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Tropes which refer to all incarnations of the character:
- Better Than It Sounds: Teenager Superman with tits, skirt and a ton of issues tries to prove that she is her own person. Finally she does, and then she gets killed and erased from history.
- Informed Real Life Fame: A weird example in that Supergirl has never been a terribly prominent part of the Superman mythos. However, she is instantly one of the most recognizable superheroines in the world to both children and adults. Critics have said that may simply be because common-sense says a female teenager in Superman's costume is Supergirl but it is still true. Despite this, there have been literal decades where Supergirl has had little-to-no-major role in comics. Likewise, she rarely plays a major role in Superman's stories. This is changing in recent years with the Post-Crisis New Krypton storyline and incorporating her into the New 52 Superman stories from the beginning.
- Author's Saving Throw:
- Writer Sterling Gates finally reconciled Post-Crisis Kara's origins.
- Many Happy Returns almost saved the Supergirl series by Peter David. Long chided for its Writer on Board use of Christianity and religious themes, the series introduced the Pre-Crisis Supergirl to her Earth Angel Post-Crisis incarnation and did a Continuity Nod-filled hilarious romp which ended on a tear-jerking note. It also established a reason for why Linda Danvers is a member of the Superman family other than wearing the "S" crest. She's the wife of the Pre-Crisis Superman and mother of the DC One Million Supergirl.
- Broken Base:
- The conflict between fans of the various incarnation of Supergirl and the changes between them.
- Kara becoming a Red Lantern in the New 52 Red Daughter Of Krypton storyline. While being Hot-Blooded is a long established character trait, and she has plenty of reasons to be angry, many feel its just out of character to make her so Darker and Edgier by making her a member of a group known for being the most volatile of the Lantern groups. However, Tony Bedard and Charles Soule's handling of the story in the Supergirl and Red Lanterns books have been mostly well received, and many feel they made the story actually work.
- The miniskirt costume. Some find it demeaning and stupid, considering the obvious implications of flying in a skirt and how regularly its used for fanservice. Others however (not including the ones who just like it for the fanservice) like the skirt because its so synonymous with her character, like Superman's trunks; its a stupid design choice, but something so iconic to her design at this point. The New 52 outfit is generally given a similar mixed reception, since it doesn't do anything to reduce the fanservice while also doesn't resemble her classic outfit at all.
- Complete Monster: The Post-Crisis version of Benjamin Martin Krull, alias Reactron, was never a nice guy, and is Supergirl's Arch-Enemy. His first clash with Supergirl saw a vast amount of property damage and significant casualties, with many survivors suffering from radiation sickness or cancer. It was in the New Krypton storyline, however, where Reactron really crossed the line. Having been rebuilt by Lex Luthor into a cyborg with a Gold Kryptonite heart, Reactron invades New Krypton alongside Metallo, depowering and killing numerous Kryptonians, threatening to rape Supergirl, and then murdering her father, Zor-El, in front of her by giving him radiation sickness. Tasked by General Lane with eliminating Supergirl, Flamebird, and Nightwing, Reactron murdered all the soldiers assigned to help him when they expressed doubts about the mission, and did his best to slowly torture Supergirl and Flamebird to death, all while gloating about how fighting two such attractive girls was a dream come true (strongly implying he'd like to rape them). Captured and tortured by Supergirl's mother, Alura, Reactron waited until Supergirl came to free him from the torture chamber to reveal that his capture had been a set up and that Luthor had transformed him into a living bomb. Detonating himself with a smile, Reactron gives a serene look as he incinerates Alura, the city of Kandor, and the entire planet of New Krypton, killing over ninety percent of the population in a single fell swoop. A lech, a bully, and a thug at his core, Reactron is a study in just how horrific it can be when somebody like that gets their hands on real power, and has done more to hurt Supergirl than any of her other adversaries, killing her father, her mother, and her entire race in a matter of weeks.
- Dork Age:
- The 'Matrix Era' of Supergirl where Supergirl was a protoplasmic being from a pocket-universe resembling the Silver Age where Lex Luthor was a good guy. Later, she would date Lex Luthor's supposed son who was actually the original with his brain transferred into a clone body.
- The Linda Danvers era, since it was all so contrived to avoid having a Kryptonian Supergirl. Angels?
