It’s been a long time coming, but now’s a perfect time to talk about a very underappreciated hero, because it’s Supergirl’s birthday!
If you do read all the posts on my blog, you’ll realize that I already talked about the reasons why I like her so much. But the one thing I noticed is that the post where I mentioned that was a bit obscure, as it was bundled with the review of Season 1 of the TV show. I’d like this post to be a little bit more dedicated to my thoughts on her. I also intend on having this post serve as a justification for what is my only blog tag (note the difference between “tag” and “category”).
Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) was one of the first female superheroes I was exposed to, way back in 2001. I recall watching the Justice League animated series when I first saw her. Sure, Wonder Woman was there too, but Supergirl was just different. She stood out from all the other heroes. So, why do I like her so much? Her story a lot more tragic than Superman’s. He came to Earth as a child, having no memory of Krypton, whereas she came to Earth as a teenager. Yet, the person she becomes is one that everyone can look up to. She puts her life on the line for people (some who do not appreciate her, but instead, resent her), without asking for anything in return.
Supergirl is a very unique hero. She is one that does not let her past hold her down and always puts her best foot forward, no matter the challenge. As a hero, she is caring, and always sees the good in people. What’s more is that she is kind. Heroes are normally described as “brave”, “formidable”, “tough”, “strong”. But her, she’s described as “kind”, “selfless”, “innocent”, and “filled with hope” There are all traits I find more important than brute strength (don’t get me wrong, Supergirl is stronger than Superman as well, but that was never a trait that set her apart). Kindness is a trait that people seem to be losing as the days go by. Random acts of kindness are hailed as the most heroic acts nowadays. They appear to be extraordinary, rather than the norm.
What sets her values apart from Superman’s values are not the values themselves, but from where they originate from. Superman’s values arise from his upbringing with the Kents. The Kents were a decent family who taught him right from wrong. Supergirl, on the other hand did not have that kind of upbringing. She is who she is by choice, which in a way, speaks to a stronger sense of character than Superman.
I have never empathized with any character as much as I have with her. What I admire most about her, though, is her humility. She walks as a god among people and yet, lives a very humble life, from career to personal life. Her selflessness and bravery (even when staring directly into the face of death) are traits to be admired. She does not let defeat phase her. We can all strive to be like her.
We can all learn something from her. She is a good role model for anyone, male or female. And that is why I love her so much. She is a hero in the truest sense of the word. She’s sweet, adorable, kind, charming and compassionate. She is, indeed, the girl of steel with a heart of gold. I read somewhere that “Her source of power is not our yellow Sun – it is her heart! It is why a great many fall in love with the character”. That statement, basically encompasses what makes her special.
There are quite a few people that share this view of her, and I believe that this is the character she was envisioned to be. On another blog, Steve Orlando (writer for the Supergirl comics) said the following about Supergirl:
[…] plenty of heroes show up, stop the bad guy, and send them to prison. But Supergirl shows up two weeks later to see how they’re doing, and how she can help. She’s been there, she’s been in tough situations, she’s made mistakes. And she wants to understand you, and help you through yours.
I wondered why superheroes were so popular, especially nowadays with the large number of movies and TV shows coming up. I found this interesting set of quotes in a DC Legends of Tomorrow Special that touched upon this very same point. They’re said by different people, but they flow perfectly together, which is why I’ll combine them:
The dream of being Batman is to look in the dark and not be afraid, because everything else in the dark is more afraid of you. That’s such a powerful statement that, what if we did have the power to stand up to the dark?
Trying to find strength in whatever you perceive to be the things that make you weak. That’s at the core of all superhero stories.
If you look where we are in the world, it’s very unpredictable, but it’s also, I think, gotten a lot scarier for people. And I think there’s a craving for the idea of a hero. For someone to come in and save us. They really are gods, in a way. But they’re gods that are relatable to us because they also have a human side.
Every one of us in our lives wishes we had the ability to make things better, you know, whether it’s for the world or just even for ourselves. What makes superheroes so powerful in this moment, in the big fight of good versus evil, ultimately, good wins.
I don’t think I can add anything else to sum up perfectly why I have taken a liking to superheroes in general. But Supergirl is very different from other heroes. Her empathy and compassion for everyone sets her apart as someone that is worth looking up to. In the words of Hank Green, “compassion is the ultimate manifestation of strength”. Supergirl’s compassion is what makes her a hero. She genuinely cares, and wants people to choose, for themselves, right from wrong. You see this with every encounter she has with an antagonist.
But here’s the thing: she’s not seen as a top-tier hero. Many people do not know who she is, and those that do, do not take her seriously as a hero. Here’s a quote from from a DC Comics producer, Dick Giordano, that was around at the time she was first introduced into comics in 1959:
Supergirl was created initially to take advantage of the high Superman sales and not much thought was put into her creation. She was created essentially as a female Superman. With time, writers and artists improved upon her execution, but she never did really add anything to the Superman mythos—at least not for me.
