After an extensive search, CBS has cast its Supergirl. The network has signed Glee actress Melissa Benoist in the starring role of Kara Zor-El in its series version of the classic comic-book story.
Benoist played Marley Rose in seasons four and five of Fox’s Glee and was also in the 2014 indie film Whiplash. The show’s official description: “Born on the planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped amid its destruction years ago. 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.”
Supergirl is the first super-hero show on CBS in 25 years (since 1990’s short-lived The Flash) and follows up on sister-network building its audience with DC heroes like on Arrow. At the TCA press tour earlier this month, CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler told critics the new Warner Bros.-produced series version of Supergirl will be a crime procedural (naturally). “The beauty of it is now with shows like Good Wife andMadam Secretary, you can have serialized story elements woven into a case of the week,” Tassler said. “She’s a crime solver, so she’s going to have to solve a crime. She’s going to get a bad guy.”
Tassler further described the CBS version of the DC Comics icon as “a very strong, independent young woman. She’s coming into her own. She’s dealing with family issues. She’s dealing with work issues. It’s a female empowerment story. If you look at the strong female characters we have on the air, it really is resonant of that … We’re big feminists. It’s her intellect, it’s her skill, it’s her smarts. It’s all of those elements. It’s not just her strength, which she does have.”
Tassler also emphasized the actress has to carry the series. “She’s got to be an every woman,” she said. “She’s got to be specific. She’s got to be a terrific actor … it’s looking for someone who embodies both the freshness and the exuberance of being a young woman in today’s challenging climate and being someone who can carry this kind of series on her shoulders. It’s a big, big show.”
Benoist is far from the first actress to don Supergirl’s red cape. Helen Slater portrayed the heroine in the 1984 eponymous film, while Laura Vandervoort suited up on The CW’s Smallville. Even geek goddess Summer Glau (Dollhouse, Firefly) voiced Kara in the direct-to-video animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.