What Season 2 of (The CW) Supergirl can learn from Kal and Kara’s relationship in Smallville

By ·July 17, 2016 11:30 am
Kal El

For Season 2 of Supergirl, The CW will be bringing Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) in as a main character. This means that his relationship with Kara will finally become a tangible, on screen occurrence and that the writers are going to have to develop this fully.

Ahead of this, we decided to take a look at the things that Smallville got right about Kal and Kara’s relationship, with a view to what The CW Supergirl can learn from Smallville‘s successes.

It should be noted that Smallville was also helmed by The CW, back when it aired, but nonetheless, different show runners are in play, who may or may not be holding Smallville in mind, so we’re taking a moment to remind writers and fans alike of exactly what Smallville got right about this famous Kryptonian duo.

A Sibling-esque Bond

Kal (Clark) looking at Kara protectively.

Kal (Clark) looking at Kara protectively.

How Smallville handled this

Within the Supergirl documentary that is included within the Season 7 Blu-Ray of Smallville, one interviewee describes Kal and Kara’s relationship in Smallville as so:

“It’s like a brother/sister relationship.”

What we think he means by this is that brothers and sisters grow up much closer than cousins do. They see each other more often and form deeper bonds. While cousins might be close, brothers and sisters are often much closer. What he also likely means by this is that Kal assumes a brotherly, protective role over Kara.

We’re inclined to agree with this stance and we feel that this is very much something that Smallville got right. Although Kal and Kara are indeed cousins, and they did not grow up together on Krypton for long (and Kal was a baby at that time), they are the only two surviving Kryptonians on Earth. This alone should be enough to make them very close indeed and in Smallville they are just that. Fairly quickly upon Kara’s introduction they form a strong bond and retain this throughout the show.

What Season 2 of Supergirl can learn from this

Season 1 of Supergirl (which we are huge fans of) already established a relationship between Kal and Kara, even without Kal ever being clearly visible (up close) on screen. We’ve seen from Season 1 that Kara very much takes the baby sister role and Kal assumes a very older brother or even Fatherly position in their relationship.

During their instant messaging sessions Kal encourages Kara and he always shows up when she needs him. Both of these are common examples of what an elder brother does for his younger sister. However, Season 1 also kept Kal far away and very rarely in the Kara’s company, which does beg the question: if they don’t see each other very often as adults, then how close can they really be?

We’re already confident that Season 2 of Supergirl will keep this sibling-feel to their relationship, due to the fact that they established this well in Season 1. What the writers can learn from Smallville‘s efforts is that making the bond so strong that it seems like a sibling relationship is no bad thing at all.

We suggest that the two spend more time in each other’s company; particularly for the little things like relaxing on the couch, just like Kara does with Alex. We’d also like to see more of Kal going out of his way to help Kara, and we’d particularly like to see Kara going out of her way to help Kal, which brings us to our next topic: how Kara sees herself in their relationship.

MORE: Our 5 favourite Supergirl episodes ahead of the finale

Kara Embracing the Elder Cousin Role

A confident Kara attends a stylish function.

A confident Kara attends a stylish function.

How Smallville handled this

To quote the Season 7 Supergirl documentary once more:

“In her mind she’s the older cousin and he’s the younger cousin.”

At the time of Krypton’s destruction, Kara was a teenager and Kal was just a baby. This makes Kara the older cousin. However, by the time Kara’s pod reaches Earth, Kal has grown and is now older than Kara. While Kal might think of himself as the carer of Kara, Smallville‘s Kara doesn’t think this way at all. In her mind she is still the older cousin and her attitude and actions reflect this.

There is a moment in Season 7, Episode 14 where Kara saves Kal. After this, she walks into the Kent barn and says: “Hey cousin, need any help?” (referring to Kal’s manual tasks) and Kal offers a sincere: “Thanks for saving my life.” This works really well and we’d love to see Supergirl adopt this approach too.

What Season 2 of Supergirl can learn from this

In Season 1 of Supergirl, Kara very much showed that she sees herself as the inferior, younger cousin of Kal. Although Kara’s confidence has grown immensely over the course of the season, she’s still very much in the mindset of being the younger cousin.

We suggest that Supergirl takes a cue from Smallville, within Season 2, and has Kara show an even stronger confidence level, to the point where the above quote rings true. She is indeed the older cousin, technically speaking, and we’d love to see that reflected in Kara’s personality and her actions concerning Kal.

They could execute this by having Kara come to Kal’s aid and rescue him, instead of the other way around, and by having Kara outwit Kal. She could also introduce him to other people as “my younger cousin”. Any little tweaks that that could work immensely in the show’s favour. Smallville gained from their use of a confident Kara, so Supergirl can too.

Familial Feuding

An angry Kal (Clark) glares at his cousin, Kara.

How Smallville handled this

To quote Kara in Season 7, Episode 6 of Smallville:

“We may be cousins, but I don’t have to like you.”

All families bicker, including cousins. Smallville isn’t shy to place Kal and Kara at odds. Both are headstrong characters who both believe they are in the right, so it makes sense that they bash heads at times.

There is one episode where Kara goes through Kal’s things without him knowing, which is another very sibling-like thing to do. All of this is a good thing, as it brings a sense of humanism and normality to these God-like Kryptonians.

