Supergirl 1.18 – World’s Finest

I wanted to dip one more time into the first season of Supergirl, and enjoy Brit Morgan’s fun portrayal of Livewire, thirteen episodes after the character’s first appearance. “World’s Finest” was the inevitable, but very welcome, crossover with all the other shows from the “Arrowverse,” establishing that the Girl of Steel and her frequently offscreen cousin from Krypton are just a simple dimensional hop away from the annual event story every November.

I really enjoyed this episode when it first aired on CBS in March 2016. At the time, they were juggling about four important ongoing plots, and the Flash, played by the amazingly likable Grant Gustin, just runs into National City and puts them all on pause for an hour. Amusingly, the Flash is able to offer some unusual insight into Kara’s problems. She needs to slow down.

Meanwhile, Livewire has teamed up with a villain from the comics called Silver Banshee. This is actually the only point of the story that doesn’t quite work for me, because while Italia Ricci is just fine as the character, she looks completely ridiculous in her weird voodoo-skull makeup. And yes, I get that she’s meant to be a cursed Irish character but she doesn’t look like a dangerous villain. She looks like Halloween on Bourbon Street.

Anyway, our son was in heaven as Supergirl and the Flash had their big battle with the villains, and Marie was really amused by some of Calista Flockhart’s unbelievably snarky comments. This program just lost so darn much when it lost Cat Grant.

But about that fight: it’s in a public park with lots of extras. I mean piles of people. Earlier, I had paused the episode to explain why Supergirl was so concerned about winning the public’s trust again. In a previous episode, she’d been poisoned with red kryptonite, which made her aggressive and selfish. Our son had never heard of red kryptonite, so I told him about how it’s completely unpredictable and has weird effects on our heroes’ minds.

There’s a great moment in a Lois & Clark story where the villain, Bruce Campbell, is ecstatic to learn that his batch of red k makes Superman apathetic. And that reminded me of how small all the fights in Lois & Clark had been. Whenever there actually was a fight – and there weren’t many – it was always in a deserted alleyway. Fair’s fair, all of the Arrowverse shows have had many scraps in abandoned warehouses and disused airport runways. In fact they have one in this very story and the Flash comments on it. But every so often, they really do something big and wonderful and really fun. I don’t watch any of the Arrowverse shows regularly anymore, but it’s got me wondering whether they’re going to have another one of those wild four-part crossover events this November…

Supergirl 1.5 – Livewire

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.