people of National City rally to protect Supergirl. Then, as an added bonus, the firemen that Supergirl saved earlier hose Livewire down. If I had it my way, it would’ve been a cool Han Solo kind of moment so that Flash and Supergirl can make the finishing move, but again, this episode had major pacing issues.

In spite of the episode’s flaws, “World’s Finest” is just a lot of fun to watch. It’s awesome that CBS and the CW were willing to work with each other to allow this to happen. The chemistry that Barry has with everyone is just perfect and I hope that there will be more opportunities for the Girl of Steel to meet the Scarlet Speedster again.

(Seriously, you two. JUST KISS ALREADY!)

2. Better Angels

The finale of this show was SO CLOSE to perfect. The reason why I put this episode at number 2 is that I really had to suspend my disbelief for a few things. While it’s understandable that Superman can’t overshadow his cousin, it would’ve made sense to have at least seen his face once, especially since Kara needed all the help she could get in destroying Fort Rozz. Also, how was Alex able to fly Kara’s pod?

But that’s neither here nor there. Overall, this episode is the perfect example of what I look for in a TV show. As I’ve said before, the reason I love Supergirl so much is because it promotes hope. I am tired of post-apocalyptic dystopias like The 100 Divergent Bone Maze Games. I am tired of heroes who isolate themselves in the name of keeping everyone safe. Supergirl shows that having friends does not make you weak or put those you love in certain peril. As Kara said “Love bonds us all.”

I knew that this show had stolen my heart the minute Supergirl said this speech to National City:

People of National City. This is Supergirl and I hope you can hear me. We have been attacked. Mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors, children, everyone, suddenly stopped by a force of evil as great as this world has ever known. Your attacker has sought to take your free will, your individuality, your spirit. Everything that makes you who you are. When facing an attack like this, it’s easy to feel hopeless. We retreat, we lose our strength, lose our self. I know. I lost everything when I was young. When I first landed on this planet, I was sad and alone. But I found out that there is so much love in this world out there for the taking, and you, the people of National City, you helped me. You let me be who I’m meant to be. You gave me back to myself. You made me stronger than I ever thought possible, and I love you for that. Now, in each and every one of you, there is a light, a spirit, that cannot be snuffed out. That won’t give up. I need your help again. I need you to hope.

Hope. That you can remember that you can all be heroes. Hope. That when faced with an enemy determined to destroy your spirit, you will fight back and thrive. Hope. That those who once may have shunned you will, in a moment of crisis, come to your aid. Hope. That you will see the faces of those you love and perhaps those you lost. 

The rest of the episode was suspenseful. I felt like I was watching Buffy’s “Prophecy Girl” again because both episodes center on a blonde protagonist going on a suicide mission to take down the ultimate Big Bad only to not end up dead. But as I said before, Supergirl never really has to fight alone.

Other awesome things to note are the epic fight, Kara lifting Fort Rozz into space all by herself, Alex saving her adoptive sister, Kara’s promotion, and the adorableness that is J’onn J’onzz in an apron.

But since the renewal for Season 2 is still up in the air, the finale had to go and sequel hook. For crying out loud, can you not writers?!

 

1.For the Girl Who Has Everything

This is my favorite episode of the season for a lot of reasons. One, it’s a standalone episode with a clean ending and no cliffhangers. Secondly, it’s one of the few adaptations of one of the most famous Superman comic storylines “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore. But the reason I love this episode the most is because of the emotional stakes. Kara is literally given everything she ever wanted, deluded by the Black Mercy into thinking she’s still on Krypton and that her family (including Aunt Astra and a young Kal-El) are all with her.

It’s up to Alex to save her sister from the Black Mercy. And the way that it all goes down is heartbreaking and yet resonates as so true. Life is painful and yet, when we work past the pain, we can find happiness that goes beyond just getting whatever we want on a silver platter.

The biggest thing, though, was that this episode inspired me to write. Any episode where I want to write something as good as what I saw (as opposed to “I can write better than that”) is definitely doing its job.

 

So. CBS. Renew Supergirl already. If not, CW, get Supergirl on and get her back with Flash ASAP!

