Rating 4/5 – CW’s Stargirl makes it perfectly clear that superheroes are strange, weird, goofy, and fun. Because there too many issues that get in the way of making them “grounded in reality.” And if Marvel has taught us anything is to just lean into the weird. Go for it. These guys can fly in space with no suit, just go with it. They shoot a laser from their eyes without damage the eyes? Just go with it. Stargirl and sit on a glowing pole and ride it like a Bewitch logo? Just go with it. Star girl unironically leans into the strange and goofy nature of being a superhero and it makes absolutely no apology. In Stargirl’s world, there were super-heroes and villains.
The Super-Heroes formed groups, the most famous being the Justice Society. They were people with powers and gadgets who worked within a yet to be spoken about cooperation with law enforcement and the government. They were necessary to counter super-criminals, but they stayed on their side of crime-fighting while police did their jobs, with some crossover because of life. Powers are treated like guns, what makes them dangerous or criminal is how you use them. With that Stargirl is thrown into a place where two forces once had a giant battle and the good guys lost. And it’s years later and weapon of one of the hero sense super-villains about to do something bad and chooses Courtney Whitmore (played by Brec Bassinger) as it’s the new welder. Typical comic book action ensues and it’s AWESOME.
Stargirl – Legacy Heroes
The legacy hero concept actually began in the 1970s and 1980s. The young comic writers and artists realized that a lot of these characters had long histories that stopped making sense by the 1980s. A legacy character before that would be part of the overall story, and usually something that happened outside of regular continuity. Then they became all the rage. Marvel flirted with the trope until the 2000s, but DC jumped in with both feet. There were so many comic series, Infinity Inc, Young Justice, Mr.Terrific, Blue Beetle, a comic series literally named “Legacy.” There was a Starman from the original run of Super-Heroes. But in the 1990s they created Stargirl.
Courtney is the Step-Daughter of Pat Dugan who was the formed side-kicked to The Star-Spangled Kid. (In the comics, the first Starman was just another member of the JSA.) When the 2nd Starman gives Courtney the Cosmic Staff Dugan builds S.T.R.I.PE. The whole thing was done so they had a reason to name a comic “Stars & Stripes.” Stargirl’s main villain is called Shiv, and she is the daughter of the Dragon King. Stargirl is tied to the current JSA whose members are a mix of children of the former JSA and the adults who are still alive in the comics. Everything I just told you about the comic is in the series. On the Stargirl show, it’s done in that CW “current teen troubles” way. And it works.
Stargirl: It’s Not so Simple
Stargirl doesn’t have what you would think of as twists. The good guys are aware there are bad guys, the bad guys have a plan and intend to see it through and the good guys want to stop the bad guys. When they get to what the bad guy’s plan actually is, many of the heroes have to pause. Because the bad guy’s plan is as black & white as they thought. The whole plan literally turns into that age-old question “How far would you go to achieve real-world peace.” And it made sense within the motivations of all the characters. The young actors do a great job taking up the mantle of their various superhero personalities while the bad guys are bad but not mustache-twirling bad. (Okay, a little mustache-twirling.) The 13 episode 1st season of Stargirl was fun, entertaining, had far better fight choreography than a show called “Stargirl” deserved. And I actually can’t wait for the next season.
If you’re looking for a popcorn fun Superhero series with good characterization, a pretty good story, and some veteran actors absolutely having fun with their roles (I’m looking at you, Neil Hopkins & Joy Osmanski). It was fun, actually had stakes you cared about, and the few twists it presented pretty much worked. Stargirl season 01 is on HBO Max so you can binge it or treat it like a weekly episode. If you’re a superhero fan you will be satisfied with was the CW created. This is a fun little Superhero show.