Why Nobody Recognizes Kara Danvers as Supergirl

Joseph Wilbur
TV The CW DC Arrowverse

Supergirl’s maskless face is plastered throughout National City, but that doesn’t faze Kara Danvers. The city’s citizens don’t suspect a thing as she quietly walks among them. Without a mask, we are left to wonder what is protecting our superheroine’s identity. Well, it turns out being extraordinarily ordinary is the latest in superhero cloaking technology.

The Glasses

Fun fact! In some Superman comics, Kal-El's spectacles were actually Kryptonian, which hypnotized those watching him and allowed him to cover his secret identity.

Glasses are the go-to disguise for superpowered Kryptonians, and Kara is no exception. While it hasn’t been fully touched on in the show, Supergirl’s glasses do help mask her piercing, blue Kryptonian eyes. In turn, they also alter her face shape just enough that, looking at her, you don’t just scream, “Supergirl!”

This simple disguise is actually backed up with research from the University of York. According to the study, even the most subtle change to a person’s appearance completely shifts our ability to recognize them. In the experiment, people were shown two images: one of a person with glasses and another without. Participants were only able to correctly identify whether the two people were the same roughly 70% of the time — and the two images were side-by-side! Chances are, if you held up an image of Supergirl to Kara, you wouldn’t recognize her.

She Is Clumsy and Timid

Kara accidentally zapping a cup of coffee.

Spend a few minutes with her Kara, and you will come away saying, “What an extremely clumsy and timid girl.” However, her clumsiness may be, in part, due to her super strength. Imagine living life like everything is made of putty. A world where bumping into a desk means breaking it apart. Trying to live a normal, destruction-free life definitely contributes to Kara’s clumsiness.

This personality disguise is further enhanced by the manner Kara presents herself. Kara wears her hair in varying styles, but all have a common theme: each is formal and reserved. This aids her disguise as a mild-mannered writer. It isn’t until Supergirl puts on her cape that her hair comes down.

How She Wears Her Clothes

Each outfit Kara wears is what someone would expect of a middle-to-older aged woman, not a girl barely out of school. These outfits also have a secondary, less obvious purpose — to cover up her toned physique. Without loose-fitting clothing, her muscularity would bring unwelcome questions. With them, she, at times, appears out of shape. The exact opposite of what anyone would expect of the most powerful woman on the planet.

This disguise also works in reverse. Supergirl, unlike most of the other heroes in the multiverse, wears no mask. Because of this, it appears as if she has nothing to hide, including a secret identity. If she didn’t want the world to see her face, she would cover it. Or, at least, that’s probably how National City see it.

Her Mannerisms

Who would suspect a nervous, timid office girl?

Kara even goes so far as to manipulate her speech to avoid detection. Each persona has a different voice. When Supergirl speaks, she sounds clear and confident. Kara, on the other hand, rarely raises her voice and sometimes even stutters.

The tiny tweaks to her normal persona don’t stop there. Kara is a sloucher, and not because her parents didn’t teach good posture. No, her slouch is strategic. It physically makes Kara seem shorter and unfit. Her poor posture also reinforces her meek, timid personality.

We Aren’t Ready to See Her

Even with all these tricks, people would inevitably see through her disguise. The main reason Kara is never found out is due to the barriers we set up. James said it best when he explained why nobody recognizes Superman. He is “able to hide because the world can’t believe that there’s really a hero in their midst.”

This is why Kara can slip into coffeeshops unnoticed and work for a company that broadcasts Supergirls every move. No one is looking for her. After all, they can’t find your secret identity if they don’t think you have one.

Joseph Wilbur
Joseph Wilbur was a former writer for Fandom for over 2 years. He primarily wrote about the Arrowverse shows, or the DC and Marvel universes. He is a Star Wars fanatic, and has read every book in the 'Star Wars Legends' Universe (most of them at least twice).
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