'Supergirl' Boss Talks Politically Charged Season 4 & Introducing Lex Luthor
By Meredith B. Kile
Supergirl is facing a nation divided.
The CW's superhero drama is packing a political punch this season, as tensions continue to rise regarding the Earth's alien population. Fuel was added to an already fiery national debate in the final moments of last week's premiere, when it was revealed that President Olivia Marsdin (Lynda Carter) is herself an alien.
This week's episode, entitled "Fallout," deals with just that -- the aftermath of Marsdin's secret becoming public knowledge -- "and how that one event will shape the entire season," executive producer Robert Rovner told reporters last week.
"I think that the whole season we're exploring stuff that's happening in the country, and how Supergirl's dealing with the divided nation, how she can try and heal it and how people can speak up and speak out," Rovner said.
"I think our country feels divided and I think that, you know, Supergirl is a character that has always tried to use hope as a weapon to combat hate," he added of the season's metaphorical message. "So, we wanted to both kind of use that platform to create a dialogue about what's happening in our nation, and how a character like Supergirl could speak to that -- and also to see how she would deal with it, especially when she represents one of the things that the nation is afraid of."
Each of Supergirl's characters will face the fallout in their own ways, whether that's dealing with prejudices from National City residents -- some of whom seem fine with an extraterrestrial superhero saving their lives, but balk at the idea of aliens walking among them -- or making the decision to speak out in a public way, like CatCo Media CEO James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), who receives an inspirational boost from new reporter Nia Nal (Nicole Maines).
"This might seem political, but what [we're] really speaking about is everybody treating each other with kindness, and everybody accepting people," Rovner explained. "And I think that even though some of those sides make things divisive... Supergirl's searching for a way to unite people, not to divide us. So I think that's what we're focusing on."
"Supergirl and Superman have always spoken out about issues, so it's something we're cognizant of. We're also trying to keep it balanced, so that we're exploring all sides of the issue."
Next week's episode, "Man of Steel," will in fact explore another side of the issue in telling the origin story of one of this season's big bads, Agent Liberty (Sam Witwer), examining how the disenfranchised citizen became a masked agent of chaos.
"I think it adds a level of depth, so that we understand why our villain is our villain, and the things in his life that brought him to this place of kind of, being so against aliens," Rovner said of the episode. "So I think it helps keep everything more balanced than it might otherwise be."
And the show will soon be welcoming an even more infamous DC Comics villain, Lex Luthor, The CW announced last week.
"I think we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to use him this season and he weaves into the story," Rovner said of the decision to bring in Superman's iconic nemesis. "He weaves into the narrative that we're telling, so I think it's a good opportunity to have him. And we would welcome him any time."
The part has yet to be cast, but Rovner explained, "We're just excited about the possibilities of who might step into that iconic role." One thing fans do know about Supergirl's Lex Luthor is that he has a history with the villainous Mercy Graves (Rhona Mitra), who, alongside brother Otis (Robert Baker), is helping Agent Liberty with his mission to violently mobilize the divided country over the alien debate.
"I think what's great about Mercy is not necessarily her relationship with Lex but her relationship with Lena," Rovner hinted. "They had a complicated relationship in the past, that becomes even more complicated because of the events of this episode."
As for whether or not Lex's arrival means his sister, Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), might be pulled towards a more sinister side, the co-showrunner said that possibility always remains, given her family history.
"I mean I think the great thing about Lena is that being a Luthor, there's always the tension of what side will she eventually fall?" he noted. "I think we've played that in the past, and this season is no different."
"We love Lena Luthor. We love her strength and we love that... even though her methods might not be always the best methods, that she's always choosing a path she thinks is the right one, and she'll stop at nothing to do what she thinks is right."