“It’s like being a little kid when you have your action figures”
t’s never been easy for Supergirl. Decades of living in her famous cousin’s shadow once saw the Maid of Might’s comic book career shuffle through numerous short-lived titles. And while Superman became a box-office phenomenon in the ’70s and ’80s, Kara Zor-El weathered a 1984 movie misfire. Even more insulting, for the last 30 years, she’s been most closely identified with a story – DC Comics’ Crisis On Infinite Earths – that killed her off in order to make her cousin once more Krypton’s sole survivor.
But her fortunes changed with the bright, bold bolt of red-and-blue-coloured hope that arrived last year in Kara’s first-ever TV show. Executive produced by Greg Berlanti – of Arrow, Flash and Legends Of Tomorrow fame – Supergirl’s first season culminated with Kara (played by Melissa Benoist) saving her home town of National City from a Kryptonian invasion force, and forging her own identity in her adoptive world.
Now in its second season, Supergirl, like the Maid of Might herself, has received a new lease of life. Its production has now left Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles, and is produced in Vancouver alongside Berlanti’s other shows for America’s CW network – as part of the most ambitious, fully integrated genre universe continuity ever brought to television. Which means fans can now look forward to an epic crossover event this year, including four DC TV series.
“We’re doing a massive crossover between all four,” says Berlanti’s right-hand woman, producer Sarah Schecter. “It’s gonna be just an incredible week. It’s a whole logistical nightmare that’s made a little easier by Melissa being up in Vancouver. But part of the fun is we love all these characters and hopefully our fans love all these characters, so to be able to mix and match and see different people interacting and the relationships between them… It’s just endlessly fun. It’s like being a little kid when you have your action figures. You’d have your Superman playing with your GI Joe! It’s fun for the writers and it’s fun for the actors. It helps foster real community between all of these shows, which is what we want.”
In its second year, Supergirl’s spirit of community has even extended to Superman himself: in the form of actor Tyler Hoechlin, who joins his cousin in National City for the season’s kick-off storyline.
“It was really exciting for us to build who Supergirl was,” Schecter says of Supergirl’s first season, “what she was capable of, and her strengths and the depth of her as a character. In season one we were really able to do that. But while there’s a lot of comedy, action and drama, it’s really a story about families. It’s about the family that you have and the family that you choose. And Clark is an important part of Kara. He’s the only living part of Kara’s family. It is her show, and I think you’ll feel that in these episodes – she’s equal to him in every way. But [he’s] a way to learn more about Kara, really. To see more of her family. In the way that sometimes you can see your family and see similar tics and connections. But part of what separates them is that she spent her youth on Krypton, and then she lost everything. He was a baby, so he doesn’t remember it and she does. That’s a gift to both of them in different ways and a tragedy to both of them.”
Some of year two’s other new characters will also resonate with longtime superhero fans, including the President of the United States — played by TV’s Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter.
“We had [invited] her last year,” says Berlanti of the iconic actress. “We had a President written into the finale last year, and she wasn’t available. So we took the President out of the finale and put her into episode three this year. She’ll be in multiple episodes. She’s recurring. There are some fun twists with the character too that I think people are going to be really excited by.”
“We give her a lot of things to do,” adds Schecter. “Hopefully we’ll be accurate prognosticators of November’s election with our real-life Supergirl, Hillary [Clinton]… Then we’ve got some other great cast joining us. Ian Gomez is coming in and is going to be playing Kara’s direct boss. He’s sort of doing a Lou Grant character. It’s just going be a lot of fun.”
Addressing last season’s cliffhanger ending, in which a mysterious Kryptonian pod crash-landed in National City, Schecter says, “The big reveal is who’s in the pod. That’s gonna be a big part of season two. It’s not just who’s in the pod, but what are the motives of the person in the pod – are they good or bad? Are they telling the truth? There’s gonna be a lot of fun to play there.”
Other new characters this year include Metallo, Lex Luthor’s sister Lena, and the introduction of Project Cadmus and Guardian. But fans are already beside themselves with anticipation for the four-part crossover involving the entire DC TV Multiverse, which will be followed in the spring by a musical crossover. “We just started working on it last week,” says Berlanti of the four-parter. “I’ve mentioned that it will be one kind of unified threat. We haven’t done a global threat yet on the show. That’s something that would be resolved in the crossover. A piece of the story will start in Supergirl. There will be connective tissue to Supergirl. If you’re watching it as a beginning, middle and end, production-wise the way that we’ve kind of imagined it, the storyline starts in The Flash, but it will be helpful if you’ve watched Supergirl
It was exciting for us to build who Supergirl was
the night before… We have a means of how we’re gonna deal with her entering the crossovers. She’ll be coming to ‘our universe’, as it were, the Universe Prime that we all share. But connecting those two is not something we’ve talked about, to be honest.”
SFX asks Berlanti if a Crisis On Infinite Earths adaptation could one day occur, permanently merging Supergirl’s universe with the parallel universe of Flash, Arrow and Legends…
“Sure, absolutely. Part of why [DC] was doing that at the time is, I think, to clarify a lot of things. Hopefully we don’t get to a point where everyone’s so confused that we have to do that. But yeah, absolutely. It’s not something we haven’t talked about, it’s just something that’s not a priority… To be honest, it’s the same thing we encountered when we initially did Supergirl – with Supergirl comes Superman, and none of the characters on our shows in the universe we’ve created live in a world where they’re talking about Superman. I think we would deal with that if we ever dealt with how he integrated too, because it’s a significant thing.”
In the meantime, fans can, according to Schecter, expect a more “comic booky”
Supergirl than they saw in the show’s first season, which melded superheroics with soap-opera romance. The change in tone is also due to the show’s new home.
“The people at The CW have been making superhero shows for years,” says Schecter.
“Arrow’s going into its fifth season. So we just have a shorthand with them. If you say ‘metahuman’, they know what that means right away. So it will allow us to be all of who we are.”
Supergirl is on Sky 1 in the UK and The CW in the US.
They must be remembering ’70s Wonder Woman. Glasses can be so handy!
An accurate prediction of the future…?