Supergirl: From Page to Screen
Supergirl: From Page to Screen by Jerry Whitworth
Announced being in development last Fall and fast tracked to be ready to air for the upcoming Fall season, Supergirl is coming to CBS from Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler (the former the producer on CW’s Arrow and Flash). While it’s as yet known if Supergirl will be an extension of the DC Television Universe, rumor has it Berlanti specifically had it written in his contract for such an occurrence. In any event, early reports of the Supergirl series seem to indicate a similar situation to Arrow where rogues from her gallery will largely be ignored for more notable characters (for Arrow, he inherited Batman and Teen Titans villains while Supergirl seems to be getting Superman criminals). While those the likes of Lesla-Lar, the Council (with Matrix-Prime and the Gang), and Carnivore may not emerge, there maybe hope for Reactron who has consistently remained Supergirl’s nemesis through the years (just as Count Vertigo and Clock King found their way to Arrow). In regards to Superman, considering who has been announced thus far, chances maybe good the likes of Brainiac, General Zod (or, Faora), Bizarro (or, Bizarro-Supergirl), Metallo, Parasite, and Mister Mxyzptlk (or, Miss Gsptlsnz) could emerge. Lets examine who has been announced thus far.
Superman’s cousin, the Maid of Might Supergirl rocketed to Earth some time after her younger cousin Kal-El. Born Kara Zor-El, the teen use to babysit infant Kal-El before the destruction of their home planet Krypton. Upon their world’s obliteration, Zor-El (brother of Jor-El, Superman’s father) managed to separate and protect Argo City from Krypton’s fate. However, they merely prolonged the inevitable and when Argo City was on the eve of its demise, Zor-El and wife Allura rocketed their daughter to Earth so Kal-El could look over her (due to stasis sleep, Kara would not age and accounting for Argo’s travels, Kal-El would physically be older than his cousin). However, unlike Kal-El, Kara was raised in an alien culture to Earth so her transition would require her to learn an almost entirely new way to live. On Earth, Superman embraced the arrival of a long-believed dead family member as Kara took on the guise of Linda Lee at Midvale Orphanage just outside of Metropolis wearing a brunette wig to help hide her dual identity. Linda would be adopted by scientists Fred and Edna Danvers (taking on their surname), going to Midvale High School and then Stanhope College as she accrued her own supporting cast and rogues gallery as well as became a high-standing member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th Century (where she was romantically admired by Brainiac 5, descendant of the villainous Brainiac). Following in Clark Kent’s footsteps, Linda Danvers became a newswoman in San Francisco for Galaxy Broadcasting. Supergirl would die in the Crisis on Infinite Earths but would be re-imagined several times since then in various, sometimes radically different, versions. In CBS’ Supergirl, a pre-teen Kara Zor-El is adopted by the Danvers after escaping Krypton and raised to hide her powers (reminiscent of Man of Steel). Now 24, Kara Danvers works as the assistant of Cat Grant and decides to reveal her existence to the world as Supergirl. Kara/Supergirl will be portrayed by Melissa Benoist (Glee), Young Kara by Malina Weissman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and her birth mother Alura played by Laura Benanti (Nashville).
The birth daughter of the Danvers and Kara’s older adopted sister, Alex Danvers is a character that does not exist in the comics. Aware of Kara’s Kryptonian heritage, Alex was jealous of her foster sister growing up but became obsessed with her powers. As an adult, Alex is a doctor working for a secret government organization. Alex will likely be like the Flash‘s Harrison Wells who is an amalgamation of various characters. Specifically, Alex maybe a combination of Lena Thorul and Nasthalthia Luthor. Originally, Lena was the younger sister of Lex Luthor completely unaware of his existence and who lost her parents in an auto accident (the family had changed their name to Thorul due to Lex’s criminal activities). She would become a close friend of Linda Danvers in high school with an ambition to join the F.B.I. Lena would go on to marry F.B.I. agent Jeff Colby and they had a son named Val. Nasthalthia Luthor, Nasty for short, was the niece of Lex (daughter of an older, unnamed sister) who battled Supergirl while she attended college. Lex tasked his niece with uncovering Supergirl’s secret identity so that he could kill her when her guard was lowered. Nasty uncovered Supergirl’s identity as Linda Danvers but wanted proof and toward this end followed her to San Francisco as a rival newswoman at Galaxy (similar to the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane). There may also be elements of Alexis Luthor, descendant of Lex Luthor in the animated series Legion of Super Heroes. A psychopath in the 31st Century who befriended young Superman and became obsessed with him, Alexis tried to eliminate the Legion so they wouldn’t distract his attention toward her. Alex Danvers will be portrayed by Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy).
