Review: DC Universe’s Stargirl Premiere

Year: 2020
Creators: Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti
Stars: Brec Bassinger, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Christopher James Baker, Jake Austin Walker, Joel McHale

By Tom Moore

Although DC Universe saw plenty of crap come it’s way since it was first conceived, it’s actually boasted quite a few series that are flying below everyone’s radar – too low in my opinion. With a more mature and edgy group of young heroes in “Titans”, a grotesquely horror-heavy superhero series in “Swamp Thing”, a strange oddball comedy in “Doom Patrol”, and even a bloody, brutal, and bat-shit crazy animated series that continues to deliver the goods in “Harley Quinn“, DC Universe has constantly presented new shows that shouldn’t be tossed off so easily. Now, DC Universe adds another show to its arsenal with a colourful and youthful rise of a new heroine in “Stargirl” and is already showing its potential to be something really special.

Now, before we get into anything with our titular heroine, I have to say that this opening is absolutely fantastic and presents a unique look to the DC Universe as it delves in a lesser-known team – The Justice League Society of America. Right away, I immediately get vibes of Watchmen with the 1950s style they boast and the sort of ragtag, civilians becoming heroes look they have. They’re even referred to as the Golden Age of Heroes in the opening text and it’s interesting to see a lore being built for them through the story of Pat “Stripesy” Dugan (Luke Wilson) – the sidekick of the legendary Starman (Joel McHale).

lluke
Luke Wilson and Brec Bassinger in Stargirl (2020) © 2020 The CW Network, LLC

It’s really great to see this 50s style continue with Dugan’s car and overall tone of the score and even the mentality and attitude be brought out through the friendly Nebraska setting of the series. What’s really great though, is how things are told from the perspective of a sidekick – especially since we watch this golden age of heroes be wiped out saving the world on Christmas Eve, nevertheless.

The opening fight sequence between the remaining JSLA and an equally ragtag band of villains is immediately engaging and kicks things off on the right foot. It’s an action-packed opening that full of good emotion, really epic battles, and some mediocre CGI that’s pretty standard for the premiere of a new show. What’s even better for someone like me who adores a great set of villains is seeing the ones we have here as the big band of villains we’re likely going to see throughout the series are teased perfectly.

ccar star
Luke Wilson and Brec Bassinger in Stargirl (2020) © 2020 The CW Network, LLC

“It’s really great to see this 50s style continue with Dugan’s car and overall tone of the score and even the mentality and attitude be brought out through the friendly Nebraska setting of the series.”

With villains like a devilish looking magician named The Wizard (Joe Knezevich), an incredible looking ice-cold killer in Icicle (Neil Jackson), a tough-looking villainess in Tigress (Joy Osmanski), one of my faves with Sportsmaster (Neil Hopkins), and the mysterious mental threat in Brainwave (Christopher James Baker), this ragtag of villains certainly proves the worth in the opening moments. Not to mention, they have an ace up their sleeve in the surprise appearance from legendary DC villain Solomon Grundy – who absolutely sent my hype levels through the roof when Icicle called upon him.

More importantly, we get a true rarity in the comic world with the heroes truly losing as Starman tasks Stripesy with finding a worthy successor to wield the Cosmic Staff to rebuild the JSLA and keep the world safe – as long as it’s not him. Yep, the JSLA is no more, there’s a group of villains out there running amuck, and Christmas is ruined.

However, this end of era sparks the beginning of a new one as we see that Pat moves his new family to Nebraska to hide Starman’s old stuff and likely look into what Brainwave is up to. It’s kind of funny to me that if you’re a hero on the run or a villain in hiding, the first place you move to is Nebraska of all places since I guess nothing too big ever happens there. However, something big is about to come as we’re introduced to Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), who will eventually become the titular Stargirl, and I got to say – I hate how generic her stuff is in her introduction.

berc stargirl
Brec Bassinger in Stargirl (2020) © 2020 The CW Network, LLC.

“All of Courtney’s daddy issues don’t really have any depth at this point and the whole questioning of Starman possibly being her father feels so typical. Her high school experience is pretty typical.”

Now, there’re some really good moments to be had with getting to know Courtney and her family. Her gymnastic skills shown in a very cool rooftop training sequence with the Cosmic Staff is fun, I love Pat’s sort of romantic reminiscence about being honoured to be a sidekick and a part of something bigger, and there’s even a nice moment between Courtney and her mom (Amy Smart) talking about her absentee father. Even the stuff with Courtney duking it out with Brainwave and a tease to the robotic beast that Pat will become is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the future. However, other than these shiny moments, there’s really not a whole lot to talk about that isn’t just superhero standard fair.

“Even with a slightly by the numbers premiere, DC Universe already looks like it has another winner on its hands with “Stargirl”.

All of Courtney’s daddy issues don’t really have any depth at this point and the whole questioning of Starman possibly being her father feels so typical. Her high school experience is pretty typical – its full of bullies, outcast characters that are clearly going to become part of her team and is bookended with an awkward school ID photo. Frankly, I’m just disappointed with the first impression we get of Courtney as she goes between being your typical angsty teen and totally whimsical and it makes her unable to stand out compared to other characters so far. I especially don’t like how cynical she is towards Pat’s love of heroism, but with more time, growth, and maybe even some 50’s styled superhero training videos, she can come into her own and the themes of a generational passing of the torch between eras will come into full effect.

stargirl photo frame
Brec Bassinger in Stargirl (2020) © 2020 The CW Network, LLC.

Even with a slightly by the numbers premiere, DC Universe already looks like it has another winner on its hands with “Stargirl”. With great villains on the horizons, an intriguing generational story, and a dope 50s style, there’s a deep potential here for “Stargirl” to be one of DC’s best – if it can eventually walk its own path.

4 stars

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