Monday, February 6, 2023

Josie Campbell Interview

Last week, we heard from James Gunn that a Supergirl movie was in the works using Tom King's Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow as a template. You might recall that Gunn said Supergirl is 'harsher', 'more jaded', and 'more f**ked up' than Superman. I am not sure that is the right take on Supergirl for a film. 

Later that day, I saw this interview with comic writer Josie Campbell regarding her upcoming animated Legion of Superheroes movie starring Supergirl. You should definitely read the entire interview, especially if you are a fan of those properties. Here is a link:

It is clear that Josie Campbell understands the Supergirl character very well. I read her responses to these questions and they made me smile. Because at least somewhere out there, there are creators who can acknowledge Kara's trauma but then see that historically she has been able to channel it in constructive and not destructive ways.  I'll be showcasing some of those responses below. 

I really liked Campbell's recent New Champion of Shazam mini-series. It was a strong take on Mary Marvel, her growing confidence, and her love of family. It touched on current social issues and mores but in an entertaining way, neither preachy or weighty. 

I have pre-ordered my copy of the movie which will arrive sometime next week. You should expect a review here. But first the interview!

Awesome. Now you said you’re a Legion fan, but this movie also follows Supergirl for the most part. She is a very popular character, especially in recent years with the Supergirl TV show and some of the comics she’s headlined. Did you feel any intimidation tackling a character like Supergirl?

You know, I didn’t feel intimidation. I felt like anticipation and excitement. I think it’s because of all of those things. A lot of these Legionnaires I’m getting to establish or what the Legion is like, who are they like in this world, but then you have Supergirl and she is such a multi-layered character. It supports so many different versions of her. I think I was excited because I was like people will be coming into Legion fresh or maybe coming in expecting other characters, but everybody thinks they know Supergirl. To be able to dive into her character and to explore her as somebody who’s basically a refugee, as somebody who’s whole life was standing out and it was ready to go and then it all literally blew up in her face and now she’s having to start from scratch. That’s such fertile ground for conflict and character that I wasn’t intimidated. I was really excited and I really wanted to show sort of a different side to Supergirl than maybe you’ve seen in the TV show or maybe you’ve seen in the comics. The character is so deep and she totally supports herself.

First off, I am someone who is still amazed that Supergirl has become so well known that non-comic fans know she exists. When I began this blog, for example, no one at my work place knew Supergirl was a thing. 

So how amazing is it that the question here is if a professional comic writer was intimidated by having to write Kara? It's a whole new world out there. 

And Campbell's description of Supergirl as a deep character that supports herself, a fertile ground for stories is refreshing. Because that is exactly why I love Supergirl, a complex character who has seen tragedy but is overall bright and optimistic. A character who is fierce in her fight against injustice but also is still a young hero learning the ropes. Someone who can fail initially. 

A lot of folks who don't know her history assume she is this sugary, saccharine princess starring in vapid stories. It isn't true. 

Cool. What do you find about Supergirl that makes her so popular and distinct against Superman?

I love Superman too. He’s cool, he’s great, but he grew up from a baby in the American heartland. He’s a Midwestern boy. At his core he’s an Earthing. Kara is different. Kara at her core is Kryptonian. She’s alien and she’s come to Earth and she’s discovered her cousin who was a baby is now older than she is, and she’s got superpowers and also there are super villains. She’s got everything thrown at her, but then she still wants to help people. All of this stuff is really traumatic. It would be very easy for her to have thrown in the towel, say “I’m done. This is wild.” Instead she pulls herself up and she’s like “No, I’m going to help people and not only am I going to help people, I’m going to wear this costume and look fabulous doing it.”

That grit and sense of humor is so enticing and so fun. I think that’s what makes Supergirl such a great character no matter what version of her that there is. From the comics, to the movies, to the TV shows. There’s always that joy and delight and grit to her. To me what makes the best Supergirl story is that she’s resilient, she’s not going to stop and she’s still having fun despite every obstacle being thrown at her.

This was, without a doubt, my favorite bit of the interview. Supergirl has had a lot of stuff thrown at her but she has never thrown in the towel. She isn't someone who would leave her family, get drunk and angry, or go cry inside a sun. She can recognize the tragedy and grow.

'I am going to help people.' That is her motivation. No one should go through what she has, not if Supergirl can help it.

And the idea of joy, delight, and grit is just a perfect way to describe the character. Resilient, but can still have fun. Amazing.

I was feeling pretty low about Supergirl's future given the Gunn announcement. This bolstered me. Thank you Josie Campbell for getting it.

Looking forward to this movie even more!


Martin Gray said...

Isn’t it encouraging! I loved the Mary Marvel mini too, though I wouldn’t say it wasn’t entirely unpreachy - I found that big speech in the final issue about her being ‘the defender of the weak, the champion of the lost and left behind’ excruciating. Hopefully nothing like that will be in the LSH cartoon. Anyway, download ordered

Anonymous said...

Yeah the clips on Youtube are Intriguing, once again DC Animation seems to Deliver the Goods...Management Must Not Be Paying Much Attention.


SG Fan said...

No wonder I've been liking the clips for the new animated feature. I loved New Champion of Shazam and if she worked on this and the Legion film, I think Supergirl is in good hands :) Shame the live action movie coming up does no seem to hold the same...sigh.