Supergirl, is the unlikely hero against Xenophobia

You know things are bad when Comic books are making fun of the reality we live in. Well, that’s not quite fair because Comics books have always been a form of social commentary. I would have to defer to someone else to give you the more political driven story lines, but I can get you started on the social justice ones! Surprise Nerd Attack! *Major Spoilers*


So, before I really get started, can I need to express how much I love this show. I cry all the time watching it because Chyler Leigh acts her ass of as Alex Danvers, Supergirl’s big sister. Their sister bond and love for each other is a central aspect of the show. The emotional scenes between the two of them ruin me within seconds as I begin to silently ugly cry alone on the couch with my dog. I honestly think I love the show because of the characters and how they are written and presented versus this being a Superhero show. But I shouldn’t be surprised, Chyler Leigh stole my heart and my ability to emotionally regulate as Lexi Grey back on Grey’s Anatomy. Also, Calista Flockhart is everything you will ever need to be happy as a human portraying the fabulous Cat Grant. I can only describe her as a Miranda Priestly inspired character who is deeply altruistic while still being beautifully self-absorbed. The emotionally driven and sometimes deeply vulnerable peep talks she gives Supergirl/Kara has resulted in several cry face GIFs being exchanged between my friends during group chats.

     The Supergirl series largely revolves around the alien population that are immigrates or become refugees on earth, like Supergirl and Superman. Supergirl works as an agent of The Department of Extranormal Operations (D.E.O) alongside her adoptive sister Alex Danvers. The D.E.O monitors the coming and going of aliens on the planet, helps them with placement, and act as the law enforcement unit that investigates crimes committed by them and against them.

    One big twist is that the Director of the D.E.O is the Martian Man Hunter, J’onn J’onzz, using his shape shifting powers to impersonate a human. An alien is running the D.E.O, but he runs it better than any human does. It’s important to acknowledge that J’onn is much harder on aliens than most humans in the D.E.O. However, he takes the route of working around humans versus expecting them to change. The aliens must maintain perfect behavior, but the humans have the free range to be walking Dumpster Fires because that’s just how they are and they have the power. That  doesn’t sound familiar at all… Just in case you missed it, the human form that J’onn takes on his African American. He refers to this a few times during the series making sure to note that even as an alien, he has experienced the discrimination that comes from looking like a black man, which is consistent with the comics. Real subtle DC, real subtle. Wait there is more! The Martian’s have a horrible history of race/colorism genocide due to the White Martians, imprisoning and wiping out the Green Martians. J’onn is the last of his kind with a tragic understanding of what extreme hate and bigotry looks like.

      Lets not forget that Supergirl herself is an alien, however being a gorgeous  Kryptonian, like her lame cousin, they “pass” for human. J’onn and some other aliens can shape-shift to blend in, other aliens are so lucky and instead find ways to stay hidden to in order to be safe. The ones who cannot “pass for human” have limited access to means of making a living and are essentially treated like second class citizens even though alien’s inhabiting the planet is common knowledge in this story line. It’s important to remember that many of the aliens are refugees from either war riddled planets or ones that were destroyed entirely. The showed referenced the process of an alien being smuggled onto the planet and how she was kept in a dark, small space for over 6 weeks that essentially traumatized her.  They come here with very little and then have limited resources to work with, often resulting in them getting tied up in dangerous underground activities like alien fight clubs. Guess who is coming to see the alien’s come beat each other up, rich privileged humans. So, not only do the humans persecute and oppress the aliens, they exploit them at the first opportunity as well. Yep, the hits just keep coming.

