Saturday, September 27, 2014

Poll: Favorite Film/TV Interpretation of Supergirl

With the recent announcement of a Supergirl television show we are all wondering exactly what sort of Supergirl we'll see on the new Greg Berlanti/Ali Adler show. The initial blurb says she will become the hero she was meant to be which leads me to think she won't be the angry isolated New 52 version.

Thinking about the new show reminded me that Supergirl has had a handful of other incarnations on the big and small screens. So I figured we could look back at those other versions of Kara, many of them from the recent past. And, to add to the fun, I thought you could vote on which 'outside of comics' Supergirl interpretation is your favorite.

Let's start at the beginning!

1) Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater - I think the Supergirl movie has a special place in the hearts of all Supergirl fans. It is completely campy. The plot makes little sense. The villain feels like she would fit right in on the old Batman television show, crazy with a headquarters at an abandoned carnival.

But the movie is saved by Helen Slater. She just embodies the optimism and grace and determination of Supergirl. She really is Supergirl here. This is the first appearance of the 'Matrix' style costume. And it includes Linda Lee, Midvale High, and a rubbish boyfriend.

Can Slater's performance trump the sheer lunacy of the movie to have this be your favorite Supergirl outside of comics?

2) Timmverse Supergirl - I have to believe that DC Animated Producer Bruce Timm is a Supergirl fan. He made sure to introduce Supergirl in both Superman the Animated Series and the subsequent Justice League Unlimited. This was Kara In-Ze, from the planet Argo, a planet in Krypton's solar system.

And Timm really had this Kara grow over the course of these series. The early episodes of S:TAS show a young, eager, almost impetuous young girl desperately trying to help. We see her befriend Batgirl in a famous Batman:The Animated Series episode. And then in JLU, we see something of an older and wiser Kara. Initially she is still a bit of a hothead. But over the series, we see her mature. We see her confront some demons when she battles Galatea. We see her acting like the veteran compared to Stargirl. And ultimately, she completes the hero's journey, joining the Legion in the future. If people want to see an arc of a character, this is where to go. 

As Timm said (somewhere) and I am paraphrasing "I don't care what people say, Supergirl kicked ass."

I am very partial to this incarnation of Supergirl.

3) Smallville - I have issues with how Clark was portrayed in the Smallville show feeling that he moped and sulked around before finally ... FINALLY ... being a hero!

But I have very few issues about how Supergirl was portrayed on the show. And much of that strength is thanks to Laura Vandervoort. She made Supergirl a strong, proactive, and heroic character. She was the perfect foil to Clark. While he was running around as a blur, she was in your face in her costume.

Unfortunately, Clark was the star. So as a result, this Supergirl had to lose her memory, hang out with Lex, and eventually leave the present time, heading into the future to join the Legion so that Clark would be 'free' to achieve his destiny.

Still, when she was active ... she was fantastic. And I liked the variable 'costumes' she wore. If any one of these non-comic interpretations show that a Supergirl show would work, it is Smallville and Vandervoort's performance

4) Superman/Batman:Apocalypse -This movie made by DC Animation is basically a retelling of the Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner comic arc which reintroduced the Kara Zor-El Supergirl to the DCU.

Visually, this is a great movie. I love the way this Supergirl looks, with wisps of blonde hair and (occasionally) a big smile. She is voiced by Summer Glau who does a great job getting across the young hero. And Glau gives the movie some street cred.

That said, this is the story where she is brainwashed by Darkseid and becomes a dirty girl for a short period of time. She does get in a decent fight with Darkseid at the end. And the movie does smooth out some of the rougher spots of the Loeb plot.

Superman Unbound - This was a movie based on Geoff Johns' Brainiac storyline. There is a lot to like about this version of Supergirl as well. She is a bit scarred by the Brainiac attacks on Krypton. But she channels that into a desire for justice. She is more proactive that the Smallville Kara. She ends up saving the world by stopping Brainiac solar missile. And the performance by Molly Quinn is fantastic.

I also think the overall look of Supergirl in this movie is slick as well.

Okay, those are the other non-comic versions of Supergirl. So let me know which one you like best. And vote on the poll over on the right.


ealperin said...

Top Four: 1. Supergirl: The Movie. 2. Timm-verse Kara. 3. Superman: Unbound Kara. 4. Smallville Kara. ;)

Count Drunkula said...

Timmverse Supergirl.

garyb said...

1. Kara In-Ze (Zee?) Timmverse.
2. Superman Unbound

I'd love to see Molly C. Quinn as Supergirl in the new series.

Anonymous said...