Partially based on the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic, Hank Henshaw led a crew of four on the NASA space shuttle Excalibur (including his wife Terri) only for radiation to mutate them thanks to an experiment by LexCorp (Lex Luthor’s corporation). Returning to Earth, Hank managed to save his wife but his body deteriorated and he placed his consciousness in the LexCorp mainframe. However, Terri was driven mad and committed suicide as Hank’s consciousness disrupted Earth’s communication net forcing him to flee the planet, using Superman’s Kryptonian technology to make a craft and escape. His mind twisted and fractured, Hank came to blame Superman for the tragedy of the Excalibur and seek revenge against him by perverting his legacy. With Superman’s apparent death at the hands of Doomsday, Hank used Superman’s technology to clone him with cyborg components (referred as the Cyborg and later Cyborg Superman) so he can masquerade as the hero while planning to turn Earth into another Warworld (a planet-sized weapon composed of advanced technology). A returned Superman along with several allies would stop Hank but not before the destruction of Coast City, Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s hometown. Cyborg Superman would become a re-occurring thorn in Superman’s side before tackling the Green Lantern Corps on a regular basis. In Supergirl, Hank Henshaw will be a former CIA agent heading up the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO) concerned with the threat Supergirl poses to mankind. In the comics, the DEO was run by Mr. Bones, a supervillain turned hero that became a government operative and eventual head of the government agency. Hank Henshaw will be played by David Harewood (Homeland).
Superman’s pal and largely sidekick (especially as Flamebird in the Bottle City of Kandor), Jimmy Olsen is a photographer and cub reporter for the Daily Planet who often accompanied Clark Kent and Lois Lane on their oft times dangerous assignments. Over the years, there became something of a running gag that Olsen would be transformed over the course of a story, most famously as Elastic Lad (in which he became an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes) and the often cited Giant Turtle Man (paid homage post-Crisis when Jimmy got his own TV show and toyline as Turtle Boy). Jimmy Olsen’s ongoing title was closely tied to the Fourth World stories produced by Jack Kirby which introduced the New Gods (so far as Darkseid making his first appearance in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen) as well as Project Cadmus (who tried to clone Superman and instead produced the modern day Superboy). For the 1984 film Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen would be the only character from the Superman film franchise to make an appearance in the spin-off (in the story, the comic book romance between Olsen and Lois Lane’s younger sister Lucy is played up). Jimmy Olsen and Kara Kent would date in the TV series Smallville. For Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen is a photographer for Cat Grant and love interest for Kara living in National City. Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness) will appear as the character.
Gossip columnist for the Daily Planet, Cat Grant moved to Metropolis from Los Angeles following a divorce with husband Joe Morgan (Grant gaining custody of son Adam). For a time, Grant would carry on a romance with fellow reporter Clark Kent before later hosting her own talk show in “The Cat Grant Show.” Grant went on to operate the station WGBS during which time her son was kidnapped and murdered by Toyman (who later claimed it was actually a malfunctioning robot posing as him). Grant would return to the Daily Planet and seemed to become somewhat mentally unbalanced, looking and acting extremely promiscuous even with a now married Clark Kent. Grant would begin a slanderous campaign against Supergirl mirroring the relationship between J. Jonah Jameson and Spider-Man and eventually uncovered the heroine’s secret identity as Linda Lang (supposed niece of Lana Lang). For Supergirl, Cat Grant is the founder of media conglomerate CatCo and will be portrayed by Calista Flockhart (Brothers & Sisters).
Among the top ten Superman villains, Toyman has something of a unique distinction. While the likes of Lex Luthor and Brainiac are geniuses, the danger they pose seems rather obvious where Toyman is rather disarming. Simply a man in a funny suit that makes dangerous toys, his quiet demeanor makes he seem almost harmless. Take for example someone like the Joker with a similar identification and fans are quick to rise up that the two simply can’t be compared because of Joker’s overflowing madness. And yet, the argument could be made that’s what makes Toyman so dangerous. Likely anyone, save Superman, would take him lightly. In fact, the Toyman (Winslow Schott) started out as something of an annoyance to Superman (more in line with something like a depowered Mr. Mxyzptlk) only to evolve over time, becoming more and more unstable eventually turning to murder. Most of the time, Schott would seem a calm, intelligent person until becoming provoked, turning into a mad, destructive child that breaks their toys (rather, using his toys to break people). Exploding teddy bears, acid-loaded water guns, buzzsaw yo-yos, real rayguns, gun-wielding jack-in-the-boxes, robot-imitation Superman action figures, and toy soldiers, planes, and tanks that fire real ammunition make up only some of Toyman’s arsenal. While most of Superman’s greatest enemies pose a significant threat to him, Toyman poses a threat to those around Superman, friend and stranger alike. Because while Superman can fight his way through an army of toys, can he stop that army from shedding the blood of the innocent? In the series Supergirl, Winn Schott is a tech expert working for CatCo and next door neighbor of Kara (whom he has a crush on) to be played by Jeremy Jordan (Smash).
His appearance based on Sean Connery’s character in the 1974 film Zardoz, Vartox came to Earth looking for the murderer of his wife’s psychic twin (which also cost the life of Vartox’s wife). Unlike Superman where all of his people share his powers, Vartox is a Hyper-man that gained his psychic-based powers as a young man and is unique on his planet Valeron. Following the destruction of Valeron, Vartox came to Earth and assumed the secret identity of Vernon O’Valeron, a security guard for Galaxy Communications with an affection for Lana Lang. Recently, Vartox appeared to Power Girl (the Supergirl of a parallel Earth) in an attempt to woo her as the prime candidate to bear his offspring. For Supergirl, Vartox is an alien convict hiding on Earth since around the same time she arrived on the planet who wishes to test the mettle of the newly emerging Supergirl. He will be played by Owain Yeoman (The Mentalist).