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We don't do it for the glory. We don't do it for the recognition... We do it because it needs to be done. Because if we don't, no one else will. And we do it even if no one knows what we've done. Even if no one knows we exist. Even if no one remembers we ever existed
~ Supergirl

Kara Zor-El, also known as Supergirl, Linda Danvers, Linda Lang or Kara Danvers among other aliases, is Superman's female counterpart and one of the major heroines of the DC Universe.

Although there has been several heroines known as Supergirl through the history of DC Comics, Kara Zor-El, Superman's Kryptonian cousin and fellow survivor, is the best known version. Kara was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino in 1959, first appearing in Action Comics #252. Her eponymous backup strip ran from Action Comics #252-376 and Adventure Comics #381-424. Then she starred in an eponymous comic book series which debuted in 1972 and ran until 1974, followed by a run in the Superman Family magazine and a second monthly comic book series titled The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, which ran from 1982 to 1984. Kara got killed in 1985 and was brought back in 2004, and has starred in her own book since. Two of her replacements got her own books in the interim.

Supergirl has branched out into animation, film, television, video games and merchandising. In 2013, Supergirl placed 17th on IGN's list of the greatest DC comics superheroes, stating "she was an early example of a female sidekick developing a large fanbase in her own right", and "Supergirl has been one of DC's most powerful heroes, and a standard to hold other female heroes against." Supergirl was portrayed by Helen Slater in the 1984 film Supergirl. The character was portrayed by Laura Vandervoort in the television series Smallville. Kara Danvers is portrayed by Melissa Benoist in the Arrowverse television series Supergirl.

Kara Zor-El

Before the Krypton's destruction, Jor-El's brother Zor-El developed a protective shield dome around a Kryptonian settlement known as Argo City. Said dome saved Argo City when Krypton exploded, but it couldn't prevent the soil from turning radioactive because of the explosion. The Argoans coated the ground in lead and prepared for surviving in space via food-replicating and oxygen-reciclating machines. During that time, Zor-El met and fell in love with a woman called Allura In-Ze -sometimes spelled as "Alura", and had a child whom they named Kara, after Kryptonian Goddess of Beauty.

Fifteen years later, a meteor storm struck the dome and shredded the shield coating, exposing Argoans to Kryptonite radiation. Zor-El attempted and was unable to save the Argoans, so he and Alura set out to save their daughter. In the past they had used a telescopic device to look for other worlds where their people could settle in, and they learned of the existence of Superman. Hurriedly, Zor-El built a rocket and sent Kara to Earth.

Kara met Kal-El shortly after landing and revealed she was his cousin. Even though Superman was overjoyed he couldn't take his teenager cousin in, so he took her to an orphanage in a town named Midvale and asked her to keep her existence a secret as he trained her. For many months, Kara lived in the Midvale Orphanage under the name "Linda Lee" as operating as Midvale's mysterious "guardian angel". Eventually, Linda was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers shortly before Superman revealed her existence to the world.

In the subsequent years, Linda would graduate from school and Stanhope College. She constantly moved cities and changed jobs (photographer, student advisor, actress...), joined the Legion of Superheroes and forged friendships with other heroes, mainly Batgirl. She was also romantically involved with fellow Legionnaire Brainiac 5.

Unfortunately, in 1985 Kara died in combat to save Superman's life and the entirety of the Multiverse from the Anti-Monitor In Chicago the supers held a memorial Service as she was laid to rest in the comics Crisis on Infinite Earths. At that time, DC Comics had decided Superman should be the sole survivor of Krypton's destruction, ergo Kara Zor-El wouldn't exist in the new universe, and unlike Barry Allen's sacrifice, her death wouldn't be remembered.

In the early 2000's, though, DC Comics went back on their decision, and Kara Zor-El was reintroduced into DC Comics continuity in The Supergirl from Krypton, a storyline narrated in the Superman/Batman book, which preceeded her own title.

Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El was actually fifteen years older than Superman. When Argo City was attacked by Brainiac, Zor-El and Allura sent her to Earth to save her life, asking her taking care of her cousin. Unfortunately, her rocket got stuck into an asteroid field, and Kara was put in suspended animation until her rocket crashed into Gotham City Bay thirty-five years later. Kara was found by Superman and Batman, and even though her cousin wanted to take her in immediately, Wonder Woman talked Superman into letting her take Kara to Themyscira for a while to train her. Kara became an honorary Amazon, and joined the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Teen Titans and the Justice League.

