Supergirl: Melissa Benoist Wears the Cape Well

Melissa Benoit as Supergirl

On a completely comic book geek level, Melissa Benoist wears the super cape well as her portrayal as Supergirl, aka Kara Danvers.  The actress has a personable and uber attractive presence who feels like “the girl next  door.” This gal has super powers and as cousin to Superman, aka Clark Kent and even employs the “glasses” disguise with similar success to her super relative.   The show’s pilot premiered to high figures and it is entertaining. There are a few problems with the show however.

Not least of which is IGN’s massive crusade to make this show a hit. Since the series premiered at this year’s Comic Con the publication has been beating the Supergirl drum.  Apart from the site’s singleminded attempt to sing the praises of this small screen superhero, other reviewers gave the show’s pilot a thumbs up back in May which seems to bode well for the CBS series.

Sadly there are things that feel a bit hackneyed. Jimmy “James” Olsen looking like an escapee from the local gym with biceps so huge it’s a wonder they could find shirts to fit him being one. Merced Brooks as the “cub reporter” (turned photojournalist apparently) does not really work but for whatever reason the show’s producers and creators have opted to make Olsen not a reporter as well as  less bumbling and more beefcake. 

Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, the shrew news publisher who hates cold latte is another odd choice. Perhaps the best thing that can be said of Flockhart is that she looks nowhere near her age (50).  She does exude the type of manner one associates with a Perry White, but in a designer skirt, and with a hint of maliciousness that dear old blustery Perry never had.

*Sidenote* Am I the only one that really wanted Kara to blast that latte with her heat laser eyes to warm it up? 

The entire DEO bit, with douche leader Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) was annoying and felt forced. Sure it gave Alex Danvers a great excuse to intervene (and be a major character in the show) but overall it introduced another faction for Kara, as Supergirl,  to battle. 

Certainly a good story requires struggle but why does our female role model have to fight everyone to be a superhero?  Her own internal fight for identity and purpose was not enough?  External fights of identity aside, the more important is the question of just why does Supergirl get cut by a weapon that is not powered by a form of Kryptonite?

Granted, this viewer’s recollection of just what Kryptonite did what to Superman is a little hazy but having grown up on the tight wearing superheroes exploits, it seems that nothing could actually harm the big guy or his “cousin” apart from that pesky mineral from his and her home planet.

Still, apart from minor annoyances that the creators opted to make the pilot more a “coming of age” thing versus a realization that super means super…damn it, and that the female version of the Man of Steel will fight crime and rescue planes if she wants to.

Speaking of Man of Steel, it is interesting to note that Clark Kent’s cousin, in keeping with the Zack Snyder re-imaging of Superman, is also placed in a seaside setting in the very brief glance at her childhood.  A nod and wink to small screen Superman had Dean  Cain as the father figure of Kara’s adoptive family. Nice touch.

On the plus side, the stunt action looked great and Benoist looks perfect in the “suit” and she, along with her stunt double look equally impressive in the fight scenes and if there is ever one moment where one falls in love with Melissa as Supergirl, it has to be in the pilot’s opening airplane scene.

How can one not adore a superhero, who is just learning what she is capable of, who spots the approaching bridge and gripping the bottom of the aircraft more firmly says, with an annoyed and harassed tone, “Oh come on.”

A priceless moment that meant, from that point on, almost anything could happen in terms of plot rightly or wrongly and all would be forgiven. Benoist wears the cape well and manages to fly the fine line between helpful “everywoman” from another planet and the geeky “How cool was that” heroine who is getting a kick out of fulfilling her destiny.

Supergirl is part of the CBS roster and airs Mondays.  Despite a number of flaws, Melissa Benoist pulls it off with a flair that impresses and delights. Tune in and see what you think.

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