Supergirl doesn’t debut until late October, but it sounds like Kara Zor-El will have plenty of super-powered problems to deal with when it does. So far over half a dozen antagonists have been announced, promising that Supergirl’s rise as National City’s new hero isn’t going to be easy. Livewire! Reactron! Hellgrammite!
Wait… You’ve never heard of them?
Okay, fair enough. These guys aren’t Lex Luthor or the Joker. But that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Let’s look at seven of the villains that Kara will square off with this season.
Vartox serves as the villain in Supergirl’s pilot episode, but interestingly enough, he’s not usually a bad guy. In fact, when he first debuted in the pages of Superman back in 1974, he was actually more of a friend and fellow hero to Superman, even if they didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things. Vartox possesses a set of powers that are similar to Superman’s and Supergirl’s, but he doesn’t come from Krypton. In the comics, he was from the planet Valeron, where he served as their greatest hero, similar to the role Superman served on Earth. As you can see in the image above, his costume is hardly the sort of thing to strike fear into anyone’s heart (except for fashion designers), but fortunately Supergirl’s version of the character looks considerably different. Played by actor Owain Yeoman, he’s an axe-wielding, super-powered thug in the show, and an ideal foil for a hero just coming to terms with her new role.
One of the first Supergirl villains announced this summer, Reactron is a baddie who made his comic book debut in the early 80s. The alter ego of Ben Krull, Reactron’s a human nuclear reactor capable of generating radioactive blasts. He’s known for his armored containment suit, which is also powered by radioactive energy. In the comics, Krull’s fought with Supergirl, Power Girl and the Doom Patrol, and also served a stint on the Suicide Squad. However, on the show Reactron will have a history with Superman, and will target the Man of Steel’s family (in other words, Supergirl) after he’s defeated by Superman in Metropolis.
Reactron may be a lesser known villain, but he has the potential to be a real problem for Kara. His power is particularly destructive to humankind, and in the comics, he eventually goes on to obtain a gold kryptonite heart, which can strip away a Kryptonian’s powers. Krull will be played by Sons of Anarchy actor Chris Browning. Look for him to debut in Supergirl’s third episode.
Livewire is historically known as a Superman villain, but she makes perfect sense for Supergirl. Also of interest is that, like Harley Quinn, Livewire first debuted in the DC Animated Universe and on Superman: The Animated Series before making her way to the DC Universe proper.
Leslie Willis is a popular radio “shock jock” who gains the ability to control and manipulate energy after she’s struck by lightning. Traditionally, her body is pure energy, making her a difficult foe to fight, even for a Kryptonian like Supergirl. She can fire off energy blasts and travel through wires, however, she does have a weakness to water.
It remains to be seen whether she’ll have all of these traits on Supergirl, but as a character she has the potential to be an absolute blast. Willis has traditionally been extremely critical of Superman on her radio show, so you could imagine that vitriol easily being directed toward Supergirl instead. Plus, her intangibility means that Kara won’t be able to rely on her traditional powers, and instead will have to outsmart her. Livewire will be played by actress Brit Morgan, and in a twist, will work for a station owned by Cat Grant. If you’re interested in seeing the character in comic book action, she recently appeared in an issue of Batgirl.
You don’t get squeamish about bugs, do you? Well, let’s hope that Kara doesn’t, since she’s going to be squaring off against Hellgrammite early in the season. Originally an entomologist named Roderick Rose, Hellgrammite took on insect-like qualities after subjecting himself to some freaky experimentation. Looking something like a cross between a grasshopper and praying mantis, Hellgrammite has the potential to spin the show into full-on Cronenberg territory with his ability to turn people into subservient larvae versions of himself. He also possesses superhuman strength, the ability to leap great distances, weave cocoons and secrete a type of slimy bonding agent. Freaky!
Interestingly, while Hellgrammite has frequently tangled with Superman, his first comic book appearance was in The Brave and the Bold, where he fought Batman and the Creeper. We’ll see how Supergirl fares against him when he makes his live action debut on her series, embodied by actor Justice Leak.
If you’ve ever seen either of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, especially 1980’s Superman II, you’ve seen Non. He was the big, bearded bad guy that escaped alongside Zod and Ursa from the Phantom Zone. That’s right, the silent one that towered over everyone else. Hey, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, right?
Richard Donner’s Superman is actually the first appearance of Non. He was a character created for the movies. However, in 2007 Geoff Johns teamed up with Donner for a bestselling Superman storyline that introduced Non to DC Universe continuity. In that story, Non was revealed to be a former friend and colleague of Jor-El, who was kidnapped and lobotomized when he tried to spread the truth of Jor-El’s discovery regarding Krypton’s pending destruction. The procedure left him mute and angry, leading him to fall in with Zod as the villain’s enforcer.
Non hasn’t yet been cast, yet it was revealed he’ll be an early villain on the show. No matter how he’s portrayed, as a fellow Kryptonian, he’s sure to prove to be quite a big headache for Kara.
Red Tornado is actually a hero in the DC Universe, but he didn’t start off that way. The details concerning his origin are…complicated. But suffice it to say that he’s a sentient android that was originally created by the super-villain T. O. Morrow to take down the Justice Society of America on Earth-2. Red Tornado eventually overcomes his villainous programming and helps to defeat Morrow with the aid of the Justice League after both characters had traveled to Earth Prime. In exchange for his role in bringing down his evil creator, Red Tornado is given a place on the Justice Society, and later on the Justice League.
There’s the possibility that we’ll see a similar sort of redemption on Supergirl. But at first, expect Red Tornado to put up a fight—and he packs a serious punch. On the show, he’s an android designed by Morrow for the U.S. Army to be the ultimate superweapon. Red Tornado possesses super strength and durability, he can manipulate air and wind (allowing him to fly, among other things) and he can access just about any computer system on Earth. In short, it’s going to take more than a little heat vision to bring Red Tornado down. He’ll be played by actor Iddo Goldberg, who’s been seen on Salem and Peaky Blinders.
General Sam Lane
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the latest Supergirl antagonist to be cast, you can probably guess who he is. The father of Lois and Lucy Lane (the latter of whom will also be appearing on Supergirl), General Lane has often been portrayed in the comics as a staunch human adversary of Superman who just happens to have the ear of Washington and the might of the U.S. military at his back. Like Lex Luthor, he doesn’t trust Superman (or presumably, his cousin Supergirl) and considers him an alien threat. In the recent Scott Snyder and Jim Lee miniseries, Superman Unchained, General Lane goes so far as to launch an all out attack on Superman, sending a powerful superhuman known as Wraith, who had been working for the American government, his way.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Lane won’t be a villain. He isn’t always. In fact, in the description provided by the show, it’s said that “his arrival in National City stirs up trouble for Supergirl when he enlists her in a dangerous government initiative.” Regardless of whether he’s a friend, foe or a little bit of both, we can expect to see General Lane several times this season. The role is recurring and will be played by Glenn Morshower (24, Transformers), a talented actor who is frequently cast in military roles in film and TV. In other words, he has the experience to bring a pitch perfect General Lane to the screen this fall.
Seven villains. All targeting one newly established hero. So will Kara prove up to the task of taking these guys on? We’ll find out when Supergirl premieres on CBS on October 26th.