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File:Supergirl movie 350 9073.jpg

The 1984 film Supergirl followed Superman III; it was produced largely due to Christopher Reeve's lack of interest in portraying the Man of Steel a fourth time. Series producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind wanted to milk more money out of the franchise, and since they owned the film rights to Supergirl, they appeared to have found a way to continue the franchise despite no longer having its star actor.

After considering many other actresses for the title role, Helen Slater was cast as Kara/Supergirl (marking her film debut), while Faye Dunaway played the movie's primary villain (the witch Selena) and Peter O'Toole portrayed Kara's Kryptonian mentor Zaltar. In an attempt to offer continuity with the Superman films, Marc McClure reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane's sister Lucy (Maureen Teefy) appears as the roommate of Linda Lee (Supergirl's secret identity).

The film's running time was slashed by its North American distributor for the American theatrical release -- from 125 minutes to 105 minutes -- and slashed further (to 92 minutes) for broadcast networks and syndication. Scenes cut from the film include a "flying ballet" in which Kara discovers her powers after arriving on Earth. The film was eventually released on DVD with both the 125-minute International Cut and a 138-minute Directors Cut present.

Oh, yes, almost forgot one thing: the plot. Well, if anyone can make heads or tails of it, feel free to leave a brief summary, because we're still stumped.


Supergirl contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Attempted Rape: Two truckers Kara encounters after her arrival have this on their mind.[1]
  • Big Bra to Fill: While often (but not invariably) buxom in the comic books, Slater's Supergirl (even after a bit of help from the costuming department) is modestly endowed.
  • But Now I Must Go: Supergirl retrieves the Omegahedron and returns home to Argo City at the end of the movie -- saving the city, but leaving no obvious Sequel Hook.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: Supergirl is ignored by Superman Returns (as are Superman III and IV).
  • Canon Foreigner: Selena, Zaltar, and every other character besides Supergirl, her parents, Jimmy Olsen, and Lucy Lane fall under this trope.
  • Canon Immigrant: The headband Supergirl began wearing in 1984 (and was wearing when she died in Crisis on Infinite Earths) was added at the request of the film's producers, who wanted DC's Supergirl to look like the movie version. DC agreed to the change -- and then the producers changed their minds. Screen test images of Helen Slater wearing the headband can be seen here.
  • Clark Kenting: Kara disguises herself as "Linda Lee" on Earth. Helen Slater didn't have the acting chops to pull this off convincingly in her film debut, so her efforts in this area fell flat compared to Christopher Reeve's masterful efforts in the Superman movies.
  • Dawson Casting: The casting of Kara isn't too bad by the usual standards of this trope; Helen Slater was 20 at the time, playing a high school age girl. But Lucy Lane? Actress Maureen Teefy was 31 at the time the movie was made! And, well... let's hope Jimmy Olsen (played by the 27 year old Marc McClure) is an example, as the alternative interpretation is more than a little creepy.
  • Distaff Counterpart: This is noticed In-Universe by Selena's sidekick, Bianca:

 Bianca: You know, I think I recognize the costume.

  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Keen viewers will recognize Bianca as the voice of Bunny Bravo.
  • Invisible Monsters: Selena sends an invisible demon to fight the superpowered Supergirl (and reduce the movie's special effects budget).
  • Most Common Superpower: This was definitely averted. Helen Slater, whose bra size is reportedly 32A, said the following in an interview about the film: "In the comics, Supergirl is quite, um, buxom...so I hope people won't come to the film expecting that."
  • Mugging the Monster: The two truckers who accost Supergirl soon after her arrival on Earth fall under this trope.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Given the extreme liberties taken with her cousin's powers, such as telekinesis and "Rebuild-the-Great-Wall-of-China Vision", Supergirl surprisingly averts this, as Kara has all of her powers from the comics with no "extras" pulled out of thin air specifically for the movie.
  • No Social Skills: This was inconsistently applied with Kara; unlike her cousin, Kara arrives on Earth as a teenager instead of being raised amongst humans as a young child. She speaks fluent English, but doesn't understand certain customs (such as handshakes). She doesn't realize the function of a brassiere, either -- though considering her modest chest size and her mother being played by Mia Farrow, this may make more sense. Perhaps Krypton is a Planet of Hats where the Hat is Pettanko sized?
  • Product Placement: Supergirl was blatant about this, even by 1984's standards. One of the movie's biggest action scenes takes place in and around a Popeyes Fried Chicken franchise. Popeyes is even prominent in the background of some of the most memorable stills from the movie of Helen Slater as Supergirl. (This does not lead to a teamup of the Maid of Steel and a certain sailor man, though.[2])
  • Up, Up, and Away: This was averted; director Jeannot Szwarc deliberately tried to avoid making the flight scenes similar to those in the Superman film by opting instead for a more "feminine" ballet-inspired take.
  • Written in Absence: The producers failed to secure a cameo from Christopher Reeve; during the movie, a radio news report mentions Superman's departure from Earth on an intergalactic peacekeeping mission. Reeve's Superman does appear once in the movie, however, but only on a poster in Lucy Lane's dorm room.

Notes

  1. One is Matt Frewer in a pre-Max Headroom role!
  2. Who the restaurant isn't named for, incidentally. According to the company, it was named for the protagonist of another film, The French Connection.
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