“Wonder Woman” already made the case: the DC Extended Universe is in need of some fresh blood, some actual joy, and some brand-new takes on classic heroes of comic book yore. Make that classic heroines of comic book yore, as the next superhero slated to join the DCEU is Supergirl, best known to audiences as Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El (as is the case with most long-running comic book characters, Supergirl has been thrown many iterations, though Kara remains the traditional version), another Kryptonian refugee with big powers and her own vulnerabilities (including a soft spot for humans). Supergirl is no stranger to the screen – in 1984, Helen Slater starred as the super-powered alien in an eponymous feature film, and The CW recently renewed its fourth season of their Melissa Benoist-starring series. But now it’s time for Supes’ cousin to join the DCEU, care of her very own standalone film, an obvious idea with one giant, glowing question: who is going to play Supergirl? We’ve got some ideas.
This idea works whether or not it’s a musical (and as the CW has already proven, a “Supergirl” musical isn’t the worst idea). The “Moana” voice actress has only one other major credit to her name, but she was arguably one of the best parts of the short-lived NBC series “Rise,” as a hard-luck high school student who still manages to exude positivity and cheer. From Disney princess to superhero? Stranger things have happened.
The vibrant star of such charmers as Netflix hit “Set It Up” and Ry Russo-Young’s low-key great YA adaptation “Before I Fall,” Deutch is the rare kind of Hollywood royalty — she’s the daughter of Lea Thompson and Howard Deutch — who has earned every bit of her accolades. Deutch’s appeal is rooted in her approachability, a girl next door with star power that you can’t help but want to watch, all qualities that have found their way into other on-screen takes on Supergirl.
As “Ozark” viewers know, Julia Garner’s got an incredible talent for spitting out foul-mouthed dialogue with a heaping of pluck and determination. Only the latter qualities would be required for her to play Kara Zor-El, but there’s no doubt that they’d serve her well as she fought for truth, justice, and the American way.
The “Mamma Mia 2” star has no shortage of credits, but one notable characteristic across all her roles is an overwhelming sense of earnestness, an adjective which definitely should be part of any Supergirl’s psychological makeup. Plus, there’s enough rebellion in her to keep her take on Kara from getting too goody-goody — while also selling the cheerfulness which drives the best version of the character.
Andrea Arnold plucked her “American Honey” starlet from obscurity — okay, it was a Florida beach during sprrraaang breaaak — and trusted her to carry an entire film alongside the incendiary likes of Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough. She did it with ease, and her subsequent role – including in this month’s indie overachiever “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” – have emphasized Lane’s bent to do all kinds of stuff with her own signature style. Why not a superhero film built entirely around her, another fish out of water tale like “American Honey,” refracted back for mass consumption?
A modern scream queen with a canny comedic streak, the “Evil Dead” and “Don’t Breathe” actress is able to span genres with ease As the DCEU (presumably) moves away from its earlier bent towards darker stories — and what better heroine to add that than the irrepressible Supergirl? — the role will require someone at home with all kinds of tones in service to one story. Levy’s short career has been all about doing just that.
The “It Follows” breakout made a brief foray into blockbuster films with turns in the ill-fated YA adaptation “The 5th Wave” and the long-awaited sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence,” and while neither of those films panned out in a big way, she’s still got the kind of on-screen presence that could elevate any kind of film, no matter the budget. Her work in “It Follows” was the kind of calling card performance that should land her all kinds of wild roles, including a bonafide superhero.
Few actors of any age are as expressive as the “Diary of a Teenage Girl” star, who brings deep empathy to the most complex of roles. It’s hard to imagine anything more complex than a marooned alien looking to make her mark on a strange new society, and Powley’s rare energy could go miles towards making Kara feel familiar, even as we revel in her wild talents.