I have no idea how I’m gonna handle this summer without this show. *sigh* Back to Netflix!

Cynicism Vs Idealism in Heroism

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We live in a pretty cynical world at the moment. The cynicism in our world is reflected in a lot of shows that are currently popular: The Walking Dead, How to Get Away With Murder, Game of Thrones, etc. This love for cynicism especially applies to movies like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. While Batman vs Superman currently has a 28% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rated the movie 72%, which means that there is a good number of people out there who are willing to defend this movie. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Agents of SHIELD are garnering great praise even though they’re all set in a darker, grittier side of the verse.

Superheroes weren’t always dark and gritty, though. It’s just a trend that has been occurring in the various film and television adaptations of popular comic books. People mistakenly think that if a show is dark and gritty, people will take things more seriously. However, choosing to go with a dark tone comes at the cost of the audience possibly losing interest.  That’s not to say that all tragedy sucks. According to TVTropes: “A good tragedy works because the characters involved are given a chance to escape their downer ending but, for whatever reason, fail to do so; take away this chance, and usually what will happen is that the story just ends up being a lengthy description of unremittingly unpleasant things happening to someone.” But even so, there is evidence of adaptations that keep a more realistic or idealistic tone while still being well-written.

The shows that go under the DC Animated Universe shows that came out in the 90s and early 2000s mostly vary in tone. Batman:The Animated Series and Batman: Beyond had a dark and gritty tone, but the major characters shine a light of hope in the corrupt city of Gotham. That shining hope is something that the current lineup of DC movies lack. Ask any fan of the DC Animated Universe and you’ll learn that most of them compare the current adaptations of the DC shows to the animated series that came before. Yes, the writing was that good.

That sense of hope was there in Daredevil season 1 and was sort of promised towards the end of Jessica Jones. It’s also a driving point of Arrow, but one major problem all three of these shows suffer with is that the sense of hope gets clouded by the characters’ various issues. Daredevil suffers from a martyr complex, Jessica Jones has issues with connecting to people, and Oliver Queen would rather keep secrets from everyone.

The current lineup of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has more balanced tones in terms of idealism and cynicism. On the more cynical end, we have Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, the dark, angsty tone of the movies make sense because it builds up from real consequences to the actions established from the previous films. The Avengers went out of their way to make sure that they create as little collateral damage as possible, but as the trailers have shown, all the collateral damage from the past several movies have added up to a lot. I’m seriously looking forward to seeing Civil War, even though I know that there may be characters who will probably be killed off by the end of the movie, because I know that eventually, these heroes will put aside their differences to defend the world again when Thanos tries taking over the world.

A good example of a group of anti-heroes that still maintains an optimistic tone is Guardians of the Galaxy. The titular Guardians aren’t heroes in the conventional sense. They’re not good in essentials, but they are willing to do the right thing when the situation calls for it. The movie maintains a humorous tone in spite of the fact that the team consisted of “a thief, two thugs, an assassin, and a maniac.” The reason the movie is enjoyable is because the movie has tons of humor and characters that everyone can relate to. Legends of Tomorrow has a similar premise in that the members of the team aren’t all straight-laced heroes and the lighthearted, humorous tone throughout most of the episode.

On the more idealistic ends of the scale are The Avengers, The Flash, and Supergirl. The Avengers has the most idealistic tone out of all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even with Coulson’s death, because the show’s conflict was simple:  All of the Avengers want to stop Loki from taking over the world, but they had conflicting ideas on how to stop him. Coulson’s death became the reason that the Avengers came together to take down Loki. Tie it all together with Joss Whedon’s humor and the fact that Coulson wasn’t actually dead, and you have the basics of a perfect superhero movie.

The Flash has moments of cynicism, especially with the new multi-verse story arc, but overall, the show maintains an idealistic tone. Flash, up to this point, has never killed anyone in the series. Instead, the various villains are either kept in the Pipeline or in Iron Heights. Since Barry Allen is a scientist, he and his friends work together to find smart solutions to the various problems.

