There are a lot of reasons why Supergirl is a great show. It stars a likable and enigmatic actress, its super fun to watch each week, and it complicates a fictional world, the DC universe, which typically only portrays societal unrest when the camera sets its sights on Gotham. Though Supergirl operates in National City, as opposed to her cousin Superman’s Metropolis, both cities have been marked by all-American simplicity throughout comic history. The very fact that Supergirl makes mistakes in her television series is paramount to defining her corner of the DC universe.
The show is, famously, moving to The CW for its sophomore season. Kara Danvers will be joined in National City by a host of new characters, including Lena Luthor and Nick Farrow. She will also share the spotlight with Superman, who will finally make his onscreen debut in the series, played by Tyler Hoechlin from Teen Wolf.
Now, I don’t have anything against Superman. He’s an iconic American standby, and his personality and unique concerns have been woven into Supergirl since the premiere episode. There’s every possibility that his presence in Supergirl will be triumphant, and ultimately empowering for our central protagonist, just as the crossover with The Flash did nothing to diminish her appeal. But it’s vitally important that the elements which make Supergirl great — a coming of age storyline, the causality of Supergirl’s missteps and small failings, her relationships with characters who aren’t as well known to mainstream fans — don’t get lost in the shadow of its new ultra-famous superhero.
At its core, this show works because it’s about Kara Danvers and her winding, imperfect path to becoming a hero. Kara spent season one fumbling toward greatness, and though she has the help of her sister, James Olsen, Cat Grant, Winn and J’onn J’onzz, she’s figuring it out on her own. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to see Superman swoop in and save her from her mistakes. Kara doesn’t need his help to be great.
What’s so refreshing about Supergirl is that it follows a fledgling who doesn’t always get it right. Watching her figure out how to be a heroic presence that people trust, respect and admire is dramatically satisfying, similar to the way young Clark Kent found himself in Smallville. Kara’s mistakes fuel some of the show’s best conflicts and most endearing moments, and it’s imperative that we don’t lose that tension. Ideally, Superman appearing in season 2 of Supergirl will operate like Bruce Wayne did in Batman Beyond: as a sometimes advisor and sometimes foil to the slightly-altered vision of a younger, fresher hero.
To be fair, we have no idea yet what role Superman is going to play in Supergirls second season. It’s completely possible that his role won’t be one of fixer but an occasional resource and an added layer to the strong theme of family in the show. If that’s the case, Superman’s presence could be immensely satisfying for fans in search of a developed Super-story.
It feels important, however, that Superman isn’t added to the show with the sole intention of having him make Kara a better, and more marketable, hero. Watching her take this journey on her own, without much assistance from her super famous cousin, is a big part of what makes the show charming.
Given what we’ve seen from Supergirl in Season 1, I think there’s every possibility that the show understands the importance of Kara’s mistakes and that it’ll find a way create a compelling Superman/Supergirl dynamic while making sure that the show’s still worthy of its name.