Fun, lighthearted superhero show Supergirl was the clear standout among the five TV shows showcased at yesterday’s closing day of New York Comic Con. This was partly because Supergirl was the only show, including Gotham and Heroes of Tomorrow, that presented its entire pilot prior to a panel discussion featuring showrunner Ali Adler and actors Gil Bellows and Mehcad Brooks. Bellows and Brooks, who respectively play Justice League fan favorite Maxwell Lord and Superman mainstay Jimmy Olsen, were winsome throughout the panel. But Adler, along with the pilot, was next-level charming. Vulture attended the panel and picked up five things you can look forward to in season one.
1. The Writers’ Room Is 50 Percent Female
Adler was quick to address the fact she’s a female superhero showrunner. This is a bit like being a unicorn, but a showrunner, too. “We’re all so excited that it’s Supergirl, and that is the conversation that’s out there in the world,” Adler said. “But we’re 50 percent of the population, us females … Supergirl’s writers’ room is 50 percent female.” Adler, one of The New Normal’s creators and a series writer for Chuck and Glee, is confident the show wouldn’t just appeal to women, as was evident in the pilot’s assured action scenes (see below). And her spiel about gender equality is much more convincing than that of Blindspot creator Marc Gero, who claimed, “It’s not important for the show to reflect equality of the sexes: It’s a show that takes place in the real world, where there is equality of the sexes.” Gero is joined on Blindspot by EP Greg Berlanti, who works with Adler on Supergirl as a fellow showrunner.
2. They Don’t Say Superman’s Name in the Pilot for a Reason
One fan pointed out to Adler that while Superman is alluded to throughout Supergirl’s pilot, he’s never mentioned by name. This is striking since Kara “Supergirl” Zor-El is sent to Earth to protect her cousin Kal-El/Superman, although her rocket gets waylaid in the Phantom Zone, making her land on Earth after Clark. Still, Adler confirms that the Superman-less Superman references are intentional. “We all live in somebody’s shadow,” Adler said. “Kara is grappling with that, and therefore it’s a concern that Kara will be dealing with in the show. But it is her show.” Adler’s comment is striking since Supergirl’s pilot ends with her accepting a Superman-related memento from Olsen — and it’s not Jimmy’s Superman wristwatch.
3. Villains Are Coming … Ones Comics Fans Will Actually Know
Adler was forthcoming when asked about upcoming supporting characters on the show and seemed to have a firm grasp of which comics characters were going to be fan favorites. She held her own when asked about how her show’s version of Maxwell Lord would be different from the comics — not a cyborg, all human — and even dropped several names comics fans will know: Reactron, Livewire, Human Tornado, and Toyman. Adler added that Toyman’s upcoming appearance will be especially exciting given there’s another character in the show named Winslow Schott, one of the handful of people who have called themselves the Toyman over the years.
Adler’s knack for nerding out is charming, especially since so many of the names she brought to the table are recognizable for established Super-fans. Think of how many superhero shows feature villains and supporting characters who aren’t interesting because they fit a particular niche (looking at you, Gotham and Tigress). Supergirl hasn’t even started, and it’s already ahead of the curve.
4. No General Zod in Sight, Although There Will Be Forays Into the Phantom Zone
Another fan pointed out that a villainess who identifies herself as Kara’s aunt at the end of the show’s pilot is a “general.” Adler was quick to shoot down the inevitable follow-up question: No, that’s not General Zod. It’s a fair question though, given Kara is waylaid in the Phantom Zone, the Kryptonian prison that Zod is trapped in in Superman II. Still, the Phantom Zone looks to play a key part in season one’s story since four Phantom Zone prisoners escaped Fort Rozz, a kind of maximum-security space-jail, at the same time Kara’s escaped the Phantom Zone. So while viewers shouldn’t expect Zod to show up, they can expect three other Phantom Zone ex-cons to menace Kara (the other prisoner is, uh, apprehended at the end of the show’s pilot). This is a funny bit of synchronicity since there are also three Phantom Zone prisoners in Superman II.
5. Viewers Should Expect Elaborate Action Scenes
Action scenes usually suck in live-action superhero TV shows. Thankfully, Supergirl’s pilot features terrific fight scenes, including three action scenes where Kara flies around and either fights or carries heavy objects (in this case, a commercial airliner). Adler was especially proud of this fact, and told viewers they aspire to bring “a feature film every week.” The pilot’s climactic fight with Vartox, a Superman villain inspired by Sean Connery’s character in cult sci-fi masterpiece Zardoz, is worth getting excited about.