When the Flashpoint event recreated the DC Universe, Kara's history was changed again. In the new reality she was more insolated and angrier, to the point she joined the Red Lantern Corps in the Red Daughter of Krypton saga to learn how to overcome her psychological issues. Later she was adopted by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers and became National City's protector.


Prior to Kara Zor-El's appearance, DC toyed with the idea of creating a female version of Superman. Most of them were (often imaginary) stories where Lois Lane or Lana Lang gained powers. For example, in both Action Comics #60 (May 1943) and Action Comics #156 (May 1951), Lois accidentally gains Kryptonian powers and calls herself "Superwoman".

  • Lucy of Borgonia — In Superboy #5 (November–December 1949) in a story titled "Superboy Meets Supergirl", Superboy meets Queen Lucy of Borgonia, and uses his powers to convince the folks of Smallville that Lucy is a kind of Supergirl.
  • Claire Kent — In the Superboy #78 story titled "Claire Kent, Alias Super-Sister", Superboy saves an alien woman named Shar-La from a life-threatening crashing. After he ridicules her driving, Shar-La turns Superboy into a girl. In Smallville, Clark Kent (Superboy's alter-ego) claims to be Claire Kent, an out-of-town relative who is staying with the Kents. When in costume, he plays Superboy's sister, Super-Sister, and claims the two have exchanged places. As a girl ridiculed and scorned by men, he wants to prove he is as good as he always was. In the end, it is revealed that the transformation is just an illusion created by Shar-La. Superboy learns not to ridicule women.
  • Super-Girl — In Superman #123 (August 1958), Jimmy Olsen uses a magic totem to wish a "Super-Girl" into existence as a companion and helper for Superman; however, the two frequently get in each other's way until she is fatally injured protecting Superman from a Kryptonite meteor that a criminal has dropped towards him. At her insistence, Jimmy wishes the dying girl out of existence.

DC used this story to gauge public response to the concept of a completely new female counterpart to Superman. In the original issue, she has blond hair and her costume is blue and red like Superman's; indeed, it closely resembles the uniform that actress Helen Slater would later wear in the 1984 movie. Early reprints of this story show her with red hair and an orange and green costume to prevent readers from confusing her with the then current Supergirl character. Much later, the story was again reprinted in its original form.

One year later, DC introduced Kara. Reaction at the D.C. Comics offices to Supergirl's first appearance was tremendous, with thousands of positive letters pouring in. The first published of these letters, in the August 1959 issue of Action Comics (#255), was written by an eleven-year-old from Garland, Texas named Dave Mitchell, who would go on to become a well-known Miami radio personality.

Post-Crisis versions

DC Editorial wanted Superman to be the only surviving Kryptonian following DC's post-Crisis reboot of the Superman continuity. As a result, when DC reintroduced Supergirl, she needed a non-Kryptonian origin. Afterward, DC Comics tried to revamp the Supergirl concept, introducing several more non-Kryptonian Supergirls. Eventually, the rule that Superman should be the only Kryptonian survivor was relaxed, allowing for a return of Kara Zor-El as his cousin.


After the post-Crisis reboot in the late 1980s, Supergirl's origin was completely rewritten. No longer was she Superman's cousin or even Kryptonian. In Superman v2, #16 (April 1988), a new Supergirl debuted as an artificial shape-shifting protoplasmic lifeform created by a heroic Lex Luthor of a "pocket universe". Matrix wore a female version of Superman's costume and had similar powers, including telekinesis, shape-shifting and invisibility.

Matrix lived in Smallville with the Kents for a while, and later began a romance with the man who she believes to be Lex Luthor's heroic son but in reality is Lex Luthor himself. Matrix was his lover and bodyguard until she finally realized his villainous nature. Matrix dumped Lex and started to bond with other heroes as trying to find herself.


Before then, though, writer Keith Giffen created Laurel Gand, a. k. a. Andromeda, as a replacement for Supergirl in the Legion. Laurel's backstory was identical to Kara's, except for being a Daxamite and cousin of Mon-El.

