The premiere episode of Stargirl is a charming, captivating story that sets up a promising new DC TV series. Check out the synopsis of the series below and then dig into the review:
The new DC UNIVERSE drama series, STARGIRL follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (BREC BASSINGER) as she inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to take up the legacy of ca long-lost superhero team – The Justice Society of America – and stop the villains of the past.
In the series premiere episode, Courtney’s seemingly perfect life in Los Angeles gets upended with a move to Blue Valley, Nebraska with her mother Barbara (AMY SMART), stepfather Pat Dugan (LUKE WILSON) and stepbrother Mike (TRAE ROMANO), and she finds herself struggling to adapt to her new town and high school. But when Courtney discovers that Pat is harboring a major secret about his past, she ultimately becomes the unlikely inspiration for a new generation of Super Heroes.
A Delightful New Addition To DC Universe
As a big fan of the Justice Society Of America, I had high hopes for this series, and honestly, I was quite fearful that I would be disappointed. While Stargirl is far from perfect, I was anything but disappointed. The main characters are likable and interesting, the visuals are impressive for DC television, and the story is highly engaging.
A key aspect of what makes the Justice Society Of America so captivating is how the team’s adventures encapsulate the ideas of legacy, fate, and generational responsibility. Geoff Johns worked wonders incorporating those concepts into his runs on JSA Vol. 1 and Justice Society Of America Vol. 3, and thankfully, he takes what worked there and applies it to this series.
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Courtney Whitmore’s evolution into Stargirl seems to be fate in action; a fulfillment of destiny. The cosmic staff is bonded to her, and more than that, it seems driven to put her in the position to fight injustice. Her mysterious weapon strongly reminded me of Dr. Strange’s cloak of levitation, as both are full of charm and personality.
The story begins with a flashback to the final battle of the original JSA and the Injustice Society of America, which serves to put you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning. The battle was absolutely riveting, and the special effects were surprisingly solid. This introductory fight scene was one of the episode highlights.
Starman perishes with the rest of the JSA, but not before telling his sidekick Stripesy that someday, someone blessed with grace and heroism would take up his mantle and fight for justice with the cosmic staff. The villains that killed Starman and destroyed the legendary team are still at large, and it seems like they will be the central antagonists of the first season.
Past And Present Collide
The story is about the merging of the past and the present, and about honoring the legacy left to you by your predecessors – and it works because the characters are endearing on both sides of the spectrum. Though Starman’s screen time is limited, Joel McHale’s version of the classic hero was one of my favorite aspects of the premiere episode. He brings charm, charisma and comedy to the show in spades, and on top of that, Courtney Whitmore is the perfect successor for the hero.
Brec Bassinger’s Courtney Whitmore is a great microcosm of the show as a whole – lively, energetic, and incredibly fun, albeit rather cliche and cheesy on occasion. She’s easy to root for, as her “new girl in town” status is something most viewers can relate to (even if it is a bit played out). She’s exuberant and caring, but also flawed and realistically human. Ultimately, Courtney is a simple yet lovable teen hero, but that’s all this series really needs in a lead right now.
Her stepfather Pat Dugan has a sort of old timey charm to him, a comforting warmth that harkens back to a simpler time of drive in theaters, apple pie and baseball games. He serves an important role as the only character to serve as an important member of both the past and present generation of heroes.
Born In The USA
These heroes are destined to become the protectors of Blue Valley, Nebraska, their new home. The town itself calls to mind the small town sensibilities of a forgotten america. It’s an homage to the era of baseball games, apple pie and the red scare, the same era from which the JSA were born.
I love the All-American tone and the unrestrained embracing of the source material, and truthfully, I enjoy it so much that I easily forgive some of the series flaws. Sure the dialogue can be a bit wooden at times, and yes, Geoff Johns has no idea how emojis work. So what? The series is solid at its core, and it just teased me with Dr. Fate and Sandman, so I’m really just not worried about the largely inconsequential warts.
This episode convinced me that Stargirl could be a great adaptation of a fan-favorite superhero team, and a fantastic addition to the world of modern teen superhero cinema. So long as future episodes build on the best elements of the pilot, the future is bright for this series.
Watch the premiere episode of Stargirl May 18 on DC Universe, or May 19 on the CW. Afterwards, let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!