Su­per­girl con­tin­ues to soar... Joseph McCabe v isits Na­tional Cit y to speak with cast a nd crew

SFX - - News -

“I feel that peo­ple were ready to

see a strong fe­male hero­ine”

It’s a blind­ingly bright morn­ing at Warner Bros Stu­dios in Bur­bank. So warm as to erase all knowl­edge of the fact that it’s early Jan­uary. Af­ter tak­ing our time to walk across the ex­pan­sive lot, it’s al­most a dis­ap­point­ment when SFX must leave the sun­shine to step onto a dark­ened sound­stage… Even if it means we’re about to chat with the most pow­er­ful woman in the world.

It’s en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate that the Land of End­less Sum­mer, South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, should serve as the home of TV’s Su­per­girl. For while Warner has made Su­per­man’s Me­trop­o­lis as fore­bod­ing on the big screen as the Dark Knight’s Gotham City, his younger cousin Kara Zor- El – un­der the guid­ance of ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Greg Ber­lanti, An­drew Kreis­berg, and Ali Adler – has been im­bued with the most po­tent su­per­power of all in to­day’s world: a sense of op­ti­mism.

“I feel an in­cred­i­ble amount of pride for what we’re do­ing,” says the show’s star, Melissa Benoist, when we meet her on the cav­ernous DEO Head­quar­ters set, where Kara works with her sis­ter Alex and her boss Hank Hen­shaw ( aka J’onn J’onzz, the Mar­tian Man­hunter). To­day Benoist is wear­ing the sim­ple sweater and work slacks of Su­per­girl’s al­ter ego, Kara Dan­vers, who must re­port to no- non­sense ty­coon Cat Grant, CEO of CatCo World­wide Me­dia. It’s easy to see why she was cast as the Last Daugh­ter Of Kryp­ton, as her words mir­ror her char­ac­ter’s hope­ful­ness and pos­i­tivism…

“I feel that peo­ple were ready to see a strong fe­male hero­ine, the way Su­per­girl is. I get to ex­pe­ri­ence that ev­ery time a lit­tle girl comes on set, or just any child re­ally. Any­time I’m in the suit, peo­ple no­tice. It’s kind of in­de­scrib­able.

But chil­dren are re­ally the way that I see the true ef­fect of what we’re do­ing here, and I feel a lot of hum­ble pride about that.”

Kreis­berg, who’s here for this last day of shoot­ing the first sea­son’s 14th episode (“Truth, Jus­tice And The Amer­i­can Way”), is quick to point out while Su­per­girl is an op­ti­mist, she’s by no means naive.

“That was a mis­per­cep­tion,” he tells us. “That this show was sort of overly sunny, and that Su­per­girl her­self might have been overly sunny. We al­ways saw her as this per­son who ex­pe­ri­enced prob­a­bly the worst trauma you can ex­pe­ri­ence. I mean, she lit­er­ally lost ev­ery­body she loved – her mother and her father. She’s one of [ Kryp­ton’s] few re­main­ing sur­vivors. That’s a lot to take in, and it’s a lot to walk around with, that sort of sur­vivor’s guilt. Even when we are break­ing a story that could be con­sid­ered a lit­tle bit light­hearted, we al­ways take into ac­count the dam­age that Kara sus­tained as a child, and that she brings with her to her adult life.”

Back to Kryp­ton?

It’s a life that’s be­come more com­pli­cated than ever in this de­but sea­son’s se­cond half, as Kara faces new foes like the Toy­man, Mas­ter Jailer ( whose episode is shoot­ing to­day on a sep­a­rate stage), and a Bizarro Su­per­girl cre­ated by the wicked Maxwell Lord. There’s even a visit from Smal­lville’s Su­per­girl, ac­tress Laura Van­der­voort — who plays the vil­lain­ous Brainiac’s cold- blooded “de­scen­dant” Indigo. But Kreis­berg’s most ex­cited about a men­ace pulled from the pages of one of the most beloved Su­per­man comic book sto­ries of all: “For The Man Who Has Ev­ery­thing” ( from 1985’ s Su­per­man An­nual # 11).

“When Greg brought me on to the pro­ject, I talked to him early on about want­ing to do one of my favourite comic books, ‘ For The Man Who Has Ev­ery­thing’ by Alan Moore. So Episode 13 is ac­tu­ally ‘ For The Girl Who Has Ev­ery­thing’. We’re do­ing an adap­ta­tion of that comic book, but with Kara. We just fin­ished film­ing it. It’s the Black Mercy. Kara wakes up and she’s back on Kryp­ton and has no idea how or why she got there… It’s one of the things I’m the most ex­cited about hav­ing done, be­cause it seemed like such a pipe dream when we were hav­ing th­ese early con­ver­sa­tions and now it’s part of the show.”

