Slowly but surely, the small screen is becoming nearly as competitive a battle ground for comic book superheroes as the big screen is. Marvel has expanded its cinematic universe on the small screen with Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D. and will continue to do so with the Agent Carter show. Other Marvel superheroes, like Daredevil and possibly Luke Cage, may find their way to Netflix, but it may be DC that has a leg up in the small screen superhero war.
The CW series Arrow is both a critical and commercial hit, and it’s spin-off, The Flash, will start up this season and looks to be fun while staying very true to the look and spirit of the comic book. Gotham, a Fox show which also premiers this season, promises to be a gritty, down-trodden drama that will explore many aspects of the Batman mythos that the big screen could never do justice to. Now, there is talk of a Greg Berlanti-produced show featuring another iconic DC hero, Supergirl.
The question that most fans are asking themselves in light of this news is, should the show come to fruition, can Supergirl hold her own among the other superhero heavyweights that vying for ratings on the airwaves? If done correctly, Supergirl should have no problem holding an audience. After all, she has all the powers of Superman without the need to stick to the set-in-stone origins of Superman that has followed him in every incarnation. She could appeal to fans of either gender, and the right actress in the role could help us get beneath the surface of what a Kryptonian must do to adapt to our society in ways that are fresh and different than we’ve seen in any of the Superman entries.
They key to this show’s success lies not just in choosing the right lead actress, but also in hitting the right tone, as Arrow has done. Helen Slater was perfect as Supergirl in the 1984 live-action film, as was Laura Vandervoort in Smallville, but both incarnations fell victim to a bit too much camp. The solution is simple: follow the tone set by arrow, and don’t fear the things that make a female-led show different from a male-led show. Let her be the hero in a world that has real problems.