It all began with Richard Donner’s Superman. To me, it was the first time a character from the comics that I read lept off the page and onto the big screen believably. Then there’s Supergirl, which sadly was the first to reap the benefits from the original with a less-than-stellar spin-off. Honestly, I hadn’t seen Supergirl, released in 1984, until recently, so I was honestly hoping for the best.
Supergirl’s origin takes place in Argo City—an artificial city where the surviving Kryptonians live after the destruction of their planet. The city was created by brilliant scientist Zaltar (Peter O’Toole), and the source of its power comes in the form of a golfball-sized orb, called the Omegahedron, which Zaltar carries around with him (don’t ask).
Zaltar is the mentor to Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater), Kal-El/ Superman’s cousin and daughter of Argo City’s leaders. After a game of “hide the orb,” Kara mistakenly jettisons the Omegahedron into space, sending it straight to Earth. With only days to save Argo City, Kara sneaks off to Earth to retrieve the orb, and Zaltar is banished to the Phantom Zone for his carelessness.
“With only days to save Argo City, Kara sneaks off to Earth to retrieve the orb…”
Meanwhile, the Omegahedron finds its way into the possession of the witch Selena (Faye Dunaway), who, with her cohorts, Bianca (Brenda Vaccaro) and Nigel (Peter Cook), plan nefarious deeds with its power. The orb is able to boost Selena’s abilities exponentially. She plans to rule the world with it through various love and mind-control spells.
When Kara arrives on Earth, she dons a disguise (i.e., changes her hair color) and enrolls in a local prep school. She meets her roommate Lucy Lane (Maureen Teefy), and the two become fast friends. Yes, Lucy is Lois’s sister and happens to be dating Jimmy Olson (Marc McClure). Coincidence???
My explanation up to this point really is all plot set-up. Now, the story begins to fall apart. Selena casts a spell on the school groundskeeper, Ethan (Hart Bochner), making him fall in love with the first person he sees, which was supposed to be Selena. Through a series of super-heroics, he falls for Kara instead. It all leads to a battle between Supergirl versus magic.
The two weaknesses of Supergirl is its story and that it’s a truly lame spin-off of Superman. The movie is the fourth installment of the Superman Cinematic Universe (SCU), but it’s clearly a rip-off funded by the studio that brought us the original.
"…every element of the film attempts to make connections to [Superman]..."