It's tough to call Supergirl a surprising hit. It's tough because DC often nails its properties on the small screen. Arrow and The Flash are both doing very well, with January's Legends of Tomorrow expected by many to be a great addition to their TV universe.
So no, Supergirl is not a surprising hit. But the way it's delivered is indeed a bit surprising.
DC found a way to present Kara Zor-El as a very relatable and very human character. This is the key to any successful comic book adaptation, one that Marvel has traditionally done very well. It's the one aspect that must be achieved for anyone to really buy in and embrace the product.
Supergirl definitely hits on every level, not only humanizing the character but also presenting her as hip and trendy. Gerg Berlanti has done for Supergirl what JJ Abrams did for the Star Trek franchise; he took a very familiar property and reinvented it for a new generation.
Berlanti has done an amazing job in his role, as he is also the creator of the aforementioned Flash and Arrow series. Supergirl fits amazingly well as the third series and delivers in an abundace of ways.
Melissa Benoist is the biggest plus the show has, as she brings a real childlike approach to the Supergirl character. She has fun being a hero, she enjoys helping people and the job is more than exciting for her. But while she's having the time of her life as Superman's older cousin, she also quickly realizes that it's not exactly a walk in the park.
Supergirl is not very good at what she does. The first few episodes show the difficulties she has handling her powers and also handling the outcry from her home of National City, in which a good number of people don't even want her around.
She's trying to do the right thing while the world around her doubts her. She's criticized for what she does and her agenda is questioned, though she really just wants to protect others. Despite her extraordinary abilities, she's just an ordinary person wanting to make a difference in the world.
Greg Berlanti has transformed Supergirl into a Marvelesque character and that's why it's working.
The biggest complaint that many fans have had with the DC Universe is that their characters are too big, too unbelievable, to be real. Batman is the real person while Bruce Wayne is the mask. Superman is an all-powerful alien that could destroy the planet in a matter of minutes.
There are many parallel worlds with constant time-travelling and larger-than-life characters that have little to no connection to the real world. While most readers expect comics to feature such events, the most basic difference between Marvel and DC is that DC tells stories of superheroes while Marvel tells stories of real people being heroic.
The story of Spider-Man is ultimately not about Spider-Man, it's about Peter Parker. The drama of seeing a normal guy with real problems has been a drawing point of the character from day one and continues to be now. Readers need that base connection with the material and when it's not there, nothing fits.
Marvel takes place in a reality not very different from our own; relatable characters in realistic situations struggling in a world that is impossible to understand at times. It's that fact that keeps readers as well as moviegoers coming back.
This is what Warner Brothers has tapped into with Supergirl. A nearly indestructible alien with fantastic powers that can fly at the speed of light must be grounded and given challenging problems to deal with for the audience to relate. Supergirl does exactly that and like The Flash, it's a fresh take on a classic character.
While Batman v Superman looks to be grand in scale, Supergirl is as down to earth as anything DC has ever done. The series will surely continue to feature aliens, villains and massive fights that can leave smoking craters in the ground.
However at the center of it all is a good girl with a good heart and she's not perfect but she's doing the best she can. That's why Supergirl is good television.