When Supergirl returns to TV on Jan. 15, fans of the series will be meeting yet another superhero: Brainiac 5. But, thanks to promotional photos and a new trailer, many fans have already seen him… and some comic book purists are horrified. Brainiac 5, in Supergirl looks way different than in the comics, and that has been something fans cannot stop talking about.
Before getting into his odd looks though, it may be best to go over just who Brainiac 5 is, at least in the comics. Brainiac 5, also known as Querl Dox, made his debut in the comics all the way back in 1961. Like many comic characters, he has gone through a number of different reboots, and re-imaginings but his basic characteristics remain the same. He has been an alien being, specifically, a Coluan. He comes from a race of aliens, each of which have an immense intellect, far greater than humans. With that superhuman intellect, Dox creates various kinds of equipment. One of his most recognizable is his force-field generating belt. Another interesting fact about him is that he is a descendant of Brainiac, a major villain within the DC comics universe. However, unlike his ancestor, he wanted to good in the universe and joined the Legion of Superheroes to do so.
Although, it is a bit too early to tell just how closely Supergirl (series costume design by Kiersten Ronning, 46 episodes) will stick to the comics, there are some similarities. The most prominent is that Brainiac 5 (played by Jesse Rath) is clearly still part of the Legion of Superheroes. After all, he is making his debut in the episode titled “Legion of Super-Heroes.” However, that may be where the similarities cease. When it comes to looks, he is not at all the same as he is in the source material.
Throughout all of his various comic book depictions, Brainiac 5 has always been blonde-haired and green-skinned. But, in the Supergirl TV version, he is depicted with white hair and blue-ish skin, and fans are not entirely happy. A quick search of the term “Brainiac 5” on Twitter will reveal numerous people tweeting about their disappointment in his look. Some think he looks like a bad Frankenstein, others think he looks like the Pokemon Tentacool. The general consensus is just plain bad.
It is not just fans who seem to be having an adverse reaction to the television depiction of the character. Several outlets have run pieces discussing the strange makeup design, but Comic Book Resources went so far as to call Brainiac 5 the “Arrowverse’s worst design yet.” io9 was equally as eager to discuss his look, and writer James Whitbrook called photos of the character a “cursed image.” Later in the article, he wrote, “Supergirl’s previous Brainiac-adjacent character, season one’s Indigo, didn’t look great either, but Rath’s makeup here just looks terrible.”
Rath himself has even weighed in on the conversation. He joked on Twitter about his character’s looks in a series of tweets. In one, he included a photo of his character with the caption, “Check out the perfected turquoise Einstein look! Talk about good looking! Hubba hubba! Am I right?” In another tweet though, in what seemed like an effort to calm fans down a bit, he said to not judge the character quite yet. “I get better looking throughout the episode. I promise... Just wait till I start talking. I'll grow on you.”
While Rath seems to hint that there will be a change in look of his character, there are certain things that seem unlikely to change, namely, that grotesque turquoise skin. Hopefully, Brainiac 5's storyline will ease the minds of fans who, right now, are having a lot of fun mocking him online.