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SPOILERS ahead for the new Disney+ movie Stargirl.
Unlike many of Disney+’s many offerings, Stargirl is not a story about magic or second stars to the right – yet Grace VanderWaal’s titular character certainly vanishes into thin air as if she had her very own sparkly wand. Stargirl exits Graham Verchere Leo’s life as swiftly as she enters it in the coming-of-age release. The end of the film certainly adds mystery to the character as the credits roll. Now the first-time actress behind the role is offering her take on why the film left things the way it did.
When 2011’s America’s Got Talent winner Grace VanderWaal spoke with CinemaBlend, she discussed her take on the ending of Stargirl that has her character simply disappearing from the cheerful high school dance, Mica High and town too. Here’s her take on the finale:
I think it was very important for something like that to happen because it really showed the reality of the situation. I wouldn’t say it's a very sad ending, but it’s definitely not a happy ending. But in a way it kind of is, in my mind at least I see it as a happy ending only because she learned so much about the reality of being in a public high school. The reality of teenagers and standards, judgement, social queues and picking up on social queues, which she wasn’t the best at. And I think she really left the school not only knowing much more about herself, but know a lot more about the world.
Grace VanderWaal portrays the star character from Jerry Spinelli’s bestselling YA book. She’s been homeschooled for much of her life and has a lot to adjust to once she enters the classroom. She’s not shy about her love of singing and playing the ukulele, and it has her rising up the ranks in popularity at first. But then she learns firsthand about the negativity that surrounds the high school environment.
Although the Disney+ original is told from the perspective of Leo, as the film progresses, audiences start to see the effects high school is having on Stargirl’s individuality. It’s dampening her “magic,” and perhaps she realizes this and decides it’s her queue to exit. Either way, Grace VanderWaal interprets it as a necessary ending in order to bring home the ending of the story.
As the movie hits its final beats, there seems to be a mythology surrounding Stargirl’s legacy. As Leo’s voiceover swells, he says the words “Nothing ever happened here, nothing at all” as the camera pans on Stargirl’s award in the high school hallway. It could beg the question if VanderWaal’s character was even real in the first place by some assumptions. Here’s what Grace also told me during our interview:
How I interpret it at least is it's kind of like the butterfly effect. Like she could have influenced one person at that dance before she disappeared and that one person might have influenced their friend group… and now people who aren’t even connected to that friend group are seeing them and maybe they’re subconsciously expressing themselves more.
So no, she wasn’t a figment of Leo’s imagination even though he asks if it "was real" by the end of the movie. The way the singer-songwriter sees it, while she may have left the school on awkward terms, she clearly had a positive effect on them as a whole. Because she was true to herself and dared to be unique, it actually rubbed off Mica High in a way that left it better than she found it. The central message lies in her own treatment of people that has created a “butterfly effect” across the school even though Stargirl herself may have received the short end of the stick.
The ending of Stargirl does have a mysteriousness to it, but per Grace Vanderwaal’s words, it seems she has a straightforward reading of the film. She was real and "magic" just like Giancarlo Esposito's Archie talks about. When asked about where Stargirl went after the end of the movie, the 16-year-old's thoughts are in line with where Leo imagine she goes:
I think she probably went on the road with her mom like her mom wanted her to do.
What do you think? Was this your interpretation of the ending of Stargirl and what did you think of it? Sound off in the comments below and check out our review of the movie.