“Supergirl” executive producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler as well as star Melissa Benoist weighed in on the show’s big bad, female friendships, the mystery surrounding the character’s origin and more during a new interview.
“We always have a traditional big bad for the season, the sort of uber villain who is setting the plan in motion,” Kreisberg explained. “Just like with the other shows, there will also be villains of the week… the pilot sort of sets up the idea there was an alien prison from Krypton that crash landed on earth and all of the prisoners escaped. We’re going to be meeting some of those alien villains.”
“There will also be some human villains,” he added. “We’ve announced that the Toyman is going to be appearing on the show. Additionally, we have some major Kryptonian villains who are going to be big bads of this season.”
“I think it’s a little bit of a collective mistake that Kryptonite is the only thing that can hurt a Kryptonian,” Berlanti continued. “In the comic books, especially other adaptations, like the ‘Superman the Animated Series,’ Superman himself can be hurt by a lot more than Kryptonite. On the show, [Supergirl] fights Livewire, who has electrical powers… she has enough electricity to stop Supergirl’s heart. There are other things on the show that are beyond just Kryptonite. On the old series, unless you had a rock of Kryptonite, it was pretty much lights out for the bad guy, and we certainly didn’t want that. We always want to feel our hero is in jeopardy.”
When asked how Kara’s powers would develop, he responded, “I think our collective gut is that she’s very much just at the beginning of our journey. Even the stuff she thinks she knows will come into question. Not just about her powers but also about her backstory and where she comes from. There’s always a bit of mystery around her origins and also just around what her capacities are.”
Adler also brought up what Benoist has brought to the character, saying, “What we’ve also found is all the attributes that Melissa has, that Supergirl has — strength and courage and hope and positivity — are very genderless. Ultimately, we hope to inspire men and women out there.”
In the pilot and some of the TV spots, Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant makes a speech declaring her reasons for dubbing Kara Supergirl, which generated some controversy. Berlanti addressed that, explaining, “That speech was in the original pitch for the show. One thing I’ve found in doing this is sometimes the temptation is there by executives to alter things that are part of the DNA of what was so great about the comic book. We really wanted to be protective of the name of the show. We wanted to have a conversation with our characters that we believe the audience would be having and that others might be having in terms of saying, ‘Well, she’s an adult woman. Why isn’t she called Superwoman?’ That was the origin of it, and it was pretty much always in existence.”
As to whether or not the comics influenced her portrayal, Benoist said, “I read some of them, I read some of the New 52, but also what I love about what Ali, Greg and Andrew and Sarah have created is that I truly feel like we are making the modern 2015 version of her. I wanted to know the world, but I wanted to separate myself from it a little bit to really make her my own.”
“We always talk about this character as if she did not have superpowers, so how she approaches any given situation if she was just like you or I, and then she has this bonus skillset. That’s how we really look at each villain of the week or her emotional life, her romantic life — you don’t want to heat vision the guy that isn’t paying attention to you… we look at it from the perspective of being powerless and what her powers bring to it,” Adler explained.
Berlanti also addressed the show’s positivity and how they plan to maintain it in a world littered with dark, gritty superheroes. “I think Superman has always been more than just a hero. He’s been an inspiration and a beacon of hope and something to aspire to. We’re certainly guilty of putting a very dark hero on TV in ‘Arrow.’ There is something about Supergirl that just represents the light and the hope and the people. It’s important for our times and important for our world. It’s so tied into the character… We’ve really embraced that.”
“She’s also going to become friends with Lucy Lane, played by Jenna Dewan-Tatum,” he revealed. “She comes to the show as a former love interest of Jimmy’s to add some complications. Part of the fun of it is Kara being the nicest person in the world, that Lucy really likes her. The two of them have some adventures together.”
The show centers on Kara Zor-El, a Kryptonian stranded on Earth following the destruction of her home planet Krypton. Assuming the name Kara Danvers, she decides to come out of hiding at the age of 24 and really use her super abilities for good.
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