This method of problem-solving carried over to Supergirl. I’m not gonna lie. Last night’s crossover episode “World’s Finest” was a huge sigh of relief after the disappointment of Batman vs Superman. I love Supergirl. A lot. But I also know that in spite of the fact that Supergirl has all these awesome powers, she’s not perfect. She tends to jump into situations without thinking and her emotions often blind her better judgment. I also love how realistic the show is, even with the idealistic tone. Supergirl is held accountable for her actions and when she finally shows how far she is willing to go to protect National City, the city is more than willing to protect and forgive her.

We need to have shows with idealistic tones to balance out the cynicism we have in this world. I really hope Supergirl doesn’t get cancelled because we need shows like Supergirl to give this cynical world an example of how idealism can change the world for the better.

How Can We Be Heroes?

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Question from a reader in regards to my previous superhero post:

We all have the potential to live by their example and be heroes in our own ways, but what problems do we face in life that make superheroes important to us? How does their presence on TV, on film, and in comic books help us?


One of GK Chesterton’s most famous quotes goeth thusly: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

The same can be applied for comic books and all of the adaptations thereof. In Geekpriest, Fr. Roderick Vonhogen (whom you may know for his Star Wars reaction video that went viral last year) has a chapter that integrates his love for comic book heroes with his own coming of age story. I highly recommend you read his memoir because it shows how faith and culture can work together, even in the world of geekdom.

 

Warning: Spoilers for Supergirl, The Flash, and other shows will ensue.

While it’s true that none of us have superpowers or face nefarious villains on a daily basis, we are all given talents, gifts, and special skills that we can use to help make the world a better place. One reason I love Flash and Supergirl is that while the heroes have awesome powers, their real special ability is something that we can all have: the power to believe in the best in people, the ability to empathize and be compassionate towards others.

In a recent episode of The Flash, Barry Allen helps Earth-2 Harrison Wells find another option when faced with the ultimatum of “Drain Flash’s speed or your daughter will be tortured and killed.” In spite of Harry betraying everyone, Barry is willing to help the scientist by offering to save Harry’s daughter, even if that means going to Earth-2 to do so. Keep in mind, Barry basically did all of that without using any super speed. Barry is a selfless person at heart, which means that he’s willing to go the extra mile, with or without his powers.

Another example of ordinary traits being used in an extraordinary way can be seen in the DC Animated Universe direct-to-video movie Superman vs. The Elite. Eric Rodriguez, AKA Channel Awesome’s “Blockbuster Buster,” says that this short movie exemplifies Superman’s greatest power: his strength of will. He does what is right, no matter what.

While we may not face situations where we have to sentence some form of justice on a criminal, we all have the power to try and be compassionate and fair, even towards those who’ve hurt us. In a similar way, we encounter situations where we are called to have conviction and do the right thing, even if it means facing insurmountable odds or a situation where vengeance could be an easier option.

Another reader pointed out that both Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock are not particularly role model material, due to Jessica Jones being an alcoholic with severe PTSD issues and Matt Murdock having Catholic guilt over not being able to save everyone. While Jessica Jones’s cynicism leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I and many other fans of Jessica Jones found her willingness to fight and prevent Kilgrave from hurting anyone else inspiring. And while Catholics are often mocked for having a major guilt complex, some people have used those doubts to find a sense of self-worth. Faith and doubt actually go hand in hand because doubt opens up questions that help further understand ourselves and our beliefs.

I also have a personal belief that nobody is beyond saving or redemption. While it’s true that the characters in Suicide Squad are only doing black-ops missions for the hopes of getting shorter prison sentences, these same villains could’ve been heroes in another universe. There’s a movie in the DC Animated Universe called Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths in which the Justice League find themselves in a Mirror Universe in which the Justice League encountered evil versions of themselves and heroic versions of the villains.

The same can be said for the character of Captain Cold and his complex character development in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Although Captain Cold started out as a major villain, he developed a more complex personality when it was revealed that he was very protective of his sister and would not resort to killing in order to get the job done. In Legends of Tomorrow, it’s implied that he resorted to becoming a criminal as a way to survive. He felt as if he had no other choice, given that he lived with an abusive father, and never thought that he could ever be a hero. However, DC Comics showed his heroic potential in an event called Flashpoint in which The Flash creates an alternate universe due to actions he did when he traveled back in time. In this series, Captain Cold becomes a hero called Citizen Cold.

