With the massive slate of announcements that DC Studios bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran unleashed onto comic book lovers this week, it's fair that you might feel a little overwhelmed. Almost like a young alien child who was sent to Earth to protect her cousin after seeing her family and planet destroyed but arrives to find him all grown up and one of the most powerful people in the universe? Okay, maybe it's not exactly like that, but that does lead us to one of the most unexpected projects on the new DCU movie slate, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.
The title likely sounds familiar as it's taken directly from the recent Tom King and Bilquis Evely limited series of the same name. While (like much of King's output) it's a darker take on a beloved character — something Gunn and Safran are clearly excited to put to screen, saying during a press event which IGN attended that "she is much more hardcore and not the Supergirl we're used to" — there's more to this comic than another grim and gritty version of Krypton's most famous daughter.
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Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow and the Space Western
In Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, King translates Charles Portis’ classic Western novel True Grit into a high-fantasy space adventure, as a reluctant Supergirl teams up with a young woman who wants revenge for the brutal and pointless murder of her father at the hands of a stranger. In its pages, artist Evely alongside colorist Matheus Lopes bring what could have been a simple homage to life in an utterly unique way, taking readers on a cosmically colorful quest for vengeance.
In a world saturated with superhero stories, and an audience very familiar with Kara Zor-El and her very famous cousin, the Eisner-nominated Woman of Tomorrow offers up something completely different. It's not just a dark comic book yarn — those are everywhere — but a gorgeously fantastical take on the Western that could bring an entirely new superhero subgenre to the big screen. DC has delved into the comic book Western before with the oft-forgotten Jonah Hex film and the far more successfully done Legends of Tomorrow show. That series often ventured into Western territory with the rag-tag heroes heading to the Old West in multiple episodes. It cemented its passion for the genre with the introduction of Spooner (Lisseth Chavez), a radical Latina cowboy with a deep connection to space, aliens, and sci-fi adventure. But using the high-fantasy deep-space Western framework of Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow could be an entirely new frontier for the entirely new cinematic DCU.
Evely and Lopes craft a cosmic scope that feels wholly unique, a vibrantly different visual landscape from what’s seen in most superhero comics. Billowing galaxies flow across the skies, contrasting with grubby space coaches filled with monstrous creatures and unexpected alien allies. That gives this tale not only a unique genre narrative but a completely different look.
A Very Different Supergirl
Adapting Woman of Tomorrow would also be a distinct departure from the Supergirls we've seen before. The much maligned — but actually fun — Christopher Reeve-era Supergirl movie was a fantasy but was very much aimed at younger audiences. The delightful and charming CW Supergirl show saw Melissa Benoist’s Kara on Earth following in her cousin's footsteps as she found her way in the world. We know that The Flash is apparently going to introduce a big screen version of the hero, but we don't know what that version will be, or whether the actress who brings her to life, Sasha Calle, will continue the role in this movie.
Giving Supergirl her first DCU solo movie and flinging her into the cosmos on a John Wick-inspired, vengeance-fueled adventure would feel completely fresh.
Either way, giving Supergirl her first DCU solo movie and flinging her into the cosmos on a John Wick-inspired, vengeance-fueled adventure would feel completely fresh. And while it was done on a much smaller budget, DC already has a framework for female-led deep space adventure thanks to Legends of Tomorrow, which often subverted genre expectations with powerful female leads taking roles in stories that would more traditionally be filled by male heroes. The show also played with Western backdrops and characters with visits to Johan Hex and the Old West.
The recent trend of Lone Wolf and Cub-style tales have centered around grizzled men and their charges. Both The Mandalorian and The Last of Us play with this trope, the latter very heavily leaning into True Grit as a resistant and gruff elder takes a young woman on a violent mission. But it's rare that these retreads team up two women like this story does. Ruthye is the daughter of a farmer, and in her own words his death represents her losing her whole world, something that Supergirl can desperately understand. Though Kara is only 21 in the book, she's seen sights more horrific than most can imagine after witnessing the destruction of her planet.
A whiskey-swilling Kara getting to be tired, annoyed of living in her cousin's shadow, and depressed about the trauma she's lived through set against the swirling colors of the galaxy would be a sight to behold. And as the story begins on a planet that feels more akin to Lord of the Rings than the Fortress of Solitude, viewers will get to explore brave new worlds while they're getting to know this gruffer and (true grit)tier Supergirl. Who doesn't want to watch Kara Zor-El wielding an ornate sword as she battles a vagabond at a bar? Who among our number isn't a massive fan of a story about a reluctant hero who would rather just drink with their dog than get caught up in some noble quest that has nothing to do with them?
Like any great comic book adaptation, a Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow film is a chance to take the material and translate it, to add new nuance and find the best way to bring the stunning visuals to life in a different medium. Evely and Lopes' art has to be at the heart of that adaptation, as their eye for the celestial nature of the cosmos is the unique selling point that elevates this True Grit retelling to a whole other level. Then give us Kara, Ruthye, and Krypto embarking on that dark mission for justice, while always remembering who Kara is.
With the right hands on this tale, it could become a new superhero classic. But there's one vital change we're demanding right now: Let the Super Pets Live.