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DRAGON CON - Supergirl Panel 2018 - Renewing My Faith in Fans



It's no secret I am a Supergirl fan. I serve as backup reviewer and this season previewer for the CW show about the Girl of Steel for SpoilerTV. Fellow fans and I have lengthy discussions about Kara/Supergirl, her friends and family and their exploits almost daily. We'll talk about what we like, don't like, our hopes for the new season and so much more. So, it was a great honor for me to able to serve as a panelist on the Supergirl panel at this year's Dragon Con in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.

Dragon Con is considered one of the biggest cons of the year, thousands of fans descend upon Atlanta for a holiday weekend filled with coplay, phot ops, meeting stars, panels and most of all fun. One of the main reasons I attend is because of its commitment to the fans by bringing them not only a wide variety of stars but also organizing and putting on panel discussions of their favorite shows. There is an entire track of panels devoted to shows such as Supergirl, The American Science Fiction and Fantasy Track. The official description of this year's Supergirl panel was – "A season of adjustment as we see loved ones walk away to go on to their own destinies. Reign swept into National City and promptly kicked Supergirl's butt. It's been a busy year with some resolutions, a visit to Argo City and the Legion coming back in time to help Kara Zor-El."

Joining me on the panel were a group of seasoned panel vets and respected bloggers, podcast hosts, and writers from the superhero and Supergirl fandoms. Jon-Paul Estes is the co-host of Old Titans podcast and describes himself as just your average 49-year-old geek. Jeni Green is the writer and creator of the Freedom Style & Fandom blog (www.freestyleandfandom.com), a new lifestyle and fandom blog. Rebecca Johnson is the co-host of the popular Supergirl Radio podcast. A huge shout out to them for making this newbie to panels feel welcome, maybe next year I'll be brave enough to join other panels as you all do.

I will admit a bit of trepidation the day of the panel. I truly wasn't sure what to expect from my fellow panelists or our audience in terms of how the discussion would go. My exposure to the Supergirl fandom was somewhat limited compared to my fellow panelists, to those I encounter on Twitter and occasionally Facebook. As we all know, those outlets can be a toxic minefield if you hold opinions that differ from the more vocal fan factions. Fortunately, my fellow panelists and our great moderator, Wendy Hembrock, host of the Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV podcast, put me at ease and the result was a great hour talking about Supergirl.

To break the ice the panelists talked among ourselves before the hour officially began and discussed such things as what the best episode and what our most and least favorite episodes of the Season 3 of Supergirl were. Hands down, it was agreed that the best episode of the season was Midvale and we all declared we'd be on board to watch a spin-off series of young Kara and Alex Danvers solving crime, particularly if they were played by the excellently cast Izabela Vidovic and Olivia Kikkanen. When it came to a favorite episode there was a bit more discussion with half the panel choosing Schott Through the Heart featuring the amazing Laurie Metcalf and others choosing Reign. When the panel officially began panelists were asked to choose a favorite storyline or character for the season. While one panelist chose Brainiac 5 as their favorite character citing that while the makeup was off, Jesse Rath's characterization of the iconic character's personality was spot on. Two other panelists chose Chyler Leigh's Alex Danvers as the character who had experienced the most growth in the season, citing both her not backing down from what she wanted while taking charge of her life and also her role with Reign and Ruby and especially her unwavering support of J'onn and his father, M'rynn as they dealt with his illness. On the storyline side, the Reign storyline was a strong favorite.

Regarding Reign one panelist admitted they didn't expect to get so attached to Sam/Ruby and fully expected the season to end with Reign dying and Alex adopting Ruby and didn't have a problem with that given how Ruby would have been an established character and had already fit in with the cast. That was the direction I'd also anticipated the storyline going but agreed with the panel's conclusion that several things happened that sent that storyline in a different direction that resulted in Sam being saved. The first was that was suspected that the producers, etc. did not anticipate the likeability and fan support for Sam that actress Odette Anable brought to the role, and second, that a major part of the storyline came from ousted producer Andrew Kreisberg and was changed to distance the show from him. Audience members and panelists alike were intrigued to see the show follow up on Alex's desire for motherhood. One panelist suggested they'd like to see Alex adopt an alien child given her experience in helping to raise Kara.

Other highlights of the season the panel discussed were all the fabulous guest stars the show had, the great family moments, that moderator Hembrock accurately described as one of the standout things that Supergirl gets right. And while the panel and audience members praised the season for once again relying on the heart of the show, the relationship of the Danvers Sisters, the majority felt there could have been more and hope that focus continues in Season 4.

Also, in the getting it right column was the Lena/Kara/Supergirl dynamics and the panel came to the conclusion that perhaps Lena is avoiding accepting she knows that Kara is Supergirl. One of the panelists backed Lena in her stance against Supergirl and her superiority about Kryptonite. They praised the show for showcasing Lena's strengths of her compassion and intelligence, particularly while she was trying to help Sam. And the group and audience loved the irony that once again Miss Tessmacher is working for a Luthor and hope we see more of her next season.

The panel agreed that while the show is called Supergirl and she was extra "Supergirly" this season, the MVP of the season was Alex in how she was described by one panelist as the "glue that holds a lot of the characters together" and another pointing out the fact that the "one without powers was holding up the ones with powers" in the way she was there to support not only Kara but J'onn and Sam/Reign. A discussion of the third season would be incomplete without the inclusion of the Crisis on Earth X crossover. Melissa Benoist drew high praise for her work for her dual roles and that experience was likely to be beneficial for the upcoming Red Daughter storyline announced for Season 4. It was agreed the whole crossover's action and fight scenes were the best of any DC fight scenes on film or television last year. There was also strong support for seeing Alex and Sara work together.

While most of the panel was aware that actor Chris Woods had signed just a two-year contract and had no issues with him being written off again, they did agree that one of the show's missteps this season was in the handling of the Legion of Superheroes. They liked the more grown-up, responsible and mature Mon-El that returned. Other missteps include the visit to Argo city. The lingering question was asked didn't someone think to let Clark/Kal-El know that there were other Kryptonians still alive? And also the continued misuse of the James Olsen character. As one of my fellow panelists put it, it “the show’s not perfect but we love it.”

To wrap up the panel we were asked what we were looking forward to or what our hopes were for Season 4. Among the responses were: more development of Brainiac 5 and hopes that storyline might follow comic book canon more; the Red Daughter storyline; hopes that J'onn J'onzz leaving the DEO means again following a DC canon storyline of making him a detective which would keep him close to his space family; what happens to James Olsen after his revelation as The Guardian; seeing Alex as the new director of the DEO and her continued pursuit of motherhood, and finally a unanimous agreement that the next Arrowverse crossover needs to take place on Supergirl's Earth!

Thank you again to Wendy, Jon-Paul, Jenni, Rebecca and the coordinator of the Dragon Con American Science Fiction and Fantasy track Kellen-Kelley Harkins for allowing me to be a part of this fun discussion. Hopefully, you'll invite me back to be on another Supergirl panel at DragonCon in 2019! If there was one big thing that I took away from this panel, it's that I've had my faith restored in the Supergirl fandom. As the panel progressed I came to the realization that the Supergirl fandom extends far beyond those I am exposed to on Facebook and Twitter. It's a great big world out there. It is filled with some awesome Supergirl fans that truly love the show and who have a wide variety of interesting opinions and welcome discussing them. So many more of them out there than I'd imagined and that gives me hope.

**Special thank you to my SpoilerTV colleague Aimee Hicks for taking pictures of the panel.

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