The sophomore season of Supergirl premiered on Monday, and while the episode introduced a new Kryptonian and a career change for Kara, the biggest event by far was the actual debut of the Man of Steel himself, Superman.
Prior to now, Superman had only been mentioned, and when he did show up, his face was obscured by an annoying glare or some other camera trick. This was the first time he’d properly appeared, ably portrayed by Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin. In a charming allusion to Superman Returns, he makes his heroic costumed debut helping Kara rescue a crashing aircraft — or spaceship, in this case. There are plenty of other little easter eggs, and Superman is refreshingly corny throughout. It’s a far cry from Man of Steel’s gloom and doom.
Superman is a celebrity, but his presence didn’t overshadow Kara’s, both within the world of the show and as a viewer. Sure, the folks at the Department of Extranormal Operations were thrilled to see (and smell) the poster boy for truth, justice, and the American way, but it didn’t feel like it was at Kara’s expense. Superman is wholesome, confident without seeming too cocky, and mostly there for support despite his storied past. He’s an inch shy of being bland, and both Supergirl and Supergirl are better off for it.
He’s not all white bread, though. The crashed spaceship was supposed to be carrying Lex Luthor’s sister, Lena. Even though it’s revealed that she’s seemingly good, and was the target of an assassination plot, Superman has trouble trusting a Luthor. He also has beef with the Martian Manhunter, because the DEO is keeping Kryptonite. In the comics, Superman traditionally gives Batman a piece of Kryptonite as insurance in case he ever turns bad, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Maybe it’s because only Batman is worthy, and he’s not in this show. Or maybe it’s because underneath that corny exterior he has a bit of an attitude. He’s ever-so standoffish, but there doesn’t appear to be a ton of depth or complexity behind it. It adds up to make him just a little less likable and a lot more boring than our girl Kara.
Heck — it’s big news that Superman finally came to Supergirl, but really, the headline should be Kara’s realization (with her cousin’s unwitting help) that she’s found her career calling. She’d know a thing or two about headlines, being a journalist and all.