For all intents and purposes, Supergirl‘s James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) is a superhero. He may not be able to fly. He may not have superhuman strength. But he sure does have a lot of heart, which is why he was more than willing to look after Kara (Melissa Benoist) once he struck it out on his own away from Superman. But the question remains whether he can really step into the light now that he’s filling the same role for Supergirl.
“It’s very easy to be in someone’s shadow even if you’re at the top of your game just because they can fly,” Brooks tells EW. “I wouldn’t say that James is struggling, but he’s looking for a way to find himself and also be his higher self as well.”
However, his dynamic with Kara certainly is different than it was with Kal-El. “There’s definitely an attraction there,” Brooks says. “There’s also a bro code. You’re moving to Metropolis to National City, and Superman is your best friend, you can’t go over there and hit on his cousin. Even if there is an attraction, I’m not sure it’s something he could pursue immediately.”
But his relationship with Kara is what may put James in the line of fire. “It’s a dangerous position to be in, but he’s been there before,” he says. “He’s been that for Superman for so long that it’s almost old hat. He’s not really frightened by that. Although, it is exploited a couple different times. Because Kara does care about James, villains will try to use that against her.
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Keeping their relationship platonic is probably a good thing since he’s just reignited his relationship with Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), though that may hit a rough patch once her father comes to town. “General Lane [Glenn Morshower] and Jimmy have a tumultuous relationship in some ways,” Brooks explains. “I don’t think it’s a personal thing. General Lane thinks that nobody is good enough for his daughter. There’s also the element of General Lane being a well-decorated military personnel whose job it is to protect the country from enemies foreign and domestic. He considers Superman and Supergirl a foreign enemy. It’s a complicated situation and James is looking for his respect.”
He may find it in next week’s episode when an earthquake strikes National City just as Kara loses her powers. “It’s one of my favorite episodes,” Brooks says. “He steps up as a hero. We really see James come into his own as somebody who can operate in that heroic universe. Obviously he’s not flying around and doing stuff that Kryptonians do, but it really does show that he can be considered a hero. He helps save people. It was a lot of fun to shoot. I really enjoy the action stuff.”
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.