When Supergirl returns for Season 2 on The CW on October 10th, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), has left the safety of being Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockhart) assistant to explore new possibilities, while as Supergirl she continues to work at the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), protecting the citizens of National City. She’ll also have a little extra help, teaming up with Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) to battle new villains, as she strives to balance her family life with the friends who have become her family.
While at The CW portion of the TCA Summer Press Tour, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg sat down with Collider to talk about what they learned from Season 1, the musical cross-over, how often viewers might see Cat Grant, whether Kara and James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) can make a relationship work, who Mon-El (Christopher Wood) is, having a more traditional take on Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), what Miss Martian (Sharon Leal) will mean for J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), Winn’s (Jeremy Jordan) new career, Project Cadmus, and how Supergirl is finally becoming what it should be.
Collider: What can you say about the story you’re telling in Season 2?
ANDREW KREISBERG: I don’t want to give too much away. We’re so excited, though, by everything we’re doing that we can’t wait for everybody to see it. We’re so grateful to CBS for giving us the launching pad that they did. We learned so much about the show, about the cast and about ourselves, in Season 1. We feel like The CW is going to be the beneficiary of everything that we’ve learned ‘cause we really feel like we’ve taken the show to the next level, creatively. We’re just so excited for everybody to see it.
What do you feel you can do with Season 2, that you couldn’t do in the first season?
KREISBERG: In a way, it’s almost like a sequel, and I don’t mean that in terms of it being dark. When you look at Empire Strikes Back compared to Star Wars, because you’d already introduced the characters and gotten that out of the way, you were able to go deeper with the characters and have more introspection, and watch them grow and learn. In some ways, the show is a little bit more comic book-y, with the addition of Superman and some of the things we’re trying, but it’s also gotten richer, with some of the characters and what they’ll be exploring this season.
It already seems beyond cool and crazy that you get to have superheroes on TV, running around in costumes with capes, but then you decided you’re going to do a musical episode. Are you at the point where you feel like anything goes?
KREISBERG: Yeah! We’ve already had cross-overs, which in and of themselves were these crazy things that we can’t believe that we did. Now, on The Flash, we’ve had alternate dimensions and timelines. So, it doesn’t actually seem that much more crazy to us because we’ve already done these crazy things. We do things that happen on one show that affect another show. That’s the fun of comic books, and that’s what was always so great about them for us, when we were kids. Even when DC did “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” or Marvel did “Secret Wars,” they made them seem like these big, giant events, and that’s what we try to emulate in the cross-overs. The musical will just be awesome. It’s gonna be fun. It’s funny, we have villains that can split the earth in half. We have villains that can run at the speed of light. What’s so crazy about a villain that can make you think your friends are singing and dancing in front of you? In face, if anything, it might seem pedestrian, by comparison.
Supergirl is about a character who has a secret identity, but she also has two very distinct lives and careers. Where are things at, in that regard?
KREISBERG: Last year, as far as the DEO was concerned, she was, in a way, just another agent there. This year, she’s going to be taking a little bit more of a leadership role and be driving the stories more. She’s also not going to be Cat’s assistant anymore. We resolved that, at the end of Season 1. What she decides to do at CatCo is going to be a big change, and an exciting change. She’s usually flexing muscles to beat the crap out of aliens, and now she’s going to be flexing career muscles, as a young career woman with a little bit of authority and autonomy. I think that’s going to be a lot more exciting for her, as a character, than just being a harried executive assistant.
With all of the great things that come with getting to continue the show on The CW, one of the things you lost was the ability to have Calista Flockhart on as a regular cast member. How often can we expect to see her?
KREISBERG: Well, she’s in the first two episodes and we’re talking to her about doing more. It’s funny because, from our perspective, we thought she wouldn’t do any. And it’s not because she doesn’t love the show. She’s such a huge fan of the show, but moving to Vancouver, we assumed that we would part as friends. But she’s so into the show and feels such an allegiance and a responsibility to it that she’s agreed to come back, so we’re very happy. We’re not focusing on what we don’t have. We’re focusing on what we do have, and it’s allowed us to have Ian Gomez, who’s playing Snapper Carr, come in, in a more supervisory capacity, which is fun. Kara has spent two years of her life learning to deal with Cat Grant’s idiosyncracies, foibles, short temper and mixed signals, and just when she finally got that down, she’s now introduced to a new boss who’s very different, has his own thing, and isn’t quite as impressed by her spunk as Cat always was, even if Cat wouldn’t admit it. It’s a journey, like any of us go on. We’ve all had different bosses, over the course of our careers. Just when you finally feel like you’ve nailed your job, you get promoted and you’re suddenly like, “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore!” That’s what’s going to happen to Kara this season.
Kara and James Olsen were finally starting to be honest about their feelings for each other. Where are things at with them, in Season 2? Is there time for a relationship while you’re trying to save the world?
KREISBERG: Part of whether or not that relationship can work makes up the first couple of episodes of the season. They definitely had a nice kiss at the end of last year, and when we pick up, they’re both going to be, separately and together, dealing with whether they can make this relationship work.
What can you say about the addition of Christopher Wood and how his character will fit in with things?
