Kara Zor-El, Linda Danvers, Matrix — no matter what name Supergirl goes by, it seems like she is forever doomed to remain in her more famous cousin’s shadow. This is understandable, given their similar origins, powers, costumes and values, but Supergirl is every inch a hero in her own right. She has sacrificed her own safety, health and happiness again and again in the service of her adopted planet, and she has saved the world at least as many times as her male counterpart.
But the Girl of Steel has had to battle more than supervillains. Like most heroes, she has the lingering trauma of a tragic origin story to overcome. In addition, she must fight the constant temptation to overstep her bounds. When one has been endowed with such extraordinary power at such a young age, it can be hard to keep that power reigned in, even when you know that interfering too much could hurt people more than help them. Sometimes, Supergirl forgets that important fact and overdoes her superheroic efforts. Actually, she overdoes it kind of a lot, resulting in all manner of super-mishaps of both the wacky and tragic variety. Here are fifteen of the most memorable times Supergirl went way too far.
In Supergirl #26, our heroine is busily evacuating a building weakened by a recent super-battle. Among the people she saves is little boy named Thomas, who tells her he doesn’t want to die. Supergirl promises he won’t, which would be fine except for the fact that Thomas has stage four brain cancer.
This is obviously just a horrible misunderstanding, but when Superman tries to explain to the boy that their powers don’t work that way, Supergirl doubles down. She not only promises Thomas yet again that she will totally cure his incurable disease, she breaks power-mad scientist Dr. Luzano out of prison to develop a cure for cancer for her. To the surprise of no one but Supergirl, Luzano betrays her, and Thomas passes away.
In the Supergirl episode “Red Faced,” our heroine tries to take a break from the stresses of her everyday life with a nice relaxing flight over National City. This ends the way every other superhero’s attempt at a time-out ends: in violence. Supergirl detects the sounds of an increasingly vicious road rage incident and rushes over. She gets there just in time to stop the drivers from plowing into a group of schoolchildren.
One of the drivers, rather than acknowledging the severity of his actions and apologizing for nearly killing a bunch of kids, gets in Supergirl’s face about wrecking his precious car. Supergirl lets her own rage get the best of her and crushes the guy’s hand. Worse, she does this in front of the same children who just seconds earlier applauded her heroics.
HE WAS DYING ANYWAY
The original Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, sacrificed herself to save the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Some years later, a shapeshifter called Matrix took over as the new Maid of Might. She is even more temperamental than Kara was, as evidenced by her reaction when she learns her boyfriend, Lex Luthor, is a bad guy who keeps clones of her in his basement.
She storms into his apartment, ready to make Luthor pay for his crimes with his life. Luthor tries to stop Supergirl’s attack by telling her that he’s currently inhabiting a deteriorating clone body, i.e. he’s dying. But Supergirl is so enraged that she refuses to even try to verify his claims and continues throwing him around until Superman shows up to stop her. She very nearly attacks Superman as well, until he convinces her that Luthor really is dying.
A DEVIL OF A PREDICAMENT
While traveling the world, Supergirl encounters a dying magician named Abdul, who leaves her a ring with demonic powers. The ring will grant her three wishes, but if she uses all three, Supergirl will turn into a demon. The smart thing to do would be to save those wishes for world-ending catastrophes. Unfortunately, Supergirl is not particularly smart in this issue.
Despite having gotten along fine without demonic assistance her entire life, Supergirl uses up all three wishes with breathtaking rapidity. The morning after her third wish, she wakes up to find she’s developed horns and an overriding desire to be evil, which in this case means playing nasty pranks on Superman. Fortunately, a quick fire bath is all she needs to banish her inner demon.
DON’T STAY IN SCHOOL
Most fans do not have fond memories of the 1984 movie Supergirl, and with good reason. It meanders so badly that Supergirl comes off looking like an idiot at best and deliberately irresponsible at worst. The story starts with young Kara in her Kryptonian hometown, but she doesn’t stay there long. She steals a travel pod to retrieve her city’s missing power source, the Omegahedron, rather than allowing someone who isn’t an inexperienced teenager to handle the search.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when she makes it to Earth, she forgets all about the Omegahedron the minute she sees an all girls’ school, which she decides to enroll in for some reason. While a more non-threatening identity may have made it easier to navigate among skittish humans, playing with a padded bra rather than saving your city is definitely taking the alter ego thing too far.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
One day, Supergirl begins to worry that her beloved cousin Kal-El will remain a bachelor forever. Despite Superman plainly stating that he’s not interested in marriage right now, Supergirl decides to play matchmaker. During their next few missions, she tries to set him up with the most beautiful women in history. Every attempt ends in a stubbornly single Superman and an increasingly disappointed Supergirl.
Finally, Superman has a talk with her in which he implies the only reason he hasn’t married (the underage) Supergirl is because cousin-marriage is illegal. In response, Supergirl scours the multiverse for a version of herself that isn’t a member of the House of El. Wanting your family to be happily settled is one thing; indulging your cousin’s creepy tastes is quite another.
Supergirl made her Smallville debut in the seventh season episode “Kara.” It doesn’t take long for her to prove herself a very rude guest of the planet Earth. The episode starts with Lois and Clark visiting the site of a recently destroyed dam. There, they stumble across Kara’s spaceship, which had until now been hidden by a reservoir. When Lois gets closer, Kara swoops in and knocks her to the ground hard enough to give her a concussion.
There’s really no reason for Kara to react this way. It’s clear that she views humans as too far beneath her to pose a threat. And she’s not worried about her alien origins being discovered, if the fact that she’s flying and using her super-strength in front of (supposed) humans is any indication. Kara just really, really didn’t want Lois putting her grubby mitts on her stuff.
