The CW’s Supergirl has justifiably earned a reputation as one of the best shows in the CW’s Arrowverse. Smart, sincere, and not afraid to tackle important social issues, Melissa Benoist’s lovable Kara Danvers has been a beacon of optimism in a media landscape that often favors cynicism. Although far from perfect, it’s done a terrific job bringing it’s lead heroine to life and has had better luck revitalizing the Superman brand than any of the recent films. While it might be gracing the silver screen, Supergirl has become the de facto wearer of the S-shield for a generation of new fans.
Yet there’s no getting around the fact that this show is a spin-off of the Superman property. As such, Kara Zor-El has difficult and arguably unfair expectations to live up to. As the cousin of the definitive superhero, the Girl of Steel has to be just as good as he is, while still being a flawed and distinct character. While she’s certainly more ethical than a lot of the CW’s DC heroes, her writers have still had her make some pretty odd decisions. So here are 15 things we don’t often think about Kara Danvers, but we probably should.
15. SHE’S LEFT MAXWELL LORD TO HIS OWN DEVICES
The inclusion of Maxwell Lord in Supergirl was definitely an odd choice, given that he’s primarily associated with the Justice League in the comics. Still, he did surprisingly well in his role as a major antagonist in the first season. Lord was essentially the Luthor to her Superman, before the actual Luthors got involved in her life. Nevertheless, his brilliance and resourcefulness have proven him to be an extremely dangerous foe.
So it’s odd that Supergirl hasn’t done anything about him since we last saw him at the end of the first season. This is a man who blackmailed his former employee into becoming a suicide bomber, engineered an evil Supergirl out of a comatose woman, and created Red Kryptonite. While his absence is likely due more to the writers simply being uninterested in him, the optics make it appear like Kara just stopped caring about an extremely dangerous sociopath.
14. SHE’S DONE NOTHING TO HELP BIZARRO
Speaking of Maxwell Lord and characters we haven’t heard of since season one, remember Bizarro? Out of all the foes Supergirl has faced, she’s unquestionably the most tragic. Little was known about the poor girl that would become an imperfect duplicate of the Girl of Steel, only that she was a brain trauma survivor mutated by Lord into twisted pseudo-Kryptonian.
This makes it particularly cruel that, since Kara promised to help Bizarro recover from what Lord did to her, she’s also been completely absent from the show. Presumably, she’s on ice somewhere in the D.E.O.’s headquarters, but to what end? Supergirl has access to all kinds of Kryptonian tech in the Fortress of Solitude, so that she hasn’t even at least looked for anything that might help cure Bizarro makes it seem like Kara has a very “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
13. SHE OFFERS REDEMPTION (BUT ONLY FOR ONE MUGGER)
One of Supergirl’s best moments comes from the episode “Human For A Day.” In it, after temporarily losing her powers, Supergirl is forced to convince a robber to surrender using only the strength of her words. It’s a deeply moving scene, showing an inspiring aspect of Kara’s character that we’d never had a chance to see before then.
The problem is that it’s also the only time she’s done something like this since then. Supergirl faces enemies suffering from all kinds of problems, yet she only extends a helping hand to one random mugger? Plus, the fact that she only did this because she didn’t have her powers makes it seem like, if she did, she would’ve just beaten him down instead. These factors make a great moment feel a lot less impactful.
12. SHE KIND OF MAKES ALEX’S COMING OUT ABOUT HERSELF
Supergirl’s made great strides when it comes to representing often-marginalized groups. One of the most notable examples is her sister, Alex, coming out as a lesbian. When Alex reveals her revelation to Kara, the Girl of Steel doesn’t react as well as she could’ve. While this wasn’t the most flattering behavior for a superhero, the show does acknowledge that Kara was at fault. It was a moment of growth for both of them, and it was well handled.
That is, until the point when Kara explains that she sympathizes with what Alex is going through because she also has to hide a part of herself. Although this was probably well-intentioned, it reads like Kara is comparing her dressing up in a goofy outfit and being able to punch cars to the alienation a gay person’s experiences. Not only was this tone-deaf, Kara made Alex’s moment about her suffering instead.
