Supergirl Introduces The Solar Flare Power

solar flare

Less than a year after it was introduced during Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr.'s run in the comics, CBS's Supergirl has become the first piece of non-comics media to embrace the solar flare, Superman's newest power.

We actually saw the flare itself last episode, when Supergirl "emptied the tank" of her heat vision onto a rogue Red Tornado robot and found herself powerless at the end of the episode.

"She, literally, like, put so much of herself out there to defeat this person that she loses everything and she has this solar flare, so she is rendered powerless in the next episode," explained executive producer Ali Adler during a set visit we attended this week.

It was a clarification of a point made by Andrew Kreisberg, who had teased but not explicitly named the solar flare power as the cause of Supergirl's problems in tomorrow's "Human For a Day."

"it’s something that actually, it’s, sort of, new from the comics. It was a Geoff Johns idea, which was that Superman's -- or any Kryptonian‘s -- cells are, basically, suffused with solar radiation and that’s where they get their powers from and the heat vision is an expulsion of that energy," Kreisberg had said. "You could actually just, basically, run out and you would need to recharge. I was such a fan of that comic and that run and talked to Geoff and said, 'Could we do something with that?' and he was like, 'Absolutely!'"

The idea of Superman as a "living solar battery" actually goes back further than that, and was a popular description of how his powers worked in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity when John Byrne's reboot The Man of Steel tried to give real-world scientific or quasi-scientific explanations for much of what happened in the series. The solar flare power -- where Superman can basically expel all of his stored-up energy at once and then take about a day to "recharge" back to his full capacity -- was an extension of that created by Johns.

(Perhaps not surpsingly, given Johns's long history with the Green Lantern titles.)

When Kara did it, we didn't get the giant explosion, and she didn't lose consciousness -- so perhaps the solar flare works a little differently on TV than it does in the comics, or maybe it's just that Kara's works differently than Clark's, since he's been here and soaking up solar rays for quite a bit longer.

Either way, it will lead to a scene inspired by Johns and Romita's run: when Superman foils a robbery, despite having no powers.

In the comics, a powerless Clark and Jimmy are walking around Metropolis, Superman having just revealed his identity to Olsen, when they happen on a robbery in progress. Changing into his costume, Superman stands before the gunman and talks him down.

When Jimmy is shocked, reminding Clark how dangerous that was since he had no powers, Clark responds by asking his friend, "You think I only step in front of guns because I'm bulletproof?"

In case there was any question that the scene depicted in the trailer -- which features Supergirl standing down a gunman in similar fashion -- is a nod to the Johns/Romita run, it's worth remembering that showrunner Andrew Kreisberg recently teased in an interview that an Easter egg from Johns and Romita's "Men of Tomorrow" run was coming.

"Geoff being such a good friend of mine, I always try to sit down and read anything that he wrote, and I was really digging on his Superman run that he did with John Romita, Jr., who's one of my favorite illustrators," Kreisberg told me. "So I really loved the whole 'Men of Tomorrow' run. I thought that was a great storyline and there's a little shout-out in an upcoming episode to one of the themes in that run."

Check out the "Human For A Day" trailer in the video below.


Kara and her friends must rely on their inner strength and courage when an earthquake strikes National City. Also, Alex’s mistrust of Hank reaches a breaking point when the earthquake traps them in the DEO with Jemm (Charles Halford), a powerful alien escapee.

The episode was directed by Larry Teng and written by Yahlin Chang and Ted Sullivan.

Check out preview images in our gallery at the bottom of the page.

 “Human For a Day” episode of Supergirl will air Monday, December 7 at 8PM on CBS.

Join the Conversation


    • libra113
    • 411 Posts in 21 Months

    I hadn't actually thought about it that way but yeah I guess that IS what happened. :) The one thing that bugs me about her heat vision is why is it blue? I've only ever seen it shown as being red. About the whole flare thing the bit that bugs me about that is it seems to say that Superman (and I guess Supergirl) only store a day's worth of solar energy which is bull.

    • DJJarak
    • 18 Posts in 18 Months

    That scene really was intense. She had to enrage herself by focusing on all the emotional pain she's suffered and channel it through her heat vision. It gave me massive goosebumps. I don't usually get that goosey short of listening to key pieces from the Doctor Who soundtrack with the base on full.

    • thawne
    • 7 Posts in 20 Months

    well, i mean zod's heat vision was more orange than superman's in man of steel.  may jsut depend on person.  and recharging in a day doesn't mean they hold a day's worth of energy, they just have a high absorption rate.  like my headphones last for 8 hours, but they only take an hour to charge fully.

  1. thawne said ... (original post)

    well, i mean zod's heat vision was more orange than superman's in man of steel.  may jsut depend on person.  and recharging in a day doesn't mean they hold a day's worth of energy, they just have a high absorption rate.  like my headphones last for 8 hours, but they only take an hour to charge fully.

    I like that analogy. It's also worth mentioning that they almost never run themselves fully down, so you would have to create a controlled environment to determine just "how much" they store.

    In Roger Stern's novel "The Death and Life of Superman," which admittedly is no longer canonical but is definitely interesting, he gives a sense that certain powers run the solar stores down at higher and lower rates than others, and that heat vision is the most exhausting since it's literally channeling that energy out of the body instead of simply utilizing it.

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