The cult following of the Razzie award winning ‘Supergirl’ was probably excited to hear that Helen Slater is appearing in the upcoming TV series of the same name. Slater maintained a presence in the DC universe throughout the years, lending her voice to ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and playing Lara on ‘Smallville.’ However, she first emerged into the cinematic universe playing Kara Zor-El in the 1984 release of ‘Supergirl’ which happens to be today’s Throwback Thursday, a column where ScienceFiction.com looks at sci-fi of the past.
If you were lucky enough to watch ‘Supergirl’ in syndication at an impressionable age, the movie might’ve informed your comprehension of the rules that govern our world. Namely that space exists in a lake near an all-girls school, the only way to fall in love is if Faye Dunaway gives you a love potion, and that anyone who has a powerful orb can materialize a palace atop a mountain and declare themselves “princess of the world” with little reaction from the actual government.
In the Kryptonian city called Argo City, Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) brandishes a magical item called the Omegahedron. When the Omegahedron blasts into space, Kara chases after it and becomes Supergirl. The Omegahedron finds its way to Earth and into the hands of an aspiring witch Selena (Faye Dunaway). Selena becomes drunk with power, and it’s up to Supergirl to stop Selena’s reign of terror.
As much as ‘Supergirl’ was incredibly silly and a critical bomb, I do believe it was a valiant effort from father-son producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind (perhaps despite the drama they’re often associated with from ‘Superman’ and ‘Superman II’). In 1983, the best/worst movie ‘Superman III’ was definitely not a hit with fans and critics. The Salkinds wanted to revamp the franchise and chose to explore the story of Supergirl.
Compared to how the industry was just a couple years ago, I find it a welcoming choice to create a superhero movie with a female protagonist as a means of expanding a mythology rather than producing it as a gamble to see if audiences will flock to a female-driven action movie. That’s not to say that the upcoming ‘Wonder Woman’ or ‘Captain Marvel’ don’t aim to tell a good story or that the ‘Supergirl’ producers weren’t attaining financial success. However, today with the world holding a magnifying glass to female-driven action movies, the green-lighting of these movies are still sometimes viewed as a risky undertaking rather than an exciting investment.