- Joe Kelly's run, where they tried to make Post-Crisis Kara an overly angsty and jerkish Anti-Hero, with wild, constantly Retconned plot swings as different writers tried to come up with something that worked, and notoriously ultra-sexualised artwork.
- While not strictly Supergirl, Power Girl's Post-Crisis self had no origin since she was an alternate reality version of said character from a reality which never existed (nor had Supergirl). Her origin was retconned to being the daughter of Atlantean wizard Arion who used her as a baby-maker for the real Chosen One before being swiftly discarded (with good reason). Now she's back to being Supergirl's double from Earth 2.
- The infamous Action Comics #289 where Superman falls in love with a woman identical to an adult version of his cousin. The really crazy part? Supergirl set the two up. Discussed here
- Action Comics #289 was only a dumb and ridiculous if creepy story. On the other hand, Superman vol 1 #415: Supergirl: Bride Of- -X? was published right after Kara's death and was an extra middle finger aimed at Supergirl fans. So she had a canon, never-before-or-after mentioned husband she completely forgot about? All Supergirl fans hate that story and no one thinks it is canon anyway (it was a time of way out stories as writers were cut loose to write any story they wanted before the reboot). "Superman's Super-Courtship!" was so ridiculous it was -arguably- funny at least.
- Fair for Its Day: Much of Supergirl's early comic book appearances in the Silver Age focused more on her love life and whims versus adventures. She also would chiefly use her superpowers for things like super-cleaning in her downtime. Supergirl was, however, the most powerful female comic book character in the world and did have many fantastical adventures. Defenders also point out a huge number of then-Superman stories focused on his love-life and misusing his powers in oddball ways.
- Fanon Discontinuity:
- Fans of Linda Danvers will refuse to accept how the character was treated in Reign in Hell and tend to ignore it completely.
- The aforementioned Action Comics #289 and all of its creeptacular implications verges between this and Narm Charm.
- Superman vol 1 #415: Supergirl: Bride Of- -X? was published right after Kara's death and was an extra middle finger aimed at Supergirl fans. So she had a canon, never-before-or-after mentioned husband she completely forgot about? All Supergirl fans hate that story and no one thinks it is canon anyway (it was a time of way out stories as writers were cut loose to write any story they wanted before the reboot). Action Comics #289: Superman's Super-Courtship! was so ridiculous it was -arguably- funny at least.
- Most of fans tend to pretend the fist 19 issues of the fifth volume -Loeb and Kelly's runs- never happened. Loeb's run is tolerated, but Kelly's one is reviled.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- Adventure Comics #421 stated that Kara had an internal death wish. It was written by Marv Wolfman, who fourteen years later wrote Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
- In the last page of Supergirl vol. 2, this paragraph was inserted: "It is at this dramatic moment that we reluctantly suspend publication of Supergirl. In the near future we hope to announce the reappearance of the Maid of Steel in a new magazine! Meanwhile, you can look forward in July to seeing Supergirl at your local movie theater — as well as in DC's magazine adaptation! IT'S A DATE!" Shortly after the movie bombed, DC killed the character because they didn't care about her at all, and Kara Zor-El didn't reappear for nearly twenty years.
- The original Supergirl was mistreated and dissed by a number of vocal fans after her death. Matrix fans claimed that Mae had more personality than Kara ever had. Linda Danvers fans told that Kara only did what Superman didn't and "the only ones who miss her are a small but very vocal group of fans." And still Peter David said people missed Kara's Silver Age self, not any other later version, and that sales of his Supergirl book were almost non-existent (improving during the Many Happy Returns arc). Fast-forward to 2016. Supergirl is again Kara Zor-El. She stars in her own book and Live-action series and shows up in other characters' books, cartoons, live-action shows and video-games. Silver Age Kara Zor-El has made several appearances and her death has been undone. And Matrix and Linda Danvers have all but disappeared.
- My Real Daddy:
- Paul Kupperberg, writer of The Daring Adventures of Supergirl depicted her as a mature, self-reliant and confident young woman who was finding her own path and started following it, and was not under the shadow of Superman.
- Peter David's run with the Linda Danvers Supergirl in which she was treated as someone with interesting stories to tell about.
