If there’s one thing DC media has perfected in recent developments, it’s their previews generating anything other than actual hype. The Batman vs. Superman teaser that was released to try and cash in on the buzz that the new Star Wars teaser spread was bland and boring with nothing really happening (even for a teaser). The photos of the upcoming Suicide Squad film that’s already too far ahead of where DC movies stand have shown us the edgy Hot Topic Joker that no one asked for, and Will Smith begrudgingly wondering what the hell he’s doing in a lineup with messy, unbathed villains, most of which only the dedicated DC fan would know at first glance.
Despite all that, I was truly excited when I first heard about the long trailer for the upcoming Supergirl show on CBS. As a feminist who longs to see more female protagonists in such bombastic roles, the prospect of a live-action, ongoing TV show with a Buffy-esque vibe filled me with hope like the “S” emblazoned on Kryptonian El garb. The actual trailer, however, did the DC thing again and made me far less excited than I wanted to be.
The first thing I want to make clear: if you hear anyone complaining about the show because it’s female-driven or too girly, I invite you to slap them in the face as hard as you can. That is one of the few high points of the trailer. Give me the girliest female lead positively driving the loudest action-packed media you can muster, and I will be a very happy little nerd. Again, Supergirl seeks to reflect protagonists like Buffy Summers who didn’t put aside her bubbly personality to make room for vampire slaying on the side. Seeing Kara push a falling airplane out of harm’s way and ripping her shirt open for the classic Superman clothing change is something relatively new, refreshingly invigorating and absolutely necessary for mainstream media. In that respect, the trailer indeed hits some respectably high notes. It would be nice if we could all give it a 10/10 just for that. Unfortunately, we live in a society where female representation in media must be treated with far more delicacy. It’s in that respect that Supergirl’s voice falls strikingly flat.
You might recall a recent SNL parody sketch in which the Marvel hero, Black Widow, finally received a trailer for a standalone film in the form of a generic 90s-style chick flick that only catered to the most basic stereotypes of women in movies. Watch that trailer and then watch the Supergirl trailer, and you’ll see very little difference in terms of tone; both even start off with the same shot of a klutzy, mild-mannered lady hurriedly stumbling towards her magazine job backed by a quirky little soundtrack. Luckily, Supergirl doesn’t entirely fall victim to any faulty and unnecessary romantic subplot, but it makes up for that by having other glaring faults.
CBS’ Supergirl, as far as we’ve seen, ends up using those generic 90s tropes in a rather rudimentary way to portray a very narrow, pandering and obvious “embrace yourself” cliché, a message that, while still socially important, is still told in a rather tired manner that lacks any subtlety and offers no real depth to Kara. The trailer also gave a half-assed attempt to justify calling her “Supergirl” instead of “Superwoman,” at Kara’s behest, especially in this modern age in need of progression. Because “that was her name in the comics” doesn’t really work, her boss tries to argue that being a “girl” herself is just one part of her whole identity and that Kara was the only one that saw it as a problem. Never mind that the difference between using the word “girl” and “woman” when referring to somebody else has much more bearing than simply how one feels about it. Kara seemed swayed by this guilt trip, but it’s honestly not so convincing to me. And forgive me if I don’t excuse the unapologetic “no homo” exchange between Kara and a very annoying-sounding guy.
The fake Black Widow trailer was made specifically as commentary against Hollywood and Marvel movies not being able to make a female-driven superhero movie without resorting to a stereotypical representation of women. When a very real and legitimate sneak-peak of your show falls in line with values like that, there’s a bit of a problem.
It’d be wrong for me to say that this trailer didn’t try its darndest to deliver something meaningful. Maybe it was in response to SNL’s parodic commentary that “Marvel can’t,” that this trailer was put together in order to prove “DC can (for once).” There are signs of something truly special that are tragically buried under a ton of Kryptonite. I want a hero like Supergirl to be portrayed in the best way possible, but with such a bloated and problematic trailer laying out such shallow foundations, maybe this isn’t the best way to get to know her just yet.