Why Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl Is the Superman We Deserve
The Girl of Steel knows what it means to be the Man of Steel
There’s no denying Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was a divisive movie — but so was “Man of Steel.” Many fans (not all, mind you) feel that Snyder has improperly developed Superman on the big screen. Simply put, Superman is supposed to be the beacon of hope and justice, which is something we haven’t yet seen of Henry Cavill’s Superman. As the first season of CBS’ “Supergirl” comes to a close, it has become more and more evident that Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl is really what Superman should be in the DC Extended Universe.
Much of the first season of “Supergirl” tackles the same issues as “Batman v Superman” — what if the most powerful person in the world, an alien, decides to wipe out the human race? What can we do to stop him/her? While many people believe their super-powered hero will never turn on them, there are some that are more cautious — and they have every right to be. In “Supergirl,” that person is Maxwell Lord; in “Batman v Superman,” that person is Batman/Bruce Wayne.
Though Superman is the embodiment of hope. Though his symbol, his actions, and his determination to do good is what differentiates him from Batman, in the DC Extended Universe — at least that we’ve seen in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” — Superman seems to be all but the same hero as Batman. And even though he doesn’t kill (necessarily), the collateral damage doesn’t seem to weigh too heavily on him. After all, he did have a part in destroying nearly half of Metropolis in “Man of Steel.” And there lies a problem — Superman can, at any time, destroy an entire city by himself. He won’t choose to, but at the same time, it’s not something he’d entirely avoided. Supergirl, on the other hand, tries her damndest to limit the collateral damage. If she harms — or can’t save — even one person, it haunts her. That is something we do not see in Cavill’s Superman.
Benoist’s Supergirl is truly the beacon of hope in “Supergirl.” She is respected, loved, and, ocassionally, feared, but when the people of her city turn on her, it affects her. She tries to do everything she can to mend that broken relationship. She doesn’t want people to fear her, she wants them to look up to her and see hope. Again, hope. We don’t see that with Cavill’s Superman. That’s not to say Cavill isn’t doing a good job as Superman. He is. At least, I believe so. It’s just that… Superman does not need to be going on sabbaticals in the Himalayas and brooding on Lois Lane’s balcony. If something goes wrong, he should look to his friends and family and his daily life for inspiration to move forward. He shouldn’t abandon them.
As Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman/Diana Prince says in “Batman v Superman” at Clark Kent’s funeral, “They don’t know how else to honor him, except as a soldier,” referring to Superman’s funeral. That is the problem. Snyder himself treats Superman like a super-powered soldier, one that must protect earth, not simply defend it. Superman is supposed to be a hero, not a soldier (please don’t mistaken me for saying soldiers are not heroes). There is a difference in their actions.
Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl is all about hope, idealism, and doing good. On the other hand, in “Batman v Superman,” after failing twice in less than 30 seconds to tell Batman of his mother being kidnapped, Superman resorts to simply fighting Batman. Sure, it’s cool to watch Batman and Superman fighting, but that’s not what Superman is about. Superman, although technically an alien, always holds on to his humanity, to the good inside him. He’s humble, gentle, and a seemingly ordinary individual… at least, he should be.