11. HER ANGER ALSO ALMOST GETS HER SISTER KILLED
Speaking of Alex, although her and Kara’s dynamic is one of the strongest aspects of the show, Supergirl certainly causes her sister a lot of grief. At one point Alex is abducted, and the kidnapper would only let her go if Supergirl released his father from prison. Although how she handles anger is an important part of her character, Kara’s temper ended up only putting Alex in further danger.
When Kara arrived where she believed Alex was being held, despite everyone wisely advising that it was a trap, her discovery of the decoy location caused Alex’s holding tank to fill with water. Keep in mind that originally Alex was only trapped in a box with a ticking timer, and Supergirl’s reckless response to that almost got her killed. It’s worrying that her rashness was only addressed in this episode near the end of the second season, and never mentioned since.
10. SHE BULLIES JIMMY OLSEN FOR BEING A SUPERHERO
The choice to make Jimmy Olsen Supergirl’s version of the somewhat obscure superhero Guardian has been a divisive one, to say the least. Although he’s had some brief heroic identities in the comics, this was a new role for him and many felt it was too out of character. Still, the writers of Supergirl have stuck with their decision and it’s definitely been a fresh angle for the character to explore.
You’d assume that, given her own heroic nature, Supergirl would support Jimmy’s choice to fight crime. Because he’s a powerless-human, however, she spent a good deal of time berating him for following in her footsteps. Given that Kara regularly fights beings that can harm her, her claims that she’s worried about Jimmy’s safety are hard to take seriously. Considering she already disliked Guardian before she knew who he was, her actions only come across as needlessly petty.
9. SHE BULLIES MON-EL INTO BEING A SUPERHERO
Conversely, Kara had a very different reaction when it came to Mon-El’s heroic journey. Kara initially tried to mold the Daxamite into an ideal Earthling and encouraged him to use his powers for good. She eventually decided to let him live whatever kind of life he wanted; rather than force him to live the one she knew best. Then Kara found out Mon-El was working as hired muscle for loan sharks, and berated him for his lack of heroism.
While “with great power comes great responsibility” is an important aspect to these stories, and beating up people for money isn’t exactly something Supergirl can ignore, Kara’s every interaction has been pushing Mon-El towards crime-fighting. The only reason he even became a hero was for Kara. Although he’s an adult capable of making his own decisions, it’s unfair for Kara to guilt Mon-El into vigilantism when he didn’t really want to.
8. SHE LIES WAY MORE THAN NECESSARY TO LENA
A difficult decision every superhero with a secret identity must face is who to trust with that information. While Kara has been very careful with whom she’s chosen to reveal her secret to, there’s one massive exception: Kara’s close friend Lena Luthor. There are obvious concerns with Kara telling anyone with the last name Luthor that she’s a Kryptonian vigilante, but that’s exactly why she should’ve done it by now.
Lena has struggled with the fear that she’ll turn out like the rest of her family, so trusting her with that secret would probably keep her from going down a darker path. She already likes Kara and Supergirl, and every time one of them is caught in a lie it only strains those relationships. There’s no bad reason to entrust her with this secret, and if Lena finds out on her own you can bet it won’t be pretty.
7. SHE WILLINGLY WORKS FOR A SHADOWY GOVERNMENT AGENCY
Supergirl working with the D.E.O. is something that was original to the show, and it’s become so iconic that it’s now a part of her character in the comics as well. Honestly, it makes a lot of logistical sense. It helps distinguish her from her cousin, and it gives her an easy means of containing extraterrestrial threats. Yet if Kara is trying to live up to Superman’s legacy, working with a questionable government agency probably isn’t the best way.
Keep in mind, the organization was started in response to Superman and an anti-alien bigot who became a supervillain originally led it. Even if it’s gotten better, there’s little stopping it from returning to what it once was. Plus, if Clark manages to deal with the likes of Zod and learned to control his powers all by himself, it isn’t a stretch that Kara should’ve been able to without the D.E.O.
6. SHE IMPRISONS ALIENS WITH NO DUE PROCESSES
Another troubling aspect of the D.E.O. that Supergirl willing goes along with is their treatment of criminal aliens. There’s no denying the extraterrestrials that the D.E.O. have contained are dangerous villains bent on causing harm to the Earth, and humanity doesn’t have the means to safely contain them. Yet the D.E.O.’s methods, locking aliens in a small cell without a trial, are something Supergirl probably should still take issue with.
