Wednesday, August 29, 2012
YEAR 1984: SUPERGIRL
The debut of Kara Zor-El for the first time in an audiovisual medium may (according to fannish scuttlebutt) have led to the death of the character a year later when DC's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS came looking for disposable longjohn-types.
The genesis of the film was less than propitious. Without the strong influence of a director like Richard Donner, who molded the superior SUPERMAN films for the Salkind production group, SUPERGIRL feels like nothing more than a telefilm introducing a new series-character. Though director Jeannot Szwarc and scripter David Odell had some decent enough ideas, the execution proved pedestrian and the film itself did not perform well-- thus leading to some fans' suspicions that DC Comics "terminated" the character as part of their 1985 house-cleaning.
On the plus side, Helen Slater delivers a fine performance, combining qualities of innocence and courage in just the needed propotions. Some of the romantic overtones show promise, with Supergirl battling not just to save Earth but also to win her prospective boyfriend from the clutches of an evil Older Woman.
On the minus side, Szwarc begins with a lame premise-- Supergirl goes to Earth hunting for a magical doohickey to keep Argo City alive-- and then lets the action plod around for most of the running-time until finally pulling out some stops for a moderately exciting climax. But by the time one gets there-- after suffering through scenes like one in which the Maid of Might takes ten minutes to dispose of a couple of grabby truckers-- one isn't likely to care much.