The new CW and DC Universe streaming series Stargirl is, in short, a lot of damn fun! Newbies who know nothing abut the character will be just as interested and entertained as longtime DC Comics fans will be by all the backstory and Easter eggs.
Everything about this show is well done, from the all-star casting, to the writing, to the special effects; all are movie quality.
But first, who is Stargirl?
THE COMICS VERSION. Stargirl's roots go back a long way, all the way back to the Justice Society of America, during the Golden Age of Comics in the 1940s.
The JSA included heroes like Starman, Doctor Midnite, Wildcat, the Star-Spangled Kid and his partner Stripesy. The Golden Age Starman used a cosmic rod powered by energy collected from the stars to allow him to defy gravity and emit potent light ray blasts. In the 1990s, DC rebooted Starman in a critically-acclaimed series starring Jack Knight, the son of the original Starman, who created a cosmic staff for him to use. When he retired, Jack gave the staff to young Courtney Whitmore, who had begun wearing a star-spangled outfit to fight crime, calling herself the Star-Spangled Kid to annoy her stepdad, who was Stripesy, the sidekick to the original S-SK. Soon, she outgrew her name and decided to honor the legacy of the staff and its previous users and changed her name to Stargirl. She became a member of the modern version of the JSA and even the Justice League.
THE TV VERSION. In the pilot episode of Stargirl, the public thought the Justice Society “disappeared” a decade ago, but they were actually killed by a group of villains led by Brainwave, a powerful telekinetic. A dying Starman (formerly the Star-Spangled Kid before he was given the cosmic staff) entrusted the weapon to Pat Dugan, his partner Stripesy.
Ten years later, Courtney’s mother is newly married to Pat Dugan, and they all move to her mother and Pat’s Nebraska hometown, where she soon discovers that Pat was the hero Stripesy, partner to Starman. She also discovers Starman’s cosmic staff, or rather the staff discovers her, as it practically calls out to her. It seems almost alive, with a personality and mind of its own, very much like Dr. Strange’s cloak in the MCU movies. The staff is a faithful recreation of the one from the 1990s comics.
Courtney and the staff very quickly bond in a fun sequence of scenes, much to the surprise of Pat, who scolds her for playing with a dangerous relic and causing a stereotypical scene in town with a school bully. Supposedly, the staff only works for Starman, so how/why does it work for Courtney?
And, what were the odds that in this small Midwestern town they move to, the bully’s father is Brainwave? Astronomical, that’s what, and way too convenient and coincidental for this viewer. It doesn’t take Brainwave long to seek out the staff and its new owner, for a battle Courtney isn’t yet ready for.
The casting in this show is pretty awesome: Brec Bassinger is a charismatic and acrobatic Courtney, Amy Smart is kind but kinda oblivious as Courtney’s mom, Luke Wilson basically plays his usual laid-back, doofus good-guy self as Pat, and Joel McHale is Starman, with more recognizable names slated to appear in upcoming episodes. The cast make this look and feel like a movie, not just another solid superhero show by Greg Berlanti (which it is!). If the pilot and the final surprise scene is any indication, Stargirl is off to a stellar start. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
New episodes of Stargirl air on DC Universe, and Wednesdays on The CW. Episodes can also be seen on cwtv.com in the US.
Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #1 (1999) First Appearance as the Star-Spangled Kid
JSA: All Stars #4 (2003) First Appearance as Stargirl
Justice League of America #2 (2013) Stargirl joins the JLA
Stargirl by Geoff Johns, trade paperback collection
Young Justice: Outsiders
Justice League Unlimited, “Patriot Act”
Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Cry Freedom Fighters”