Kara of Odiline

In 1995, writer Dan Jurgens penned the first Superman vs Aliens crossover where he introduced a blonde and blue-eyed female alien called Kara, born in planet Odiline and raised in a town called Argo City, named after the original Kryptonian city. This character, though, wouldn't be seen again after this mini-series.

Matrix/Linda Danvers

Finally in September 1996, DC began publishing a Supergirl title written by Peter David. Wandering over the USA, Matrix arrived at a town named Leesburg, and discovered a Satanist girl called Linda Danvers had been murdered by her own fellow cultists. In order to save her life, Matrix merged with Linda and became an "Earth-Born Angel", a being created when someone selflessly sacrifices him or herself to save another who is beyond saving. As the angel, Supergirl loses some of her powers, but gains others, including fiery angel wings and a "shunt" ability that allows her to teleport to any place she has been before.

Eventually Linda and Matrix are separated, but Linda keeps some powers such like enhanced strength and durability. In the Many Happy Returns story arc, a reality-displaced Kara Zor-El arrives in the new reality. Linda tries to save Kara from her fate but she fails. Dejected, Linda relinquishes the role of Supergirl, sends a farewell note to Superman, and takes off for parts unknown.


A Supergirl named Cir-El appeared in 2003's Superman: The 10 Cent Adventure #1, claiming to be the future daughter of Superman and Lois Lane. Although she has super-strength, speed, and hearing like Superman, she can only leap great distances. She also possesses the ability to fire blasts of red solar energy. Her alter ego is a street person named Mia. She is later found to be a human girl who was altered by Brainiac on a genetic level to appear Kryptonian; she dies thwarting a plot involving Brainiac 13. Superman (vol. 2) #200 implies that when the timeline realigned itself, Cir-El was erased from existence.

Supporting characters

Even though Supergirl is a Superman supporting character, she is also a Superman Family member, with her own set of supporting characters.

  • Zor-El and Alura In-Ze – Kara Zor-El's biological parents. Zor-El, the younger brother of Jor-El, is a scientist who invents the dome over Argo City and oversees the placement of lead shielding over the ground of Argo City, thus enabling the city's residents to survive the explosion of Krypton. The city drifts in space for about 15 years, the residents clinging to a precarious existence. During that time, the couple have a daughter, Kara, who grows to about the age of 10 or 12, when the city is put in peril when its lead shielding is punctured by meteors, releasing deadly Kryptonite radiation. At this point, Zor-El and Alura In-Ze place Kara in a rocket ship and send her to Earth, which Zor-El had observed using a powerful electronic telescope. Observing a super-powered man resembling his brother Jor-El, and wearing a uniform of Kryptonian styling, Zor-El (and Alura In-Ze) conclude the man is probably their nephew, Kal-El, sent through space by Jor-El when Krypton exploded and now grown to adulthood. In later Silver Age accounts, Zor-El and Alura In-Ze survive the death of Argo City when, shortly before the radiation reached lethal levels, Zor-El projects them both into the immaterial Survival Zone, a separate dimension resembling the Phantom Zone; later they are released from the Zone and go to live in the bottle city of Kandor, preserved in microscopic size at Superman's Fortress of Solitude. In the Silver Age version of the continuity, Supergirl could regularly visit with both her adoptive parents, the Danvers (see below), and her birth parents.
  • Streaky the Supercat – Supergirl's pet cat. In the pre-Crisis continuity, he is named after a jagged horizontal stripe of lighter fur on his side, and acquires super-powers after exposure to X-Kryptonite. In post-Crisis continuity, she is a normal housecat Supergirl takes in, whose name is taken from her inability to understand the concept of a litterbox.
  • Comet the Superhorse – Pre-Crisis Supergirl's horse is a centaur accidentally cursed by Circe into being trapped in the form of a horse. In post-Crisis continuity, Comet is a superhero who is a romantic interest of Linda Danvers.
  • Fred and Edna Danvers – The foster parents of pre-Crisis Supergirl. Shortly after they adopt Linda Lee from the Midvale orphanage, Superman reveals his cousin's identity to them, so they are aware of her powers. Later, they also learn that Superman is secretly Clark Kent.
  • Dick Malverne – An orphan at the Midvale Orphanage who is one of Pre-Crisis Supergirl's romantic interests. While living at the orphanage as Linda Lee, Supergirl meets and befriends fellow orphan, Dick Wilson. Dick suspects that Linda is secretly Supergirl and constantly tries to prove it. Later, Dick is adopted by a couple named Malverne, and changes his name to Dick Malverne. In the post-Crisis continuity, Dick Malverne is a newly arrived resident of Leesburg who befriends Linda Danvers.
  • Jerro the Merboy – A merperson from Atlantis who is another of pre-Crisis Supergirl's romantic interests. Superman has a similar relationship with mermaid Lori Lemaris.