In Supergirl #7, Supergirl learns that the guy she has a crush on, Tony, has gone missing in the Himalayas. Of course she races over to rescue him, only to find that the magician Zatanna has beat her there. Zatanna, too, is there to rescue Tony because she, too, has a crush on him.
Mature superheroes would put aside their rivalry and join forces to ensure the survival of the man they both love. Supergirl and Zatanna argue over which of them will get the honor of saving their endangered darling. Even when a snow monster comes after them both, they can’t stop squabbling over which of them gets to take Tony home at the end of the day. Joke’s on them, though — Tony is engaged to someone else.
SUPERGIRL THE DIPLOMAT
In Amazons Attack, sorceress Circe takes over the mind of Amazonian queen Hippolyta and makes her declare war on America. In the tie-in issue Teen Titans #48, Supergirl and her friend, Wonder Girl, visit Hippolyta to politely ask her to stop murdering innocent civilians for no reason. Hippolyta doesn’t respond well, and while Supergirl does notice that Hippolyta is acting uncharacteristically, she does nothing with this observation.
During their visit, Wonder Girl comes up with the brilliant idea to storm onto Air Force One, kidnap the President of the United States, and bring him to Hippolyta so they can start peace talks. Supergirl sees no problems with this plan and goes along to help. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work, and the president almost dies. Diplomacy at its best.
A GROWING CRISIS
After learning that her professor, Allan Forsyte, has a fatal disease, Supergirl goes searching for a cure. Only a certain scientist from the bottled city of Kandor can help her, but he recently passed away and was buried with all of his research. Supergirl turns tomb raider and ransacks the scientist’s tomb, ultimately finding the magical cure-all he was developing when he died. Karma sets in immediately.
After she administers the antidote, a recording informs her that the antidote will make the recipient increase exponentially in size. This would be bad enough on its own, but since they’re in a bottle and have a limited amount of space, Forsyte’s growth spurt will squish everyone in the city. One frantic bout of super-glassblowing later, Supergirl enlarges Kandor’s bottle enough to remove Forsyte and save the city from her own carelessness.
WHAT A GIRL WANTS
It’s understandable that anyone, especially a teenager, would occasionally get tired of punching villains and yearn for a normal life. But after saving the life of a glamorous movie star, Supergirl decides she just isn’t dainty enough and quits the superhero business in favor of fancy dresses and the romantic attentions of a random, beret-wearing French guy named Anatole.
Despite knowing Anatole for maybe a day at best, the ex-Supergirl agrees to fly with him to a secluded island. She’s so obsessed with appearing soft and “feminine” for her beau that she’s even reluctant to save him from an avalanche lest she ruin her new image. Ultimately, Supergirl finds she can’t give up crimefighting after all and breaks up with Anatole, albeit with obvious reluctance.
LEAVE ‘EM BREATHLESS
Having a secret identity is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it protects your loved ones from retaliation by angry supervillains. On the other hand, it can make running off to fight said supervillains more of a challenge. One can’t exactly explain to one’s boss that stopping some jerkweed from poisoning the water supply is more important than filling the office coffee orders.
Supergirl has worked out a very neat solution to this age-old problem. When she wants to skip out on class to go a-heroing, she simply sucks all the air out of the room, knocking everyone unconscious long enough to complete her mission. Granted, she claims she carefully controls how long she keeps them without oxygen so no one gets hurt, but this is a dangerous game to play with fragile mortals.
BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER
Post-New 52 Kara Zor-El has had it pretty rough. She’s only recently lost her planet and her family, she’s spent almost all of her time since landing on Earth in battle with various villains, and she believes that she has irreparably damaged her relationship with both her cousin and her only friend. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Supergirl was already a hair away from losing it when notoriously obnoxious bounty hunter Lobo shows up.
Lobo proceeds to push every button Supergirl has, even pretending she’s killed him so she’ll feel guilty about it. The already stressed Supergirl finally snaps, taking all of her pent-up frustration out on Lobo. Her fury overwhelms her to the point that she becomes a Red Lantern, a superpowered being fueled by pure rage.
FIGHT HEARTBREAK WITH HEARTBREAK
In the ’60s, Supergirl’s secret identity, Linda Danvers, had a best friend named Lena. One day, Linda notices Lena’s boyfriend, Jeff, is acting strangely. Instead of actively investigating this like the superhero she’s supposed to be, Supergirl does some quick and lazy spy work via X-ray vision and “discovers” that Jeff is a secret agent. Somehow, she forgets that the United States has secret agents of its own and assumes Jeff is a traitor.
So how does Supergirl respond to this development? She hypnotizes Jeff into cheating on Lena so they’ll break up, saving Lena from “a lifetime of heartaches” by breaking Lena’s heart. Then, when she does what she should have done in the first place and reports her suspicions to the FBI, they promptly inform her that Jeff works for them. Fortunately, Jeff and Lena are extremely forgiving.
When earthquakes begin striking her city, Supergirl traces the strange activity to a magician named the Enchantress. Enchantress has taken advantage of the alignment of certain celestial bodies to drastically increase her powers. While she says that she’ll only use her magic for good, Supergirl doesn’t want one person possessing so much power.
To make things more difficult, the stronger Enchantress gets, the more Supergirl suffers; every time she gets too close to her foe, she starts to lose her own powers. An obvious solution would be to stand far away and use her super-strength to throw something heavy at her. Instead, Supergirl heads into space and casually punts the moon out of alignment. The Enchantress loses her powers and, presumably, the world’s fishermen wonder what just happened to all the tides.
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