What Season 2 of Supergirl can learn from this

In Season 1 of Supergirl we never really saw Kara show any signs of falling out with Kal. Kara fell out with Alex – her sibling – but not with Kal in any fashion. This is a bad thing, as it forces us to suspend our belief to too great a degree.

As established: families are prone to falling out, at least from time to time, so we hope that Season 2 allows some bickering to occur between Kal and Kara. Even if it is just mocking jibes, we feel that there needs to be some degree of friction between the cousins, in order to make this a believable relationship.

Utilising Kara’s Superior Knowledge of Krypton

Kara in Kryptonian attire, on Krypton, in a flashback.

Kara in Kryptonian attire, on Krypton, in a flashback.

How Smallville handled this

To quote Kara in Season 7, Episode 3 of Smallville:

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re real uptight? You definitely get that from your Father.”

As mentioned above, Kara was a teenager when she left Krypton, while Kal was only a baby. This means that Kara spent her entire childhood and teenage years living on a thriving Krypton. Therefore, she holds memories of the planet and its people that Kal will never have. Truly, it was her home, for many years. The culture is therefore imbued in her very personality, which makes her a truer Kryptonian than Kal, and Smallville isn’t afraid to show this.

Flashbacks afford us the opportunity to see Kara on Krypton, but it is Kara’s willingness to flaunt her knowledge over Kal that is the key thing. During random conversations about Krypton you will often hear Kara drop in a line or two about how a particular Kryptonian truly was, or about one of the many locations on Krypton.

What Season 2 of Supergirl can learn from this

Supergirl also used the same origin story of Kara leaving Krypton as a teenager, which we have seen in flashbacks. The show needs to not be afraid to have Kara lord her knowledge of Krypton over Kal. In Season 1 Kara doesn’t really mention her time on Krypton that much.

We’d love to see Kara correct Kal on some facts about Krypton, or tell him some crucial detail about the culture that would never have known. This is one of many areas in which Kara surpasses Kal and the writers should lean on this.

A Loving Bond

Kal (Clark) and Kara share a warm embrace.

Kal (Clark) and Kara share a warm embrace.

How Smallville handled this

To quote Kara in Season 7, Episode 20 of Smallville:

“You’re my cousin, Kara, and I care about you.”

Kal is a good natured and loving soul, particularly in Smallville, and he’s not afraid to show this affection for his cousin, even after not having known her for long. When the two aren’t bickering they are prone to looking out for each other, saving one another and generally being loyal and supportive cousins. As the above picture shows, they’re also not afraid to share the odd hug, which we love.

What Season 2 of Supergirl can learn from this

We know from Season 1 that Supergirl is a show that knows how to expertly depict strong familial bonds (Kara and Alex). Therefore, the show is in a very strong position to extend this love to Kal too. We already know from their instant messages and from how Kara speaks about Kal that she certainly respects and holds affection for him. Supergirl‘s Kara is so sweet that she will hug anyone, so we’re sure that she’ll fling her arms around Kal upon his entrance into the show.

In Teen Wolf Tyler Hoechlin played Derek, who was a very aloof and emotionless character, so we hope that, when taking on the role of Kal, he is more smiles and hugs than steely glances. You never know – he might even be the one who swoops Kara up into his arms first, before she gets a chance to hug him.

Supergirl Season 2 will premier on The CW in the US at 8pm on October 10th.

Image credits: The CW

More: Smallville Supergirl The CW

Written by Christopher Hart

Co-Editor in Chief / Film, TV and Literature Writer

Christopher holds an MA in Publishing and a BA in Comparative Literature, and currently works as an analyst for a major Bank in London.

Christopher self-publishes his own Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. His completed series of short stories is titled 'Altered Stone' and can be found on Amazon.

His specialist subjects include LOST, Preacher, Supergirl, A Song of Ice and Fire, Kevin Smith, Bioshock and Fallout.

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  1. Nicely written piece. You definitely know your Smallville. This is the first article I’ve come across that seems truly objective and not a promotional puff piece or alienating editorial pandering to “girl power” by writters within the Time Warner Empire [who clearly have no conical knowledge of the characters from source material and fail to do any homework].

    Don’t get me wrong, female empowerment is a positive thing, but something female-driven should not be hailed the best there has ever been simply due to such fact. It should be placed on equal footing and measured against its contemporaries, in which case Smallville and its character portrayals stand Kryptonian-like above all others.

    1. This story is about Supergirl, so putting Superman as a main cast will over-shadow her. Writers should not do and would not do. Too many male superheroes, so at least there’s a female power to balance up.

  2. author staff

    Thank you for the kind words, Ripper777. I’m glad that you liked the article and I agree on the equal footing stance.

    James Lou – I do sympathise with your view; the creators always said in Season 1 that they wouldn’t ever bring Kal in fully, due to the fact that this is Supergirl’s story. It’s right that is should always remain her story. However, even in a story about Kara, Kal should feature more heavily than he did in Season 1 (he is her cousin after all), so I think that bringing him in more fully is the right approach. Like you pointed out, though – there is that slight risk of overshadowing. Personally, I have faith that they will find a way around this, so that we get the best of both worlds: Kal being included more and the show remaining very firmly Kara’s story.