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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dichen Lachman Cast as Roulette in Supergirl S2

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One of the interesting things about Supergirl is that they’ve done a good job of introducing villainous super women to compliment all their heroic women.  Woman super villains are actually still a pretty major rarity in the world of superheroes and especially in comic book adaptations.  I mean, across the vast gulf of superhero movies we’ve had since Superman in 1978 there are only about five female villains of note in the entire run.  What's more, a good chunk of those women are henchwomen like Ursa from Superman 2, Faora from Man of Steel, Mystique from X-Men 1 and 2, or Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy

Meanwhile, Supergirl featured General Astra as its main antagonist along with classic Superman foes like Livewire and Silver Banshee plus some more obscure woman counterparts to Superman foes like Indigo instead of Brainiac and Bizarro Supergirl.  Now, the show adds another woman villain and one of the truly vile and the villainous master criminals of that niche genre- Roulette, played by Dichen Lachman.

Roulette is such a perfect fit for Supergirl I’m honestly surprised it took them a full season to rope her into things.  She’s one of the few DC women super villains that ranks as a full on arch-villain, the type that has henchmen and master plans instead of just running around robbing banks like the previously featured Live Wire and Silver Banshee.  What’s more, Roulette cuts to a unique subset of comics seldom explored in the adaptations- the super-ification of everyday actions. 

Super-ification is where stuff that we take for granted as everyday activities must come to terms with co-existing alongside a world of super-powered apes and casual time travel.  A good example of this is from Marvel’s She-Hulk comics where she’s working as a lawyer and has to confront legal questions of responsibility, intent, and consent in a world of mind control, super-pheromones, and gamma rays that make you evil.  In the case of Roulette, it’s pretty much all in the name- she’s tied to the world of super powered gambling.

Gambling, casinos, and games of chance are actually a pretty common point of interest for super-ified aspects of everyday life, especially for DC.  Roulette is easily the most ambitious example of this as she had created an entire, massive underground entertainment complex.  Known as ‘The House,’ Roulette’s casino of crime featured your standard array of slot machines and blackjack tables, but its main attractions were a collection of challenge arenas where heroes would be forced to compete for super villain amusement.  There was a central gladiatorial arena where heroes got doped up on aggressor drugs and were forced to fight along with an indoor jungle racetrack and a human-sized chessboard where the loser got electrocuted.

It’s a brilliant supervillain concept and one of the coolest ideas in DC’s large cannon.  It also comes from the colossal Geoff Johns/David Goyer run on Justice Society of America, basically making Roulette a convergence of my favorite comic book elements.  However, the size and scope of her operation might be a little harsh to adapt to Supergirl especially given season 2’s reduced budget in the wake of moving to CW.  What seems more likely is that Roulette will be revamped into a version closer to her role on Justice League Unlimited, where she ran a super villain fight club that later branched out into mind controlled superheroes. 

The tricky thing about Roulette, however, is that her character and history are tied to an entirely different hero from Supergirl- Mr. Terrific.  In that same Justice Society story that introduced Roulette it was established she was the granddaughter of the original Mr. Terrific, a mystery man from the ‘40s named Terry Sloane who mastered all manner of skills.  That ended up her key animating ethos, both honoring her grandfather’s maxim of mastery and ambition while also actively fighting to defeat the new Mr. Terrific as well as the reformed Justice Society.

While the JSA is coming to CW, I don’t think they’re already planning to capitalize on that, especially given Mr. Terrific is already being set-up on Arrow for their fifth season.  Given that, I would expect Roulette to have a new origin of some kind on Supergirl.  

However, there is a pretty clear track to take on that front.  See, one of the biggest and most obvious Superman foes that Supergirl hasn’t yet adapted is the criminal organization Intergang.  Intergang are an incredibly useful group to have on hand in that they’re essentially the mafia but super powerful alien technology provided to them by Darkseid, God of Evil from the planet Apokolips.

Even though Roulette was never part of Intergang, they did end up cribbing from her scheme with a series of super villain sports bars that were set-up with live camera feeds to superhero battles that the clientele would bet on.  

Given that connection and a later story where the Intergang run ‘Club Darkseid’ forced various Teen Titans to fight for their amusement, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roulette ended up the new head of Intergang for Supergirl season 2 instead of going with the stereotypical mamaluke bruiser Bruno Manheim.

Supergirl season 2 premieres on October 10, 2016

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