Anya Taylor-Joy’s “Split” compatriot has a knack for being the best thing in every project she appears in, from scene-stealing in “The Edge of Seventeen” to heart-breaking in “Columbus.” If anyone is ready for a big, splashy leading role in a massive studio film, it’s Richardson. This is the kind of rising star a studio can build a franchise around, and Richardson possesses the kind of jump-off-the-screen charm that should be a necessity for any Supergirl casting. She’s Supergirl, for goodness sakes, and Richardson is as super as they come.
It’s not hard to imagine that Carrie Bradshaw would consider it a true honor to have an actress who portrayed her teen years assume the mantle of Supergirl. And AnnaSophia Robb isn’t just the former star of “The Carrie Diaries”; she’s also a very funny and committed performer — just watch her “star” in Sofia Coppola’s “The Little Mermaid.” Anyone who can sell a mermaid tale on camera is more than capable of performing some high-flying stunts.
Britt Robertson’s demonstrated a ton of range with the eclectic characters she’s played in the past, from the nasty edges of Sophia on Netflix’s “Girlboss” to the wide-edge world-saving optimist of “Tomorrowland.” For “Supergirl,” she’d have to lean far more towards the latter side of things than the former, but she’s a charming performer who could prove capable of straddling the essential line between naive and worldly. After all, the point of Supergirl isn’t that she doesn’t know the world is bad. The point is that she wants to fix it.
Here’s someone who knows a little bit about delivering big time on the promise of a spinoff story: “Black-ish” actress – turned “Grown-ish” lead! – Shahidi, who is now the star of her very own show all about the wacky weirdness of growing up in a divided America. Sound like someone we know? While Shahidi is best known for her small screen sitcoms roles, she’s been in the limelight for years and is prepping for another huge, demanding part: starring in Ry Russo-Young’s adaptation of the bestselling Nicola Yoon novel “The Sun Is Also a Star.” If you want a star on the rise, a leading lady in the making, Shahidi is a hell of a bet.
It’s rare to watch a child star grow up into a nuanced and compelling actress, but that’s exactly what happened over the course of seven seasons of “Mad Men.” And now, while Kiernan Shipka is transitioning to more adult roles, she’s not showing any fear of playing with genre: Her next big part will be the titular lead of the upcoming Netflix drama “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” based on the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” comics. If she was able to find the time to take on another comic book franchise, “Supergirl” would be a great fit.
Warner Bros. would have to lure Hailee Steinfeld away from her music career and the “Transformers” universe, but her innate pluck has been undeniable since her breakout role in “True Grit,” and she’s already got some superhero experience under her belt as the voice of Spider-Gwen in the upcoming animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Steinfeld could really charm in this role.
When Amandla Stenberg first charmed audiences in “The Hunger Games,” what really stood out about this actor was an inner wit, which combined with the innate goodness of the character made Rue’s death a heartfelt on-screen tragedy. That essential likability would be key to playing the Kryptonian refugee who never backs down from a fight, a quality which Stenberg shares in real life.
“The Witch” and “Split” breakout is clearly comfortable in crazy-sounding films — and, yes, movies about supercharged aliens who come to Earth and want to actually help humans still sound pretty nutty these days — but she’s also consistently able to ground big stories with her soulful acting. Kara Zor-El leads with her heart, so someone like Taylor-Joy, who is able to do that in the most out-there situations, sounds like a neat fit. Plus, she’s already dipped her toe in superhero outings: she’s currently filming Josh Boone’s “The New Mutants,” where she’s set to play Magik.
Perhaps this Supergirl could be, well, a touch more quirky than the rest of her DCEU brethren. Temple has been hitting the indie bricks hard for years, a reliably off-beat actress who makes every role entirely her own, and casting her as a superhero could enable the film to lean into its more strange bits. Supergirl is literally out of this world, and Temple does that kind of thing in her sleep.
Thanks to “The Greatest Showman,” we already know that Zendaya can fly — so really, playing Kara Zor-El is a natural progression, especially when you consider what a badass she is in real life. She may be playing the future love interest of Peter Parker in the Marvel universe, but she wouldn’t be the first actor to cross over to the DC side of things.