But why bring up the villains at all, you ask? As I said: Everyone is capable of being a hero. We can look at the villains and see ourselves in them. We could’ve taken on a dark path if our circumstances were different and if we made different choices in life. However, even if you or someone you know is on that dark path, these same villains show that there could be a way out of the dark.

The Importance of Superheroes

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It’s easy to write off superhero movies as being all the same. It’s easy to get cynical about comic book movies, especially ones that are dark and angsty (*sideglances at Batfleck and Man of Steel*). But the genre of adaptations based on comic books has come a long way from how they started in the early 2000s and despite what some people may think, it’s not a rinse-and-repeat formula. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there’s one thing that the current lineup of superheros has shown us, it’s that there are many ways to be a hero, just as there are many ways to be a saint.

WARNING: I’ll be making references to both the Marvel Cinematic Universe AND the DC shows currently on TV, so if you’re one of those people who wants me to pick a side between Marvel and DC, this post is not for you. Also, I’m more familiar with the current lineup of movies and TV shows and not with the comics themselves, so apologies to you diehard comic book fans.

I’m gonna start out with what is being called the “Arrowverse,” AKA the current lineup of shows created by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg. Arrow is the series most similar to the dark and gritty DC movies we’ve been seeing in recent years. It’s not a perfect show, especially with its soap-opera worthy levels of poor communications and misunderstandings, but my brother, who is a huge fan of the show, loves Arrow because of the characters. He says that the Green Arrow represents “the idea of a ray of light to combat a dark town. I think that things may always get worse before they get better, but you shouldn’t stop when it gets either way.”

Similarly, the protagonists in Daredevil and Jessica Jones are more like anti-heroes because these heroes don’t try to do the right thing for the sake of being good, but for other reasons. Matt Murdock wants to reform Hell’s Kitchen and Jessica Jones wants to believe that she can be a hero, even though she doesn’t think that she’s good. Neither of them realize it, but they are being heroes just by being selfless and putting other people before their own personal happiness. Maybe it’s my Catholic bias, but I liked that (so far) Matt incorporated the advice that Fr. Lantom gives him. And while I still have problems with Jessica Jones, I love that Jessica’s motivations throughout the show are for Hope’s safety as well as protecting humanity from Kilgrave.

In contrast, The Flash and Supergirl both have a more optimistic and idealistic view on heroism. Neither of the titular heroes resort to killing their adversaries. Instead, Flash gets help from his friends and mentors and come up with a smarter plan of action. The best example of this was during the Christmas special “Running to Stand Still.” Facing off against two of his deadliest opponents, Flash works together with his friends at S.T.A.R. labs to prevent a mass bombing. He also helps out a police officer who had a grudge against one of the bad guys. Another example can be seen in the crossover episode with Arrow “The Brave and The Bold” (Arrow Season 3) in which Flash’s team worked together with Green Arrow’s team to stop five bombs in the city from going off all at once.

Supergirl relies on her empathy and willingness to believe in the best in people in order to save the day and her optimism and compassion compel most people to imitate her. A recent example was shown in “Strange Visitor from Another Planet” in which Supergirl helped changed the mind of an anti-alien senator simply by saving her from the Monster (or rather White Martian) of the Week. She also helped her mentor take another step in dealing with his personal grief. (I’m applying this to both Hank Henshaw and Cat Grant.)

One other thing I also like about the latest crop of heroes is that they allow for original conflicts and concepts. Movies with superhero teams such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Big Hero 6 show that while heroes may not always get along or agree, they will come together and be heroes when the situation calls for it.

What’s even better is that there are even shows out there that center on people who don’t have any superpowers, but are still considered heroes because their actions go beyond the ordinary. Agent Carter is an awesome show for many reasons, but one thing I love is that none of the protagonists (Peggy, Jarvis, or Howard) have any standard comic book superpowers. Instead, Peggy relies on her intuition and quick thinking in order to save the day. Jarvis trains in martial arts and is always willing to lend a hand. And the only superpowers Howard has are his genius mind and his charm.