Since the president has now signed a degree giving extraterrestrials the same entitlements as US citizens, the D.E.O.’s practices are especially unsettling. Do the aliens they originally arrested also get rights? If so, shouldn’t they be moved to a proper facility? The D.E.O. has the authority to make any alien disappear without question and the fact that Supergirl’s never opposed this feels hypocritical, as she’s basically an extraterrestrial who was given government protection in exchange for mistreating other aliens.
5. SHE’S LET A LOT OF HER ENEMIES DIE
On the other hand, it does make sense that Supergirl would go along with the D.E.O., given what happens to the aliens she hasn’t arrested. Although Kara seems to generally have a policy against taking lives, that doesn’t mean she’s been able to keep all of her foes alive. Vartox, Ethan Knox, and Metallo each ensured their own demises while Kara was nearby. While none of these deaths are her fault per se, it’s hard to believe someone with super speed couldn’t have found a way to save them.
This isn’t even accounting for all the lives taken by others that she should’ve been able to prevent. Supergirl is strong enough to beat Superman, yet she couldn’t defeat Astra or Rhea without someone else having to kill them? It seems like there’s been plenty of times Supergirl could’ve saved her enemies, and just chose not to.
4. SHE KILLED PARASITE
When you’re the most powerful superhero, nothing is more terrifying than someone stealing your awesome abilities and using them to harm others. This is the reason one of Superman’s greatest villains is the Parasite, who can absorb and copy the powers of anyone he touches. The only flaw with the antagonist is that he’s actually pretty easy to beat. Wait until he steals Superman’s powers, and then bring out the Kryptonite.
In Supergirl, Kara takes a slightly different approach to dealing with the monster: tricking him into absorbing plutonium, causing him to explode. Although Supergirl does offer Parasite a chance to surrender, the fact that Rudy Jones was the victim of an alien possession and that there were easier ways to defeat him makes Supergirl’s determination that she had to kill him feel both out of character and unnecessary.
3. SHE MURDERED RED TORNADO
Although many consider Parasite the first life Kara ever took, fans of a certain red android would beg to differ. When Supergirl was pitted against T.O. Morrow’s rogue creation, Red Tornado, it was assumed the fight would end when the mad inventor met his demise. To both Kara & Alex’s surprise, Morrow’s death somehow caused it to instead become sentient.
Kara managed to defeat Red Tornado, blowing him up with her heat vision. The issue here is that the machine was a newly sapient being, and Kara still had no problem annihilating it. Even though the android is a beloved hero in the comics, if he was just a mindless machine his destruction wouldn’t have been as big a deal. Yet, even though he was still attacking Kara, Red Tornado never had a chance to actually live before being murdered by Supergirl. That’s a difficult thing to just overlook.
2. SHE GAVE UP BEING HUMAN OVER A GUY
Loss affects us all in different ways, and it’s hard to fault anyone for wanting to shut down after losing someone they care for. In many ways, Kara Danvers knows this pain better than anyone. Unlike Clark, Kara actually had a chance to grow up on Krypton before its destruction. In this respect, Supergirl has handled loss better than could be expected of anyone.
Which is why it’s peculiar that, after her boyfriend Mon-El was forced to leave Earth at the end of season two, Kara declared that she was done trying to be human. She didn’t give up on love, which would’ve been understandable; she gave up on her humanity. Since the Superman mythos has always been defined by the importance of that concept, it’s concerning that Kara abandoned it over a guy (who wasn’t even dead) that she’d dated for probably less than a month.
1. SHE SAVES A PLANE ONLY TO SAVE HER SISTER
Kara made her premier appearance having decided to live as a normal human and not follow in Superman’s footsteps. While some might find it odd that Kara was initially determined not to use her powers to help, especially considering how she later treated Mon-El, it’s understandable that not everyone would want to live the stressful life of a superhero.
Yet when a plane started going down over National City, Kara had to make the difficult decision whether or not to get involved. That is, until she used her X-ray vision to find out that her sister was one of the passengers. While it’s likely Kara would’ve chosen to save the plane even if Alex wasn’t on board, the fact the writers felt the need put her there kind of says the opposite. The catalyst for Supergirl’s existence is far less noble, because she obviously couldn’t just let her sister die.
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