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Friday, August 12, 2016

Supergirl Season 2 Casts Chris Wood as Mon-El

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Edited by Robert Beach 

As the slow drip of Supergirl season 2 information continues to nurture the dedicated fans of the show, it seems one of Season 1’s biggest mysteries has finally been solved. If you missed the season 1 finale, the ending teased a major reveal when Kara found what appeared to be a second Kryptonian pod with an unknown occupant within. Now we seem to have our answer as to who was inside the pod: Mon-El AKA Lar Gand AKA Valor, a Daxamite hero of the 31st century played by Chris Wood, who you probably don’t know from anything. 

It’s a pretty major revelation for Supergirl as Mon-El marks the second super powerful being the show has added in its second season after Superman. Counting Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian, this brings the total number of alien heroes on Supergirl to a staggering 5. But just who is Mon-El and what does his presence mean for the girl of steel? Let’s find out. 

The first thing to understand about Mon-El is that his history is tied to a group called the Legion of Superheroes, a team with at least 3 discrete origin stories. That connection makes Mon’s own story more than a little complicated, so you’re going to have bear with me in terms of the “what’s this guy’s real story?” segment. One of the major consistent things about Mon-El is that he’s part of an alien race known as the Daxamites. 

The Daxamites are an off-shoot of the Kryptonians with a similar physiology. Like the Kryptonians, they gain incredible power under the yellow sun, and they’re also weak to a specific substance. Rather than radioactive ore, they’re rendered vulnerable to lead. This was always a key part of Mon-El’s origin in the comics as he was a Daxamite scientist and explorer who witnessed Krypton’s destruction and went looking for the lost son Kal-El. That was Mon’s origin. 

He came to Earth, so he could meet and become friends with Superman. He encountered Clark when they were both young boys and became such good friends that he even decided to adopt a Kryptonian name, rejecting his doofy original name of Lar Gand and taking the name Mon-El to show he was Clark’s brother. Unfortunately for Mon, he contracted lead poisoning almost immediately and would have died if Superman hadn’t place him into the phantom zone. 

While Superman searched for a cure to Mon’s illness, he remained in a state of phantasmal stasis for centuries, only being released from the zone in the distant 31st century when people finally developed a cure for his lead poisoning. After emerging from the zone, Mon-El joined the inter-planetary superhero team the Legion of Superheroes, a group of teenage super beings from across the cosmos that were basically alien X-Men. 

How much of that will actually make it into Supergirl is pretty questionable. It’s worth noting that Supergirl has, so far, reworked a lot of the Superman mythos to make major events about Kara rather than Clark. Stuff like Bizarro and Red Kryptonite happened for the first time ever in this universe when they happened to Kara. Those are her stories in this continuity and not Superman’s. 

That could be the case with Mon-El, having him encounter Earth for the first time looking for Kara because of his ties to Argo City. I definitely think Mon-El will end up in stasis sooner or later, just as a way to excuse him from needing to engage in every crisis much the same way Supergirl had to write themselves out of Martian Manhunter being present for every smack down. 

One way the show could do this, given the Phantom Zone isn’t an option, would be to send Mon-El into the future. The Legion of Superheroes has been established in Supergirl when we saw the Legion flight ring in the Fortress of Solitude, so we know that’s an option for the second season as a way to shelve Mon-El if they need to.  Alternatively, Mon could be coming from the future in this continuity as a way to completely circumvent his weird stasis situation. 

I suspect that wherever Mon-El is coming from he’s probably coming to Earth to warn against oncoming calamity, most likely in the form of Brainiac.  At the end of Supergirl season 1, it was established the super villain Indigo had made contact with the Brainiac AI and implied the computer menace had been summoned to Earth. Setting up Mon-El as the last survivor of a world already ravaged by Brainiac or a heroic time traveler trying to save the future would be a smart way to tie him to a season-long arc. Additionally, it also frames him as a mentor and friend rather than a super-powered crutch. 

It’s also possible that Mon-El will be tied to CADMUS, the secret US Government research black site that was established in season 1 to be hunting for the Martian Manhunter. CADMUS is already getting talked up as the central antagonists of season 2, so it’s possible Mon-El is one of the alien superheroes in their clutches.  Also, Mon-El has a more recent history of teaming up with CADMUS’ in-house superhero the Guardian, whose civilian identity was also set-up in season 1. 

If Supergirl wanted to add a level of ambiguity to CADMUS, they could have Mon-El be the agency's answer to Superman, an equally powered super being directly loyal to the government rather than an independent agent. It’d be in line with the animated iteration of CADMUS seen in Justice League Unlimited, and that’s considered the best version of these guys. 

There’s also the possibility that Mon-El’s presence indicates an overall shift towards the Legion of Superheroes 31st century. So far, the future remains a relatively unmapped terrain for the CW-verse with the sole exception being the dark tomorrows glimpsed in Legends of Tomorrow. Launching Supergirl into the distant future could be a great way to help her stand out, especially given how much the Legion of Superheroes future fits into the series overall place in the CW-verse as “the alien/space show” of their stable. 

Supergirl has enjoyed a pretty storied history of Legion of Superheroes collaborations, much like her cousin, so at the very least, it’d be cool to see her check out the world of tomorrow for an episode. What’s more, CW has already adapted the Legion once before in Smallville so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to do it again. Actually, if Supergirl wanted a neat way to feature Superman without Tyler Hoechlin, they could have Supergirl team-up with the young Superboy who served as one of the founding Legionnaires. 

There are a lot of other details about Mon-El’s various reboots and retoolings (the Legion has been through somewhere around 5 re-imaginings; none of them any more definitive than the last.) I’d say the one most likely to really stick for Supergirl is the Valor origin.  Valor was a more contemporary version of Mon-El without the lead poisoning. The idea was that Valor’s father had died attempting to save the Earth, so he decided to commit himself to ideals of heroism. 

Traveling to a yellow star to gain super powers as well, Valor became a Superman to the galaxy, averting crisis and defending the weak and forming the very primitive origins of the United Federation of Planets. Having this Mon-El on hand would be a great way to get around having to deal with the Phantom Zone or the future by just having him be an outer space Superman who’s passing through our Solar System to try and help out against some looming threat. 

Supergirl season 2 beings October 10, 2016

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