There’s a new hero in town and her name is Courtney Whitmore AKA Stargirl. But, what is a superhero series without an origin story?
Episode one begins with a man named Pat showing up in the middle of a chaotic fight between the heroes of the Justice Society of America and various super villains including Brainwave and Solomon Grundy. It would later be dubbed the End of the Golden Age of Heroes. As the battle draws closer to the end, Starman and Pat narrowly escape where Starman eventually succumbs to his injuries sustained in the battle.
All the while across town a young Courtney anxiously waits for her father to show up on Christmas Eve only to be left disappointed and comforted by her mother.
Fast-forward 10 years later to the present day and we see high school Courtney and her family, including her mom’s new husband Pat, packing up for their move to Blue Valley, Nebraska. Courtney is obviously unhappy with the move as seen in her complete silence for the entire 2200 mile drive from California. After the movers unpack the belongings and his family members are asleep, Pat ventures down into the basement where we see him looking over files of the different villains he faced earlier in his career, including Brainwave.
Courtney and younger brother, Mike, start school the next day. While Mike is loving his new school and classmates, Courtney struggles to fit in. She is forced at lunch to sit at the “singles” tables with the rest of the “losers” of the school. A brief altercation with school jocks places Courtney in detention on her first day.
Later that evening, Courtney returns home and happens to stumble upon the photos of her long absent father and the Justice Society. She also sees photos of Pat and Starman. As Courtney starts to understand her origins, her heart begins to open and she is able to reveal a powerful staff that whisks her off through town and ultimately lands her at the local drive-in where the jocks from school are causing their typical havoc. What started with simply draining the air from the school jocks’ tires, Courtney quickly discovers that her staff has a mind of its own. It soon takes matters into its own hands and utterly dispatches of the bullies and blows up their car for good measure.
Courtney returns home only to be confronted by Pat. Courtney guesses that Starman is her father which is why she feels she was able to wield the Cosmic Staff. She and Pat then talk about the JSA and what it meant to Pat to be a sidekick back in the Golden Age. Courtney and Pat agree to keep all superhero business a secret from Courtney’s mother.
In the best twist of the night, it is revealed that one of the jocks from earlier, Henry (Junior), is also the son of Brainwave from earlier in the episode. Convinced that Starman has returned, Brainwave calls Icicle in London where he warns him of the fight ahead.
While out training with her staff, Courtney is attacked by Brainwave who picks apart her memories one by one. While pausing at the memory of her father, Courtney is able to narrowly escape Brainwave’s clutches. As she runs out of the warehouse, Courtney comes face to face with Pat in a giant mech-suit where the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
This was an incredibly simple, but effective premiere episode. Stargirl feels like a perfectly placed and upbeat addition to the dark and grim Arrowverse, which I think will serve the series well. I mean, the episode had an acoustic version of Hanson’s MMMBop, so it already has that going for it. The other musical elements also help reinforce the lighter tone of the episode.
Nickelodeon’s Brec Bassinger shows a lot of promise in her role as Courtney/Stargirl. This episode didn’t give her a whole lot of room to shine, but she did manage to show a lot of spunk that I think will benefit the character as she continues to develop through the series.
Since this is technically a teen drama, there are some tropes (like the missing father and fitting into a new high school) that have been done time and time again. But, throwing in the superhero dynamic is enough to make those story elements enticing for now. Visually, however, I am expecting some great things. The beginning scene with the final battle of the Justice Society was excellent choice to show the viewers what is to (hopefully) come in later sequences. I also really loved the Smallville feeling throwback to Blue Valley’s main street.
While this pilot episode might not have felt as “full” as other superhero pilots like Supergirl, it still gives the viewers enough to want to tune in next week. The slowburn approach is something that worked with other DC Comic series like Smallville and it is looking to serve Stargirl well. There really is a new hero in town.
You can catch DC’s Stargirl Mondays on DCU and Tuesdays on The CW.