BEFORE “SUPERGIRL” even premiered, multiple critics dubbed the CBS drama as one of the strongest new pilots of the fall TV season. It is a pretty solid episode — though there’s one scene that stands out as a bit defensive.
You know the one: After National City is in awe of the female hero who saved a commercial plane, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) is thrilled that everyone finally saw her alter-ego’s superpowers. Until she hears a TV news anchor say that her boss, media magnate Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), dubbed the hero “Supergirl.”
Kara storms into Cat’s office. “Supergirl?!” she exclaims. “We can’t name her that!”
Cat gives her a cold look. “We didn’t,” she responds.
“Right. I’m sorry,” says Kara, flustered. “It’s just – I don’t want to minimize the importance of this. A female superhero! Shouldn’t she be called Superwoman? … If we call her Supergirl, something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist? Didn’t you say she’s a hero?”
At this point, Cat delivers her best death stare: “I’m the hero!” she says. “I stuck a label on the side of this girl. I branded her. … And what do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss. And powerful and rich and hot and smart. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent — isn’t the problem you?”
So, that speech seems to exist to preemptively stop real-life critics from bashing the “girl” name, right? On a recent conference call with Benoist and “Supergirl” executive producers Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, producers told us that with this scene, they wanted to echo the potential thoughts of the audience.
“We sort of wanted to have a conversation with our characters that we believed that the audience would be having, and that others might be having in terms of saying, ‘Well, she’s an adult woman — why isn’t it called Superwoman?’ ” Kreisberg said.
Cat’s speech was in the original pitch for the show, he said, and it became an important part of the episode — especially in terms of honoring the original comic.
“One thing I found in doing this is sometimes, the temptation is there by executives to alter things that are, I think, just part of the DNA of what was so great about the comic book,” said Kreisberg, who’s also a producer on TV’s “Arrow” and “The Flash.” “And so we really wanted to be protective about the name of the show.”
The word “girl” comes up several more times in the pilot (Hank Henshaw, during a fight scene: “She’s not strong enough.” Alex Danvers: “Why, because she’s just a girl? Exactly what we were counting on.”) On the conference call, though, Benoist says that she doesn’t really focus on the male-vs.-female superhero angle.
“I just want people to have fun watching the show and really enjoy watching Kara’s journey as much as I’m enjoying playing it. It truly, to me, does not matter that she is a girl,” Benoist said. “Because she kicks some serious ass.”