This is a difficult one to choose. Helen Slater definitely fit and looked the part well: appearing majestic, kind, warm-hearted and idealistic at the same time. The TAS Supergirl was very charming and the growth of the character was nice to see. The Apocalypse one was probably the least appealing. She was a little too ditzy and immature. Also she needed to wear more clothes. The Smallville Kara had a lot of potential but was blocked by other characters, amnesia, etc. The Unbound one was pretty good. Interesting how each of these representations have been much better than the more recent comic book representations.

Scott Devine said...

I like the timm verse of her.

Anj said...

Loving all the comments so far!

I haven't voted yet because I am still processing. Like Anon, I think each version has some aspect that works strongly. And like Anon, I also think Apocalypse is the weakest.

And Molly Quinn as Supergirl on the show is brilliant. Are we ready for a 'strawberry blond' Kara??

Scott Devine said...

I want to hug the DCAU Supergirl.

iopy said...

I would wind up picking history and character traits from each.

The Timm-verse version showed the most growth, which is really important for a young character like Supergirl. But she was a shade too snarky right out of the box for someone who just found out she was an orphan. But she's probably the most well rounded version.

The Apocalypse version was just a maguffin in a Batman/Superman story. She was an angry, sexy, villain/vixen/victim in what should have been her own origin. If it wasn't for Gates/Igle doing a complete reclamation to fix the character I'd write her off. Instead she was a fantastic character by the time she was rebooted at Flashpoint.

The Superman Unbound version was pretty good, but we didn't see enough of her to get a good feel.

The New52 version has her points but the constant whining and self pity has made her difficult to take. She only thinks about how her own life sucks, rarely about he people she's lost. Does she like to knit, have any friends, like music, read books? I know so little about her beyond being a flying brick I have to say she'd make a terrible TV version.

I love how Helen Slater played Supergirl and the personality she gave her, but not the back story.

Let me add that the Cosmic Adventures version would make a terrific TV show, I'd vote for that in a heartbeat.

As someone who was orphaned at 12 the fact that most Supergirls rarely think about parents, friends, and everyone they've lost make them hard for me to relate to. It dominated my thoughts for years and still can make me sad. That's why Cosmic Adventures, Helen Slater, and even early Action Comics Supergirl resonate with me more.

Sorry to ramble so long.

John Michael said...

All five Supergirl choices bring unique and wonderful elements to the character of Kara. But I vote for Kara In-Ze from the Timmverse. I love how the Timmverse established her motivation to want to help out her new home. Also, I love Kara's interactions with Clark, the Kents, Green Arrow, Batgirl,Question, Brainiac 5, and Green Lantern. Finally, I really enjoy the character arc (as you state) where she grows as from smashing Darkseid's comet machine to using smarts to defeat Metallo.

I would also like to nominate the Kara from the Super Best Friends Forever shorts! Where else can we see Supergirl giving a super wedge to Superman! :)

Anj said...


How did I forget the SBFFs!!

Total fail on my part.

Anj said...


Yes, I would vote enthusiastically for Cosmic as an animated show or the Gates run as the basis of a show.

I think Gates addressed Zor and Alura better than others in the past. And, unfortunately, Daring New got canceled and Double Comics never got published. Paul Kupperberg was going to take Kara to Rokyn for a bit. (Paul did have the Danvers pop in now and then.)

Gene said...

I think Helen Slater's portrayal of Supergirl is a good place to start for the TV show to consider. Let her good nature be the foundation of the character.

Martin Gray said...

With the caveat that I've not actually seen the Smallville Supergirl. - who looks awesome - I shall plump for Ms Slater.

Anonymous said...

I) Timmverse Supergirl as it is that characterization that gave DC the idea to bring back Cousin Kara...
2) Helen Slater....despite a bad script and witless direction Helen owned Supergirl from the git go. The New Girl is gonna have to show some serious chops to get past Helen IMHO.
3) Laura Vandervoort...for no other reason than she SMOKED Tom Welling like a cheap cigar in every single scene they had together.

Thomas Hayes said...

I'll go with the all of the above option here. Kara In-Ze, who had a good number of appearances, is probably the most well-rounded character here and is actually a pretty good 90s update of the original concept as far as I can tell. They didn't waste any energy trying to do anything weird with her - they just kept it very simple and it worked very well. I love Helen Slater in the film, but the film itself is complete drivel thanks to a godawful script and I just cannot sit through it anymore. For an actress with nothing to work with Slater did a fantastic job - she set the bar to be reached for any actress playing this role in live action. As for Laura Vandervoort, I have to say I've only seen her in Season 7 of Smallville and I didn't really like how they used her in a lot of that - I stopped watching after she lost her memories - but her performance was good.

