We are all familiar with the story of Superman – a hero from another world raised on earth. He will protect us all. He works alone with a secret identity known to near no one. As a man, he did it all by himself. Or, so we are led to believe.
Supergirl, on the other hand, remains a hero of a different breed.
Right in her name her importance is downplayed as girl instead of woman. There is an implication that she cannot do it all on her own. And, in fact, her story on the WB plays out as a clear team effort, rather than a solo act. She does not work alone, nor can she do it alone.
While this version of the story does imply that Superman has trusted confidants, such as James Olsen the once photographer and now editor, he still answers to no one. While Supergirl, whether as Supergirl or her alter ego, Kara, has an entire group of people to answer to. This includes a secret government agency that cannot seem to pin Superman down.
The Young Leader…
While portrayed as the leader, Supergirl, aka Kara, continuously shows a lack of confidence in her own role, second guessing herself time and time again.
That is expected when you first come out as a superhero. But why does it have to be that way with a female superhero, and not the male one, who seemingly knew exactly what to do from the get-go? Supergirl has the same abilities as Superman. Why the underlying message that she has a weaker presence than her cousin?
Constantly, the series makes statements like “Superman would figure it out,” but poor Supergirl needs her tech genius best friend, her military sister, the last Martian, and, of course, Superman’s own confidant James to pick up the slack. And yet, Superman cannot be found anywhere to help in this world – shy some instant messages here and there and the occasional drop by.
Part of a team…
Does this take on a female superhero help or hurt the cause of feminism? Does it matter? Should it matter?
Seriously, it is entertaining and a woman is in charge. That is some powerful imagery right there. So, she is young in her superhero-dom. As the season continues to unfold, the WB has some serious work to do on Kara’s growth, opening her up to new story lines with a creation of depth that represents a whole complete self, rather than a collection of parts. In all honesty, this may be a problem that exists with Superman. He is a hero and a reporter, but really that is all he has, as he functions alone in the world.
As the series continues, Supergirl’s confidence as a leader needs to grow as her character grows. A valuable and essential ingredient that shapes Kara as a hero is her team. She embodies a real world reality: a knowledge that to achieve success, you need to have the support of a trusted circle. Supergirl has her team, and eventually, she will rely on that team and exist as her own woman at the same time.
Then, we will truly see that women really can do it all.
Featured image via IMDb.