Last night, CBS and Warner Brothers television released a six-and-a-half minute sizzle reel for Supergirl, this fall’s hotly anticipated entry into Greg Berlanti’s DC television
dominance universe. Starring Glee alum Melissa Benoist as the eponymous hero, the preview exuded a sense of fun, joy, and lightness often missing from DC’s live action comic adaptations — not including CW’s The Flash, of course, coincidentally a show also starring another Glee alum.
But how did the internet respond?
Kinda loving how a lot of women in my timeline are like ^_^ about a Supergirl show a lot of men in my timeline are like O_o
— Andy Khouri (@andykhouri) May 14, 2015
Most of the chatter from those, let’s say, less than pleased with the trailer consists of issues with its tone. More specifically, its similarities with a recent Saturday Night Live sketch skewering Marvel’s lack of a solo Black Widow movie by turning it into a romantic comedy.
I have a few thoughts about this. While I understand why some folks feel like the Supergirl preview gave off a rom-com vibe — particularly from the music cues in its first half — I don’t know why that’s necessarily a bad thing. This is coming from someone who actually enjoys the genre when it’s done well. When Harry Met Sally, Singles, and Annie Hall are some of my favorite films of all time. Hell, I even wrote a whole post on this site about Love Actually for crying out loud! Besides, if anyone read the series description when Supergirl was initially announced, the tone of the preview shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
“Now 24, Kara feels un-empowered, a slave to having repressed her innate abilities. She’s still pretty, but with her face hidden behind glasses and her hair pulled back, she doesn’t know it herself. But an unexpected disaster forces her to use her powers in public. Energized by her heroic deed, for the first time in her life Kara begins embracing her extraordinary abilities. She begins helping the people of her city, and they soon take notice. She’s even given a new moniker: Supergirl.”
Christelle even predicted the Devil Wears Prada vibe when Calista Flockhart’s casting was first announced as well.
— Christelle • she/her (@MsChristelleGo) May 13, 2015
The fact that the show is fully embracing a more light-hearted tone doesn’t mean it’s automatically being dumbed down. Sometimes comic book superheroes can be light-hearted. Hell, the dumbest comic book show on television is probably Gotham, and that show is the total opposite of light and sunny. For what it’s worth, it’s also going to be direct timeslot competition to Supergirl in the fall.
Also, Kara’s mannerisms in the first “rom-com-y” half of the preview were more of an echo of her famous cousin’s secret identity than anything else.
Moreover, some of the best Clark and Lois scenes in all forms — whether the Donner films or Lois & Clark or Smallville — owe more to classic romantic comedies than to the romantic melodrama you might find on a “dark and gritty” show like Arrow (you are officially on notice, Olicity). Look, your mileage may vary when it comes to watching Supergirl this fall. I, for one, am excited for it even if most fanboys chafe over how “girly” they perceive it to be. And that seems like the most damning of all the critiques, as if the fact that it is emphasizing what is traditionally considered “feminine” is inherently bad.
A similar complaint swept the internet last month when Warner Brothers and Mattel teamed up to announce a new multi-platform brand of action figures, DVDs, books, and digital content called DC Super Hero Girls.
Purposefully aimed at an audience of young, pre-tween girls — think the (non-adult) crowd who obsesses over Disney Princesses and My Little Pony — the brand was launched to much fanfare in April. The internet reaction, though, was less than ideal. Most were offended that DC would “pander” to girls by giving them their own brand instead of just better integrating them into existing DC products. But here’s the thing, who says we can’t simultaneously have both?
While I understand the importance of including girls in “boy-centric” toy lines and media, it doesn’t mean that those boy-centered things have to be the default. But the implicit critique of some of the knee-jerk reactions to things like DC Super Hero Girls or the Supergirl show on CBS seemingly dismiss those properties simply because they are aimed at girls and/or women.
I argued the same point about LEGO Friends a while back. Just because something is aimed at young girls does not automatically make it bad. Because to be honest, that’s the icky vibe I get whenever I hear people (mostly dudes) complain about content that is directed at girls instead of them. And why shouldn’t girls have content that is aimed at them? After all, aren’t they the ones who run the world?
While 40-year old fanboys might moan and complain about DC Super Hero Girls or the new Supergirl show, you know who is super excited about both things? My nearly eight-year-old daughter. And ultimately, that’s what is most important.
This is one reason I am happy that the DC Super Hero Girls thing is happening, it acknowledges girls. Positive step.
— Gail Simone (@GailSimone) April 26, 2015
You know what, I’ll just let Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant have the last word: