Superman, Batman and Aquaman are all famous DC characters that have been around for decades and still have mass appeal. DC has experienced a resurgence in film with its newest Wonderwoman franchise and Birds of Prey. These films, with their feminist appeal, are only one aspect of DC’s unusual move to more female-powered comic book media. On the small screen, Stargirl is the latest comic book adaptation running on girl power.
DC has a long history of working with the CW channel (a joint venture of CBS and Warner Brothers). Back in 2001 the CW started a show called Smallville about a young Superman, that would run for 10 years. Following its run, the CW came out with Arrow, the show that started what fans of DC call the Arrowverse, the place where the many DC shows on CW are now set, including Stargirl.
Stargirl began life in the 1999 comic book Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. written by Geoff Johns. The 2000 TV series Stargirl has made the smart move of keeping Johns on as one of the executive producers, showrunners and writers. The show has crossover appeal for many audiences.
The opening scene shows a fight between Starman, a comic book character from the 1940s, and his sidekick S.T.R.I.P.E. in a fight against the Injustice Society. While these are older characters from a different era of comic heroes, the fight, and death of Starman, are set “a decade ago” so when S.T.R.I.P.E. shows up as mild-mannered Pat Dugan, stepfather to Courtney Whitmore, who will become the titular Stargirl, the timeline flows comfortably. The modern setting doesn’t negate the possible nostalgic pull for an older audience of these classic characters. It isn’t hard to imagine a grandfather sitting down to enjoy Stargirl with his granddaughter.
Granddaughters will be interested too. As mentioned, DC has really leaned into its female leads recently. Stargirl is actually its first series giving the backstory for a teenage female character. Even people who aren’t into comic books and don’t want to track the extremely convoluted worlds of the DC multiverse can enjoy Stargirl because there is little crossover that requires knowing the backstory of multiple characters and all the different universes and how they fit together. Instead, the series focuses on regular teenage issues like fitting together with a new family and making new friends when it isn’t giving viewers large doses of comic book battle sequences.
Even parents can get in on the series, with little easter eggs like The Goonies playing at the drive-thru and humorous sequences like Starman, with his dying words telling Stripey that someone will have to take up his mantle, but it shouldn’t be him. The show certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. The original “cosmic staff” which granted Starman his powers is now more of a pushy puppy leading Courtney into trouble.
Season two of Stargirl will begin airing in the summer of 2021. If you want to catch up with the series the 13 original episodes are available for streaming on the CW app as well as HBO Max.