Thursday, May 14, 2015

'Up, up and away': CBS reveals 'Supergirl' footage

Marvel Studios continues to kick cinematic ass with "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Come July, Marvel will continue its box-office dominance with "Ant-Man."

But its Distinguished Competition, DC Entertainment, is doing its own dominance on the small screen with CBS' recent and extended look at "Supergirl."

For the record, DCE has (or technically, had) four series on three of the "Big Five" networks — the equally fantastic "Arrow" (which had a "wow!" season finale Wednesday) and "The Flash" (both on The CW), the  overly bloody "Gotham," which started out strong on FOX but is now just above average, and NBC's one season-and-done "Constantine."

And just this week, DCE announced how "Titans," the upcoming TNT series based on the Teen Titans, will stay "very true" to the comic books and released its first look at "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

This is the first official image released by The CW network of its
time-traveling superhero TV series, "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."
You'll never see any DCE projects on ABC as it's owned Disney, also the parent company of Marvel Studios/Marvel Entertainment/Marvel Comics.

On Wednesday, CBS revealed a 6:37 preview of "Supergirl," which will air at 8 p.m. EST on Mondays starting in November.

My two-word review? Fun stuff. Three words on the star, Melissa Benoist? Adorable yet approachable.

My one-word prognosis? Promising. Grade: B+ (And for details, follow the jump, CCC readers!)

Naturally, any preview is geared toward giving the promise that the product will deliver and get fans interested. (If they weren't already!) So that means delivering the best footage. In short, the idea is to give audiences a taste of good stuff without providing too much.

Not far into the "Supergirl" preview, I found myself wondering if CBS hadn't given us all the great moments we'll see this season. (Not unlike a movie trailer that includes the only good material.) But after getting over the initial dislike of the set design and special FX of Kara Zor-El's infant cousin, Kal-El (better known as Superman — duh!) parents launching him away from Krypton to Earth, I went with it. And very soon found myself truly enjoying the "Supergirl" footage.

Just to get you up to speed, Kara's parents send her away from the doomed planet at the age of 12 — the same time her infant cousin gets shipped away. While on Earth, Kara spends half of her life hiding her superpowers and is raised and protected her foster family, the Danvers. According to the CBS synopsis, "years later at (age) 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul and fierce taskmaster Cat Grant (Golden Globe Award winner Calista Flockhart), who just hired THE DAILY PLANET’s former photographer, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), as her new art director."

Hel-looooo, Supergirl! (Photo courtesy of CBS)
There's no denying Kara's similarity to her cousin, whom National City residents know already. She's mildy geeky, socially awkward and wears glasses. Like Clark Kent, Kara wants to hide her superpowers and works in the media field.

But unlike her famous cousin (the only way Superman is mentioned in this footage), she has a deep desire to embrace her superpowers. And having found out she too indeed has super strength and can fly, Kara seems to be at her happiest.

My assumption is Kara/Supergirl's goal for self-identity will be an ongoing theme.

Actor Mehcad Brooks plays Jimmy "James"
Olsen in "Supergirl."
(Photo courtesy of Starpulse)
That theme is embodied in Kara's heart-to-heart conversations with her foster sister Alex and especially when a co-worker (who was rejected after asking Kara out) helps Kara find the proper Supergirl costume. (Is it just me or does the actor playing her co-worker come off too much as her gay best friend to legitimately play a heterosexual?) 

There's a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to variations of Supergirl's midriff-baring costume we've seen for many years — which Kara quickly dismisses. (You go, girl!) Improving aerodynamics is the reason Supergirl should use a cape.

Finally, we see Benoist rockin' some va-va-voom thigh-high boots and we get close to seeing the final incarnation of the Maiden of Steel.

The finishing touch of course is the iconic 'S' shield. Giving a shout-out to "Man of Steel," Kara says the 'S' doesn't stand for Superman. Similar to "MOS" and the Christopher Reeve films, the 'S' symbolizes Kara's family, "the house of El."

Just as in "Man of Steel," the writers take some liberty with Jimmy Olsen, who is going by James. In "Supergirl," Mehcad Brooks, a handsome black man, is much more with-it than the previous, oh-my-golly incarnations. I'll be curious to see why Olsen is no longer living in Metropolis, much less working for THE DAILY PLANET — something which can be addressed easily in one line of dialogue.

There's yet another connection to Superman films — this time it's "Superman Returns." There's no doubt the plane rescue sequence in "Supergirl" will be the climax of the pilot/first episode — and judging from the extended trailer, it's a defining moment for Kara. This experience affirms her belief she has superpowers. And outs her as the mysterious Kara as the mysterious young woman dubbed Supergirl by her boss, Grant.
Cat Grant (left) is played by Calista Flockhart.
(Image courtesy of deadline.com)

Kara's subsequent exasperation to the new heroine being called Supergirl and not Superwoman is classic. Her reaction is legitimate: Isn't the name Super"girl" dated and even a bit demeaning? Grant points out both she and Kara are girls and her rationale over the name is logical and based on feminism/empowerment.

Surprisingly, Flockhart pulls off a sexy Grant. Nearly. Keep in mind I've never thought the still-too thin "Ally McBeal" star is anything close to attractive. (Sorry guys, she's just too damn skinny and not my type!) In the comics, Grant is voluptuous and exudes sex kitten. Flockhart vamps it up, so she fakes it pretty well. I already can tell Grant is the annoying character in this series I'll have to bear.

Some diehard Superman fans are already griping about the "Supergirl" allusions to previous references to Supes and how it doesn't fit their comic-book pasts. These same fanboys and fangirls probably also fear/detest the cohesion among DCE's TV properties and how they don't have a connection with the cinematic world.

These are the very same "DC Comics Fundamentalists" whom Michael Keaton rightly called out during his interviews before the first "Batman" film was released June 23, 1989. These are the fans who, in my IMHO, have too narrow of a view of the DC Universe — comics, films or otherwise — and these days, tend to go into projects with a "haters" mentality.

For the record, I'm going into "Supergirl" with the idea I'm going to enjoy it. I may not love all of it, but honestly that's asking too much. Judging from this extended trailer, "Supergirl" should be a good time and I look forward to adding it to my TV watching schedule.









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