CBS released the first trailer for Supergirl this week and it feels all too similar to the Black Widow SNL skit. The trailer has all the trappings of a romantic comedy. Kara (Supergirl) gets coffee for her boss, has a hot best friend who’s affection she doesn’t notice, is speechless around hunk Jimmy Olsen and has a giant apartment she could never afford. The trailer becomes more serious at the end but is undercut by a cheesy pop ballad.
The problem with marketing the first big female superhero as another New Girl is that CBS is essentially telling viewers Supergirl isn’t as serious as her male counterparts. You wouldn’t see Arrow flubbing his name in front of a girl. Constantine’s career didn’t consist solely of getting people coffee. If you swapped the genders of all the characters in the trailer, no one would take the show seriously. Barry Allen wouldn’t ever have someone tell him to, “Go back to getting coffee”.
Female heroes on other shows aren’t portrayed as the insecure romantic comedy lead that Kara is. Skye and May on Agents of Shield are badass women that aren’t bogged down with boy problems or a bitchy female boss. Laurel Lance (Black Canary) on Arrow is equally as strong, not worrying about blind dates and why her job isn’t going anywhere. Skye and May are agents. Laurel is an assistant district attorney. Kara is a reporter in the comics, not a glorified barista. Hopefully she will eventually become a reporter and her assistant position is only temporary. It would have been nicer to have her already start off with a better career position, showing young girls that they can achieve their career dreams. The days of depicting women as secretaries should be behind us.
The problem with Supergirl is that it’s the first female led superhero show in quite some time. There hasn’t been a “ripped from the comics” female-driven hero show since Birds of Prey. Being the only female-led show, Supergirl inherently will be looked at with a magnifying glass. For that reason it can’t just be a quirky show with a cape. It has to be more. Supergirl doesn’t just need to prove she can be one of the guys, she has to be better. The show needs to prove to the world why female super hero shows and movies can succeed. Film studios are still weary of releasing female-led hero movies. Hopefully the Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel films can also help to show why female heroes are amazing and necessary. If these shows and movies don’t do well, we won’t see another live female superhero property for some time.
The trailer does get more serious towards the end. Kara shows her powers and starts kicking butt. Hopefully the show will lean more towards that serious tone. If the show moves away from the romantic comedy tropes and gives us a serious heroine, then I hope the show succeeds. The world needs more strong female heroes. Hopefully 2015 will be the year to prove that.
Let us know what you thought about the trailer in the comments.
One thought on “The Dangers of Marketing Supergirl as a Romantic Comedy”
I hope-upon-hope that Supergirl is great and brings a strong sense of balance to a male dominated arena. However, I fear for it. This trailer looks desperate to get us interested, by showing over 6mins of footage from the pilot. After it, I kind of shrugged my shoulders – disappointed to find that it all looks so familiar, tonally. I expect a spike in viewing numbers when it comes out, but the ratings won’t hold if the product doesn’t engage people where it matters.