In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, find out if DC wouldn’t allow the Superman cartoon to show Supergirl in her classic comic book costume.
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and thirty-sixth episode where we take a look at three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions.
DC wouldn’t allow the producers of Superman: The Animated Series to have Supergirl wear her classic comic book costume.
One of the neat things about adapting comic book characters into ongoing series is that there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to work with licensed characters. There are already a lot of things that can crop up at the last minute when you’re doing an UNLICENSED series (like having to rewrite an episode of Ally McBeal from Ally marrying her boyfriend to writing the off-series boyfriend because the actor who played the boyfriend, Robert Downey Jr., was arrested for buying drugs), but when you’re working with licensed characters, things get a lot more difficult, because the company that’s licensing your characters to you can change their mind at any time and suddenly, instead of featuring Ted Kord on Arrowyou found yourself featuring Ray Palmer instead.
These are the kinds of things that the producers of Superman: The Animated Series dealt with, as DC in particular had strong opinions about Superman, whose continuity had been rebooted a decade earlier. One of the major points of the Steel man 1986 reboot was that Superman was now the sole survivor of Krypton’s destruction. Gone are the days of the Man of Tomorrow encountering countless other survivors from his home planet. Now he was the ONLY survivor. It didn’t really cause much trouble, all things considered, but it did cause a major problem with one specific character, Superman’s cousin Supergirl.
In the comics, the early 1990s solution was to introduce a pocket-dimensional alien who could shape change and the alien took on the identity of Supergirl while basing himself on Superman. When Superman: The Animated Series had debuted in 1996, DC had modified Supergirl once again, and now the alien (known as the Matrix) had merged with a human named Linda Danvers and the end result was mostly a human version of Supergirl with a mixes Matrix powers and some possible magic powers. abilities (because the fusion occurred during a ritual sacrifice to a demon).
In any event, this restriction that Superman is the ONLY survivor of Krypton led the creators of Superman: The Animated Series, Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm, have to get creative with how they introduced Supergirl to the show. Their solution was to establish that Supergirl was not from Krypton, but from a planet called Argo (a reference to Argo City, the Kryptonian city that Supergirl hailed from) which had been COLONIZED by Kryptonians before she was also destroyed, so Kara In-Ze had the same powers as Superman without being technically from Krypton. However, the show also gave Supergirl a brand new costume…
Over the years, DC finally gave in on the “no other survivors of Krypton” thing, and in 2004 it introduced a new version of Kara Zor-El who was from Krypton…
Around this time, Supergirl had joined the Justice League in the Justice League Unlimited animated series that followed Superman: The Animated Series and an earlier Justice League series. She wore her white costume, but in the show’s final season, after Supergirl received her own ongoing series from DC, Supergirl debuted a new version of her classic costume on the cartoon…
This led to a legend that DC wouldn’t let the animated series use the classic Supergirl costume until it finally brought back Kara Zor-El, which is why the cartoon didn’t launch its new suit until then.
However, Bruce Timm dispelled these rumors on the Toonzone forumsexplaining:
Sorry, but these two things are unrelated. We could have put Supergirl in her “official” comic book outfit at any time, if we wanted to. Historically, DC always PREFERS that we stay as close to their “canonical” looks as possible.
Maybe you’re thinking of situations like the Katana/Tsukuri thing, or Katar Hol/Hro Talak or the Justice Society/Justice Guild or Black Manta/Devil-Ray, where we had to resort to dopplegangers with similar designs but clearly not identical. This is not the case with Supergirl. Changing her home planet was the only thing we had to do to keep DC happy (luckily!) – we put her in the “White Tee and Doc Martens” outfit just because we thought it would be fun to update her look a bit. But yeah, DC can be very stubborn about what their characters can and can’t do, what they should look like, what length or length of hair they have, their marital status, whether or not they can bleed, whether they may or may not even exist (and if they CAN, in which universe do they exist) – etc. etc said “Absolutely NOT”, we managed to find a workable compromise – and in many cases the workaround turned out to be a better creative choice.
Curiously, at the end of the 1990s, the super girl the ongoing series had actually adopted the costume from the cartoon for the previous incarnation of Supergirl!
Many thanks to Bruce Timm for the excellent information! And heck, just a general thank you for all the awesome cartoons over the years!
DISCOVER A FILM LEGENDS REVEALED!
In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Learn about the fascinating and audacious request Vin Diesel made to Universal Pictures in exchange for his life-saving cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
PART THREE COMING SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!
Did Spider-Man’s Famous No-Code Drug Problems Change the Comics Code?
About the Author