Ever since Christian Bale first donned the iconic black cowl in 2005’s Batman Begins, The DC Extended Universe has been all about everything being very dark and gritty.
Everybody is brooding and troubled, seemingly living in a world that’s perpetually rainy and devoid of any colour. Even the ill-fated Suicide Squad, despite Margot Robbie’s best efforts to inject some much-needed cartoony craziness as the psychopathic Joker obsessed Harley Quinn, felt pretty bleak.
Enter Supergirl, along with the rest of DC’s critically lauded TV universe (the trippy Legends of Tomorrow and the consistently excellent Arrow and The Flash) it’s a world away from the seriousness and angst of the current movies.
A bright colour palette, occasionally cheesy dialogue and a charismatic lead in Melissa Benoist all added up to make the first season a genuinely fun ride. But can the showrunners carry this over into the second?
Thankfully the answer is yes.
Picking right back up where last season left off, we start with Kara and Hank discovering an unconscious man (Chris Wood) lying inside the mysterious crash-landed pod and taking him to the DEO headquarters.
Although he’s basically forgotten about in the first three minutes of the episode, the CW have confirmed that it’s a version of the character Mon-El. A hero with similar powers to Kara and her famous cousin (more on him in a bit) but from the planet Draxamite instead of Krypton. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll play a part in what’s to come.
Returning home, Kara learns from a conveniently timed TV news report that the crew on-board the spacecraft Venture are in serious trouble now one engine has exploded. Arriving on the scene, she’s joined by Superman (Teen Wolf star Tyler Hoechlin) and they leap into action saving everyone in the nick of time.
Hoechlin’s debut was probably the most anticipated moment of the episode and it more than lived up to expectation. He’s charming and confident whilst Superman and enthusiastic and adorably awkward as bespectacled journalist Clark Kent (Supergirl also wears glasses when she’s working as Kara Danvers, are they like the ultimate weapon of disguise?), whilst the chemistry between him and Benoist is lively enough to make their family relationship seem believable.
Another important new character to be introduced this episode is Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) sister to evil tycoon Lex, who we learn is currently in jail for dropping a nuclear bomb on California.
Although a quick investigation by a naturally suspicious Supergirl doesn’t turn up anything, I feel like it’s fairly obvious that such a close relation to Superman’s famous arch nemesis (played with a suitable amount of icy mysteriousness by McGrath) will have something to do with the big bad of the season.
Supergirl makes some important personal decisions this episode in an effort to figure out the next step in her civilian life. Last season was all about her gaining confidence in the super side of her personality but now it’s time to focus a bit more on Kara Danvers.
Taking a nod from her cousin, she decides on a new job as a journalist (which also may be partly due to Calista Flockhart, who played Kara’s brilliantly bitchy boss and mentor Cat Grant, going from a series regular to a recurring guest role) and wisely ditches last season’s limp love interest James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) telling him that they’d be better as friends.
All in all, this first episode is a very strong start for season 2. Melissa Benoist is delightful as ever in the main role, walking the perfect balance between the slight cheesiness of Supergirl’s old fashioned plucky charm and a modern day feminist confidence. The introduction of Superman, which could have been quite heavy handed, seemed very natural and was helped no end by Hoechlin’s great quirky performance. If the new storylines are able to continue on in the same interesting well-paced vein of last season, DC’s TV reputation will continue to soar.
New episodes of Supergirl will air every Monday at 8pm on Sky1.