With Former WWE Star Eve Torres, ‘Supergirl’ Once Again Proves It Knows How To Serve The Fans

Supergirl isn’t for everyone. The Greg Berlanti-produced CBS drama — with its creative and narrative ties to The FlashArrow and Legends of Tomorrow on The CW — caters to the younger demographic that television executives and advertisers fawn over. It’s not the gritty grit of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, thankfully, but it also doesn’t have the broad appeal Marvel has managed to cultivate for characters as weird as Ant-Man. So why do millions of viewers tune in each week to watch Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) save National City?

Simply put, showrunners Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg know how to satisfy die-hard comic book fans while advancing Supergirl‘s own story beyond the drawn and lettered pages from whence it came. From the revelation that Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) was actually J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, to an episode featuring Bizarro Girl — Supergirl employed fan service long before Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) leaped into Kara’s world for the show’s crossover with The Flash. Yet what Adler, Kreisberg and Berlanti excel at aren’t the obvious, in-your-face throwbacks to DC Comics lore. It’s the little things that count, like former WWE star Eve Torres Gracie‘s cameo as an imprisoned Maxima during the opening sequence of “Myriad,” the penultimate episode of the first season.

When she first appeared in Action Comics #645 in 1989, Maxima — queen of the planet Almerac, warrior and conqueror of worlds — took a trip to Earth after news of Superman’s many wonders reached her. She considered Kal-El worthy of her hand in marriage, so she paid him a visit on his adopted home planet, causing chaos in the process. The details of this backstory aren’t given in “Myriad,” per se, but the character’s introduction via some brainwashed Department of Extranormal Operations officers gives her enough time to set herself apart for the fans’ benefit.

“I am Maxima, queen of the planet Almerac! Open this door and you’ll find out exactly what that means,” she exclaims. When newly minted DEO director Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan Tatum) does just that, a confused Maxima pounds her and the other two agents in the room. Lane explains Non’s (Chris Vance) plans with the city’s mind-controlled population, to which a gleeful Maxima responds: “Since Superman refused the honor of marrying me, I will pledge allegiance to your Non.”

Aside from her many appearances in the ring and in other WWE-affiliated media, Torres Gracie has branched out with roles in the now-canceled El Rey series Matador and the upcoming Chinese action comedy Skiptrace, with Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville. (Yes, the second one is a real thing.) With her brief moment on Supergirl, however, it feels more like the 31-year-old actress is following in the footsteps of her professional predecessors, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena. The role of Maxima isn’t a big one, and because Kara puts her down easily in the ensuing fight, it’s safe to say that the incarcerated queen won’t be making a mess of things anytime soon. But Torres Gracie makes these little moments count.

Still, “Myriad” writers Yahlin Chang and Caitlin Parrish crafted an excellent cameo for the former pro wrestler. Even the costume design and execution by Eileen Gonzales’ costume department gave the character a look as source-appropriate as Kara’s suit. Her reveal in the DEO prison is concise, but it includes just the right amount of detail to appease hardcore comics readers and inform non-geeky laypersons. That, and the dialogue is suited perfectly for a character with a royal lineage and an equally affluent sense of pride. Gracie chews through her scenes like she’s having fun — a feeling that extends off the screen and into the viewer when Maxima and Kara trash the place.

They even get quite cheeky with one another mid-fight:

MAXIMA: We could have been family, Kara Zor-El. I once sought to make your cousin my mate.

KARA: Ew, gross!

The unwanted mental image brought on by Maxima’s admission provides Kara with just enough strength to repel her attacks and put her down for the moment. Then after a short scuffle with the non-controlled DEO agents, the superheroine cancels the prison override that had been enacted earlier in the episode.

Maxima and her comics-based backstory never appear again in the remaining 40 minutes of “Myriad,” and that’s fine. The episode otherwise concerns Non’s devious plans for the people of National City and, per his manipulation by the villain Indigo (Laura Vandervoort), taking over the entire planet and killing Kara and her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh). That’s just fine, because the myriad devices developed and used by Kara’s dead aunt, Astra (Laura Benanti) have served as a major story arc for the latter half of Supergirl‘s first season.

But wouldn’t it be fantastic if Gracie reprised the role at some point during the second season? Add former Wonder Woman Lynda Carter’s unknown character and put Lexi Alexander in the director’s chair again, and Maxima’s return to Supergirl could make for one hell of an episode.