Superman was created by writers Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel in 1938 and made his first ever appearance in Action Comics #1. Supergirl arrived much later, created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino for Action Comics #252 back in 1959.
Originally Supergirl, whose real name is Kara Zor-El, has been written as the biological cousin of Superman. Later when comic writers wanted to establish Superman as the Last Son of Krypton her origins were muddied a bit, with a wide variety of characters using the Supergirl alias.
Superman has always been written as an orphan who escaped the death of the planet Krypton as a baby, only to be raised by humans here on planet Earth. Supergirl’s origins are far less straightforward and have been changed repeatedly over her life in fiction. In her most basic form though, she was a teenager when Krypton exploded and came to Earth as someone raised not as a human or an American, but as a Kryptonian.
While Superman has been an off and on fixture at the movies for decades, Supergirl faded from memory after that one awkward movie outing back in 1984. The character found new life in 2004 with a reintroduction in pivotal DC Comics storylines. More recently, Supergirl has found a home on television where The CW has reliably renewed the Supergirl TV series season after season.
But when it comes to Superman (aka Clark Kent) and Supergirl (aka Kara Zor-El), what you’re probably wondering is: What’s the difference? Besides their gender, that is.
The two Kryptonian characters have been intertwined since Supergirl’s introduction. Yet while their similar names and backgrounds might lead you to believe them identical, they actually have some big differences in their super-powered abilities.