PR company handout Superpowers are super. That seems like a fairly straightforward moral for a superhero story. But those narratives, and especially superheroine narratives, often present superpowers as a source not of joy, but of angst and misery.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was constantly angst-ridden over her superpowers, with various characters her boyfriend Riley and her friend Xander insisting that her love life was a mess because she was too strong and self-sufficient. Faith, the vampire slayer who did enjoy her work, was presented as reckless, dangerous and ultimately murderous. On the television show Heroes , guys like Hiro and Peter Petrelli find their powers exhilarating and enjoyable at least intermittently , while Claire Bennett and Niki Sanders mostly see them as burdens which turns them into freaks.
But these are balanced out by heroes such as the Flash, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, who are gleeful and or smug about their super-prowess. Supergirl at first seems like an exception. She actually enjoys using them. Flying is great; having bullets bounce off you is great. Empowerment, Supergirl assures its viewers, is a whole lot of fun. This might make sense if she just gained her abilities in the pilot episode. Supergirl is that doofus.
For reasons that are poorly explained and deeply unconvincing, Kara decided to stop using her powers for years. Somehow, despite a decade of being super, she still is so out of control that she causes an ecological disaster when she tries to use her superstrength to save that oil tanker. Superman knows how to use his powers; Superman is established and awesome.
Supergirl is the enthusiastic but bumbling newbie. But for her to be the hero, sans angst, the series seems to feel it needs to set the bar very low to begin with. A woman can be powerful, and enjoy being powerful — but only if no one, including herself, expects her to be. If Supergirl likes using her abilities, then she must not be in full control of them.