After meeting Supergirl‘s biological mother, let’s introduce her adoptive one. In Supergirl trailer, she only appears in a single frame, hard to catch but visible nonetheless: she’s Sylvia Danvers, and she’ll be portrayed by Helen Slater, the original Supergirl from the 1984 movie. In the show, she’ll apparently be an amalgam of two characters from the comics: obviously Sylvia Danvers, who gives her her name, but also Edna Danvers, the very first version of the character. The two women share the same husband in different realities, but have different daughters, albeit both of them become Supergirl at a certain point. Let’s see together.
Not much is known about Edna’s early life, not even her maiden name. At a certain point, she met a charming engineer, Fred Danvers, and she fell in love with him. The two got married, and soon had a son, Jan. They lived a normal and happy life, until the United States declared war to Korea: Jan was sent off to serve his country, but he never came back, and even his body remained in Korea, buried on the island he died in, Chu-Li. Jan’s death, of course, was a terrible trauma for the Danvers, even more considering they found out they weren’t able to have children anymore. A nearly elderly couple, Edna and Fred decided to adopt, and they tried to Midvale Orphanage. They ended up adopting a grown up girl, Linda Lee, a beautiful and nice girl who was pretty much enthusiast to finally find parents. She wasn’t a normal girl, however: immediately before leaving the orphanage, Edna and Fred were warned by Superman in person that Linda was actually his cousin, and that she had all of his powers. This fact didn’t discourage the Danvers at all, quite the opposite, they both were extremely proud of having Supergirl as their (adopted) daughter. Of course, life would have never been as easy as before, even if it was surely happier: they helped Linda keep her real identity secret, but they also struggled to manage not only a superpowered daughter, but also the superpowered pets she brought home, like the cat Streaky. They also had to deal with an impostor, Lesla-Lar, a Kryptonian criminal who took their daughter’s place for a while. Eventually, they managed to rise Supergirl for three years without serious problems, until she left for studying at Stanhope College. When Linda graduated and got a job in New York, Edna and her husband called to congratulate with their adoptive daughter, a young woman they were extremely proud of. Then, the Crisis on Infinite Earths occurred, and the multiverse was merged into a single reality: Edna Danvers, who belonged to Earth-1, was erased from existence, along with her entire story.
In the new universe emerging from the Crisis, New Earth, Edna lived on through a “spiritual successor”, whose name was Sylvia. She lived in Leesburg, Virginia, where she met Fred Danvers, a young policeman she fell in love with. The two got married, and they had a daughter, Linda, a sweet yet stubborn child who grew up to become quite a problematic teenager. Linda’s boyfriend, Gaius “Buzz” Marcus, led her on a dark path… only, not Linda nor her parents imagined how dark it was, since he intended to sacrifice her to a demon he worshiped with a cult. Neither Fred nor Sylvia knew what happened the night Linda “changed”, but she was saved by Supergirl (the alien from a pocketverse known as the Matrix), and in the process she fused with her savior, becoming able to turn at will from short and raven-haired Linda Danvers to tall and blonde Supergirl. Linda revealed her new identity to her parents during a climatic battle with the Extremists, a villainous group from another dimension. While Fred accepted more easily his daughter’s change, first of all happy because she had embraced a new way of living, Sylvia had some sort of a mental breakdown, and she refused to believe to the one she couldn’t recognize as her daughter anymore: she believed that Matrix had taken over Linda’s personality, and that the latter had disappeared forever. As the battle against the Extremists and their leader Twilight became more heated, Sylvia found herself directly involved, and she almost lost her life at the hands of the monstrous Despero: only Supergirl’s intervention saved her, and she finally found herself ready to accept that two different persons were now inhabiting her daughter’s body… but that didn’t solve her problems at all. Sylvia had always been a woman of faith, but being part of Supergirl’s world, a world of multiple dimensions and realities in which demons and aliens roamed free, in which two different souls could inhabit the same body, proved to be too much for her, and she lost her faith, falling into a deep depression. She eventually tried to find comfort in alcohol, and before she could even realize it she was addicted to it. Her alcoholism ruined even her marriage, and Fred left her, unable to help her with her problem: he obtained divorce, and Sylvia found herself alone, in a world she didn’t understand anymore… with only a bottle to calm her down.
Despite being two different versions of the same woman, Edna and Sylvia Danvers couldn’t be more different: the first one is the traditional housewife, a devoted wife and mother who finds in herself and in her family the strength to face any difficulty or crisis, to the point that she’s also able to take a step back when her beloved adoptive daughter finds her biological parents trapped in an alternate dimension; the second one, on the opposite, is a fragile woman, who holds on to something she believes is faith, but that’s actually only a thin shield she tries to protect herself from the world with. Both Edna and Sylvia love their respective husband and daughter, but only one of them has the strength, the wisdom and the good heart to endure anything life has in store… and that’s not Sylvia.