- Mark Waid -who is a big fan of Silver Age Kara- treated post-Crisis Supergirl as a smiling, optimistic young hero as opposite to Joe Kelly's run's self-absorbed jerkass.
- Sterling Gates for post-Crisis Kara. He gave her a personality that was palatable to the fans. Artist Jamal Igle moved her away from Ms. Fanservice, drawing her more like human being than a stick, and lengthening her skirt and putting shorts under it.
- Tony Bedard gets an excellent handle on the character and his post-Crisis and New 52 runs are noteworthy for rehabilitating the character and transforming her from a self-absorbed jerkass or an angry, angsty loner to a heroic, young woman.
- Never Live It Down: Pre-Crisis Kara is never going to live down dating her horse, Comet. Whether the constant ignorance of the fact that he was actually a sentient centaur-magically-turned-horse and he had become human when they actually dated is ignorance or just Rule of Funny is unknown.
- Replacement Scrappy:
- The Matrix incarnation of Supergirl wasn't Superman's cousin but a protoplasmic shape-shifting blob with some of Superman's powers. She was a Na´ve Newcomer and The Ingenue who dated Lex Luthor II (not knowing he was the original in a cloned body). In short, many fans viewed her as an In-Name-Only incarnation of the character as well as Too Dumb to Live.
- The Peter David version of Supergirl had detractors due to the angel angle, which was rather outside the norm for Supergirl (or even Superman). There are plenty though who greatly appreciated the series and wish the character wasn't Put on a Bus (see above in Rescued from the Scrappy Heap). Her later popularity was ironic, as Peter David noted, leading to many incarnations of Kara Zor-El getting unfavorably compared to Linda Danvers the Earth Angel.
- Cir-El was loved by nobody, in large part due to being a Replacement Scrappy for the Peter David version of the character. So, she was a Replacement Scrappy for a Replacement Scrappy. The fact she came in the heels of the wildly popular Many Happy Returns arc didn't help. The Internet Backdraft over it was so fierce, they ended up Retgone-ing the character.
- Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
- Mark Waid was the first to make Post-Crisis Kara a likable character in Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes, but it were Tony Bedard and Sterling Gates who made it permanent in her main series.
- Those fans who hated the Earth-Angel version of the character during the Linda Danvers years came to like the character a great deal more in Many Happy Returns. So much so, Word of God says that if DC comics hadn't already planned to cancel the title and replace the character with a new one (the much derided Cir-El), they would have given him an ADDITIONAL series starring both Linda Danvers, Power Girl, AND Kara Zor-El.
- The Scrappy: The Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El was this for some time. Traits of hers included: An inordinate amount of time spent beating up other heroes, complaining about having to do heroics (while wearing the logo of the world's most famous hero on her chest), making moves that would instantly mark anyone else as irredeemable (like selling the Bottle-City of Kandor to supervillains, then threatening to break Power Girl's arms for being understandably pissed), receiving constant praise from all those around her despite the above, being stronger than Superman (later Ret-Conned), and a solo series plagued by disgustingly bad Fanservice, Curb Stomp Battles, and a skirt that was more a belt with a ruffle on it than anything. The hatred hit its peak around #14 of said series, when she fought Cassandra Cain, a thoroughly popular character who had recently been changed into a Card-Carrying Villain. The near-unanimous reaction to Kara winning the fight (with a power that had never been seen or hinted at before) was, essentially, "Fuck you, Cass won." Since then, she was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap by doing actual heroics and dialing down the jerkass traits, but it took some time before readers ever really forgot "Super Paris Hilton".
- Wangst: There was a brief attempt to turn the Post-Crisis version of Kara into a dark, brooding, whiny teenager. The fans didn't like it, and now she's upbeat again.
- The Woobie:
- Post-Crisis Kara has now survived three holocausts, two home planets exploding from under her, and losing her parents twice.
- To say nothing of the Pre-Crisis version who had to spend years hidden in an orphanage and sabotaging well meaning attempts by would be foster parents to take her in so she could keep her role as Superman's 'secret weapon'. Not to mention the first time she did get adopted it turned out to be by crooks who only wanted to squeeze money out of having her.
- And, as one reviewer put it, "her 'emotional vulnerability' can be overused as a plot point." Just look at the New 52.
