Superheroes are all the rage right now. You've got The Flash, Daredevil, Heroes, Arrow, and Gotham as mainstream hits. You've even got shows about lame-o normals who just happen to work with superheroes, like Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter. What's next? Janitors of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning?
Adding some girl power to this heroic overload is Supergirl, starring Melissa Benoist as Kara from Krypton. Yeah! Score one for feminism!
Nope. It's a bold new show full of weak, old ideas. Once again superhero storytellers have tried to make us empathise with the hero by making them unhappy with their powers.
"I didn't ask for these powers!" I just want to have a normal life!" "You don't know what it's like!" Sound familiar, Claire-Bear? That's because those phrases have been said in almost every recent series and movie, and it's the same kind of attitude we get in Supergirl.
Yeah, right. Suuuuuuuure. If they want us to empathise with the hero, then show them doing all the puny, petty things we'd use our powers for: taking care of bullies, getting the attention of our crushes, cheating casinos, being famous athletes. Sure, you can show the downside or the drawback of each of those choices, but enough whining already!
In the pilot of Supergirl, Kara complains that she "wants to make a difference" and she thought working for a media company would help her do that. She never uses her powers (even though she's sure that she's just as strong and fast as her cousin, Superman).
It's only when she sees her stepsister about to die in a plane crash that she decides to use her powers to help out. To repeat, she was fine sitting on the couch (in a very nice downtown apartment) hearing about a plane that was going to crash in the city. La-di-da. And then, only when she remembers that it's the plane her cousin is on, does she decide to spring into action. Prettttty selfish.
Did I mention she's 24?
Yup. 24. She arrived on Earth when she was 13, and she hasn't done diddly with her powers in all that time. Her excuse? "I decided the best thing I could do is fit in. After all Earth didn't need another hero." Puh-leeeeeeeeez! Ummm, how about rescuing people from a tsunami? Or a collapsing factory? Or break up a human smuggling ring?
Nope. None of those things. She hasn't so much as caught a pickpocket in all that time, because she wants to live a normal life.
By age 24, Superman had pretty much done it all.And he only discovered his powers and origin as a teenager! Supergirl landed fully aware of her "destiny" and her abilities and did squat with them. She didn't squander them, she did nothing at all! Not even when she clearly saw that her cousin had already re-invented Metropolis - and the world at large - making it safer and better for everyone.
(Side note - there's a major error in continuity when two construction workers are talking. One of them blames a recent armored car robbery on aliens and the other responds "there's no such thing as aliens." Um, hello? This is a universe where the world is completely aware of and infatuated with Superman, the prettiest alien of them all! And they mention this literally seconds after Kara excuses her lack of action with "Earth didn't need another hero.")
If they had made Supergirl 16, or even 19, ok, I could buy it. But she's 24 years old. She should know better.
Instead of being a new, powerful female role model/ hero, all we get is a quirky, geeky, lazy, heroine. So far, her biggest score for feminism is that she objected to the term "Supergirl" and would've preferred "Superwoman" - and even that is shot down by her boss, the woman who represents "Big Media".
Apparently, producers want girls across the world to say, "but that's ok, because she's just like me!" And maybe that's the main problem: why should we expect that young women growing up today would prefer to avoid responsibility and power instead of taking control?
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