Since Kara Zor-El’s first appearance in Action Comics #252 and the avalanche of positive letters to the editor that followed, the girl has been a blockbuster hit in the making. She’s survived nearly countless retcons and reboots to become one of DC’s most resilient characters, and her popularity is on par with Superman’s.
There are countless iconic scenes with Kara Zor-El throughout many DC crossovers, and her intelligence and optimism against all odds have caused her to stand out in company-wide events like Final Crisis and Crisis on Infinite Earths. Likewise, she has so many great stories under her belt that it’s impossible to include them all, but these are some we’d love to see adapted for the big screen.
"IF YOU'RE SUPERGIRL, THEN WHO AM I?"
Of all the often-revisited plotlines of Supergirl comics, one of the most entertaining is Supergirl versus Supergirl. This story has been told in a few different ways, dating back to the Silver Age, in which a very random girl simply dressed like Supergirl caused Linda Lee’s entire sense of identity to collapse, and then more recently in Supergirl Volume 5 as an actual evil entity, calling Kara out for her failures and promising to be a better Supergirl than she could ever be.
No matter which way you go, Supergirl versus Supergirl is awesome. Heroes fighting an evil version of themselves is always great. Doppelgangers see their metaphors explored ad nauseum in series like Twin Peaks, but Supergirl’s personality specifically lends to stories in which she herself is her own worst critic. Her well-meaning attitude and her anxiety combine to leave her susceptible to the fear that she’s just not doing good enough.
So, although the previous doppelganger stories told with Supergirl might not be strong enough to hold up an entire film, a Supergirl trapped between dimensions in the multiverse, encountering versions of herself such as Power Girl and Matrix, could easily be fleshed out into a Grant Morrison style sci-fi masterpiece.
The Banshee has got to be one of the most terrifying villains of all time. She shows up dressed like a skeleton, she has a really dark origin story, and if she learns your name and speaks it, you die on the spot. She’s got a sentimental side to her, but that never stops her from being scary as hell in her ruthlessness and her fixation on Supergirl. If Supergirl has an arch-nemesis, Silver Banshee is a pretty good candidate.
One of the best takes on Silver Banshee was during the Peter David runs. Although this incarnation was not Kara Zor-El, rather the Matrix merged with human Linda Danvers, they look and act very much the same as Kara. The version of Banshee that appears in Supergirl Volume 4 #11-12 is more sympathetic than most takes on the character but never loses her ability to send chills down your spine. At one point, she comes up against several police officers and begins speaking their names in order, and they all drop dead, one after the other. It’s a scene fit for a horror film.
That’s my favorite Silver Banshee story, but there are dozens more. She’s also appeared in the more recent Supergirl series on the CW, played by Italia Ricci. No matter what story you choose, Silver Banshee is one of DC’s great underused villains.
COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8TH GRADE
This series was a lot of fun, and it focused on Supergirl attempting to assimilate, which always makes for an entertaining read. Supergirl has cosmic adventures, but also befriends a kid named Lena Luthor and develops her very own nemesis in a Bizarro that calls herself Belinda Lee.
Recalling a specific era of ‘90s Nickelodeon in which we saw a lot of female-led series aimed at girls around 8th-grade age level like The Secret World of Alex Mack and Clarissa Explains It All, Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade is just the kind of kid-friendly romp we don’t get enough of in comics. With grimdark stories infiltrating even Supergirl's canon, it's like a breath of fresh air to pause and check in to some genuinely wholesome entertainment every now and again.
This might do better overall as an animated series in the vein of Teen Titans Go! but the zany adventures of Supergirl trying to exist in a classroom works even better than it would with Clark. Far from the shy wallflower that her cousin was in high school, 8th-grade Supergirl is funny and prioritizes interaction with her classmates and teachers, and has a lot of misadventures that open themselves up to a film adaptation.
When writing Superman comics, it seems a lot of people put emphasis on the inspirational aspect of the characters, which is good, or they seek to undermine it with edgier material that leads to unfavorable comparisons against Batman, like the Dark Knight Returns, which is less good. One major failing in film and comics alike is the need to distance Superman stories from some of the more bonkers parts of canon, despite the fact that stories that modernize and embrace it, like All-Star Superman, are usually the most successful.
One of the strangest characters to ever appear in Superman continuity is Bizarro, a backward version of Superman that speaks in disjointed sentences and hails from a square planet. Bizarro’s history has changed many times over, and Bizarro Supergirl was even introduced to the CW series early on. A film in which Supergirl finds herself trapped on the Bizarro planet would be like a modern-day superhero version of Alice in Wonderland, and I’m here for it.
Because of her inherently strange personality, Supergirl is a perfect fit for even the very strangest excesses of the Silver Age, and that’s why I feel that it’s not only time to introduce these concepts to the cinematic universe, but that Supergirl is the one to do it.
THIS IS NOT MY LIFE
Sneaking in right before the series was rebooted with a new take on Supergirl during the company-wide New 52, Kelly Sue DeConnick rolled in and wrote one of the definitive Supergirl stories of any era before we all had to peace out on this version of Kara and the DC Universe.
Supergirl barely shows up at all, and the focus of the story is instead her civilian identity. Rather than Superman guesting, we have Lois Lane, who notices that Supergirl is particularly anxious after she stops an attack from the villainous Professor Ivo’s evil robots. Lois discovers that several students at a nearby college have been going missing, and she and Supergirl team up to solve the mystery, with Kara posing as a student.
This story has everything, including a short-lived, ill-fated romance and a lot of mystery and intrigue. Although this would prove to be the last story featuring pre-New 52 Kara, it was one that really made her personality stand out, and it gave us a welcome and disappointingly rare glimpse of the highly entertaining dynamic between her and Lois Lane.
After New 52 bummed everyone out a bit with its edgier take on many classic superheroes, Rebirth has been a return to form for DC, celebrating the occasionally ridiculous optimism that marked their catalog for many years. Supergirl was one of the last major heroes to see a series, but it was well worth the wait.
Although the first volume of Rebirth is really just a retelling of Kara’s standard origin story with a few minor changes made to it, it’s the most solid telling of it so far. Being lost in space for years and crashing to earth, then immediately finding herself a pawn in the machinations of others, is the straightforward Supergirl origin story that film adaptations tend to love.
The challenge of her powers slowly faltering and failing is interesting, and could make a great movie. If an origin story is what the filmmakers decide to go with, this is the one most likely to make it to the big screen.
One of the things about the Superfamily being so incredibly powerful is that they can sometimes seem larger than life, which is why there are such pains taken to humanize them at every turn. In this series by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones among others, we were introduced to a Supergirl who is also a teen girl, just trying to understand how to live on the planet she now calls home.
While a lot of Supergirl’s stories begin in Metropolis, this one takes place in Smallville, and we see Kara slowly learning how to interact with humanity while discovering the downsides of being a teenager that superpowers can’t save her from. The story comes across genuine and heartfelt in the way that the best Superman stories do, and the Supergirl that emerges at the end is as believable and relatable as she’s ever been, despite her awe-inspiring powers.
This series was great because Superman was barely in it, making an appearance only at the end, and instead focuses on letting us see Kara adjusting and assimilating to life on earth in Smallville. Superman’s adventures in his hometown have been explored at length, but letting Kara feel her way through everyday life in middle America is a welcome change.