Who Still Loves SUPERGIRL the Movie…?

Supergirl 1984 movie poster

You might’ve heard already, but there’s a Supergirl  live-action TV series in production, scheduled to air next year.

What a Supergirl TV incarnation will actually be like is anyone’s guess, but one would hope it’s as far away from the truly awful Smallville TV series as possible. Honestly, I’ve never been able to sit through more than ten minutes of even a single episode of that duller-than-dishwater series that somehow went on for years.

I’ve yet to watch Arrow and I’ve only seen the first few episodes of The Flash series (which is actually really good already).

But while fans of the Girl of Steel in (DC) comics might (or might not) be excited about what this new incarnation of the character will bring, it also occurred to me that this November was 30 years since the Supergirl movie  was released.

Admittedly not a movie subject to universal (or even planetary) praise, despite boasting an insanely rich cast including Peter O’Toole (!), Peter Cook, Mia Farrow and Faye Dunaway; but still a childhood movie I retain a soft-spot for just as much as any of the Superman films (with which the Supergirl movie formally shares canon).

Yes, most people would exile 1984’s Supergirl to the eternal void of the Phantom Zone, but I say it still has its charms, despite all its flaws.

Though admittedly packed with infantile silliness, it’s not much worse an offender than some of the sillier parts of the Superman movies – and is certainly a better film than Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (please try to forget Superman IV, if possible – let go of the pain). Most of the embarrassing elements of Supergirl are shared with the Superman movies, to be fair; the real difference is that the basic charm of Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent makes a big difference and the filmmakers seemed to be on surer footing when it came to the Man of Steel but less certain how to approach the spin-off.

Helen Slater’s lead role as Superman’s favourite cousin wouldn’t be passable by current cinematic standards, but can be said to have lingering charms (if only for camp value; though come to think of it, I’m still majorly crushing on her Supergirl, just like I was when I was six).

 Faye Dunaway in Supergirl 

O’Toole and Dunaway also bring a degree of gravitas to the affair; both of them were nominated for Razzie Awards, though I don’t know why – there was nothing wrong with their performances, it was just a bad script. Hundreds of aspiring actresses were considered for the lead role, including Brooke Shields and Demi Moore – I can’t imagine either of them in the role and remain glad we ended up with Helen Slater.

Apparently even Dolly Parton was in line for a role at one stage, while the veteran science fiction director Robert Wise, whose past work included Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the classic SF movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

One can only wonder what Supergirl might’ve turned out like had Wise taken the job.

At any rate though, I still say the Supergirl movie as it is has its appeal; even if that appeal is mostly just about nostalgia, boyhood crush and a bit of O’Toole. There’s something especially endearing about its old-school sensibilities; and it is never boring.

Some critics cite the movie as a reason for the lack of female-centric superhero films since; I’m not sure that’s a fair assessment necessarily, as we also had some truly embarrassing Marvel film adaptations in the era too – Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America – but it didn’t doom Marvel’s big-screen possibilities for the future.

That said, I’m hoping the Captain Marvel film destined for 2018 is going to be a far sight better than Supergirl. Nostalgia and camp value isn’t going to cut it as far as Ms Danvers is concerned.

S. Awan

Independent journalist. Pariah. Believer in human rights, human dignity and liberty. Musician. Substandard Jedi. All-round failure. And future ghost.

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