- WTH, Costuming Department?: Her New 52 outfit gets some scorn for the odd design choices, notable the cut-out knees on the high boots, the strange red patch on the crotch that almost evokes the image of panties but just looks off, and the general armoured look that, like Superman's costume, doesn't really make much sense. Howere, some fans like the armoured and distinctive look of the costume.
- Awesome Music: Jerry Goldsmith's score is one of the few redeeming qualities of this movie.
- Fair for Its Day: The Nostalgia Chick said one of the movie's redeeming things was that it didn't try to play Supergirl rescuing Ethan for laughs - because it was a girl saving a guy. Not once does Ethan show discomfort from getting rescued by a woman.
- Idiot Plot:
- Ok, Kara. So you're personally responsible for losing the Omegahedron and decide to man up and go after it yourself. You heard less then 5 feet from you that without the Omegahedron Argo City has only a few days to live. So you spend the first day learning to fly, go to sleep in a park, then spend the second day making up your alter ego and going to school. Even when you get a solid lead on the Omegahedron and get up to go after it you sit down and complete the day, play soccer and shower because...the teacher and Lucy Lane said so? In addition, Selena also isn't the same one in the movie as she wastes her time using the Omegahedron to pick up guys instead of taking over the world.
- Alternatively Kara's friend/mentor is the one who took the omegahedron to use for his own amusement whilst fully aware of potential for misuse/trouble and then gave it to her to play with so it can be argued that he is far more responsible for dooming Argo city than Supergirl. Also on earth Kara is basically stranded on a strange world with no money, food or shelter which is why her first night is spent sleeping rough. Infiltrating the school is quite a clever way to gain food and shelter for free. Selena is only interested in romancing Ethan because she mistook the omegahedrons reaction to Kara's proximity as a sign that Ethan was important somehow to her future plans of world domination and decided that a love spell was the easiest way to get him onside.
- Just Here for Godzilla: Some people just watch the movie to see Helen Slater in the very flattering Supergirl suit.
- Ethan can't pronounce the name 'Selena'. It's not as if it's an obscure name.
- Zaltar decides to forgo a Rousing Speech with Kara. When she says "I can't", he just replies "you can" and that works. It gets a Meaningful Echo too.
- The fact that Kara's home is so easily damaged by a little toy butterfly popping the wall. Is a sheet of plastic all that's protecting it from the forces of space?
- Special Effect Failure:
- Selena tries to choke Supergirl to death - by stretching the film.note
- Kara uses Super Speed to type up a letter to get herself enrolled in the school. Except while she's speeding around the room, the leaves outside can be seen moving fast - to show that the film was just sped up.
- Zigzagged with the flying effects. Some look like very obvious blue screen, others still hold up reasonably well.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: Jerry Goldsmith's theme for the movie intentionally matches the style of John Williams' Superman theme.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: As incoherent as the film ended up being Helen Slater really worked on her role, earning herself a Saturn Award nomination. Even the reviewers who hated the film tended not to criticise her performance. She also takes special care to give subtle differences between Supergirl and Linda Lee, making it very believable that they could be different people.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
- Selena as a witch could have been quite a unique villain. Superman and Supergirl are actually vulnerable to magic - so Selena could have given Supergirl a run for her money. Instead she mostly uses her magic to cast a love spell on a man, and fight with Supergirl for his affections.
- Not much effort is made to give Kara an arc. She jeopardises the safety of her home and goes to Earth to make amends, which could have set up a nice arc about her maturing and learning to be a hero. But she instead spends the movie doing absolutely nothing for ages and being a complete idiot.
- Trapped by Mountain Lions: Kara enrolling in school under the alias Linda Lee. She completely forgets that she went to Earth to find the Omegahedron - and that she's only got a few days to do so.
- Unfortunate Implications: The Nostalgia Chick and Linkara criticised the film in their review - namely that the supervillainess only cares about casting a love spell, and that there's more emphasis on Selena and Kara fighting over Ethan than the impending destruction of Kara's home. It's also pointed out how sexist it is to make the first ever film about a female superhero a The Wizard of Oz type story about "a lost and lonely little girl trying to get home"
The TV show
See Supergirl (2015)