The most interesting thing I’ve been seeing in the superhero genre, however, is that every character is given the opportunity to be good. Most of the time, villains are too selfish or sociopathic to want to be good. However, there are more complex villains that have a moral. Legends of Tomorrow and Suicide Squad show that even bad guys have the potential to be heroic under the right circumstances.

In Legends of Tomorrow, there are three characters who are morally ambiguous: Captain Cold, Heatwave, and White Canary. In my honest opinion, these guys have been the most interesting characters to watch. I love their snark, but I also like that they’re trying to figure out their own purpose in a team where most of the characters tend towards following rules or morals. While they don’t consider themselves to be good, Captain Cold is more than willing to help out a “crewmember” in need. Back in The Flash, he establishes his own code of honor with the main hero and goes out of his way to protect his sister. And while I’m on the fence about White Canary partaking in cannabis, she’s efficient in battle and wants to be more than just an assassin. Even the characters with typical morals, such as Martin Stein, are becoming more aware of their flaws as people and are making efforts to change in order to become better heroes.

In short, we need comic book superheroes. Why? Because we all have the potential to be heroes, even without the ability to gain superpowers. Superheroes, in the end, are people who have “an increased capacity to act and exert power and to demonstrate agency.” And as David Bowie said: “We can be heroes, just for one day.”

So go be heroes, people!

Why Supergirl is My New Favorite TV Show

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It’s probably hard for y’all to believe, but I’m picky about the shows I watch. I don’t get into the Shondaland dramas or anything too dark and depressing. I binge-watched Jessica Jones when it came out since I liked Daredevil, but by the time I got to the end of the series, it left a really bad taste in my mouth.

As much as I liked aspects of Jessica Jones, I hated that what motivated the heroine wasn’t a desire to atone for her past or to try and reform the city, but just as a way of “getting by.” She’s fighting to survive, but there’s no real hope in the overall tone of the show.

In contrast, there’s Supergirl. I’ll be the first to say that the show is cheesy. The dialogue can be laughably bad at times and some episodes felt a bit too simplistic. But by the end of each episode, I am left with a beautiful feeling. That feeling is called hope. The show is very idealistic in contrast to the majority of the shows and movies that take place in the DC Universe, but the idealism is a breath of fresh air considering how cynical and dark the most popular shows on TV are nowadays.

While the plots and dialogue can be hit and miss at times, what keeps me going back to the show are the characters, so I’ll go into each of them starting with the major recurring antagonist Maxwell Lord, played by Peter Facinelli.

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I love to hate this guy. He’s basically like Lex Luthor or Iron Man gone wrong. He is very skeptical about Supergirl and wants to tarnish her reputation. He’s driven on the desire of autonomy, to never rely on superheroes to save the day. He has a tragic backstory, but while he wants to make the world a better place, he wants to do so on his terms. In another show, he would’ve been a great tragic protagonist. But in this show, he’s a worthy adversary of Supergirl because he’s human and can affect how the world sees her through his influence.

The alien/metahuman villains are usually just around for one episode, with General Astra being the exception.

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General Astra (played by Laura Benanti) is the main alien antagonist. She was Kara’s aunt, her mother’s evil twin sister. She’s driven to rule the world through fear and intimidation. Again, in another show, Astra’s motivations would be seen in a more sympathetic light, willing to do whatever it takes. The best way to describe Astra up to this point is “the ends justify the means.”

But the character I hate the most is actually another human antagonist, General Sam Lane, played by Glenn Morshower.

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As much as I support the troops in real life, General Lane represents the dark and gritty view of heroism that’s in a lot of the DC Universe movies. Like Astra, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to carry out his plans and doesn’t give Supergirl any compassion or consideration. The worst thing about him is that he’s supposed to be a good guy, but his methods and motivations aren’t exactly as clear.

These three antagonists stand in stark contrast to someone who is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show: Cat Grant, played by Calista Flockhart.

