While DC comics have struggled to keep up with Marvel’s cinematic universe on the big screen, the characters have enjoyed a healthy shared universe on television. Stargirl is the latest show from producer Greg Berlanti, who is responsible for a stable of successful DC shows on the CW network. “The Arrowverse” as it is commonly referred to, includes shows such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow and holds an annual crossover event across the shows. Characters from Stargirl appeared in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, placing this show in the Arrowverse universe, but on a parallel Earth. For Arrowverse fans, this explains why the Justice Society of America and Stargirl featured in this show are different from the one that appeared on Legends.
Stargirl’s pilot is the story of Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) as she takes the first steps towards becoming Stargirl. The episode kicks off with a flashback from ten years prior that introduces the Justice Society of America, which in the comics is like a precursor to the Justice League. Things start off with a bang as we are thrust into an epic battle between the League and a crew of villains. Comic fans will love the inclusion of some fan favorite characters the fight. Through this battle, we are introduced to one of the main characters in the show, Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson). I’ve never considered Wilson to be a great actor, but this role seems to fit his awkward earnestness perfectly. So far, the show seems to be as much his story as it is Courtney’s. As is often the case with pilots, a lot of attention was paid the special effects, which look very good for TV. Production expenses tend to fall off after the initial episode, but if Stargirl can maintain this level of special effects quality, this show will be hard to miss.
Moving to the present, Courtney Witmore, her mother (Amy Smart, where have you been?), her stepbrother (who will either be the most hilarious or annoying character, time will tell), and stepfather Dugan move to a new city (DC fans should make sure to check out the logo on the moving company van). While many DC characters are based in cities like Metropolis and Gotham City, this one is located in … Nebraska, which is a neat change of pace. As we get to know Courtney, the show falls into some teenager angst tropes, with Courtney resenting her stepfather and having a typical bad first day at her new high school. Bassinger’s performance, which avoids falling too far into a stereotype, saves this part of the show from getting annoying. The episode regains its momentum in the third act when things move from high school drama to superhero drama. Another strong point is the music selection. An acoustic cover of Mmm Bop by Hanson? Yes!
Stargirl’s pilot displays deft casting and excellent special effects for a network television show. While it is too soon to decide where it ranks in the Arrowverse’s stable of shows, it appears to be a worthy addition.
The first episode will debut on Monday, May 18th.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the 2nd episode of the series.
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