The Supergirl trailer is getting people talking — you either love it and you’re excited for the premiere of Supergirl, or you hate it and think it’s ringing the death knell on any female superhero franchise. But very few people are sitting on the fence. As Den of Geek pointed out, that’s a lot of weight to put on the trailer for a superhero television show.
More often than not, the theory floating around the internet as to why the Supergirl trailer is so bad is that the it’s a little too similar to the recent mock trailer Saturday Night Live did for Black Widow when Scarlett Johansson hosted the program earlier this month.
In it, Black Widow loses most of her superhero elements and is reduced to a clumsy heroine stuck in an intern job to a female fire-breathing dragon of a boss. She then becomes romantically entangled with the bad boy (Ultron), while she should be with the science geek-turned-large green rage monster the Hulk because he knows her favorite food is ice cream.
It’s funny, but what does it have to do with Supergirl? Minus donning the short skirt and cape, the elements in the trailers are shockingly similar — shy rom-com heroine looking for love and fulfillment in the big city but lacks the self-empowerment to make it happen.
Supergirl and Black Widow SNL: pic.twitter.com/wpHOiKvg8O
— Xiaoyi Ka (@Xiaoyi_Ka) May 13, 2015
What made it funny on SNL is what is making people angry when they saw it in the Supergirl trailer, a show actually airing in the fall. And it stems from a much larger question about the portrayal of women in the movies and television and why the-powers-that-be have been so reluctant to give a female superhero her own franchise. Do people, or at least the people that entertainment targets, want to see action stories centered around women? And is the recent failure of most female lead action movies (though they seem to ignore the massive success of the Scarlett Johansson lead Lucy) due to a lack of interest or poor writing and execution of the story?
— ArrowWritersRoom (@ARROWwriters) May 13, 2015
A recent article on Medium suggests that the behemoth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has stunted its storytelling to such a degree that there’s no time for character development anymore. Which is why you now get a Black Widow character, who has, up to this point, been a character with complex motivations and baggage who just happens to also kick a lot of nasty guy butt. But who in Avengers: Age of Ultron is interested in romance and mourning for an inability to have children, neither one of which was previously apparent. The argument is that it’s not necessary to actively create a strong female character — a difficult thing for people to agree on. What would such a creature look like? Would it be an aloof male personality in a female body that can easily beat people up? Or is it simply a human being with complex thoughts, beliefs, and motivations? The conclusion being that to create a strong female character, one simply has to write story well, with complex characterizations for all the main characters, be they male or female.
Both Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Clark Kent (Superman) are actually clumsy, or are pretending to be, and they actively pursue the women they have fallen in love with. But it’s the things they do outside of romance and their personality quirks that define them. And those characters have stood the test of time. The first part seems to be a lot of what we see in Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) — why are we so quick to assume there’s no definition outside of that to come?
Perhaps Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) says it best when Kara argues with her about naming the newest superhero Supergirl, instead of Superwoman.
“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?”
It’s an arrogant comment that doesn’t make you like her character but maybe she’s right, maybe the real problem is us and the words we think define us.
The tagline joke at the end of SNL‘s Black Widow trailer says, “Marvel, we know girls.” But this isn’t Marvel and it’s not a movie.
Supergirl is a DC Comics character brought to life on the small screen from Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions — the same team that produces the very popular shows Arrow and The Flash for the CW. Only time will tell if the writing on Supergirl will be fresh and interesting or tired and filled with stereotypes and tropes. But I, for one, am hoping it’s good. The world could use more female superheroes like Supergirl.
Check out the newest teaser trailer and tune in when Supergirl premieres on CBS in November.
[Image courtesy CBS via ComingSoon.net]