It’s attitude like that that can doom a character. For almost the entirety of her existence as a character, she’s been overshadowed by Superman. Many antagonists and supporting characters having similar mirrors in the Superman comics. It was not until the TV show where new supporting characters were added that really caused her to stand out as her own. This attitude also resonates among many comic book fans. During the Crisis of Infinite Earths, supergirl’s death (yes, she is killed) was applauded by many as a great plot element. I wonder what the outrage would be like if someone like Superman or Batman were killed off instead.
And you can see this treatment of Supergirl as a low-tier hero everywhere you go. I collect a lot of figures, and finding great Supergirl figures is near-to-impossible. For example, Sideshow figures, a company that specializes in vinyl figures of superheroes. As of the time of this writing, they have seven batman figures. Yet, their Supergirl figure (above, which is yet to be released), is one of their worst pieces of work. Prime 1 Studio, another company that makes vinyl figures have recently announced that they are going to do a Supergirl figure. Which one did they pick? The one from Injustice 2, an upcoming video game, which has one of the worse-looking supergirls around (below).
The treatment of Supergirl as a second-tier hero is a shame. She possesses a lot of traits that people seem to be losing nowadays, that this world really needs. Traits you don’t really see with other heroes, like kindness and humility. And despite what many people think, Supergirl is not only a role-model for females. It is traits like these that surpass the gender barrier. She is a role model for everyone, who happens to be female.
Fortunately, though, there are other people out there that do share my passion for her. Here is something that Sterling Gates (writer of of some of the Supergirl comics) said during an interview at ComicCon:
I never want to make work where I’m like “Ehh turn that script in. Life goes on.” and I have done that. Any freelancer will tell you that. But I loved this character growing up. I want her to be successful. I want to make that happen however I can. When people do bad versions of Supergirl stories in comics (and no offense to those creators, I know what it’s like to be in the trenches), but sometimes bad stories tumble out, right? And it frustrates me because you don’t want to be the guy that goes to the grave and says “I told a bad Superman story” so you try really hard to tell a great Superman story.
But Supergirl, sometimes, you’re like “Ehh whatever, it’s Supergirl”. I’m like “No!” That’s the problem. You need to pour your entire being into telling stories for this character. Because if you don’t do it, then no one else after you will. She becomes second-tier or a bad version of Superman. And she should be so much more. I love that character, I grew up with that character, I push really hard on that character. And when I see a bad Supergirl story, it pisses me off because every Supergirl story has to be good. Or else, it will give permission to people after that to do bad ones. And that makes me angry, and that’s true of any character. But as a Supergirl person, I’m very protective of that.
Just from what he says, you can tell that he genuinely cares about the her. I couldn’t help but smile when I watched this interview, because it was as if I finally found someone else that was able to see what she could be. Having someone as influential as a writer care about a character so much gives me a lot of hope for this character. That, combined with Melissa Benoist’s spectacular acting in the TV show could finally get Supergirl out of the hole that the past writers have dug, and get her the respect that she deserves, because as far as I’m concerned, she deserves so much more than she’s getting right now.
And, I want to take a moment to talk about Supergirl’s portrayal in the TV show. I absolutely love it. She is so perfect and I feel that the writers have done a stellar job in capturing the kind of person she is. The hero that she is. She is portrayed as this girl who has the ability to bring out the best in people. She gives them hope, one of the main focuses in the first season of the show. Her kindness, bravery (even when she knows that her actions will cause her pain) and selflessness gives people inspiration. I don’t look up to many people, but I certainly look up to her. I have changed little things in my life to be more like her and I have noticed a significantly positive impact it has had on my general happiness.
The one plus about being a fan of an obscure comic book superhero is that starting a collection doesn’t break the bank. In 2015, I started my own Supergirl collection, which I now proudly display in a display case in my room. It has some of the rarest figures, including the elusive Moonlyte figure and a CGC-framed 9.8-graded Variant cover edition of Issue #23 of Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes comic book. While I know that there are some other figures missing, I just didn’t find them nice enough to add to the collection. My focus is primarily on good-looking vinyl or porcelain figures. You can see a picture of my collection below.
Photo of my Supergirl Collection:
There are still a few more upcoming figures that I have to buy/add to this collection. However, once it is done, I do intend on writing up a special collection spotlight just for her. I know this might not be to other people’s liking as collection spotlights are usually scientifically-oriented. But I really cannot describe in words how much I love Supergirl and what she means to me. I might consider doing it off the regular collection spotlight schedule so it remains unaffected.
My room is basically filled with Supergirl-related stuff. Earlier this year, I did a little DIY project where I hung up some Supergirl comic books with nice drawings of her. It’s somewhat funny because these comic books were the first things to add color to my otherwise monochrome room. Regardless, I’m going to forever be a die-hard Supergirl fan, and I’m not afraid to show it.
I really do hope that Supergirl becomes a mainstream superhero in time. She’s a great character who people can strive to become and learn from. But, only time will tell.