This week, Supergirl took on one of Superman’s rogues, Reactron (Chris Browning). How did Kara fare against the Living Reactor? Pretty well, although she did get a little help from her more famous cousin. As with the past two villains, super-powered fisticuffs took a backseat to Kara’s own personal dramas. The chief subject this week was Kara finding her own place in a world that already has Superman.
One of the problems I have had with this show so far has been its affinity for constantly bringing up Superman and/or comparing Supergirl to him. While it does help illustrate how she has a ways to go to achieve that level of heroism, it also makes me cringe a bit. After all, no matter their intentions behind doing so, they are constantly telling their audience that the protagonist isn’t as good as a similar hero, which is an odd way to go about things. It makes it even worse that we’re focusing on a female superhero and constantly qualifying her achieves by saying that they aren’t as accomplished as her male cousin. That’s a bit troublesome, but their heart seems to be in the right place, at least at the moment.
Superman’s intervention, which we conveniently missed due to Kara passing out (note: don’t make this a habit, writers!), was necessary this week as it finally pushed Kara to put her foot down and demand to be given full responsibility for her own city. She doesn’t want back-up, even if she might need it from time to time, otherwise she feels that she will never be able to be considered a hero in her own right. She’s absolutely correct, both in terms of the show’s narrative and the existence of the series as a whole.
io9 posited today that this series has a Superman-sized problem and they were right, to a degree. However, whereas they insist that Warner Bros. actually allow them to show the Man of Steel on the series at some point, I disagree. We’ve been told for three straight episodes now…the first three of this entire series…that Superman is a better hero than Supergirl. That narrative throughline came to a head this week as the Last Son of Krypton intervened in Kara’s heroics and then lately apologized for it, promising that it wouldn’t happen again.
It shouldn’t happen again. By beating Reactron this week, a villain that Superman had yet to take down, Supergirl proved that she has what it takes to stand beside Superman, instead of behind him. The build-up over these past few weeks worked to create a cathartic moment not only for her, but for viewers as well. From here onward, we need to only see and hear about Supergirl’s deeds of daring do, not Superman’s. To bring him up constantly once more after this week, be it in dialogue or an actual appearance, would be a massive mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to see him appear on the series someday, but it should happen ONLY if he is appearing as Clark Kent or if he is facing a threat so great that Superman is the one who asks Supergirl to help him. Were things to swing the other way, it would only further invalidate Kara’s career as superhero and the need for this series in general. Yes, this series had a Superman-sized problem, but now that problem has been solved. It’s time for Supergirl as both a character and a TV show to step out from under the shadow of the Man of Steel and focus on itself. It’s time for Superman to go away.