Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray/DVD I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.
Of the four Arrowverse shows last year, Supergirl had the strongest second half. That means a lot in terms of reflecting back on what the season did right and what came up short.
In Supergirl’s fourth season, Kara tackled with an enemy she couldn’t just punch out or blast away with her heat vision — an ideal that aliens are dangerous and need to be “deported.”
The season wasn’t without deserved criticism for leaning too hard into the real world political spectrum. Not that the arena isn’t ripe for inspiring superhero commentary, but the writers have always approached the subject in a clumsy manner. Initially, the main villain is Ben Lockwood aka Agent Liberty played by Smallville alum Sam Witwer, who stokes the fires of an anti-alien task force.
Sure Lockwood is reacting in an extremist manner, but the writers make his obsession understandable to a far greater degree than what should be expected for someone with such reprehensible ideals. Lockwood loses his career, home and eventually family to aliens, which from other perspectives would make him the sympathetic vigilante. It doesn’t help that an alien has been masquerading as human in order to become president. The bad guys really shouldn’t have such a credible argument that aliens have been running unchecked for too long.
It’s hard to miss the political allegories, which is low hanging fruit for a show featuring a female superhero, especially when the new president starts using Trump lines almost verbatim. These always come off too goofy in Supergirl where the real-life madness doesn’t seem realistic enough for a superhero show, which is a damning statement about today’s political climate.
One of the big additions to the cast was trans actress Nicole Maines as Dreamer. Supergirl has always been the most progressive of the Arrowverse shows so this wasn’t a huge surprise, but it seems odd to fill the more niche trans category than having a regular Latinx or Asian cast member. Jesse Rath’s Braniac-5 remains a poor replacement for the likable Jeremy Jordan as the tech guy.
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Chyler Leigh proved one of the season’s stabilizing forces as Supergirl’s sister, Alex. A key subpot was gradually turning Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) against Team Supergirl. That wasn’t the best decision as the season desperately missed the terrific friendship core of Kara, Alex, Lena and Sam from Season 3.
James Olsen (Mechad Brooks) had an involved season as James began to question his effectiveness as vigilante The Guardian. David Harewood’s subplot was less interesting as J’onn J’onzz reconsiders being Martian Manhunter and tries to be a pacifist.
Supergirl beautifully navigated the season’s 22 episodes with a rotating cast of principal villains from Manchester Black (David Ajala), Agent Liberty and Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). Cryer proved to be a surprisingly competent Luthor.
While he kept his goatee, Cryer’s Luthor felt more authentic to his comic counterpart than many of the Supergirl characters we’ve seen in previous seasons. Rotating three strong villains was a winning formula that hopefully will be adopted with The Flash next season. The adaptation of Superman: Red Son wasn’t quite as strong, but it led to some interesting subplots.
Here is the episode breakdown, which also includes the Arrow and The Flash chapters of the Elseworlds crossover.
The video and audio isn’t much different from what you’d see on your standard HDTV with a decent audio setup. The Arrowverse doesn’t have the kind of budget that the home video presentation will ever be reference quality, but it certainly isn’t a step down from the network airing. Supergirl benefits more than some of the other shows thanks to the daytime sequences, which provide a stronger visual boost.
Each disc includes a featurette, which is a nice way to break up the episode binge.
These aren’t the most useful segments since the deleted scenes are more like 20 second snippets that are so brief it’s kind of a question of why they were included in the first place.
Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2018 (1:00:59)
I appreciate this sequence including the entire panel. It leads off with the Supergirl panel instead of making viewers fast forward to their respective show. If you’re curious, you are able to watch the panels featuring the Arrow, The Flash, Black Lightning and Legends of Tomorrow casts. It’s an extended preview of what was in store for Season 4 so it might be more useful to watch this before going into the episodes. The Supergirl segment is 12:30. One of the highlights is McGrath’s polite way of helping the panel moderator with the correct pronunciation of her name.
Inside the Crossover: Elseworlds (45:01)
In this extensive and impressively thorough special feature, DC Daily co-host Hector Navarro chats with Arrow, Batwoman, The Flash and Supergirl executive producers about some of the challenges and logistics of the Elseworlds event as well as establishing a compelling introduction of Batwoman. One thing that stood out was the lack of diversity among the showrunners. There’s a decent ratio of men to women, but there’s a disappointing absence of POC decision makers. Navarro does a good job of keeping the conversation moving even if the showrunners are not the most enthusiastic or exciting conversationalists.
Beyond the showrunner discussion, which would typically be all you’d expect in this kind of feature, there’s also segments with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation creators including Geoff Johns and Mike Carlin discussing the Elseworlds’ legacy from The Dark Knight Returns to Justice League: The Nail and Kingdom Come.
Villains of Persuasion (38:05)
In another well done featurette, DC talking heads delve into the mindset of villains. This one is a comprehensive look at villains beyond just the Arrowverse and includes Gotham, Krypton and DC Animation projects. These features add so much to the Blu-Ray value and they’re clearly not slapped together. The obvious effort here makes for nice diversions when you need a break from watching six episodes in a string.
This is the pretty standard botched lines and funny outtakes.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment