As ‘Supergirl’ heads into season four, THR rounds up everything to know, from new characters to new twists.
Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter’s weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on the small screen. Every Saturday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning, and Fox’s Gotham. There have been a lot of news, castings and announcements all summer long about the new seasons premiering this fall, so this week we’re rounding up everything there is to know about Supergirl season four…
Mark your calendars | Or change your DVR series recording. Supergirl is moving to Sundays this season as The CW expands its schedule to six nights a week. Hopefully that helps the network avoid having to put shows on a sudden hiatus, like what happened with Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow in 2017-18. The two shared a time slot in the back half of the season, which ended up leaving Supergirl off the air for two and a half months.
Seeing double | Kara (Melissa Benoist) is going to have her fair share of issues to deal with when Supergirl returns, but perhaps the biggest problem she will be facing is her mysterious Russian double, revealed in the final moments of season three’s finale. Supergirl is putting its own spin on the classic comic book run Red Son thanks to the black kryptonite splitting Kara in two, unbeknownst to her. Black kryptonite separates the personalities of one person into two separate beings, meaning that the Kara relaxing on the couch with Alex at the end of the season three finale isn’t fully herself, as the darker parts of her personality may have been split from her to create the imposter that landed in Siberia. In the comic books, Red Son explores the idea of what might have happened if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union instead of the U.S., so Supergirl won’t be following the source material exactly. Since the imposter Supergirl is most likely made from the darker aspects of Kara’s personality, will this be more like a Bizarro Supergirl than an alternate-universe Supergirl? How long will it take for Kara to discover her double?
The turning tide | By the end of season three, Kara came to the realization that her new home truly is Earth, despite learning that Argo City is still alive. She’s become more human thanks to living on Earth, but unfortunately an anti-alien sentiment will grow in National City this season, making her home not so accepting of that notion. This racist movement is spearheaded by the new addition of villain Agent Liberty (Sam Witwer), the ruthless and terrifying founder and figurehead of Children of Liberty, a hate group that supports a “human-first world order.” He’s described as “a brilliant orator in the guise of a family man,” and his ability to manipulate people’s opinions might be the most terrifying thing about him. But in the comics, Agent Liberty is actually a conflicted antihero, trained in the CIA but working solo after becoming disenchanted with the government. He frequently assists the Justice League and Superman, working for the greater good. By making him an antagonist for Supergirl because of her alien heritage — but still sticking close to his heroic comic book source material — it could open up some potentially deep and thoughtful political conversations this season.
Time for an upgrade | Supergirl hasn’t had any changes to her look in three seasons, but she’s potentially getting an upgrade this year. In the Comic-Con trailer, there is a brief flash at the end of the footage of a woman, probably Supergirl but maybe her newly revealed clone/double, in a cool new armored suit, complete with helmet. Now, Kara doesn’t need a helmet to breathe in space, so the upgrade is probably for a different reason. There are many instances in the comics of Kryptonian superheroes needing armor and helmets, a lot of times because of kryptonite. Seeing as how Lena (Katie McGrath) can manufacture her own kryptonite and still is experimenting on black kryptonite in secret, the new suit might be necessary for Kara to wear at some point this season. Or maybe she’ll need to to get an upper hand on her double?
A new hero | Supergirl is pushing LGBTQ onscreen representation and inclusion to new heights with transgender activist Nicole Maines joining in the series-regular role of TV’s first transgender superhero, Nia Nal, aka Dreamer. Announced at San Diego Comic-Con, Nia is the newest addition to the CatCo reporting team and previously worked under Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) in Washington, D.C. The soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others will fulfill her destiny as the superhero Dreamer, but Supergirl is putting its own spin on the character. Known in the comics as Nura Nal aka Dream Girl, she is a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th and 31st centuries and hails from the planet Naltor. Supergirl is making her a human, so there’s no telling how she’ll come into her precognitive dream powers (or even if that’s what her powers will be). What will be carried over from the comics is Nura’s strength and boundary-pushing, as she was one of the first female Legion leaders. But what will be most interesting to see is how Supergirl portrays her journey as TV’s first transgender superhero. Expect to see lots of scenes with Maines and Benoist, as Kara takes Nia under her wing, so to speak, and teaches her the ropes of how to be a superhero.