KREISBERG: We don’t want to say too much because we’re doing our own version of Mon-El. Obviously, he’s a character from the comic books and he’s much beloved, and we’re putting our own spin on it. What’s interesting about Mon-El joining the show, from Kara’s perspective, is that Kara has spent her whole life as someone who’s been mentored, first by her mother, and then by the Danvers and Superman and Cat. She’s always been somebody who’s been taken care of, in a way. Now, with Mon-El, he’s fresh off the boat. As far as he’s concerned, living on another planet happened yesterday, and suddenly, he’s on Earth and everything he knew was lost, just the way it was for Kara, but she’s had 12 years to process it and he’s struggling with it. So, Kara is now the one in the mentor position. Ironically, she even says in an episode, “I was sent to Earth not to be a hero. I wasn’t sent here to be Supergirl. I was sent here to protect Clark and take care of Clark. Now, in an odd way, with Mon-El here, I’m getting to fulfill that original mission that I had.” So, it’s a big change and a big growing experience for Kara, this season.
How daunting was it to figure out how you wanted to portray Superman, what you wanted the dynamic between Clark and Kara to be, and finding the right actor to take all of that on?
KREISBERG: I think our take on him is probably something a little bit more traditional. There’s certainly a little bit of the “Aw shucks” about him, but he’s been Superman for awhile, so there’s a savviness about him as Superman and as Clark. If he’s been Superman for 12 years, that also means that he’s been Clark Kent for 12 years. He knows how to interview somebody. He knows how to get a story out of someone. As always, with any of these things, we’re never doing a direct adaptation of a specific comic book. We cherry pick the best parts and things that we love. So, there’s a little bit of the Christopher Reeve Superman in there, a healthy dose of the Superman animated series, which we’re huge fans of, a little bit of Lois & Clark, a little George Reeves, and a little Super Friends. And as far as finding the right guy, as soon as we said we were going to do Superman, Greg [Berlanti] mentioned Tyler [Hoechlin]. We’ve been fans of his for years, and when we sat down with him, he is Superman. Not just with the looks, but he’s such a good guy, such a nice guy, and he’s so open and forthright and brimming with life. You just feel better when you’re around him, which I think is part of the secret of Superman. He is that ideal, but not in an unattainable way. Superman should make you feel like you can do anything, even though he’s the one that can do anything. And Tyler just had all that in spades. So, it was less a question of us reaching out. It was more a question of hoping he would say yes. After Tyler, I’m not sure what we would have done.
This show has a great balance between superhero and family, with the relationship between Kara and Alex being a particular stand-out. What can we expect from that, this season?
KREISBERG: That’s a lot of what’s happening in those first episodes. Kara is caught a little bit in the middle between Clark, who’s her family, and Alex, J’onn, Winn and James, which is this amazing family that she’s made for herself. There’s definitely conflict that arises that puts Kara squarely in the middle, which we’re excited about.
What’s in store for J’onn J’onzz?
KREISBERG: Part of the reason we’re bringing on Miss Martian is to give J’onn his own story this year and his own emotional ride, meeting her and having this tie to his home world that he thought he would never have again. As he has to keep reminding people, he’s been here for 300 years and isolated for most of it. Last year, with his relationship with Alex and his relationship with Kara, he started to come out of his shell a little bit and wasn’t quite so afraid to show who he really was. So, in getting to interact with M’gann, he’s going to have a whole new person with which to share his martian experience. We think it’s going to be a great story.
Are you surprised people became so emotionally attached to that character?
KREISBERG: No. If you’re a fan of the Justice League, if you’re a fan of the comics, or if you’re a fan of the animated show, you know that the irony of J’onn is that he’s the most alien looking of the Justice League, and yet he’s the one with the most human heart. He’s always been the character who had an openness and capacity for love and a sadness about him that was so compelling. All we tried to do was bring that to life on our show. We’re so glad that the fans responded to it, and David [Harewood] was so excited by it. There was a version of this show where David was just Hank Henshaw. Once we came upon the idea of having him really be J’onn, it just opened up a whole world of possibilities that we’re so excited about.
In Season 1, it seemed that Winn was having the most trouble finding himself. Will he be more secure in that, in Season 2?
KREISBERG: Yeah. One of the things we’re doing this season is that Winn is going to join the DEO. That’s going to allow him to be who he really is, which is the smart, creative one and the thinker. And watching Winn interact with J’onn and Alex, who are military people that are straight-laced and they’re used to doing things a certain way, while he has his comical moments and pop culture references, there’s already this great Mutt and Jeff routine. It just allows Winn to be more a part of the story. That’s one of the changes we made. That’s one of the things we learned from last season.
You’re also going to be delving deeper into Project Cadmus and the search for Jeremiah. What will be happening there?
KREISBERG: Cadmus rears its head, pretty thoroughly in the opening episodes. Fighting Cadmus makes up a big part of the first half of the season.
Do you feel like you’ve found the right balance between the over-arching stories you want to tell and the villains of the week?
KREISBERG: Yeah. We’re so proud of Supergirl last season, but it reminded us, a little bit, of Season 1 of Arrow. We knew there was a great show in there and, every once in awhile, we would make it great, but we didn’t know how to do it consistently yet. We really feel like this year, at least for us creatively, we’ve cracked the code and we’re coming out of the gate strong. It’s almost the same trajectory that we had on Arrow, where we started to figure it out towards the back half of Season 1, and we’re coming out of the gate really strong with Season 2. Season 1s are tough. There was also the added pressure of having the first female superhero on TV, in a long time. There was a lot of expectation that the audience had, that the network had, that the studio had, and that we had for ourselves. It took awhile to put all of that aside and just start telling the right stories. It’s always been my experience that shows tell you what they want to be. Now, with the stories that we’re telling, Supergirl is finally becoming what it should be.
Supergirl returns for Season 2 on The CW on October 10th.