The hourlong drama, which received a hefty series commitment, centers on Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who was born on the planet Krypton and escaped amid its destruction years ago. Benoist will play Kara, who after arriving on Earth was taken in by a foster family who taught her to be careful with her extraordinary powers (which she shares with her famous cousin, Superman).
The story picks up with Kara, now 24, feeling un-empowered and a slave to having repressed her innate abilities. An unexpected disaster forces her to use her powers in public. Energized by her heroic deed, for the first time in her life, Kara begins embracing her extraordinary abilities. She begins helping the people of her city and they soon take notice — and she’s even given a new moniker: Supergirl.
Benoist becomes the latest actress to portray the character, who was previously portrayed on the big screen by Helen Slater, and most recently played on the small screen by Laura Vandervoort on The CW’s Superman origin story Smallville.
The Glee actress was one of many actresses to test for the role, edging out The Vampire Diaries/The Originals’ Claire Holt, and Once Upon a Time’s Elizabeth Lail, among others, for the part.
Benoist joined Fox’s Glee during season four, as Marley Rose, one of McKinley High’s new students after the musical’s senior class graduated. She was promoted to series regular ahead of season five and had been considered the heir apparent to star Lea Michele’s Rachel on the series before the musical was retooled.
CBS head Nina Tassler shared her first impressions of the project at the network’s recent TCA Winter Press Tour presentation: “She embodied so many of the characteristics of classic female heroines on the network… We fell in love with the pitch.” At the time, casting was not yet complete, but Tassler told reporters, “We’re looking for quality, charisma. She’s got to be everywoman.” The character’s iconic costume has been designed by Colleen Atwood, who also created the updated looks for Stephen Amell’s Arrow and Grant Gustin’s Flash.
Supergirl will not be the first time Benoist has played a superhero. The actress donned a cape as “Woman Fierce” in Glee‘s “Dynamic Duets” episode in which the glee club channeled their inner super hero. (Watch her performance of “Holding Out for a Hero,” below.)
Arrow and Flash’s Greg Berlanti (who we’ve loved since his Dawson’s Creek days) and his No Ordinary Family cohort Ali Adler (The New Normal) will pen the script and executive produce the drama.
Benoist’s credits include a supporting role in awards season darling Whiplash, (as Miles Teller’s love interest) which is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. and roles on CBS’ Blue Bloods and The Good Wife as well as Showtime’s Homeland. She will next be seen in the film The Longest Ride, opposite Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood, in theaters on April 12.
While TV has been dominated by male comic book heroes in the years since Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” went off the air, a number of female-led properties are currently in production; ABC recently premiered “Marvel’s Agent Carter” starring Hayley Atwell; The CW will debut “iZombie” with Rose McIver in March; and Netflix is currently in development on “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” played by Krysten Ritter.