Casting changes | When season four premieres, some familiar faces will be missing from Supergirl. Mon-El (Chris Wood) has returned to the future, effectively putting an end to any fantasy he held about staying in the present with Kara and rekindling their relationship. Wood is not returning to the series this season, and on Mon-El’s way back to the future he took another Supergirl favorite with him. While Legion member Brainiac 5 (Jesse Rath) stayed behind for his own protection (the future is now unsafe for any A.I.), he offered Winn (Jeremy Jordan) his place in the Legion as the resident genius. After debating whether or not to leave his home and friends for the future, Winn accepted (which explains his reduced role next season as he travels to the future).
New faces | A lot of casting additions have been announced in the past few months since Supergirl signed off with the season three finale. In addition to Witwer and Maines, a few more actors have joined the ranks for season four. Check out their character names and descriptions listed below.
Brent Spiner, who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, has been cast in a recurring role as Vice President Baker. That means there’s a high probability he will share scenes with Lynda Carter’s President Olivia Marsdin (if she returns to reprise her role, which would be downright amazing). Spiner’s Vice President Baker, adept and politically minded, makes for an unlikely leader but steps up in a big way when his country needs him most.
April Parker Jones (Jericho, The Last Ship) will play Colonel Haley, a hardline career military woman. Colonel Haley lives and dies by the orders of her commanding officers. Dedicated to her country, she always acts in its best interest — even if it’s not her own.
David Ajala (Doctor Who, Nightflyers, The Dark Knight) will play the recurring role of Manchester Black, based on the iconic DC Comics character. Described as the type of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight and still walks away the winner, Manchester Black has a dark past but easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humor.
Rhona Mitra (Boston Legal, The Last Ship) will play Mercy Graves, an ex-CADMUS agent/bodyguard who has always believed in human exceptionalism. But with both Lex and Lillian Luthor in prison, Mercy is stepping out of the Luthor shadow and running her own show. With her biting wit and lethal brawn, Mercy steadily becomes a key figure in National City’s growing ‘human-first’ movement.
Robert Baker (Grey’s Anatomy, The Originals) will play Otis Graves, Mercy’s brother and right-hand man. What he lacks in brains, he makes up for with his savant-like abilities to assassinate aliens.
Passing the baton | There will be some massive changes in leadership at the DEO this season, as J’onn J’onnz (David Harewood) decided to take his father’s dying words of wisdom to heart and left his job as head of the DEO to live among the people of Earth. He disappeared into the crowds of National City after handing the reins of the DEO over to Alex (Chyler Leigh), who had just tried to tender her resignation in order to become a mother (via adoption). Now Alex will step down from being in the field for the “much safer” position of the head of the DEO, thereby not putting herself in so much danger so that she can be a responsible mother at some point in the future. There’s still no telling what exactly J’onn will be doing out in the world and how his story will connect to all the other Supergirl characters, or if his narrative change will result in a diminished role for Harewood this season.
Newfound infamy | James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) threw his life into chaos in the season three finale by unmasking publicly as Guardian. He realized that showing his face and humanity behind the mask helped give hope to the people he was saving. Now that his secret identity has been exposed, his life is going to drastically change. Either the public will accept him (which they might at first before turning on him), or he will more likely face public hatred like Oliver (Stephen Amell) has on Arrow.
Another potential villain | The Supergirl season three finale dropped a tease that excited fans of the comic books by hinting at Brainy’s “evil relative” who is hellbent on destroying all other A.I.’s except himself in the future. This is obviously Brainiac, the iconic supervillain from the comics who is second only to Lex Luthor of all of Superman’s adversaries. Teasing this character means season four will most likely introduce him, especially now that Rath has been promoted to series regular. Expect more Brainy-centric storylines next season, which could potentially result in a one-off appearance for Winn to return from the future.