The most controversial character from Supergirl season 2 hasn’t been one of the many villains that Kara has faced. It hasn’t even been her prickly boss (and poor Cat Grant replacement) Snapper Carr. The most divisive character of Supergirl season 2 has been Kara’s boyfriend, Mon-El. Kara’s first romance with James Olsen didn’t exactly reach universal acclaim but the opinion against Mon-El has been fiercely negative. Mon-El is not a perfect character but the issue with him isn’t anything really do with his personality or even Chris Wood’s performance. Mon-El is best when used in a purely supportive role, something that Supergirl season 2 has been reluctant to do.
Learning to Follow, Not Lead
Personally, I’ve never had much of a problem with Mon-El. Supergirl did jump into a romance with Kara and Mon-El way too early. It’s not exactly clear what, if anything, Kara likes about Mon-El romantically but Mon-El is likable and funny enough for me as a character. Still, Mon-El has been used way too much in season 2. Supergirl season 2 is an improvement over season 1 in most areas but it does lack a strong central narrative. The only thing that comes close to that central narrative is Mon-El. Season 2 opened with Kara finding Mon-El in the pod and since he woke up he’s been a driving force of most of the action.
Supergirl is still Kara’s show. Supergirl is front and center in any story that is taking place. Increasingly, though, Supergirl has put Kara in the position of reacting to Mon-El and his actions, rather than doing things on her own. Mon-El hasn’t “replaced” Kara but he has been put on equal footing with her on several occasions, often at the expense of the more established characters. Mon-El has become Kara’s most frequent scene partner as opposed to Alex, which is a real shame because the Kara and Alex dynamic used to be the heart of Supergirl.
There is too much Mon-El in Supergirl but the solution isn’t to kill his character, send him to the Phantom Zone or any other disposal of him. Mon-El works on Supergirl, he just should be used in small and supporting doses. The latest episode of Supergirl, “Ace Reporter,” used Mon-El in the perfect capacity. He was involved throughout but he wasn’t front and center and didn’t detract from anyone else’s screen time. Mon-El is at his best when he is a fun supporting sidekick for Kara, who occasionally bickers with her but it is all lighthearted. The character doesn’t work in the spotlight in some melodramatic romantic squabble with Kara.
The Goofy Sidekick Becoming a Hero
There’s nothing wrong with dramatic Mon-El from an acting standpoint because Chris Wood is a talented man. Kara and Mon-El fighting over everything in their relationship is a drain because Supergirl hasn’t earned an investment in their relationship from the audience. Mon-El crying over how much he loves Kara isn’t horrendous and thanks to Chris Wood’s talent can even be rather moving but it is also rather hollow. There is no real reason to root for the relationship succeeding because it occurred rather suddenly. The character is far better as a goofy support than a romantic lead, at least for the moment.
Mon-El is a character who is growing. He is atoning for the sins of his past and trying to live up the standard that Kara presents as a hero. Supergirl threw the audience and Mon-El into the deep end of this development and it has been a struggle. Supergirl needs to slowly build up to Mon-El becoming a hero and redeeming himself, not try to make it happen as quickly as possible. Supergirl needs to have more of the Mon-El of “Ace Reporter” before they get back to the Mon-El of “Star Crossed” and “Distant Sun,” in which he was the melodramatic romantic lead torn between his love of Kara and fear of his family.
But what do you think? Is Mon-El best when used as a supporting character? Do you think there are real problems with his character or are you fine with how he has been used so far? How much Mon-El do you want moving forward on Supergirl?
Supergirl season 2 airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)