So, the Supergirl trailer debuted yesterday, and the internet went bananas. It seems like there’s no middle ground – it’s either SQUEE or NOPE. I’m in the SQUEE camp, and here’s why: she’s layered and relatable. And she’s a charming badass. Let’s discuss.
The major complaint I’m seeing in that kind of a bumbling goofball, work-wise. But one thing I loved – that I related to – is the idea of working so hard to be normal (aka to fit in). Because I’ve done that. I’ve spent time trying to not rock the boat, to be less. And there’s usually some kind of impetus that shakes a person out of that. For Kara Zor-El, it’s her sister and an entire plane full of people being in danger.
In the pilot, Kara rescues a plane full of people. She flies. She kicks ass. And then has a goofy grin about it. Guys? If I were a superhero, THAT WOULD BE ME. Honestly, she reminds me a lot of Felicity on Arrow: smart, capable, and a badass. When push comes to shove, Felicity rises to challenges. Like Peggy Carter, she knows her own value. And so, when there’s a montage scene of Supergirl’s discarded outfits, I don’t see that as banal or twee. I see it as funny reference to all the crazypants outfits badass women have had to wear over the years – in comics and video games. I see it as a nod to the previous (and doomed) Supergirl pilot that never happened. And I see it as an evolution: she’s finding out how to be who she is. She’s figuring out how to express herself and be herself in a world that sometimes refuses to see strength in a girl who wears lipgloss. Or boots. Or heels.
As a woman, I express my personality through a lot of different things – one of them is how I dress and how I wear my makeup. We live in a world, unfortunately, when beauty is often prized over smarts – and where smarts and beauty are often seen as being mutually exclusive. But darlings, I can wear knee high boots and kick ass. Because while my clothing might indicate facets of my personality, they’re not the sum of who I am.
Yes, the show seems less dark than Arrow and Daredevil. But that doesn’t mean it’s less – less important, less awesome. And you know what? When Calista Flockheart gave her speech about the word “girl” and why it shouldn’t be seen as being a negative, I cheered. I love the word girl. I don’t see it as being an insult or a term that undervalues who I am as a woman. Girls are fierce.
There have been comparisons made to The Devil Wears Prada, and somehow, that’s been viewed as a negative. Devil has been labeled and chick flick and shoved in a corner. But a) chick flicks are not bad, and b) it’s really much more than that reductive assessment would imply. In that movie, the main character not only succeeds at her job (which she has no background in and a terrible boss to boot), but she’s strong enough to walk away from it. She’s self-aware and evolves. She learns and grows, constantly doing the impossible. There are worse movies to use a reference point. But I do want to mention one divergence: Cat Grant is not Miranda Priestly. Yes, Cat is blonde, imperious, and somewhat bitchy. But she also appears to be a feminist with a take-no-shit attitude. Um, yes please. More of that.
One final note on the tone of the show: it’s been criticized for its lightness. Apparently, superhero shows must all now by Daredevil-level dark. Um, no. For one thing, it’d be nice to a have a show that enjoys itself a bit. That is not all angst and drama, that has a bit of fun? A superhero who can stop a MAC truck AND make a joke? I’m on board for this. Light does not equal inferior. You can smile and still get shit done. Or are we now teaching women that the only way to be strong is to enshroud ourselves in misery?
Let me give you a point of comparison: The Flash. It is not all puppies and rainbows, but it is a much more lighthearted show than its counterpart, Arrow. Cisco’s humor is the best. Does his sense of humor and goofy smile automatically mark him as being somehow less capable? Do Barry Allen’s quips and mistakes render him anything less than amazing?
No, I think not. I think these are characters who are fleshed out and imperfect, who charge in for all the right reasons and sometimes hesitate for all the wrong ones. Barry often has crises of self-confidence, where he’s not sure what to do or if he CAN do something. He’s been encouraged and supported by those around him, and that’s not been seen as a negative. There is real potential in Supergirl for Kara to be amazing.
Remember in Smallville, it took Clark the ENTIRE series to SORT OF fly. It took him a long time to grow into his powers. Kara flies and rescues an entire plane in the pilot. To quote Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, bitches get stuff done.
I can’t reshape my heart
without fire and a hammer,
but these mean different things
when I see your face. Tell me
more about heat, about
the shade of orange
when it moves
just enough to bend.
Nothing will change. Then,
everything will. That’s what
I am afraid of. For days,
I stopped moving. No one
has even noticed – you would,
but that’s irrelevant.
Tell me, am I allowed to feel this?
How much water would it take
to hush this flame? A bucket,
a river, an ocean – it’s all
steam and kisses, things I can’t
afford to lose, yet cannot even name.
Give me the anvil. Hand me
the rasp and let me test
the sparks: I can make (and unmake) anything
with enough strength – anything
but this. I never asked you
to change, never thought
you were less than beautiful,
how many nails it’d take
to keep you still – you
were not made
Perhaps you and I
were made for this.
and fierce, nearly too kind
to be paid attention to, almost
shy, but there it is – potential
not untouched but unchanged,
an act of bravery
that looks like luck – I can’t
reshape my heart, so
why would you ask me to?
So, darlings, I wrote a thing. It’s a thing out in the world, right this very minute. Long story short: I have a poem out, today, in Issue 4 of Uncanny magazine (“From the High Priestess to the Hanged Man”). I’m so honored to be a part of that magazine for a multitude of reasons – the first being that the folks who run it are tremendously wonderful. The second being that I feel insanely lucky to be among the authors the magazine has published.
The truth is that I now share a writing credit with some of my heroes. And I’m trying not to fangirl, but…well, I am gleeful and excited. Neil Gaiman had a poem in the first issue. Kat Howard and Maria Dahvana Headley have had stories in subsequent issues. And looking at the table of contents for Issue 4 has made me absolutely Muppet flail on multiple occasions.
What can I say, guys? I’m a nerd. I am excited. And I hope that you will be inclined to pick up the issue, which you can do here: Issue 4 of Uncanny.
Additionally, if you wanted to get a subscription to this magazine (which I highly recommend – I’ve enjoyed all of the previous issues), you can do so here, on Uncanny’s website.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve still got some SQUEEing to do. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had a vente latte from Starbucks this morning…