Tuesday March 10, 2015
Look! On TV! It's Melissa Benoist as the 21st ... or Seventh ... or Is She Just the Second Supergirl?
Add Melissa Benoist to the list of ... um ... Well, gee (and Great Scott), how many actresses have played Supergirl?
IMDb lists 21 appearances of Supergirl as character (cf.: 248 appearances for Superman, 301 for Batman, 54 for Aquaman), but many are duplicates, or cartoons, or essentially fan fiction. So who really counts?
Helen Slater appears on the list twice, for example: from the abysmal 1984 theatrical movie, and in a 2010 documentary called “Heroic Ambition,” all about Metropolis, Ill., and its annual Superman celebration. The second actress to play Supergirl was Nicholle Tom, who voiced the Girl of Steel in five episodes of “Superman: The Animated Series,” one episode of “Batman: The New Adventures,” and seven episodes of “Justice League.” Other cartoon Supergirls include Nicole Sullivan (of “Mad TV” fame) in the short-lived “Super Best Friends Forever,” Summer Glau in “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse,” and Molly Quinn in “Superman: Unbound.”
For live-action Supergirls after Slater? There's Laura Vandervoort, who had a recurring role as Kara/Supergirl on “Smallville”; but IMDb also counts Michelle Prenez, who did a comic turn as the Girl of Steel on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Lissy Smith in Max Landis' straight-to-YouTube hit “The Death and Return of Superman,” Kristen Bell as “Fake Supergirl” in “Movie 43,” and various forms of fan fiction (Briana Stancer; Jaclyn DeDoux).
If you eliminate the fan fiction, short comic turns, and dupes, you wind up with only six previous Supergirls: Slater, Vandervoort, Tom, Sullivan, Glau and Quinn.
If you eliminate the cartoons, you wind up with only two previous Supergirls: Slater and Vandervoort.
But if you only count actresses who have played Supergirl in movies or TV shows about Supergirl? Then it only happened once before. And that one sucked.
SLIDESHOW: A HISTORY OF SUPERGIRL ON SCREEN
It was hardly a Betty Friedan-like impulse that led DC Comics to create Kara (Supergirl), cousin of Kal-El (Superman), in Action Comics #252 in May 1959. This was an anodyne era (pre-Marvel, yo) in which Super Everythings were created so Superman would have something to do. Chronologically, Kara came after Krypto the Superdog and Beppo the Super Monkey, but before Streaky the Super Horse and Comet the Supercat. Just so you know where girls stood in the DC universe. But she quickly made it into the cinematic universe ...
... 25 years later. Here's a review of the painful 1984 movie produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Poor Helen Slater. She never had a chance. Neither did Supergirl. She was #1 at the box office for a week, then bellyflopped. It was 14 years before she showed up again.
Here: In “Superman: The Animated Series,” voiced by Nicholle Tom. Apparently they thought bare midriff and short-shorts equaled girl power in the age of the Spice Girls and Britney Spears. Why does this image make me think of Pink's song “Stupid Girls”? “They travel in packs of 2 or 3s/ With their itsy-bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees.”
This is Michelle Prenez on “Jimmy Kimmel.” She's got comic timing anyway; but Kimmel and anything female is suspect.
Our second true live-action Supergirl: It's Laura Vandervoort of Ontario, Canada as Kara, cousin of Kal-El, in the long-running series “Smallville.” As a Lundegaard, forever dealing with the double-a, I love her last name, but I checked out of that series long before she showed up.
Yes, Lissy Smith's comic-y turn in Max Landis' straight-to-YouTube video “The Death and Return of Superman” made the cut on IMDb. Does anyone know what the rules are here? A certain number of hits maybe?
This direct-to-home-video production is all about the origin of Supergirl (Summer Glau) and yet it's called “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.” No respect. On the plus side, she saves Superman from Darkseid even though she's been treated as a suspect alien by Batman for the entire movie.
Still with the midriff. This is Molly Quinn's Supergirl from the animated movie “Superman: Unbound.” In the Wikipedia synopsis, her character is called “unpredictable” and “fear-filled.”
Kristen Bell is described as “fake Supergirl” in the abysmal “Movie 43” because she's really the Riddler. Robin (Justin Long), you see, is speed dating, Batman (Jason Sudekis) keeps showing up to mess things up, and the Penguin (John Hodgman) has a bomb somewhere. Penguin even straps a bomb to Supergirl (as if) but Robin saves her (as if), and then of course it's revealed that the girl he kissed is really the Riddler (Will Carlough). Joke's on him. Or on us if we saw the movie.
Jaclyn LeDoux. Seriously, I don't quite get why this is on IMDb.
So for the first time in 30 years, and only the second time in her long, sad history, Supergirl is the star of her own live-action movie/series. And who is Melissa Benoist? You probably know her from “Glee,” but I've only seen her as Nicole, the cute ticket-taker that Miles Teller is dumb enough to dump after two dates in “Whiplash.” That's a good sign, no? That she was in something of that quality? Fingers crossed. *FIN*