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When Supergirl began in October, Hank Henshaw simply served as the head of the DEO, and was mostly relegated to hanging out at the base and providing background info. However, following the episode “Human for a Day,” viewers now know the truth: he is really J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter and the Last Son of Mars. Obviously a reveal like that needed to not only be kept secret, but also not teased in any way, forcing actor David Harewood to lie about who his character truly was for many months.
Like most comic book fans, Harewood believed Henshaw would eventually walk down the villainous path and become Cyborg Superman, but he recently told Comicbook.com that he learned the real twist a couple of weeks into shooting. He elaborated:
I was told about two weeks into the job, so I apologize for my Comic-Con answers. Didn’t know anything. They told me about two weeks into my time here [at] the star of Episode 1; up until then I was still unsure. I knew something was changing, but I wasn’t absolutely sure what it was.
Following the pilot, Supergirl provided a few hints about Henshaw’s extraordinary nature, like his eyes glowing red or using his super strength in “How Does She Do it?” However, those are all things Cyborg Superman is capable of doing, so when he was finally outed as a disguised alien, it came as a shock to both general viewers and those familiar with DC lore. Since J’onn J’onzz has been a mainstay in the DC universe for decades, Harewood will have plenty to explore with this character during the series, hopefully including storylines explaining what happened to his home planet.
Harewood also admitted that he was pleased to learn he was actually playing J’onn since Henshaw’s role in the first episode wasn’t particularly exciting. In his words:
It was quite uncomfortable - the pilot was quite uncomfortable - because a lot of what Hank [Henshaw] said was exposition -- ‘This is the DEO,’ ‘I’m this,’ and ‘You’re here.’ It was an uncomfortable experience playing Hank in the pilot, so I was really pleased, actually, because Martian Manhunter is such a huge character. It took me on a whole new, different direction and it was brilliant for me because, as much as I could, I couldn’t really find an angle to play Hank Henshaw that was interesting.
Although fans can now think of the character primarily as J’onn J’onzz, Harewood could still get the opportunity to play the real Hank Henshaw. J’onn said that Henshaw is dead, but this is a comic book property, and death has a tendency not to stick. It’s entirely possible that at some point in the series, whether later this season or within a potential Season 2, Henshaw will resurface as a mostly cybernetic being and seek revenge.
Supergirl will return with new episodes on Monday, January 4 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.
Photo courtesy of CBS.