In other media

In the seventh season (2007–2008) of the CW's hit show, Smallville, Kara is introduced into the cast and was portrayed by Laura Vandervoort. Smallville depicts her as Clark's (Tom Welling) cousin, whose spacecraft became trapped in stasis until the events of the sixth season finale, when the destruction of the dam that the ship had landed nearby disrupted the stasis systems and allowed Kara to wake up. Much of season seven is concerned with Kara's attempts to adjust to life on Earth, especially after learning of Krypton's destruction and the fact that her 'younger' cousin is now at least the same age as her.

Her storyline sees her simultaneously become the object of Lex Luthor's ) obsessions- after she saved him from drowning in the dam's destruction- and Jimmy Olsen's affections, suffer a bout of amnesia, discover her father's (Christopher Heyerdahl) sinister motives and become a target of evil android Brainiac. In the season finale, Kara becomes trapped in the Phantom Zone, and Vandervoort was no longer a regular in the show's eighth season (2008–2009). However, she made one guest appearance in the episode "Bloodline", where Clark and Lois are transported to the Phantom Zone and return with Kara. At the end of the episode, she leaves Smallville to search for Kandor. Laura Vandervoort returned for episode three of season ten, "Supergirl", which aired on October 8, 2010.

Kara saves a group of people at an anti-hero rally led by Gordon Godfrey. In the episode, she is sent by Jor-El to become known with the people of Earth. She also tells Clark that Jor-El has dissowned him. Kara also tries to teach Clark how to fly while at the farm. At the end of the episode, Kara saves Clark from being infected by Darkseid. Kara returns in "Prophecy", the series' penultimate episode, trapped in a cave containing the Bow of Orion. Rescued by Oliver Queen, they work together to get the item. However, before they do, Kara is summoned by Jor-El to the Fortress of Solitude, where she is told she can either help Clark and therefore alter his destiny, or she can leave Earth and face her own. Floating in front of Watchtower's window, she says a tearful goodbye to Clark, who does not know she's there, and puts on the Legion ring, disappearing into a purple light and into a time and place the audience is never shown.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, a direct-to-video animated film released in September 2010, largely parallels the origin-story arc launched in the Superman/Batman comic series in 2004, with some minor plot differences. Kara Zor-El, voiced by Summer Glau, is described unambiguously as Kal-El's cousin from Krypton.

Supergirl appears in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.



I don't give up hope
~ Supergirl in Injustice 2
Because I've known pain but I've also known love. And the people here are my family. I may have been born on Krypton but I have chosen earth. And I will protect until my last breath.
~ Supergirl in the CW tv series
I mean you no harm. There's always a better way.
~ Supergirl
Besides, I could do with the time to myself... to sit back and think. It's selfish, I know, but I deserve... Whoa! There you go again, Linda! There's nothing selfish about wanting to get into yourself for a while instead of thinking about the whole blasted world! I do enough of that as Supergirl — and wasn't the whole reason for this move... to give myself space to be just plain Linda Danvers?
~ Supergirl
Some of us try hard to make the world a better place than it was when we found it. I know that's what I try to do. I won't always be successful. But that's life. I'm Supergirl. This is my life ... and y'know what? I'm pretty happy with it. (For now at least.)
~ Supergirl
Your heartbeat says you're lying.
~ Supergirl




  • Ranked 93th greatest comic book superhero by IGN.
  • Ranked 17th greatest DC comic superhero by IGN in 2013.
  • Ranked 153rd by Wizard magazine in the greatest comic book character of all time.



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