Supergirl Cast Members on How the Show Differs from the Comics

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - 11:26AM
DC Comics
Supergirl
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - 11:26AM
Supergirl Cast Members on How the Show Differs from the Comics
When an adaptation of a comic book, or any beloved source material for that matter, comes out, there are inevitably complaints from die-hard fans that the original has been altered. But according to the cast of Supergirl, these alterations can be appropriate and positive, especially when they serve to update the source material to fit into modern culture. During a roundtable interview at NYCC this weekend (via Tech Times), cast members Mehcad Brooks, who plays Jimmy Olsen, and Peter Facinelli, who plays Maxwell Lord, commented on alterations to the comic book characters and the positive impact they could have on the show.

Brooks's casting as Jimmy Olsen was probably the most controversial news about the show so far, as Olsen is usually portrayed as a small, red-haired white man, while Brooks is a tall black man. Brooks (rightly) said at the roundtable that comic book characters were all white when Jimmy Olsen was created, and that the comic book was a product of its time. Therefore, it should be updated to reflect modern American culture:

Opening quote
"The DNA of the character [in Supergirl] is the same. Here's the thing. So Jimmy was created in 1940, so we had a much different world back then. People lived a monochromatic existence, so you really can't blame them for writing what they knew," Brooks said. "It's not that the character's changed so much as that we're taking cultural liberties with him as he might be today."
Closing quote

Most of the objections to Brooks's casting were ridiculous and racist, but to be fair, Jimmy's personality seems to have changed as well. In the pilot screened at SDCC, "James" Olsen was portrayed as confident and charming, while Jimmy Olsen is usually depicted as bumbling and self-conscious in the comics. Brooks claims that the character has undergone a character arc before the show starts as a result of his experiences with Kara's cousin, Superman:

Opening quote
"Think about if Jimmy Olsen was hanging out with Superman for a long time. He was like, you know what, I want to be my own man. So, you go to confidence bootcamp, go to the gym, change your style. He gets a Pulitzer Prize for photographing Superman. He gets a better job," Brooks said. "This is who we're dealing with now. We're dealing with a Jimmy Olsen who's coming into his own."
Closing quote

Peter Facinelli similarly claimed that his character, Maxwell Lord, was being updated to fit the "billionaire" archetype of modern American culture, rather than the one that existed several decades ago:

Opening quote
"When I looked at the comics, he was more, kind of, Donald Trump-esque, you know, cover of Forbes magazine. I said, let's do less Donald Trump, more Elon Musk, more Steve Jobs," Facinelli said. "You know, the billionaire of today is a little different than the billionaire of yesterday. I think there's a time when you could be a gruff, hard businessman, but I always think that you have more power in being charming. Then, if you can win people over, then that gives you the power."
Closing quote

To be fair, emulating Donald Trump would still be timely considering his well-publicized presidential campaign, but that would be more of a comment on politics than the rainmakers of today's America. 

Facinelli also compared his character to another classic antagonist to the House of El:

Opening quote
"Lex Luthor, I think, he's an evil genius. Lex Luthor wants to take over the world," Facinelli said. "Maxwell Lord, he's a billionaire. He has power. He doesn't need to take over the world. His agenda is to try to figure out a way to save humanity from itself, and so, I don't think he's evil in the sense Lex Luthor is."
Closing quote


Supergirl premieres on October 26 at 8:30pm on CBS. 
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