       Season 2 of the show had the team facing off against Kadmus, a anti-alien organization with the goal to control or eradicate the alien population. The felt in action would lead to the aliens “ending their way of life.” I am not making this up, DC is going there, hard. I feel the show really was pushing an agenda because in the comics, Kadmus is the plan B if we ever need to fight back if our super powered protectors ever turned on us, not just aliens. This is how the Suicide Squad came into existence. In the Supergirl series, Kadmus doesn’t care what kind of alien you are, you got to go, Superman and Supergirl included.  Mama Luthor, who leads the Kadmus group, although a low key sociopath, has a cause that she truly believes in because her cray cray son pioneered it. Granted, an invasion does happen and she is instrumental in helping stop it, but Mama Luthor never learns the lesson the show is really trying to push. Yes, some alien’s are Dumpster Fires but some of them are Supergirl! Are you reading between the lines yet?

     Lets talk about Lex Luthor for a second and how he is perfect example of how insecurity and ego can cause mayhem and destruction. Lex has always hated the fact Superman offered the solutions and hope to society that eclipsed what Lex could generate with his wealth and genius. I personally think Lex wanted to make it seems as if his resistance was fueled by the fact Superman was an alien and Lex believed “humans should be their own saviors”, but I think he’s just butt hurt and insecure. Lex wanted to be the hero and receive the praise but Superman and how those tights hugged his lower half stole the show. Lex has always been a complicated character, capable of great good, but also willing to destroy the entire multi-verse. Lex’s ego would rather him destroy everything versus not being in control, not being the best, or to ever have to admit any type of insecurity. I won’t go after the low hanging fruit here…

      There are several members of the Justice League and Justice Society of America that are aliens. Some of them don’t have home planets any longer and have found their home here on Earth, defending it with their lives. The Green Lantern Core is by far the best example of unity because it consists of beings from across the universe working together to keep it safe. Seriously, google a picture of the green lantern core and look at the lovely array of green lanterns.

Image result for green lantern core

         The DC universe in general would be a lot weaker without our aliens. The Martian Man Hunter is a DC BIG GUN ,who some of us nerds think is a tad on the overpowered side. Strength and durability that rivals Wonder Woman and Superman, telepathy, telekinesis, shaping shifting powers, and the ability to render himself no corporeal make him a true bad ass. He is often treated as the “heart” of the league because of his empathetic nature and prioritization of the intrapersonal dynamics of the league members. He is a neutral territory or “Homebase” for the league members because everyone knows J’onn is “that guy” even though he is a Martian.

     Not only did the show give us one of the best same sex couples on TV right now along with commentary on race and gender issues; they cranked up the heat and had cross species love affairs. One of the regulars on the show falls in love with alien and they quickly became “that couple.” What I love about this is that no one batted a single eye about it. Frankly they were more thrown off by the same sex couple, which I thought was hilarious. Kara/Supergirl had a love connection with Jimmy Olsen, who is played by the very black and gorgeous Michad Brooks, although Jimmy has always been portrayed as white in the comics. I love an interracial love connection and the CW is very good at giving them to me. Lead white female characters are not often made to have romantic links to black male characters. The show scores even more points by making Jimmy Olsen the “hottie” on the show which places a black man as being a standard of beauty versus being “attractive for a black guy.” I personally think that is a huge deal. It’s a wonderful break from the fetishism that black characters are often reduced to versus them being placed on equal ground with Caucasian characters.

      CW does a pretty good job of scoring points for diversity when they can and I’m not surprised this show got a little bolder once it switched networks. If these are the narratives and the messages that we enjoy watching on the big screen, what makes some of us resistant to playing them out in reality? I mean, are some of y’all just pretending to like these narratives or do you not see the messages that they are shouting? Superheroes are meant to represent the very best examples of us, yet we seem to have some resistance to demonstrating those behaviors. Something isn’t adding up. Thoughts???

Author: Patrick Henderson LPC

I'm a licensed counselor working to try and stay sane while creating more resources and awareness for mental health services. I love my job so much, but I need a change of pace. I want to continue creating resources but why not have a bit of fun while I'm at it right? Come check out my blog where you can have access to a ton of rambling from me that should be definitely be educational and hopefully humorous as well. Come check out my "Pro Bono Adventures" and ways to help support mental health!