Supergirl TV Show Leaps To Series In A Single Bound At CBS – What Does It Mean?
Last week there was talk that a Supergirl TV show was in development from Arrow and Flash executive producer Greg Berlanti. This week CBS has jumped straight to a series order for the show, meaning Supergirl is just about guaranteed to make it to air (or else the network pay a hefty kill fee) -- and we can all start wildly speculating about who they'll cast as the lead and which version of the character will make it to the screen.
Supergirl joins a couple of other recent announcements of DC-Comics-to-TV adaptations that could reach our screens around this time next year. Cable network TNT is working on a Titans show, focused on the character of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, and Fox is in development on a Lucifer show based on the character from Neil Gaiman's Vertigo series The Sandman.
Greg Berlanti and former Chuck and Glee writer/producer Ali Adler will serve as showrunners on Supergirl, which was also developed by comics writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and Variety describes the show as being about 24-year-old Kryptonian Kara Zor-El living on Earth and deciding to embrace her superpowers to become a hero like her famous cousin. Whether that's an actual description of the show or just something Variety cobbled together from Wikipedia remains to be seen.
The Kara Zor-El Supergirl was created in 1959 by Otto Binder and designed by Al Plastino for the pages of Action Comics, and a big question mark surely hangs over how this show will deal with or tie in to the greater Supermythology. If Superman exists in this show as a supporting character, that will be weird. If he exists but never appears, like Iron Man in Agents of SHIELD, that will be weirder, because Iron Man is not Agent Coulson's cousin.
If Superman doesn't exist, that may be the weirdest decision of all, but it may also be the smart choice. How awesome would it be to have a world in which the only Superman is Supergirl?
A show about a young female superhero is great news, of course -- and of all the shows currently in production or in development, this is the only one that fits that description. Having that show be at CBS feels like an odd fit given that CBS's audience skews old, but this might hint at a slowly shifting focus for the network, and it's a great sign that CBS sees the benefit in making a show about a young female superhero.
DC's slate of TV adaptations has created a weird inversion of Marvel's movie history; when Marvel wasn't affiliated to a big studio, its licenses found homes at various studios, but Marvel's present-day Disney connection mean all its Marvel Cinematic Universe shows will have to find room at Disney-owned ABC (including ABC Family and the Disney channels), or on a service like Netflix, which doesn't compete in a network space.
DC has had a single studio connection for a long time, parent company Warner Bros., but that studio doesn't have its own TV network (it shares ownership of The CW with CBS), so DC Universe TV properties are split across Fox (Gotham), NBC (Constantine), The CW (Arrow and Flash), TNT (Titans) and now CBS (Supergirl) -- and none of these shows link up to the cinematic universe being established in Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Lemon-Scented Dish Soap.
From an audience point of view there's an obvious downside in having all these properties ring-fenced at different networks and thus unable to share characters or build worlds, but there's also a benefit for fans, in that separate productions means more content. Just as Marvel had five movies from four studios this year (Cap and GOTG at Marvel; X-Men at Fox; Spider-Man at Sony; and Big Hero 6, which is a Walt Disney joint, not a Marvel joint), so DC could have eight shows airing at some point next year (the six listed above, plus iZombie and Lucifer), to five from Marvel (SHIELD, Agent Carter, Powers, and the first two Defenders/Netflix shows).
Not that five is nothing; but DC seems aggressive in its TV expansion plans, while Marvel may be frustrated by the limitations of the ABC network. Just as Marvel seems to dominate at the movies, DC may yet dominate the small screen.