Supergirl’s costume... looks like Supergirl. Weird.

Apparently, I’ve developed a bit of a rep as the “anti-DC” guy here on the Agony Booth, which is fair, but kind of weird, because I don’t hate DC. In fact, I love DC, or at least I love the DC Universe and its cast of characters. I wouldn’t devote so much time and energy to something I didn’t care about.

I’ve been a DC guy since I was a kid. Maybe it’s just that DC had better cartoons when I was growing up, but for whatever reason, I’ve always had far more interest in DC than in its competitor Marvel. The DC universe just seems more grandiose, and I prefer their larger-than-life heroes to Marvel’s more down-to-earth style of storytelling (well, as down-to-earth as a comic in which a Norse god clubs a radioactive giant with his lightning hammer can be). Sure, I’ll always love Marvel. I can never turn my back on the universe that gave me She-Hulk, Nightcrawler, and Susan Storm, but there’s nothing quite like the trinity of Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. You just can’t top that.

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Of course, the downside of being invested in something is it makes it easier for that something to turn on you and piss you off, hence my constant rants about DC’s frequently boneheaded editorial decisions. It’s intensely frustrating when the people with creative control over the things you love insist on ruining them in the worst possible ways all the time. Sure, I should probably stop getting so upset over the way they treat characters who aren’t real, but it’s hard not to be depressed knowing that my favorite superhero (Wonder Woman, natch) is stuck with a company that has repeatedly demonstrated they do not have her best interests at heart.

But justified or not, apparently I’ve talked about this stuff enough that every time DC announces anything, people tend to want my reaction. Not that I’m complaining—it’s the greatest feeling in the world to know people actually want your opinion. And given that one of my all-time most popular articles was an angry screed against Wonder Woman’s new outfit for her movie appearance, naturally it makes sense for me to offer some kind of comment now that a costume for DC’s next most iconic heroine, Supergirl, has surfaced. Having seen the outfit, designed for the Maid of Might’s upcoming CBS TV show, it allows me to say something I don’t get to say about DC announcements lately:

I like it.

Supergirl's costume... looks like Supergirl. Weird.

Seriously, I actually really like it. Sure, the colors are a bit muted for my tastes, and I miss the yellow background for her S-shield, but otherwise, this is much better than I expected. I was afraid that, like most recent DC comics adaptations, it would toe the company line and give us something resembling her New 52 costume. Instead, they’ve gone with a classic old school look.

The actress, Melissa Benoist, is doing the traditional George Reeves-esque hands-on-hips pose, and even (gasp) smiling! It’s far from the latest DC movie marketing campaign, with all the heroes grimly bowing their heads over desolate, dimly-lit backgrounds. Even more surprising, the costume is actually a more modest throwback to the character’s pre-Crisis look, as opposed to the more revealing, naughty schoolgirl look the character has been sporting in the comics since the ‘90s.

This costume was reportedly designed by Colleen Atwood, who worked on outifts for the CW shows Arrow and The Flash. This is definitely her best work yet in the field of superhero design. The outfits in Arrow were less than impressive, most barely even qualifying as costumes, befitting the overall underwhelming aesthetic of an underwhelming show*. The Flash was a step in the right direction, but was still a bit cheap-looking and lacking in interesting details.

[*Sorry guys, I will just never be an Arrow fan.]

It’ll be interesting to see to what degree these promotional images reflect the actual show. Like Wonder Woman (or really, any female comic book character that’s been in publication for more than a few decades), Supergirl has a rocky history at best. Her personality varies wildly from writer to writer, and DC doesn’t seem to really have any idea what to do with her, mainly keeping her around because she makes for great marketing.

Silver Age comics portrayed her as a classic teen girl adventuress, and a more human, impetuous version of her male counterpart. The ‘90s saw a bizarre revamp of the character’s origin into a supernatural being who interacted with angels and demons, something like Supergirl crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When the character was returned to her more classic origins, they began characterizing her as a sensitive, curious alien, playing up her inexperience with Earth culture; basically, E.T. with boobs. And the New 52 version is essentially Superman with no moral compass: an angry, destructive force, which isn’t that different from New 52 Superman himself, really.

Of all these approaches, you’re probably unsurprised to hear I’d prefer something closer to the Silver Age version. It’s the simplest and most endearing version of the character, and it’s the one that made her an icon. Making a Supergirl show essentially allows you to do Smallville but without suffering from prequel syndrome. You can have your likeable-but-relatably-flawed, sexy young superhero story without constantly having to beat around the bush. You don’t have to do younger or not-quite-there-yet versions of popular characters. You can just come right out and say “This is Lex Luthor” or “This is Toyman”. Hopefully, CBS’s Supergirl will be another step in The Flash’s direction: Colorful, fun, and unashamed to call itself a superhero show.

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  • Wizkamridr

    I’m not really a fan of Supergirl or the costume. However, I will still give the show a chance. I hope her character is happy most of the time and not gloomy like Clark was on Smallville. I hope they call her Supergirl, and not the blue blur or something lame. She looks the part and I hope she pulls it off. I wasn’t impressed with Supergirl in Smallville. The 80’s movie was goofy, but that was the version I grew up with.

  • Sardu

    This bodes well… my young daughter loves Supergirl and it would be nice to have a, er, nice family superhero show to watch with there.

