Supergirl (1984) — Brought to you by Popeyes Chicken

“I’ve come to Earth to search for the Omegahedron, a power source vital to Argo city. You see, that’s where I’m from.”

Justin’s rating: Kiss me, funny girl!

Justin’s review: Back when I was a wee lad and gas was just two bits at the pump, we often took long summer vacations to visit my grandparents in Florida. Now, one of the absolute highlights of driving 24 hours in a row, sharing a bed with my brother, and staring down entire swarms of mutant mosquitoes that loved Midwestern blood was the fact that my grandparents had cable.

Glorious, blessed cable.

For them, it was just so they could search over 90 channels to find Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right at any time of the day. But for me and my brothers, who were raised to think that cable television was a privilege that only the President could handle, it was entertainment overload. We spent as much time during that week channel surfing and scarfing down as many movies as we could get away with.

The catch was that even if our parents were out of the house — enjoying that “sun”, no doubt — our grandparents weren’t the frisky type and would hunker down in their recliners to supervise our viewing habits. Now, as much as I love my family, I never could stand my parents watching movies that I wanted to see with me, because if there ever was too much questionable content, the dreaded STOP button was hit. I sweated bullets waiting for the axe to drop on each film, wondering if this sex scene or that swear word would be the final straw. Imagine how much worse it was to have my grandparents — who grew up in an era when “confoundit!” was the only swear word they knew — being our television lifeguards.

Bear with me here. So today, as I watched Supergirl for the intention of an easily mockable film (no surprises there), a memory vault in my head opened up to remind me of that other time I saw the movie. Justin was 12, in Florida, and happy to watch what looked like a superhero movie he missed in the theaters. Grandmother, 73, saw what appeared to be a primer on date rape drugs, inappropriate female attire, and rampant witchcraft. Grandma promptly flipped out and Justin found himself defending a movie that he did not, technically, make or even like. In retrospect, she really was just trying to protect me, although the real corruption was any proper movie taste that I might have otherwise developed. Props to you, grandma!

Supergirl came out right as the Superman franchise was tanking — between Superman III and Superman IV — and the same cheese that the producers of the series thought was befitting the Man of Steel got transferred to the Woman of Tupperware. It was bad in its original pared-down release, and it’s still bad with the restored “special edition” version. I needed about a five hour intermission in rewatching this just to make it through. No grandmother here, this time.

Although we saw Superman’s home planet of Krypton bite the big one in the first film, apparently that civilization didn’t end completely. His cousin Kara lived on in an undisclosed city, where no one seems particularly upset about the deaths of billions of their relatives. Her friend Zaltar, founder of the city and wielder of the almighty Unicorn Wand, lets her fiddle with the city’s key energy source, which both coincidentally fits into the palm of her hand and can be lost to the void of space if someone rises to the occasion and trips. Ta-da!

So Kara stows away in a bubble ship and makes way for Earth to retrieve the Magic 8-Ball. Superman is unavailable for a cameo (the radio reports he’s in another galaxy on a peace mission, which makes me hope he brought a chunk of the sun with him to retain his powers), and Kara doesn’t bother to leave him a note to tell him that he’s not the last Kryptonian alive. Instead, Kara discovers that Earth’s yellow sun bestows upon her supreme powers; being a girl, Kara uses said powers to change her clothes and hair color a lot. She also wears a miniskirt that never, ever flips up even when she flies upside down. Not that we were looking.

You’d think that because her entire civilization teetered on the edge of destruction unless Kara could bring back their Magic 8-Ball, she’d be searching for that thing like a guy who’d eaten sixteen plums and then realized he needed a roll of TP for the bathroom. But no, Kara just wanders off and enrolls into college/prep school… because… um… yeah.

