After months of build-up, CBS released the first Supergirl trailer on Wednesday, during their upfronts presentation of their new fall lineup to advertisers. The Internet promptly exploded — and, perhaps predictably, the fans had a specific gripe at the ready.
There were plenty of variations on this tweet as well:
Charges of sexism against Avengers: Age of Ultron and its merchandising (including the baffling choice to remove Black Widow from a toy set based on the very Widow-centric scene featured in nearly every commercial) have made the topic women’s roles in comic book franchises a particularly hot one right now. In response, Saturday Night Live did a sketch with the Marvel superhero, only instead of an action film, it’s a romantic comedy. And, while the second half of the Supergirl trailer definitely makes it feel like a superhero show, the first half — from the cinematography all the way down to the soundtrack — feels, beat-for-beat, like the SNL sketch.
This is far from the first time that comic book fans have pooh-poohed a TV show for being too “girly.” The Adventures of Lois and Clark was basically a rom-com in its first season. Smallville — and even Arrow — have detractors that say there is (or was) too much emphasis on romantic sub-plots. But much of the problem stems from the idea that Supergirl — who at many times in her nearly 60-year history has been presented as a feminist icon — had been reduced to the stereotype of a hapless goofball who is reduced to silly giggles in the presence of a cute boy. (Granted, Mechad Brooks is very cute… but have some composure, woman!)
With the Black Widow sketch only a week-and-a-half old, the Supergirl trailer is more a victim of poor timing than anything else. The backlash was intense, but many quickly sprung to its defense: How can the show be sexist when it’s appealing to the very audiences turned off by the macho punching contests that so many other superhero properties have become?
It certainly doesn’t help Supergirl’s cause that it’s the first live-action TV show focused on a female superhero since the poorly-received Birds of Prey back in 2002. Still, the show should be given a chance to prove itself rather than proclaiming it DOA months before its premiere. And of course, this is all based on a single trailer. It’s impossible to tell for certain whether a show is good or bad or sexist or feminist when we’ve only seen a little more than six minutes of footage. With any luck, fans will start to move past this and focus on the real issues:
Supergirl will air Monday nights this fall on CBS.