No an­tag­o­nist, how­ever, presents as great an on­go­ing chal­lenge for Kara this year as her own hard- as- nails boss, who, in the show’s mid­sea­son fi­nale, fi­nally learned her se­cret iden­tity and asked Kara to re­move her glasses…

“We won­dered at the be­gin­ning of the year how the mod­ern- day au­di­ence would re­act to that on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” says Ber­lanti of Kara’s time- hon­oured dis­guise. “Would peo­ple crave some­thing more than just the tried‑and‑true glasses? To a cer­tain de­gree, we have to just kind of own the mythol­ogy that ex­ists… But what was just as in­ter­est­ing to us is the na­ture of their dy­namic. Their re­la­tion­ship – the boss/ prodigy, the sort of big sis­ter/ lit­tle sis­ter dy­namic – all of those re­la­tion­ships that they ex­press in the work­place are just as fas­ci­nat­ing to us. Part of what we’re kind of also set­ting up, in a way, is that by not telling her the truth there’s in essence a bit of a be­trayal there.”

“I just think of Cat as this sort of nar­cis­sist,” says Flock­hart, ex­plain­ing Cat’s long jour­ney to dis­cov­er­ing Kara’s se­cret. “She doesn’t re­ally no­tice. She re­ally doesn’t take her in. She’s talk­ing at her a lot, but she’s not re­ally look­ing at her. She’s on that work path; and when she sees Su­per­girl, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent kind of feel­ing. She prob­a­bly flut­ters a lit­tle bit, even though she hides it. It just wouldn’t dawn on her. At least that’s how I make it work for me.”

Kreis­berg tells SFX that the show’s pro­duc­ers take a sim­i­lar ap­proach to the one they’ve em­ployed on their other hit DC Tele­vi­sion Uni­verse se­ries, in­clud­ing The Flash,

Ar­row and Leg­ends Of To­mor­row. “We al­ways start with ‘ What does this episode mean to Kara?’ Just as on Ar­row, it’s ‘ What does it mean to Oliver?’, and on

Flash, ‘ What does it mean to Barry?’ Then sub­se­quently, ‘ What does it also mean to all

Chil­dren are re­ally the way I see the true ef­fect of what we're do­ing

the side char­ac­ters? And what is the idea or the is­sue or the topic that we want to ex­plore this week?’ Who­ever the vil­lain is, that’s the ic­ing on the cake. That al­ways comes last. It’s al­ways, ‘ Well, if we want to tell a story about x, y or z…’ We fig­ure out how we want to im­pact our char­ac­ters emo­tion­ally and how we want to fit it in terms of the over­all arc of the sea­son that we’re do­ing. Who they end up fight­ing al­ways comes last. We never sit down and say to our­selves, ‘ Oh, we re­ally want to do a fight be­tween Kara and Red Tor­nado!’ It was an episode that started with, ‘ Well, we want to do an episode about anger’; and her end­ing up fight­ing and go­ing to town on a ro­bot – that then be­came an­gry it­self… that came later.

“The rea­son to do ‘ For The Girl Who Has Ev­ery­thing’,” adds Kreis­berg, “as much as I wanted to do it – and I’ve lit­er­ally been pitch­ing do­ing it ev­ery episode since we started – the rea­son it’s com­ing at the time that it is, is that it’s go­ing to come at a point in the sea­son where Kara is go­ing to be feel­ing very lost and very alone and very de­tached from the peo­ple in her life. From Cat, from Alex, from Hank, from Winn, from James. So when she is granted this sort of It’s A Won­der­ful Life mo­ment, where she can be liv­ing in this fan­tasy, where noth­ing ter­ri­ble hap­pened and she grew up on Kryp­ton, there’s ac­tu­ally a rea­son for her to want it to be true. Be­cause it’s much more palat­able and eas­ier for her to be there than on Earth, where she has a lot of work to do. As al­ways, we never think of any of th­ese things as gim­micks, it’s al­ways when it’s the right time to do it. Then the joy for us is, we’ve set it up in such a way that when it is the right time to do it, you re­ally get to ex­plore it.”

Since Su­per­girl is only the se­cond DC comic- book hero­ine ( af­ter Won­der Woman in the 1970s) to re­ceive her own live- ac­tion TV show, to­day’s fans may be won­der­ing why the cur­rent wave of su­per­heroine shows – in­clud­ing Marvel’s Agent Carter and Jes­sica

Jones – took so very long to ar­rive. Kreis­berg’s co­hort Ali Adler smiles at the ques­tion and tells us she’s de­lighted that “it’s taken this long to get to the is­sue of gen­der in this con­ver­sa­tion to­day. Be­cause that was al­ways the first ques­tion.

“I think, as with any­thing,” says the exec, “we’re al­ways mid‑change. The world is ready for it. We have Melissa and this amaz­ing cast here to show that it doesn’t mat­ter. Su­per­girl is strong and pow­er­ful and brave.”

You can catch Su­per­girl on Sky 1 in the UK and CBS in the US.

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