The plot meanders on from here, as a fledgling witch named Selena gets her hands on the Magic 8-Ball, yet lacks clear vision to do anything cool with it. Well, she makes a mountain in the middle of town, and concocts a “love potion” to make a half-naked guy fall in love with her but he escapes before the potion takes effect and is chased by a witchcraft-driven crane and is actually caught but Supergirl saves him and the potion makes him fall in love with her and she gets all mooney-eyes with him and he figures out her big secret identity in the space of a kiss but then the witch teleports him back into a zebra-themed bed and shackles him up so Supergirl comes back to save him but gets sent to the Phantom Zone which kind of sucks but then she escapes and fights a pretend monster and wins the day.

See? Our plot is as clear as a pristine mountain brook!

What’s sadder than a lack of a really interesting story or any intelligent exploration into the backstory and development of Supergirl is that this movie name drops Superman at the rate of two per minute. Supergirl ends up rooming with Lucy Lane, who’s someone’s sister. Lucy has a Superman poster in her dorm room. Johnny Olsen drops by, because he likes to get paid for pointless cameos. Every other character keeps making a vocal connection between Supergirl and Superman — did you know their costumes looked alike? — that the screen might’ve well been flashing “JUST GO RENT THE REAL SUPERPERSON MOVIES!” for the span of two hours. Supergirl is the remora picking the fame off of the Superman shark.

I also cannot figure out who this movie is for, exactly. A new batch of female fans? Considering that Supergirl has the personality of a robot and the female bonding between her and Lucy is limited to the fact that they all have first and last names that begin with “L,” I don’t think so. Is it for existing Superman fans? This would be the logical assumption, except that no one really wants to see a girl who has all of the same powers as their hero but boasts the intelligence of a golden retriever with a cape. Kids? Nobody cared about witchcraft in the ’80s, and today’s Harry Potter crowd would scoff at the sloppy execution of their demonic religion.

However, let’s not kid ourselves. Supergirl exists to be laughed at, and it does not fail in this regard. Only you can prevent magical construction equipment from gobbling up your potential love interest, so see this today!

Didja notice?

  • It’s Hart Bochner! That one guy who gets shot in Die Hard (you know who I’m talking about), and the director of PCU!
  • You know it’s a bad scifi movie when someone is named Zaltar
  • 6th dimensional geometry is a TOUGH class
  • Zaltar’s tool looks like a unicorn horn
  • Yes, I just wrote that, and I know what it sounded like
  • So the outer wall of the city, what’s separating them from life and death, is a sheet of wax paper?
  • The mention of Superman leaving on the radio
  • So going through the warp changed her clothes? Somehow?
  • Even upside down her skirt doesn’t move
  • The dorkiest witch cave ever. Oh, it’s in an amusement park horror ride. A functional ride. Huh?!?
  • An extremely young Matt Fewer
  • She has… the POWER! And a lot of bad hair.
  • Bunnies like Supergirl!
  • Supergirl has the powers to conjure up clothes out of nothing and go from blonde to brunette
  • Does her theme song have to play EVERY TIME she uses her powers?
  • “Linda Lee” and “Lucy Lane”… this movie loves its alliterative L’s
  • The dean really goes out of him way to point out the Superman references
  • Lucy reads a comic (Superman?)
  • Com-pu-ters? Algo-rithms?
  • How can she use heat vision to fry something on the other side of the wall, but leave the wall untouched?
  • Love potions? Seriously?
  • Jimmy Olsen, collecting his paycheck
  • Being a superhero means you can cause huge amounts of damage and people just praise you for it
  • Love potions make you a dork
  • When you run out of a special effects budget, have your hero fight an invisible monster
  • Metal rods stay full of electricity after being hit with lightning until you decide to unleash its awesome power
  • Selena has a constant light band around her eyes
  • If you save a guy, you might as well fly him 200 miles away just to be sure
  • Hehe face plant!
  • The response to losing your newfound love of your life? A wistful smile and a shake of the head.
  • Lesson Learned: if your society and survival hinges upon an easily lost/stolen ball, then get a new society.

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