CBS has its “Supergirl” star, and it's… “Glee” alum Melissa Benoist?
Benoist, currently in theaters as Miles Teller's love interest in “Whiplash,” has been cast in the Warner Bros.-produced series, which CBS has already given a series order for next season. Adapted from the DC Comics title by Greg Berlanti (who helped pave the way for DC's current TV success with “Arrow” and “The Flash”) and Ali Adler, “Supergirl” will focus on Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El, who also escaped Krypton before it exploded. As the series logline puts it, “Since arriving on Earth, she”s been hiding the powers she shares with her famous cousin. But now at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.”
Benoist was one of the second-generation “Glee” stars for parts of the FOX drama's fourth and fifth seasons. She doesn't have an Amazonian build, but she's also not playing Wonder Woman, and various depictions of the character (her animated version in “Justice League Unlimited,” for instance) draw her as quite petite. I watched almost none of her “Glee” stint, and she doesn't have a ton to do in “Whiplash” (though is fine in the role), so I have no idea what to expect of her here. But Berlanti's had a good eye for casting his previous superhero TV stars, and I'll assume Benoist wowed him and Adler (who previously worked with him on the super powered “No Ordinary Family”) when she came in for the part. (“Flash” star Grant Gustin was also a latter-day “Glee” actor.)
At the TV critics press tour earlier this month, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler was asked why she felt a superhero show fit on her network as opposed to sister channel the CW.
“As you can tell from the strength of the female characters we have on television,” Tassler said, “it”s a real passion of ours. We heard the pitch to 'Supergirl,' and we realized that she embodied so many of the qualities and the characteristics of classic female heroines on this network, and we think that it is a story and a coming of age opportunity for us. We also just fell in love with the pitch. We think she”s a great character, and I love the superhero genre.”
Later, when pressed on whether Kara's adventures will fit on the channel of “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds,” Tassler noted that she helped develop “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” when she worked at Warner Bros. in the '90s, and insisted, “There”s a human drama there, and I think that there is, certainly in terms of the public, we know that films, there are so many superhero characters portrayed in films, but I think we”re watching an evolution with regard to the way superhero characters are portrayed. There”s a humanity. They are flawed. There”s a relatability, and I think for our network right now, what we did respond to was the character”s humanity, the other characters in the show as well, the story trajectory and the character”s arc and growth. These are all things that made her just eminently relatable and made the story exciting, made it an adventure and made her incredibility appealing. We made the decision based on the pitch that we heard.”
What does everybody else think? If you're familiar with Benoist, does she seem like a good fit as Supergirl? If you're a comic book fan, will you be irked if she doesn't dye her hair blonde? And do you think there's nowhere to go but up from the awful '80s live-action “Supergirl” movie with Helen Slater?