Supergirl Soars With High Hopes Into Primetime

Damian Holbrook
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Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

We’re not in Kansas anymore! Thanks to the team behind DC Comics’ biggest TV hits, the original fly girl is getting her groove on. But unlike the last time we saw a member of Krypton’s first family take to the skies, she is far from Smallville.

Supergirl has the same kind of size and scope as The Flash and Arrow, but with its own adult identity,” explains executive producer Greg Berlanti. “It’s an origin story. But what really appealed to me is that the show is set in a world where Superman exists. He’s this dude who’s out there and wonderful and everyone looks at him as No. 1. I thought, ‘Gosh, I bet everyone can identify with feeling second best sometimes and having to discover that they’re not.’”

RELATED: The Supergirl Cast on What Sets This Series Apart

Which is exactly the course the producers—­including Arrow and The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg; Ali Adler, who worked with Berlanti on No ­Ordinary Family; and Flash exec producer Sarah Schechter—have set for Kara Zor-El, played with a fortress of solitude’s worth of charm by Glee alum Melissa Benoist. “The tone is so hopeful it hurts,” the actress says with a laugh. “The course of the pilot is watching her live up to her potential, finding out she can handle it, and seeing what it means to be a hero.”

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Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Flockhart "actually asked, 'Can I be meaner?" executive producer Kreisberg says, laughing. "So we did a pass on the script to make her Cat Grant even snarkier and give her more zingers."

Just before Krypton’s destruction, Kara, then 12, was sent to Earth to protect her infant cousin, Kal-El, who had already been rocketed to Earth by his own parents. But, as the premiere episode quickly establishes, the now 24-year-old was derailed in space before finally arriving in our solar system, where the yellow sun gives her extraordinary abilities. She soon learns that her famous kin is no longer in need of a babysitter. “When she gets [here], he has matured,” Benoist says of the Man of Steel. “So she makes this decision that Earth already has a hero and she doesn’t need to use her powers.” But when ­catastrophe strikes close to home, Kara literally leaps into action. “This feeling of wanting to make a difference and be a hero kicks in,” Benoist explains, “so she starts saving people and living up to this role she knows she was born for.”

With a massive Supermythology to play with, the producers have packed Supergirl with familiar characters and actors. Former Lois & Clark cape wearer Dean Cain and original Supergirl film star Helen Slater pop up as Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers, the scientists who adopt Kara; Calista Flockhart camps it up as her acerbic boss, media maven Cat Grant; and our heroine gets a Jedi Master in the form of Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), who’s been dispatched from Metropolis by Supes himself to help his cousin earn her wings.

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As for Benoist, she’s already over the moon. “It’s such a good group of people. I’m surrounded by positivity and inspiration,” she raves of the cast and crew, adding that even the long hours of stunt work and flying around on wires have been a blast. “They showed me a fight scene from the pilot, and I didn’t recognize myself,” she says. “I just thought, ‘Whoa…that girl is kicking ass!’”

Mondays, 8/7c, CBS (premieres in November)