As much as Supergirl is the story of Kara Danvers' adventures as the Girl of Steel, she's not the only alien superhero working to protect National City from danger. Martian Manhunter himself is on her team as the leader of the D.E.O. He's a legendary comic character that rarely makes it to live action TV, but DC Comics fans have probably noticed that he's not quite as powerful on the small screen as he is on the page. Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg has come out and explained why Supergirl's Martian Manhunter doesn't have all his powers, saying this:
The Cadmus people have been made immune to J'onn's telepathy. It's like, the Martian Manhunter, he's so powerful it's almost too powerful for a weekly series with all the things he can do. If we really deployed him at his full comic book power arsenal no one would be able to pull anything off of anybody. I mean, he's super strong, he can fly, he can phase through matter and he can read minds. Good luck trying to pull one over on them.
It was quite a revelation in a recent episode when Jeremiah Danvers did indeed manage to pull one over on Martian Manhunter and fool him. Martian Manhunter's decidedly unique abilities are tied to his telepathy, and he can usually be counted on to help root out imposters in the D.E.O. As it turns out, Cadmus crafted a way to render its agents immune to Martian Manhunter's formidable telepathic talents. Andrew Kreisberg's comments to TVGuide.com explain why - if not how - Jeremiah was conveniently able to avoid Martian Manhunter's telepathy enough to pull off his ploy to steal info from the D.E.O. A fully powered Martian Manhunter would simply put an end to pretty much any conflict far too soon.
Including Martian Manhunter in Supergirl was something of a risky move, all things considered. As many powers as the Girl of Steel has thanks to Earth's yellow sun, Martian Manhunter could probably take her in a fair fight. Sure, she has heat vision and freeze breath and other superpowers that he doesn't; his telepathy and ability to phase through matter could make him more than a match for a lot of what she can do. Supergirl has already had to get creative on ways to split him off from Supergirl so they aren't too effective a team that they beat the bad guys in the first act of an episode. Viewers may need to just get used to plot twists that give villains inexplicable methods of counteracting his telepathy.
All of this said, Martian Manhunter's biggest contributions to Supergirl haven't involved his superpowers. He's been invaluable to the Danvers sisters as their surrogate father and friend, and his backstory as a Green Martian refugee has allowed for some truly compelling (and heartbreaking) plots. Even if Martian Manhunter somehow loses all of his superpowers, he'll still be essential to the series.
We'll have to wait and see if the folks of Cadmus have any more anti-telepathy tricks up their sleeves in the rest of Season 2. We may not get any more of Cat Grant this season, but there's plenty more still in store. Tune in to The CW on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET to catch new episodes of Supergirl, and don't forget to check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see all your other options on the small screen.