Greg Berlanti says he’s followed a “similar formula” for all of his superhero TV series for The CW and CBS, “regardless of gender.” This in response to reporters’ questions at the TCA Summer Press Tour as to whether he got pushback on some aspects of Supergirl, debuting October 26 on CBS. Supergirl has spawned a certain amount of controversy including a harrumphing over the “girl,” the costume, etc. During the panel CBS released a new trailer for the series for the fans in the room (watch above).
Berlanti says he builds all his superhero shows to allow for all kinds of different storytelling, including romance as well as action and “all the things you love about the comic book itself,” he insisted. He noted there had similarly been complaints about CW’s Green Arrow initially, and he hopes that, like then, people will watch episodes and “determine what they love about and what we can improve on. That’s always fun for me,” Berlanti insisted.
At one point it looked as though the reporters might work up a good head of steam over the show name, when one of them asked why she’s called Supergirl.
“Superwoman is a different character,” EP Ali Adler explained. And that seemed to put a lid on it.
Asked if reactions to his formula is the same regardless of gender, Berlanti noted he doesn’t have much to go on, because Supergirl has not yet debuted, suggesting he will get together with the reporters in the room in a few months to discuss. He said once viewers “start to see the pilot, hopefully legally, they can determine for themselves.”
When a high-quality copy of the Supergirl pilot leaked to piracy sites in May, some cynics suggested the leak might be part of the marketing campaign for the latest Hollywood superhero project. (If that’s the case: Mission accomplished, based on all the press about the leak.) Worth noting the likewise-leaked The Flash became CW’s most-watched series premiere ever.
Today, DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns gloated nobody goes to Grey’s Anatomy conventions. Shonda Rhimes: your move.
Asked how he’d “cracked the code” with Arrow and The Flash, on CW, and now Supergirl coming to CBS, Berlanti said modestly: “We always try to imagine what the show is if you remove the superpowers from it.” In Supergirl, he says he’s added a workplace element, “which hadn’t been represented on a show like this, and an adult sibling relationship, and often those are the things we’re writing towards – those emotional dynamics.” The action sequences, he said, are only worth spending all that money on if they demonstrate something about that character. “Where we have been lucky enough to have success, it’s casting, casting casting.”
To that point, star Melissa Benoist said she knew “automatically it was something important and exciting and rare that I wanted to be part of” from the moment she got an email about the audition. “From there, that’s where the journey started,” she said.
EP Andrew Kreisberg returned the compliment, telling reporters as soon as they saw her they knew she was The One, reporting Warner Bros TV chief Peter Roth said Benoist came the closest to giving him the feeling he’s had when he saw Christopher Reeves as Superman.
‘He said that?” gushed Benoist.
Adler dove into the love-fest, saying they wanted to have “a diamond ring for her” immediately but needed “to date the nation” first, which presumably was a reference to the national casting call. And when they saw Benoist for the first time in her Supergirl costume, Adler said, the producers didn’t think she was an actress in her costume, they thought she was Supergirl.
Once upon a time, reporters at TCA would have jumped all over that. Today, not a peep. Today, a reporter asked Benoist if she felt super growing up. She responded: “I’m terrible at sports, not coordinated in any way,” and that there are “moments when I felt confident and felt strong and brave, but, like everyone else, she has her “really awkward … moments.”
But, she said later, “I really have to believe I’m a superhero.”