I like both animated films. Apocalypse is one of the first ones I watched, and it is visually spectacular. But it does have a lot of really big problems, most of which stem from its source material. Like Public Enemies before it, it's a slice of Loeb schlock, filled with cameos and spectacle at the expense of character and theme. However, unlike Public Enemies, at least some improvements were made to it - it feels far less like a Superman/Batman film than a Superman/Supergirl film, with all of the internal monologuing of Clark and Bruce taken out and a stronger focus on Kara. It's haphazard and a bit unfocued, but she does have an arc in that film and the Darkseid fight is the resolution of it. Glau's performance is good, although she has an unconvincing 'bad girl' persona in the scenes on Apokalips when she's brainwashed - my theory is that no one making the film really liked that part of the plot much so I can definitely let that slide. Unbound is a better story, although I do find the climax to Unbound a bit lame (that is the Superman vs Brainiac bit) after what felt like a pretty good buildup. But Supergirl is great in it and I'd be pretty happy if Quinn played Kara in live-action.

In all honesty I'm hoping the TV show version is better than all of them. This will be the first time there will have been a Supergirl on TV who's the star, that's something to look forward to. Superman has had enough attention.

ealperin said...

Belatedly nodding my head to the great portrayal of SG in SBFFs & by the Gods! What potential an animated Cosmic Adventures could be! Adding in Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle runs as well as Kelly Sue's SG run, & Peter David's SG for good measure, in regards to an animated potential.

Bartiemus said...

Laura Vandervoort was my first exposure to Supergirl on regular a basis so she will always hold a special place in my heart.

She made the final few seasons of Smallvile worth watching.

Anj said...

I am loving the conversation here so thanks everyone.

I completely agree that this is a tough choice because each of these interpretations has its strong points.

I mean ... how can you vote against Helen Slater? And yet JLU is the most complete character. And Laura Vandervoort's Kara is so fierce.

But you gotta choose one!

Anonymous said...

I forgot to shill for SBFF's Kara, odd character design perfect characterization...I mean her brawl with Superman had me howling....BTW she won that fight hands down...Martha just put and end to that foolishness thass all.


Anonymous said...

Helen Slater's Supergirl will always hold a special place in my heart... though I feel I may be of the minority that
enjoyed what the movie ended up being, in addition to Slater's performance. Jeannot Szwarc indicated he had a very
specific vision for this, which was not to make a "Superman in a skirt" movie, but more of a Fantasy / Adventure.
For that, I think the movie works.

In the grand scheme of things though, if Donner / Reeve gave us a movie that made us believe a man can fly, Szwarc / Slater
gives us a movie that showed us a girl who could do anything.

Unfortunately, not familiar enough with the Timmverse or Smallville / Vandervoort performances. I did see "Little Girl
Lost" and "Girls Night Out," which left me wanting more appearances of Supergirl. I will have to look for the specific
JLU episodes with SUpergirl.

I've very little to say about Superman/Batman : Apocalypse and Superman : Unbound... they're ADAPTIONS of a very intricate
storyline, and I know the translation from print to screen, stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. I for one was rather
annoyed this scene -- -- wasn't
animated in Unbound. That would've been CLASSIC to have seen onscreen!

> Where else can we see Supergirl giving a super wedge to Superman! :)

+1 on that!


Anonymous said...

JF - Lauren Faust gets teenage girls in a way most writers don't. Martha stopped that fight by appealing to the adult in Kara. Supes just gave orders. Perfect.

Manu said...

I'd like to add the FX of Jeannot Szwarc's movie weren't bad at all. Superior to Donner's ones according to me, which is normal as his film came out later.

I remember the lake scene when Helen discovers her powers. She takes off slowly in the air, and make a flip, it was very well done.

I can't resist, this is this scene :)

Anonymous said...

The famous "aerial ballet" scene... that's the 2nd thing that made me fall in love with Helen Slater's Supergirl.
The way it was handled, plus Jerry Goldsmith's score, does an amazing job of setting up Supergirl's character
for the rest of the movie.


Anonymous said...

"JF - Lauren Faust gets teenage girls in a way most writers don't. Martha stopped that fight by appealing to the adult in Kara. Supes just gave orders. Perfect."

What? No, she didn't. Martha just wagged her finger silently and expected to be obeyed. She didn't "appeal to anything, she didn't talk to Kara or explain why she was being punished. She just gave orders.