Any time you go somewhere new, you always want to make a big impression. And it doesn’t get any bigger than bringing one of the world’s most iconic super heroes with you.
When Supergirl returns tonight for its second season, the show brings with it several key changes. For starters, it’s on an all-new network—The CW, home of fellow #DCTV shows Arrow, The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. It’s also now filming in Vancouver, which is a far cry from the sunny skies of Los Angeles where its debut season was shot. You can also expect some big changes within the story of the show as well. Kara will be taking on greater responsibilities as a reporter at CatCo, answering to a new boss, and making sense of new arrival Mon-El, the similarly powered alien who arrived in a pod at the end of last season’s finale.
They’re all fascinating developments and set up what promises to be a stellar second season. And yet—for now, at least—they’re all likely to take a backseat to tonight’s debut of Superman, played by actor Tyler Hoechlin. Superman has always been a part of the show’s DNA, yet he was only glimpsed indirectly during Supergirl’s first season. He had a name and a presence, but lacked a face. That changes tonight, much to the relief of the show’s star.
“We did reference quite a bit, but there wasn’t anything personal really to latch onto,” says Melissa Benoist about now having a Man of Steel. “I had to be a little bit more in my imagination about it. But now, I think of Tyler every time we reference him. He did such a wonderful job of bringing the character to life.
“It’s really nice to have that kind of gauge now—‘Oh yeah, this IS my cousin.’ It feels closer, like their relationship is a little more solidified. When I play her, I get to feel that now.”
While it’s almost impossible to picture Supergirl without also thinking of her famous cousin, some may question whether her show needs him. After all, Benoist and Supergirl’s team of writers and producers have done an admirable job of establishing her as a charismatic, layered and inspirational hero on her own. And that’s to say nothing about the fact that she’s TV’s first female lead comic book hero since 1977’s Wonder Woman. However, Benoist isn’t worried.
“It was the natural progression of our story,” she elaborates. “We spent last season really solidifying how Kara wanted to approach being Supergirl and being a hero. He’s her only living family member, and I think that’s a necessary relationship to explore for both characters.”
Introducing the Man of Steel had other unexpected benefits as well.
“It really rewarded us as a cast,” Benoist continues. “You not only get to see how amazing the relationship between Clark and Kara is—or I should say Kal-El and Kara. You see how he has a rapport with everyone on the show. He has history with a lot of them, while some of them he meets for the first time and it’s hilarious, like Winn. But I think it’s only going to reap benefits and Tyler Hoechlin is the man to do it. He’s perfect in the role.”
It’s hard to deny the appeal of seeing Superman on TV again. The last time he was seen on the small screen was in The CW’s Smallville, and while the show focused on Clark Kent as he gradually embraced his role as Superman, we didn’t actually see him in the iconic suit until the show’s final season in 2011.
You’ll get no such tease from Supergirl, which established that Kal-El was already Superman when Kara first landed on Earth. That means you’ll see the suit right away, much to the delight of his fellow hero.
“Whenever you’re with someone else in another super hero suit, it always feels ridiculously awesome,” shares Benoist. “I felt that way with Grant , and definitely now with Tyler. Seeing the two glyphs together, it felt familial. It felt pretty amazing. There’s not a lot of people who get to do this, that’s pretty special. What these characters represent is so cool. We were like giddy kids. We were super excited about it.”
Supergirl returns for an all-new season tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.