The future is looking bright for superhero TV shows, with the Arrowverse still going strong on the CW, and Marvel's big-screen heroes and villains heading to Disney+ over the next few years. The next superpowered badass who will grace the small screen with her heroics will be the titular teenager fronting Stargirl, the latest effort from DC Universe's streaming service. (Which will also be airing on The CW.) For those wondering what to expect from the new drama starring Brec Bassinger and Joel McHale, we've got you covered.
Reviews for Geoff Johns' Stargirl recently started popping up, offering a sign of what DC Universe is doing with its first live-action debut since the unfortunately short-lived Swamp Thing. The show centers on Brec Bessinger's Courtney Whitmore, a high schooler who moves from California to the midwest and discovers that her stepdad Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) is in possession of mystical staff that once belonged to Starman (Joel McHale). To be expected, the staff comes alive when Courtney is near, and it serves as a beacon for other heroes familiar to comic book readers.
Somewhat surprisingly, Stargirl reviews aren't nearly as plentiful as they would be for many other high-profile projects, especially for a show that's splitting its time between both streaming and traditional broadcasts. Now let's see what the critics thought about the latest live-action take on teen Courtney Whitmore.
Stargirl—which Johns developed alongside Arrowverse architect Greg Berlanti—is one of the most purely joyous things to come from DC in years. Debuting on both DC Universe and The CW, the series soars thanks to both a boundless sense of discovery and a glossy cinematography that wouldn’t feel out of place in the most hopeful Amblin Entertainment romps. Not even plot-wise, just real Back to the Future meets E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial vibes all over the place, the kind you’ll recognize from the most nostalgic part of your brain when you see it.
Series creator Geoff Johns also created the comic book character Stargirl, basing her on his sister Courtney Johns, who was killed in the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996. The already iconic writer has promoted the positive nature of the series and the idea of formed families, and that notion seems to have made an impact with those who reviewed it.
To that end, stars Brec Bessinger and Luke Wilson have garnered praise for their performances, both singularly and as a stepfather/daughter unit. Here's what ComingSoon had to say about it.
Brec Bassinger does a great job playing Courtney and her new costumed alter-ego, setting the tone for what fans can expect from the new series. Luke Wilson, however, is the key to making the show work as well as it does. He is believable as an endlessly loyal superhero sidekick who tries his best and is a genuine, protective father and husband you want to cheer for as much as you do Stargirl. . . . Stargirl is generally light and fun with decent pacing and clever humor that fits well with this particular cast, and the show does a pretty nice job of addressing giant elephants in the room.
Getting Luke Wilson and Joel McHale in the same superhero show and avoiding the comedy would have been a most unwise choice. Over at Newsarama, the characters were actually less of a plus, at least in the pilot itself. However, that outlet was far more fond of Stargirl's pricy visuals and the specifics of what this group of heroes are bringing to the small screen, saying:
The character building may need some work, but the pilot does a great job at delivering on the upscale superhero action that we’ve come to expect with these type of DC shows. Stargirlfeels like a high budget TV series that doesn’t hold back on its special effects. It gives the narrative the opportunity to showcase a sprinkling of different type of power sets that we don’t see nearly enough in the other solo hero programs.
Another shared notion is that Stargirl stumbles here and there when coming out of DC Universe's gate, with the plainly developed villains earning lots of finger-pointing. But the consensus is also that Stargirl ramps up the quality as the episodes go by. Take this, from Digital Spy:
It's worth bearing in mind that superhero shows like this rarely excel from the get-go. Looking back, most Arrowverse pilots were a bit rough around the edges, and that's true of Stargirl as well. Still, there's a lot of potential here. That's especially true following events in the third episode which hint at a wider team-up that should thrill comic book fans while also adding a welcome new dynamic to the show as a whole. Growth can be seen even across these first three installments, and if you're able to sit through some clichéd storytelling, Stargirl has the potential to shine bright among its Arrowverse rivals.
The Arrowverse did showcase its own Stargirl on Legends of Tomorrow, but the new DC Universe character got some love within the recent "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover, where the franchise also showcased the interconnectivity of nearly all the DC TV and movie universes. It's not clear whether or not this world will ever coincide with the standard Arrowverse shows again, especially since Stargirl may have its own Flash and Green Lantern, but its co-home at The CW can't hurt its chances, even though it films in Georgia instead of Vancouver.
In any case, TVLine is already giving Stargirl credit for being the superhero pop that stands out amidst The CW's superhero fare.
DC’s Stargirl gets off to a rousing, high-flying start, then loses some momentum when subsequent episodes open with deep-diving, Titans-style, -centric flashbacks. But by Episode 4, the stage is set for what is both DC Universe’s and The CW’s lightest, brightest, family-friendliest live-action superhero show yet.
With a cast that also includes Amy Smart, Nelson Lee, Yvette Monreal, Christopher James Baker, Anjelika Washington, Neil Jackson, Henry Thomas and more, Stargirl is hopefully going to get a ton of attention airing across two different platforms. Let us know below if you'll be watching!
Stargirl will make its streaming debut on DC Universe on Monday, May 18, and will make its linear TV debut on The CW on Tuesday, May 19, at 8:00 p.m. ET.