    • Sardu

      her.

      • You can edit comments, you know.

        • Sardu

          That would be nice… I’m not seeing an edit option, maybe because I’m posting as a guest.

  • Greg

    What do you have against Arrow exactly

    • You mean other than the fact that it’s dull, poorly-written, poorly-acted, wannabe-Nolan backwash?

      • lemonvampire

        I only recently started watching Arrow because I want to get into Flash, after having avoided it for the same issues that you’re pointing out, and though it’s painfully obvious that the show desperately wants to be Nolan’s Batman at first, it eventually grows into a pretty enjoyable show in spite of that. It’s the first thing I’ve been able to enjoy from DC in three years.
        As for Supergirl, I was not at all interested in this show until the costume reveal. Having never really liked the original costume design I’m blown away by how much I actually love this take on it. This is already my favorite design for a Supergirl costume, and a breath of fresh air after the crushing disappointment of the previous live-action incarnation of someone wearing an “S” on their chest.
        The design reminds me a lot of what I loved about the Superman Returns costume, perfectly classic yet modernized without sacrificing any of the key iconic design elements. This gives me so much hope as a DC/Superman fan.

        • Alexa

          I think my prob with the show is the approach they went with made me hate Ollie. He’s unlikable in the beginning and no matter how much the show tries to fix the problems in the first season, there is no getting around the fact that he was a total tool.

          • KLLRFRST

            Well, to be fair, he grew up a rich spoiled brat, then spent years stuck on an island, beaten up and nearly murdered several times, blackmailed by the government to do their dirty work, then came back home only to have to deal with madmen trying to kill everyone in his city. I’d be a total dick too if I lived through that.

          • Engler Pascal

            That, and he often enough gets called out for it.
            I have to say though, while I like Arrow, I enjoyed “The Flash” a lot more than Arrow Season 3, which was all over the place. At least it got back on track 3 or 4 episodes ago. (At least imho).

          • Alexa

            Be that as it may, its just not very good writing and doesn’t seem to fit the character all that much. I know he does the whole gets stranded on an island and learns things in the comics, but they didn’t have to make his so annoyingly brooding. He’s like cheap knock off of Nolan’s Batman. And yes I realize they address it later on, but him killing the bad guys in the beginning, nope that was just a bad decision. When you make Dexter Morgan a more reasonable and moral character, then you’re doing something extremely wrong….

        • Wizkamridr

          “after the crushing disappointment of the previous live-action incarnation of someone wearing an “S” on their chest.”
          I felt the same way about Lois and Clark and Smallville. To each their own. This is the new Superman. Whatever version you grew up with still exsits. People who hated Man o Steel get to deal with it next year. I guarantee that people that already hate a film that hasn’t come out yet will still see it.

      • Wizkamridr

        Poor acting compared to what? I don’t expect oscar worthy acting in a show where people wear goofy costumes and fight crime. I don’t watch it because the billionaire playboy fighting crime is boring to me. Not a fan of Nolan’s Batman either.

  • mamba

    I like it too. She looks like someone that might be fun to watch in adventures. She’s not too flashy, looks friendly, not overtly sexy (she’s a…well, a super girl! Modest boobs) so yeah, nailed the look!

    I just hope the good fun-adventure tone of the show is what they are conveying in the pic, otherwise that could spell the end of Super girl for a long time…

    (though gotta ask, am I the only one seeing a little Sofie in that pic? )

  • The_Stig

    The colors could be brighter (seriously, what is it about DC’s war on color?) but I do love the costume.

    • JustMe

      I can kinda (just kinda) justify the muting of colors for live action… Comic book colors don’t always look very good on real flesh and blood humans. Christopher Reeves was able to pull it off but there are precious few actors that can really, honestly, take a costume straight out of the comic book pages and make it work. Especially when it isn’t something like the Flash – if it has a lot of design on it, it makes it all the more impossible for a breathing human to make it work.

      That, and the fact that… well… Think about the screeds that would be written if a female with a chest had to be in a costume that had a big yellow splotch right across the boobs. I can envision the cries of “Sexism” from the public already.

    • KLLRFRST

      I’m sure the colors will look less muted on the show, which will have way much brighter lighting than the photo.

  • Cameron Vale

    It’s weird to see a DC hero and struggle to imagine anyone looking up to this person. Sure, the costume isn’t the most important thing, but it’s a creative decision like any other, it’s not going to be simply ignored by readers as they judge the seriousness of the creative team. Although I think that Wonder Woman tends to be handled well in this admittedly narrow regard, she always looks acceptably noble at least, setting grittiness aside.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Both The Arrow and The Flash have the problem that “who’s sleeping with who” padding takes up about half the show’s run time making the stories rather weak. Then there’s the pointless secret keeping you need a spread sheet to keep track of. I don’t really care how cheap the shows look when the hour long stories could be summarized better in a weekly fifteen minute serial.
    I have high hopes that CBS can manage to do something more interesting with the concept.
    Some people complain the colors are too dark and frankly I think they needed two costumes. This one will probably look great in full sunlight and anything that would look great in shadow would look washed out in full sunlight. The trick would be to use two (or more) costumes so that it looks the same under different lighting conditions. Like the way in the old movies James Bond had different cuts of suits for sitting standing and fighting so that they always looked perfect fit.