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Cat started out as a one-note mean boss. I’ll admit that her stances on feminism can be heavy handed at times and she’s very self-centered, so she’s not all good. But at the same time, I love that she acts as an indirect mentor to Kara/Supergirl. In the most recent episode, Kara basically admits that working at CatCo is one thing that keeps her grounded in life, even if that job involves being at Cat’s beck and call. Cat was smart enough to figure out that Kara is Supergirl, but Kara found a way to trick her boss in order to keep her job. I refuse to believe that Cat bought into Kara’s “double act,” though. She’s way too smart for that, in spite of her idiotic incident with the elevator in “Livewire.” Instead, I choose to believe that she’s letting Kara have her secret identity and playing along with Kara’s game.

There’s also another mentor figure that I’ve grown to like: Hank Henshaw, played by David Harewood.

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Initially, I was kind of cold towards Hank. I understood his skepticism towards aliens and his reluctance towards Supergirls’ acts of heroism given her inexperience, but he reminded me of a gym teacher or a drill sergeant at times, willing to break the hero. It turns out, though, that he is a good person underneath his hard exterior.

Alex Danvers (played by Chyler Leigh), Kara’s sister, is also a wonderful part of the supporting cast.

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Alex is another realistically portrayed female. Her jealousy towards Kara is very understandable, but it never gets to the point where she outright hates her sister. She wants to protect her sister and at the same time figure out how she can be her own person. She can hold her own in a fight and she helps Kara out with balancing life as a superhero and as a normal girl.

But Alex isn’t the only one who helps keep Kara grounded.

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I have a love-hate relationship with Winn. On the one hand, he’s adorable, played by Broadway veteran Jeremy Jordan, and he contributes a lot to the story as a hacker and the voice of reason, especially in the most recent episode. Unfortunately, like Xander from Buffy, he has a major crush on Kara and sometimes acts out on his jealousy. I understand having unrequited feelings but as I’ve been learning, you aren’t entitled to a person’s love just because you want them. And given that Jeremy Jordan has played the whiny, inconsistent Jimmy on Smash and the well-meaning but tragic Jaime in The Last Five Years, I have my doubts about him.

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On the other hand, James Olsen (played by Mehcad Brooks) is proving to be a great character. As someone who grew up watching Smallville, I love this new version of Jimmy Olsen, a photographer who outgrew his initial dorkiness. Kara has the hugest crush on him and I don’t blame her! He’s a sweet guy and he wants to go out of his way to help Kara as she learns how to become her own hero.

It just sucks that he’s still a dork when it comes to love. Oblivious doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Which leads me to the only character on this show that I just want to either go away or die.

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I don’t like Lucy Lane (played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum). At all. Granted, part of my hate for her is due to shipping reasons. I hate the high school level drama that is the romantic rivalry that Lucy has with Kara. Lucy has inherited her father’s skepticism and while she gains respect for Supergirl and treats Kara kindly, she hasn’t learned the rule about exes: you guys broke up for a reason! Again, I can’t give a fair aspect of her because I hate that she’s getting in the way of Jimmy and Kara, but she needs to contribute more to the show other than being a romantic rival and a lawyer.

And last but not least, we have the star of the show, Kara Danvers/Supergirl played by Melissa Benoist.

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Kara is my favorite character on the show aside from Cat Grant. I am always on her side, even during her dorky moments. She may not always get the best storylines and her dialogue can be cheesy as heck, but I relate to her trying to become her own person amidst the scrutiny of every eye on her. I love that she follows her cousin’s example and that even when she gets pushed to her limit, she finds a way to get out of her situation without resorting to giving into her anger. What I like best though is that she still has lessons to learn even after she establishes herself as a superhero. She’s still learning, even with all the superpowers she has. I relate to that aspect of her more than anything else.

I do hope that the writing for this show can get better. It’s already making great progress so far. I highly recommend this show, especially to families. It’s lighthearted enough for the whole family to enjoy. My dad has a great time pointing out the little shoutouts to other superheroes in the show, specifically Mr. and Mrs. Danvers who are played by Dean Cain (from Lois and Clark) and Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the 1984 movie.

BTW: This show needs to cross over with The Flash. It would be absolutely perfect!

Screenshots of Supergirl are copyright to DC Comics and CBS and are used for editorial purposes only.