Our son has watched most of my DVDs of the late 1990s Superman cartoon, and really enjoyed the character of Livewire. She’s a villain created by Bruce Timm for that show, a former shock jock who gets turned into a being of electricity.
I never thought much of the character myself. It’s kind of funny how us boring old people look sideways at the new characters created for silly worlds of children’s fiction once we’re adults, as though their caretakers are trying too hard, but the children who get to know these giant worlds full of characters as one lump sum just treat them all as equally interesting or cool. See also: grownups who grumbled about a face from The Phantom Menace making a cameo in Solo, while all the seven, eight, nine year-olds in the audience had their minds blown.
Anyway, I thought that since he enjoyed the cartoon Livewire, he might enjoy seeing the live-action take on her. Actress Brit Morgan has played the part in the ongoing Supergirl series that stars Melissa Benoist. Rewatching this episode this morning reminded me of how much I enjoyed this show’s first season, particularly Calista Flockhart’s fantastic performance as Kara’s boss, Cat Grant. I became increasingly bored and disillusioned with the show after it moved from CBS to the CW and they changed all the character arcs that I was enjoying so much, with the final straw being giving Jimmy Olsen a new superhero secret identity of his own.
(And sure, I’ve got all the time in the world for Elastic Lad and Turtle Boy in sixties Stupid Comics, but Mehcad Brooks was used so much interestingly in Jimmy’s first season role than after they moved networks…)
Anyway, our son has always been just a little skeptical of what he’s seen from the Arrowverse, and simply hasn’t been interested in them, so I’ve never pushed it before. This didn’t change his mind overall, but he says that he really did enjoy the action scenes, and thought that Supergirl’s rescue of a helicopter, which unwittingly results in turning shock jock Leslie Willis into Livewire, was awesome.
I think most interestingly, we paused for a quick discussion about who’s to blame for Livewire’s villainy. There’s a great scene where Cat Grant blames herself for Leslie’s transformation, and our son interrupted “She did, she made her go up in that helicopter.” He didn’t understand what Cat was getting at, though, that it was her pushing her employee to go meaner, to go nastier, to go below the belt in pursuit of radio ratings. I reminded our son of the brief bit we hear of Leslie’s talk radio show, and about how ugly she was about Supergirl. You can’t keep saying terrible things without it changing you. The more awful the words you use, the more awfully it affects your heart.
So yeah, trust a dad to come up with a moral.
There’s a lot to love about Supergirl‘s first season, including Melissa Benoist’s note-perfect performance, the family dynamics, the emphasis on the CatCo workplace, and the messages of tolerance, diversity, and acceptance, and the fight scenes are pretty great as well. Brit Morgan was terrific as Livewire, and I think he enjoyed it just enough for me to show him one more episode next month.