Stargirl (2020)

From its striking opening JSA scene, Stargirl breathes a pure nostalgic Golden-Age comic book lore/vibrance – boosted by a classic Nebraska-set Americana, epic CGI, deep-dives into comics mythology, youthful pop energized tone, & ablaze Brec Bassinger lead. 8.7/10.

Plot Synopsis: High school student Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) inspires an unlikely group of young high school-age heroes to stop a society of villains from the past.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

Move Over, Supergirl

The CW-Verse & DC Universe Are Doing Major Restructure – And There’s A New Blue-Suited, Blonde Americana Girl In Town

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

Move over, Supergirl. There’s a new blue-suited blonde superheroine in town. The CW-verse [renamed after its kickstarting patriarch Arrow met its Crisis On Infinite Earths-finale in February, 2020] was doing major restructuring – the formal foundation of a TV-Justice League and hundreds of characters to choose from on its ever-growing roster of successful season-counts as the biggest TV franchise on Earth. One of its more mixed products was Supergirl – a series that nailed a perfect casting in plucky Melissa Benoist and firmly understood the tonal nuance and blue-eyed hopefulness of Kryptonians.. but devolved into a SJW-fest more about feminism-checklists than superheroicism even its staunchest fans eventually called it quits on, with next year’s (still-impressive, numberwise) Season 6 being its curtain-call. Still, the teenage-girl marketplace of comic book media is a potential-rife one – and perfect avenue to explore the brightness, nostalgia-hues, innocence, and beaming optimism the genre was founded on in the early-1900’s. Thus, a Stargirl TV series was picked: a successor to Kara Zor-El that is even better in every aspect. From its striking opening JSA scene, Stargirl breathes a pure nostalgic Golden-Age comic book lore/vibrance – boosted by a classic Nebraska-set Americana, epic CGI, Easter Eggs, youthful pop energized tone, fantastic soundtrack, iconic villain, & subversive Brec Bassinger lead.

A CGI & Budget-Boost

From Its Jaw-Dropping Opening JSA Scene, The Action & Production-Value Is Off-The-Charts – And Shockingly-High For TV CBM’s

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

From its opening flickers, what’s most striking about the TV series is just how visually-striking it is. No secret that The CW-Verse has been mixed in CGI-execution [with an understandable TV-budget truncation without the luxury of big box office receipts to warrant 9-figure budgets], I can’t quite understand how the series feels extremely high production-value in VFX action. I am certainly not complaining; Stargirl is amazing as a canvas of visual action constantly-wowing with its choreography, visceral energy/pace, and fight sequence construction weaving multiple heroes of all shapes and sizes on-screen at once. – easily apparent from its jaw-dropping opening JSA scene. Perhaps one of the most breathtaking action scenes I’ve ever seen on TV, the JSA opening not only feels like a scene out of Avengers: Endgame complete with fantastic, crisp CGI in everything from green flames to tar-hands to light beams and every other superpower you can possibly think of (with legendary Easter Eggs teasing unseen participatnts) – but finally brings to screen a sacred group of comic book heroes: The Justice Society Of America.

The Comic Book Mythology

The Biggest Achievement In The Series: Finding A Way To Deep-Dive Into DC Comics’ Mythology – In A Strong Mystery

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

The original superhero team, pre-dating even the Justice League by 23 years and Avengers 23 1/2, The Justice Society Of America finally getting their big-screen ensemble after nearly-a-century of fictional lore is enough to bring tears to a comic book fan’s eye. A collective of heavy-hitters and sidekicks across generations and experience levels, the team differs from their best-and-most-iconic League eponymous team in that, much like this show, it’s accessible to everyone – and filled with diverse storytelling potential. Jay Garrick’s Flash, Hawkman/girl, Dr. Fate, The Atom, Alan Scott’s Green Lantern, Spectre, Dr. Mid-Nite, Starman, Wildcat, Thunderbolt, Power Girl: these are some of the [Golden-Age] superheroes that defined what superheroes are – and it’s a magnificent sight to behold them on the big screen from the show’s opening scene that weaves them seamlessly in a big all-out fight against their arch-nemesis: The Injustice Society. Boldly-scripted, the superheroes actually lose and die – a madly-compelling hook into the show paving way for a new group of recruits, led by Brec Bassinger.

