‘Supergirl’s’ Miss Martian is more than meets the eye

There's a new Martian in town on The CW's Supergirl, but M'gann M'orzz's story is just beginning to unfold.

DC Comics fans were excited when Supergirl cast Sharon Leal to play the beloved Miss Martian on the show. The actor first appeared in last week's episode, “Welcome to Earth,” as a bartender at the secret alien bar Alex and Maggie investigated. She revealed herself as a Martian to J'onn J'onzz/Hank, which was quite a surprise to him considering he assumed he was the last Martian alive. She took a more active role, and we learned something huge, in this week's episode “Survivors.”

Fan-favorite Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse, Agents of SHIELD, The 100) joined the cast this week to play villain Roulette (Veronica Sinclair), who runs a superhero fight club (no, not the friendly kind) and casino/illegal gambling ring that's been depicted in the comics, Smallville, and the animated series Justice League Unlimited. M'gann was participating, seemingly of her own free will (though she's insisted she hasn't killed anyone in the ring…hey, would you look at that caveat!), much to the disappointment of both J'onn and Supergirl.

During last night's episode, J'onn suggested he and M'gann telepathically connect in order to share thoughts, something of a tradition on Mars and certainly a very intimate gesture for someone who's only just met the person they're suggesting it to. M'gann's hesitance to do so was not just to hide her participation in the fight ring, but her true form – that of a White Martian.

M'gann M'orzz, who goes by the code name Miss Martian (and civilian human identity of Megan Morse), was created in 2006 by Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel for the Teen Titans book. She has been historically depicted as a teenager (even if Martians live much longer than humans) who uses her shapeshifting ability to appear more human (read: hair, and if in her civilian guise, Caucasian) rather than the more alien look of J'onn. Her true form and identity of a White Martian has always been something she's kept a secret until forced or compelled to reveal the truth due to unforeseen circumstances. And well, frankly, most of the time it's not seen as a big deal considering she's a “good guy.” White Martian abilities are not really any different than those of Green Martians (telepathy, super strength, invisibility, shapeshifting) and they share the same weakness (fire), so the ruse is not a difficult one.

In the 2010 Cartoon Network animated series Young Justice, the same basic premise is the focus of her story. Added in is a penchant for Earth television which gives her the basic look and personality of “Megan” before she meets the young team. In this instance, she's also the niece of J'onn (they are not the last of their species), and she's not very adept at her telepathy, often to the detriment of her teammates. The eventual development and use of the power also causes strife in her personal relationships. The show only lasted two seasons but fans have been trying to get a revival going on Netflix for some time now, and Miss Martian is definitely popular.

That brings us to Supergirl, where M'gann is played by Leal (who is of African-American/Filipino descent) and certainly an adult. While we've only just met her, it seems clear the show isn't taking the perky teenager route (Supergirl herself is also an adult in this incarnation of course). I'm not surprised they've kept the White Martian secret, but I'm surprised they let the audience in on it so early. I'm very curious to see how they develop her, though. How long has she been on Earth? (I'm betting just as long, if not longer than J'onn). Did she only create that Green Martian look for J'onn's benefit or has she felt more comfortable that way? (Hard to say at this point.) Will she have a TV and junk food night with Supergirl? (Likely.)

You may remember Supergirl and J'onn fought a White Martian (disguised as Senator Miranda Crane) in the Season 1 episode “Strange Visitor From Another Planet.” As of the episode “Myriad,” it was still locked up at the DEO (it was the sole alien Non chose to keep in captivity). The White Martians are known for being aggressive creatures with little to no empathy, especially for the Green Martians who they all but exterminated and enslaved. Obviously, this stereotype will come into play for M'gann when her secret is finally revealed, much as Mon-El's home planet defined him for Supergirl upon their first meeting. But considering the actions of the White Martian, and what we know of M'gann from stories past, something tells me she'll be on Team Green Martian in the end even if there's some drama to be had first.