Don’t worry, this Supergirl season 2 premiere review contains no spoilers!
Supergirl Season 2 Episode 1
A lot is riding on the Supergirl season 2 premiere episode, “The Adventures of Supergirl.” It’s the first episode on a new network after CBS decided to drag their feet on a renewal. But it’s also its first episode on the network that really should have been the show’s home from the start, the CW.
So it’s no surprise that they’re going hard out of the gate and making the biggest splash possible by bringing in the most famous superhero in history. There was always that danger that bringing in Superman too early would mean he could outshine his cousin, but that doesn’t happen here. While Superman is a strong presence on “The Adventures of Supergirl” this is still very much Kara’s show, and the story focuses firmly on her supporting cast and the choices she has to make.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the switch from CBS to the CW is barely noticeable. A new set or two aside, there’s visual and stylistic continuity that prevents things from being too much of a departure. They do their best to make National City not look like the often similar Star or Central, and for the most part, it’s a success. Even though we know that Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant won’t be a series regular this year, she’s still here in this episode, and as delightful a presence as ever, and that helps make for a smooth transition, as well.
Supergirl season one had plenty of “good” episodes but only a relative handful of truly “great” ones. The season two premiere is as strong as the show has ever been, and that bodes well for the future. It looks great, it’s as sweet and earnest as you might expect, and while we do learn a little more about the mystery that capped the season one finale, they’re clearly saving bigger reveals for future episodes.
But with all that in mind, the story around this episode is naturally going to focus on Tyler Hoechlin’s Clark Kent/Superman. Whenever anyone puts on the red cape, it’s a big deal, as only a handful of actors have ever played the Man of Steel in live action. It should come as no surprise that Supergirl, a show that often plays like a direct refutation of DC’s recent cinematic efforts, understands exactly how to get to the core of what makes Superman such an important, inspirational figure. But what is a pleasant surprise is just how well they’ve done with the casting of Tyler Hoechlin as Kal-El.
Hoechlin gets ample screen time as both Superman and Clark Kent, and there’s no radical reinvention here. Other than the modern interpretation of the costume (sorry, old-school fans, the red briefs are never coming back), which looks much better in action than the early publicity photos would have you believe, this is a Superman who would feel at home in virtually any era of the character’s history.
There are those who might say that Hoechlin’s features aren’t as perfectly suited to playing Kal-El as other actors (he isn’t as immediately physically imposing as Henry Cavill or Christopher Reeve), but then again, they said the same about Dean Cain, who delivered one of the most memorable and important Clark Kent interpretations of all time. But Hoechlin’s performance gives us a Superman who is friendly, approachable, and completely comfortable in his role as a superhero. It’s hard to imagine a Superman more removed, not just from the remarkably dour recent movies (to be fair, the problem isn’t Henry Cavill, it’s the material), but from the downbeat, conflicted character we saw in Superman Returns or Smallville.
It’s almost hard to believe that a traditional take on Superman could feel like such a breath of fresh air, but here we are. Grant Morrison, the writer of the single greatest Superman story of the 21st Century, All-Star Superman, once described (in an interview with Newsarama) how his interpretation of the character was inspired by a Superman cosplayer he spent an evening chatting with, making his ideal Supes”so easy, so confident…invulnerable to all physical harm, he could relax completely and be spontaneous and warm” (Frank Quitely memorably brought this to life on the cover of All-Star Superman #1). There’s definitely something of that relaxed confidence in the Superman we meet on Supergirl while Hoechlin’s Clark Kent falls more on the George Reeves/Dean Cain scale of mild-mannered, emphasizing competence over the physical comedy of a Christopher Reeve or Gerard Christopher.
None of this should be surprising, though. There were plenty of episodes in Supergirl‘s first season that perfectly encapsulated the ideals that anyone who wears the “S” should stand for, and I imagine that season two will carry on that tradition even when Superman isn’t showing up to give his cousin a helping hand. We don’t necessarily need Kal-El around when Kara does a fine job carrying the truth, justice, and tolerance flag every week, but the Superman we’re presented with here is like an old friend we haven’t seen in awhile.
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
There are tons of DC Comics and Superman references in this episode, but it’s too much for this article. And plus, I promised the CW I’d keep this one spoiler free. So click here to see EVERYTHING I spotted. It’s a lot!
Supergirl season 2 premieres on Monday, October 10th at 8 pm, on its new home, The CW.