Stargirl

A Brec Bassinger Lead Performance That Subverts SG-Expectations – A Hopeful Coming-Of-Age Lead Born Of Real Tragedy

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

Gah, Brec Bassinger is so good as Courtney Whitmore. A hopeful coming-of-age lead born of real-life tragedy creator Geoff Johns tributed to his own sister who in a plane crash in his first character launching his comic book career [now the creative director of WB/DC], the character subverts Supergirl-expectations to be a plucky optimism-vehicle from the start. Excuse our language: but she’s actually kind-of a b**** to her family at first – of course, understandable being that proverbial little girl who lost her father in a mystery accident, but taking out her teenage angst on her new family who does nothing wrong and mother trying to secure some kind of relationship in life. Despite likely turning-off a vast number of viewers, we like this plot-choice – as it one: makes the character more tangible and realistic susceptible to real-life emotions and tramautization, and two: helps the coming-of-age story & character development shine. As she learns more about her father’s star-spangled, staff-wielding past, she lightens up and becomes an apt-Supergirl-replacement and icon for girls watching that will undoubtedly be a huge success performance WB could (and should) throw heavy marketing behind.

The Tonal Mix, Soundtrack, & Case

A Pure Golden Age Nostalgic Tone, Nebraska-Set Americana Charm, Youthful Pop Soundtrack, Comedy, & Action Thrills

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

The rest of the performances are great on-both sides – from Luke Wilson’s dad-joking lame Pat Dugan to Christopher James Parker’s bone-chillingly intense Brainwave. The tone is fantastic, being pure golden age comic book fun evoking nostalgia to more innocent times in American history – bolstered by the Nebraska small-town setting that relentlessly-charms and is a perplexing rarity in CBM’s [skillfully-executed without thugs lurking behind every city corner.] The soundtrack is phenomenal – filled with youthful pop-energization and fuzzy electronic punk teenage rebellion juxtaposed with cinematic scores that feels perfect for its demographic. The editing is full of quick-cuts to catalyze its breakneck action and pacing sure to keep your heartrate up and your senses guessing what’s going to come next – and balances comedy and a strong sense of purpose/heart in its glossy Hollwood-to-1950’s aesthetic for a new show the whole family can enjoy [a rarity in DC’s modern film/TV roster].

Flaws

Occasional Teen Angst-Overload, Few Plotholes, & Couple Of Mediocre Suit

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

Flaws are limited to its age-range, a few plotholes, and suit construction. The teenage-angst and high school sterotypes are [admittedly] omnipresent and an obstacle that’s easy to get around, plus understandable for the demographic – but don’t try to reason with Snyderbots who will undoubtedly hate this.. or anything not doom-and-gloom. There are a few eye-rollable pluck lines like her ‘in the stars… Starman!’ revelation, a plothole of why she was so attached to her dad if he only got to see her irregularly, and a few of the suits of the new-JSA are amateurish-looking (although, most of them are great). These amount to nitpicks in the grand scheme.

Conclusion

The New Exemplar Of Girl Superheroicism

A Pure Golden Age Comic Book Series That Deep-Dives Into DC & Superheroicism Mythology – Wrapped In A Xmas Bow Of Family-Friendly Tone, Americana, & Charm

Photograph Courtesy Of: The CW x DC Universe

Overall, Stargirl is the new [shining] example of girl superheroicism on-screen. Not only does it succeed as a coming-of-age character-study on real-life tragedy origins as its protagonist learns to become hopeful and optimistic again, but it packs excitement and visually-striking action scenes into a balanced humourful canvas the whole family can enjoy. Make no mistake, though: this isn’t some corporatized project of formula like most of its competition though: the show will impress even the comic book junkies and knowledgeable-bros by delving deep into the mythology of the first superhero team: the JSA. The inimitable pleasure of seeing The Justice Society Of America on-screen for the first time elevates the TV series further from its jaw-dropping opening scene amongst the best-CGI’d I’ve seen on cable – one packed with Easter Eggs and secretive appearances that guide it towards pure Golden-Age heroicism-reverence/lore. The Nebraska-setting is one that reverberates its era-charms with classical Americana feel and boldness to go outside of major cities where criminals are everpresent, pop-fueled soundtrack energized and demographic-pleasing, and Brec Bassinger-led performances good. A few plotholes, teen-angst, and costume gripes aren’t enough to dull the show’s beaming presence, and it wildly-succeeds as a successor to Supergirl.. that’s better in [pretty much] every way. From its striking opening JSA scene, Stargirl breathes a pure nostalgic Golden-Age comic book lore/vibrance – boosted by a classic Nebraska-set Americana, epic CGI, Easter Eggs, youthful pop energized tone, fantastic soundtrack, iconic villain, & subversive Brec Bassinger lead.

Official CLC Score: 8.7/10