Following the end of the original DC series that inspired an entire universe of interconnecting shows back in January, many wondered what the next chapter would be for the CW shows. Well thanks to the immense and literally world changing events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, the legacy of the long-lost superhero team, the Justice Society of America, has been reinvented for a second generation of heroes in DC’s Stargirl. Inhabiting the reborn version of Earth-2 in the multiverse, this series marks the first partnership between DC Universe and the CW. It’s also a pretty personal project for co-creator Geoff Johns (Titans, Wonder Woman, Batwoman) as Stargirl was directly inspired by his late sister Courtney, with Johns hoping to bring her spirit and optimistic energy to the show.
Starring Brec Bassinger as the titular hero, the new live-action DC series births a brand new generation of justice. DC’s Stargirl follows high schooler Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) as her life is turned upside down after discovering a strangely glowing artefact in the attic. With the cosmic staff choosing her, Courtney picks up the mantle and becomes Stargirl, with her step-father Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) reluctantly coming out of retirement to don his sidekick persona as S.T.R.I.P.E. Inspiring a new generation of heroes to take up the legacy of The Justice Society of America (JSA), they work together to stop the villains of the past.
Themes of family, legacy and doing the right thing are huge factors in this superhero family show, with the central focus on the wonderful dynamic and bond between Courtney and her stepfather Pat. Much like recent DC film Shazam and early seasons of CW series The Flash, the series is similar in its optimistic, hopeful and family orientated outlook; sharing the same progressive attitude that family doesn’t always mean biological. There’s also bags of humour and heart, particularly involving Courtney and Pat as they attempt to get to grips with their new gadgets. It’s not afraid to shy away from the darker elements of the source material.
The first three episodes sent as previews are definitely well paced; striking a great balance between action and high school drama, whilst establishing Courtney’s journey into the world of the JSA and the Injustice Society. Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti are definitely taking their time building up to the formation of the new JSA, which definitely isn’t a bad move. Laying down the foundations via a villain of the week style narrative, interspersed with key flashbacks, is certainly founding a key emphasis on legacy and taking up the mantle. With a run of 13 episodes like fellow DC Universe show Titans sophomore season, DC’s Stargirl should result in a compact and concise first season, with less risk of filler episodes.
Leading the call to arms is Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore, a young teen with tons of enthusiasm, energy and optimism who dives head first into superhero life! Although meaning well, she still hasn’t got used to her new powers linked to the cosmic staff, so can come across as pretty naive and headstrong. Courtney Whitmore captures the heart of the character with such ease, and her dynamic with Luke Wilson is absolutely brilliant! The two really are the heart and soul of the show, with Wilson bringing an earnest and endearing performance as Pat/S.T.R.I.P.E, who initially reluctantly teaming up with Courtney, will always be there to look after her.
Wilson is also excellent alongside Joel McHale’s Starman, with the pair bringing a lot of humour to a pretty surprising scene. On villain duty is Neil Jackson as Jordan Mahkent/Iceman and Christopher James Baker as Dr Henry King/Brainwave, who make for your typical moustache twirling bad guys. But their son’s, Henry King Jnr (Jake Austin Walker) and Cameron Mahkent (Hunter Sansone), are far more intriguing and surely going to play a bigger part in the narrative.
The series heavily draws upon the Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. comic series, which were written by Johns, so prepare for an exciting inclusion of legacy characters and classic DC Comics continuity! The amazing action-packed opening sequence completely blew me away in size and cinematic scope – it might just be the best thing DC has ever done on the small screen. The visual effects are particularly impressive and on par with Swamp Thing, with a number of powers, including the cosmic staff, wonderfully brought to life. Speaking of the staff, much like Doctor Strange’s cloak of levitation, appears to be a character of their own! At times, the S.T.R.I.P.E robot does prove to be a little overly CGI’d, but there is an extraordinary practical version which is no mean feat! The score by Captain Marvel and Krypton’s Pinar Toprak is also a perfect accompaniment to the fun heroics of Stargirl, with definite Superman vibes.
Fun, family-orientated and full of heart, Stargirl is a fantastic entry to DC’s live-actions shows, featuring plenty of Easter Eggs that’ll undoubtedly make die hard DC fans happy! I genuinely can’t wait to watch more of this series and the eventual crossover with characters such as The Flash and Supergirl.
DC’s Stargirl debuts on Monday, May 18 on the DC Universe, followed by the CW broadcast on Tuesday, May 19th.