We have all started loving comic books and superheroes thanks to some of the most popular superheroes we heard about in our childhood, such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, etc. And as our love for them grew, we got to know the entire expanded lore of those characters, which also introduced us to some amazing female superheroes. One of them is Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl, who is Superman’s cousin. In case you didn’t know, Supergirl is older than Superman, although it may not biologically look that way, and in this article, we’ll tell you how and why.
Chronologically, Supergirl is 15 years older than Superman. Just like Kal-El, Kara Zor-El was also born on Krypton, but unlike him, who was sent to Earth as a baby, she was sent to Earth as a teenager. The catch is that her travel to Earth didn’t go according to plan (the reason for that differs between incarnations), so she spent around two decades in a suspended animation, which kept her biologically the same age, while Kal-El was raised on Earth. By the time Kara landed on Earth, Kal-El was already a grown-up Superman, while she was biologically still a sixteen-year-old girl that eventually became Supergirl.
Almost every male superhero ever introduced has his own female counterparts. Superman has Supergirl; Batman has Batwoman and Batgirl; Hulk has She-Hulk; Deadpool has Lady Deadpool, etc. Those female counterparts can be family members (cousins are very popular for some reason), but also their love interests, protegees, or alternate selves from other realities. While some of them were introduced long ago, during the Silver and Bronze Ages of comic books, the number of those female superheroes (and their popularity) increased during the Modern Age.
What led to the creation of Supergirl?
As we all know, Superman was one of the first major superheroes ever created. He debuted in the legendary first issue of ‘Action Comics’ in 1938. Batman was introduced a year later, and then Jay Garrick, the original Flash, and Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, followed in 1940. All of them eventually became legendary comic book characters, but the first major female superhero in DC wasn’t introduced before 1941 when Wonder Woman debuted in ‘All Star Comics’ #8.
Even though she isn’t the first female superhero ever, as we all like to think, the popularity of Wonder Woman encouraged comic book writers to create more female superheroes at that time, and the character laid the groundwork for all the female superheroes that were created afterward. With the start of the Silver Age of comic books in 1956, it was time for female superheroes to blossom.
In 1956, DC introduced Kathy Kane, the original Batwoman, and Supergirl first came onto a scene three years later, after several short-term attempts to create a female counterpart to Superman. One of those attempts introduced Super-Girl in 1958, who was wished Jimmy Olsen when he used a magic totem to help Superman. After she was fatally injured protecting Superman from a Kryptonite meteor, the dying superheroine was wished out of existence at her insistence. DC used this story to see how the audience would react to creating a female counterpart of Superman, which led to the creation of Kara Zor-El in 1959.
How old was Kara when Superman was born?
Since Kara Zor-El was first introduced, the character’s origin story has been revised several times. After the character’s original incarnation was killed off in 1985’s ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths.’ In 2004, the character was revived and depicted as the chronologically older cousin of Superman, who was a teenager on planet Krypton when he was born.
Of a combination of circumstances, Kara was sent to Earth, but her journey didn’t go according to plan, so she landed on Earth when Kal-El was already a grown-up Superman, while she remained biologically the same age. Therefore, even though Supergirl looks biologically younger than Superman, she is, in fact, 15 years older than him.
Different origin stories of Supergirl give different answers to why Kara’s journey didn’t go according to plan. One version says her rocket was caught in a kryptonite meteor; ‘The New 52‘ version says that her rocket spent two decades orbiting the Earth’s sun per its programming, and 2015’s TV series says that her pod was knocked off its course and spent 24 years in the Phantom Zone. But regardless of the version, the point still remains; Supergirl is chronologically older than Superman.
Since she spent her childhood among her own people, Kara still has some memories about the Kryptonian civilization, unlike Superman, who left Krypton when he was still a baby. Supergirl’s powers and abilities are the same as Superman’s, making her one of the most powerful superheroines. She can easily overpower most other beings, although that doesn’t necessarily make her more powerful than some other characters that can rival her strength, such as Black Adam, Wonder Woman, Darkseid, and Superman himself.
To this day, the character of Supergirl was adapted to live-action media several times. The original live-action incarnation was played by Helen Slater in 1984. Laura Vandervoort played the character in the ‘Smallville’ series, and Melissa Benoist played Supergirl in the homonymous series between 2015 and 2021. This year, Sasha Calle will debut as the next live-action Supergirl in the DCEU movie ‘The Flash.’ The ‘Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow’ movie is also in development at James Gunn’s DC Studios.
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