Since making the move from CBS to the CW, this season of Supergirl has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Several changes have helped the show find its direction, such as the introduction of the characters of Superman, Mon-El, and Miss Martian. Adjustments to already established characters such as Winn and Alex have been exciting to watch, as the show has definitely found its place among the superhero lineup on the CW.
Supergirl’s Pal, James Olsen
One character who has yet to find his place in the new order is James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks). The potential romance with Kara fell by the wayside, and James received a promotion with the departure of Cat Grant. Last week, James decided he wanted to be more than just the sidekick and convinced Winn (Jeremy Jordan) to help him so that he could become a superhero. This week’s episode ‘Changing’ will mark the debut of James as The Guardian. While some fans are no doubt excited at this prospect, several devotees including myself are a bit concerned in regards to adding another hero into the mix.
It seems as though adding additional super-powered friends has been the trend over the past couple of years on the shows of the CW. On Flash, Barry Allen’s closest friends have discovered that they are meta-humans. Meanwhile, over on Arrow, Oliver Queen has assembled his own band of vigilantes. This raises the question, should Supergirl follow this trend with having a supporting character dawn a costume and fight crime? Will we be seeing Winn or Alex become a superhero in the future too? While I understand that James is struggling to find his place in the revamped universe of Supergirl, does National City really need another superhero?
Take a look at the official synopsis for tomorrow’s episode ‘Changing’:
THE GUARDIAN DEBUTS IN NATIONAL CITY – The Guardian debuts to lend a hand after a parasite alien drains Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) of her power. Mon-El (Chris Wood) considers a less than desirable new career which then leads him to contemplate his motives. Alex (Chyler Leigh) struggles with a new reality. Andrew Kreisberg and Caitlin Parris wrote the script based on the story by Greg Berlanti. The episode was directed by Larry Teng.
There is a way to take this upcoming storyline and make it work in a fresh way. What if, following his first official adventure as The Guardian, James fails? Maybe he fails to save someone or gets an innocent hurt. Perhaps the situation becomes worse due to his involvement. After the buildup and finally getting to suit up to fight next to Supergirl, The Guardian learns that not all of us are well-suited to be crime-fighting vigilantes. This could lead to an interesting development for James as he realizes he can still be useful to Kara, just not as a hero.
Confidence, not Vigilantism
I’m reminded of the character Xander Harris from one of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xander often expressed frustrations at having to just be an ordinary human who ran around with super-powered beings. While surrounded by friends who were slayers, witches, and vampires, he had to come to terms with being just a regular person. In a great episode called ‘The Zeppo,’ Xander the ordinary man single-handedly saved the day numerous times while his friends were busy fending off another apocalypse. Xander walked away from that episode with greater confidence. A great approach to James might just be for him to see that he can be his own kind of hero without having to strap on some silly suit and fight the threats himself.
The universe is already crowded enough with superheroes. Supergirl has made several smart choices for this season, so I’m hoping the plot involving The Guardian isn’t their first misfire. Leave the extra superheroes to the worlds of Oliver Queen and Barry Allen. Let’s have James Olsen be the very human hero who can be the heart of the show.