The upcoming DC Universe movie Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow might learn some lessons from the Arrowverse Supergirl show. Running for six seasons on CBS and The CW, Supergirl was one of the most successful series in the shared superhero setting. While the show took some liberties in adapting the comics that inspired it, some of its innovations proved popular and led to the most popular image of Kara Zor-El in recent years.
Little has been revealed about the DC Universe Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow movie beyond its title, which is shared with a critically acclaimed miniseries by Tom King and Bilquis Evely. It is also unclear if Sasha Calle from The Flash movie will continue playing Supergirl in the DC Universe. In any case, the Arrowverse Supergirl show has a sizable fan-base and their support could make or break Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. This makes it all the more essential that the creators behind the new DC Universe study the successes and failures of the Supergirl show.
5 Supergirl Needs To Be Different From Superman
Historically, one of the biggest challenges Supergirl has faced, as a character and as a franchise, has been stepping out of the shadow of Superman. Far too many adaptations fail to distinguish Kara Zor-El as a unique character, presenting her as a flat feminine counterpart to her cousin. Supergirl season 1 tackled this issue with mixed success by not depicting Superman at all. While this did shift the focus to Kara, it also raised questions about why Kal-El seemed so disinterested in the life of his only living blood relative. It also didn’t help matters that Kara was an aspiring reporter, just like Clark Kent.
While later seasons of Supergirl gave Kara a distinctive voice, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow may face a similar challenge following after Superman: Legacy. Thankfully, the story of the Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow comic book series was based around this point and Kara Zor-El seeking a new purpose after traveling to a remote sector of space where almost nobody had heard of Superman. DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn has confirmed that Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow will draw upon the story of the comic, suggesting the DC Universe movie will make Supergirl more than just “Superman in a skirt.”
4 Supergirl’s Connection To Krypton & Survivor Guilt
One of the key ways that Supergirl has been differentiated from Superman in the comics has been through her memories of Krypton and the more intense feelings of survivor’s guilt she developed as a result of seeing her world destroyed. While Superman’s destiny was forever shaped by the destruction of Krypton, he usually thinks of himself as Clark Kent rather than Kal-El. Kara is usually the polar opposite, feeling like a true outsider on Earth. Ironically, many film directors, like Tim Burton and Zack Snuder, expressed a desire to explore that theme of alienation with Superman, when those feelings are far more common to Supergirl.
The Arrowverse Supergirl explored these feelings but did not become overly angsty regarding the fate of her people. The Supergirl show found the right balance between allowing Kara to cope with her feelings of being an outsider while also allowing her the joy of the found family she built among her fellow heroes. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow would do well to emulate that, depicting a Kara Zor-El who honors her Kryptonian heritage and the House of El while still being a proactive hero.
3 Supergirl Should Be A Conflicted Character
One thing Supergirl has in common with Superman is that her best stories have centered around emotional conflicts rather than physical ones. Very little can challenge a Kryptonian hero physically, and there’s only so much Kryptonite in the DC Universe that can conveniently show up at a dramatic moment to even the odds for the villains. A hero who can do anything risks becoming boring, but a hero who struggles with the concept of heroism is dynamic. For Superman, this conflict was usually a feeling of inadequacy, wondering if he was doing enough. Supergirl, conversely, usually struggled with wondering why she put herself out to help an ungrateful populace.
In this respect, the Arrowverse series faltered, making its version of Kara Zor-El a beacon of hope and optimism, who rarely showed the frustration her comic book counterpart felt in dealing with Earth people she often saw as backward and primitive. This is because the comics usually bring Kara to Earth as an elder teenager bordering on young adulthood, whereas the Arrowverse Kara Zor-El was a tween who grew up on Earth. This robbed her of some of her uniqueness. The DC Universe Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow movie should mimic the source material in this case, presenting a conflicted Supergirl who isn’t sure she wants to be a hero.
2 Kara Needs Fewer Love Interests In DCU
Romance and Superheroes go hand in hand. While many picture intense action sequences when superheroes are mentioned, the classic comics were often just as concerned with the heroes’ love lives as they were with what villain they were facing that month. Unfortunately, this balance tended to favor romance over action in those books centered around superheroes to the point that their comics were often focused on the heroine’s inability to maintain a relationship because she kept having to rush off to save the day. Unfortunately, this was one aspect of the early Supergirl comics the Arrowverse Supergirl show mimicked perfectly.
Supergirl’s romance problems often eclipsed her heroism in the early seasons of Supergirl, with Kara’s will-they/won’t-they romance with Jimmy Olsen suddenly cut short so that she could try to redeem Daxamite bad boy Mon-El. Kara then spent Supergirl season 3 feeling conflicted about Mon-El getting married after traveling to the future. Supergirl became a stronger series when Kara focused on her work as a writer and superhero, and Superman: Woman of Tomorrow would do well to maintain a similar focus on Kara Zor-El as a hero without the burden of a romantic subplot.
1 Do Not Overstuff DCU’s Supergirl Movie With Other Characters
The Supergirl show had a fantastic ensemble and introduced many great original characters into the Arrowverse, including Kara’s adoptive sister, Alex Danvers, and Dreamer. Unfortunately, the show’s cast became increasingly unwieldy in later seasons, and the series struggled to find room for individual storylines for Supergirl, Alex, Martian Manhunter, Dreamer, Brainiac 5, Lena Luthor, and a new Guardian. It is telling that Supergirl‘s producers seriously considered trying to keep the series going once star Melissa Benoist expressed an interest in leaving, believing the ensemble could continue a Supergirl show without Supergirl.
While the story of the Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow miniseries was firmly focused on Kara Zor-El, there may be a temptation to bring more characters into the DC Universe film adaptation. While it is natural for filmmakers to think that a Superman cameo or Green Lantern character could help build the brand and develop the shared universe setting, it would ultimately be detrimental to the original story and Kara’s character. The movie should center around Supergirl and not make the same mistake as the Arrowverse series by bringing in too many supporting heroes.