Prime Time for a Female Superhero

What do The Hunger Games, Divergent and Game of Thrones have in common? Strong female leads. That’s right. Katniss Everdeen, Beatrice Prior and Danerys Targaryen are all girls who kick ass… and they all happen to be incredibly popular as well. Which is why I’m confused when Marvel is apparently “too busy” for a Black Widow film, and I’m excited for the releases of Supergirl (coming Fall 2015) and Wonder Woman (2017). As Geoff Johns puts it, “We’re so overdue for a female-centric superhero show that’s really good” – which makes the productions of Supergirl and Wonder Woman even more significant.

Supergirl follows the story of Kara Zor-El, Clark Kent’s cousin, and how she becomes a superhero. One of the aspects of the trailer that I enjoy is the fact that Kara is someone trying to understand herself. While she possesses knowledge of her superpowers (which are the same as Superman’s), she struggles with actually being comfortable with herself.

According to the trailer, Kara has tried to live a ‘normal’ life and is now finally being able to embrace her heritage. Like Katniss, Beatrice and Danerys, they were able to become who they are through experience and seeing these struggles on screen is incredibly powerful. Each of their stories makes them relatable and enable them to become strong female characters girls can look up to.

That said, the conversation between Kara and her boss, Cat Grant about the use of ‘girl’ in ‘Supergirl’ has me curious. Although I agree with Caitlin Kelly in her opinion article that it’s refreshing to see ‘girl’ not used to undermine or infantilize a woman, some of Grant’s word choice in her speech are odd.

Kara Danvers: “Shouldn’t she be called Super… woman?”

Cat Grant: “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot, and smart. So if you perceive ‘Supergirl’ as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”

While there isn’t anything wrong with ‘girl’, the usage of ‘hot’ is strange since I would usually use ‘girl’ to describe a younger age group (like someone in elementary or middle school). At the same time, the questions Cat Grant presents are interesting. I don’t think there’s anything bad about being a ‘girl’, and I believe there is some power to calling Kara’s secret identity ‘Supergirl’.

Either way, with women as leads in entertainment being a minority, it’s great to finally see a female superhero take center stage on prime time television. Hopefully the show will survive its first season because I believe Supergirl is someone for (especially) young girls to look up to. Although she possesses superpowers, Kara still faces normal problems like personal acceptance and becoming comfortable with herself.

–  Alison Chiu

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