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Although Supergirl is a great superhero in her own right, there are inevitable comparisons to her cousin Superman, since he is one of pop culture’s most well-known figures. The superheroine is getting a new spotlight thrown on her this fall in CBS’s Supergirl, and while this is a world where Superman is established as Earth’s greatest defender, viewers won’t be seeing much of him, so Kara Zor-El will get to shine on her own. More importantly though, according to one of the show's creative minds, her adventures on the small screen will have more high stakes than what Superman is typically put through.
Today at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, executive producer Geoff Johns stated that when it comes to life on Earth, Kara “has more to deal with than Clark Kent did” when it comes to living on Earth. As a result, the audience will have an easier time rooting for her Supergirl, since she’ll be placed in more situations where she isn’t as powerful. According to co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg:
The tendency with Superman is to make him so powerful that there isn't any danger. Week in and week out, you want to feel like Supergirl may not survive these things.
The differences in power levels primarily has to do with how long Superman and Supergirl have been on Earth, respectively. Kal-El arrived on Earth as a baby, and had decades to learn about his powers before becoming a superhero. In contrast, Kara was a preteen when Krypton exploded, and during her time on Earth, she’s kept her powers a secret. So while she knows how to use her various abilities, she hasn’t put them into action against enhanced adversaries (which will include Vartox, Reactron and Livewire in the early episodes), and thus hasn't seen major danger. However, just like how Superman had a learning curve when he started out, Kara will grow more experienced as the show progresses, though presumably the foes will grow stronger as well.
Speaking of the Man of Steel, Johns mentioned that while the audience won’t see Kara’s famous cousin “exactly on screen,” he’ll still play a role in her evolution, according to THR. Co-showrunner Ali Adler added that this show follows Kara’s point of view, making it necessary not to draw too much attention to Superman. That said, assuming that DC’s movie division doesn’t have a problem with two live-action versions of Superman existing at the same time, perhaps he’ll gain a more prominent role in potential future seasons.
Supergirl will debut on Monday, October 26, at 8:30 p.m. on CBS before flying to its normal Monday 8 p.m. timeslot on November 2.