Button: Pride 2020

What You Need To Know About Stargirl’s DC Comics History Before You Watch Her New CW Show

Photo: Courtesy of The CW.
The CW has brought the DC comic book series Stargirl to life, and it's the epic, female-driven superhero story that we need and deserve in 2020. If, however, you’re new to Stargirl and her story, you might be wondering what exactly to expect. And since I know it's bothering you, let’s just get this out of the way: DC’s Stargirl has nothing to do with the YA film Stargirl on Disney+
Stargirl, also known as Courtney Elizabeth Whitmore (played by Brec Bassinger in the series), was created by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder and introduced to the world in the 1999 comic book series Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. But the story of teenage superhero Stargirl was really born back in 1941...
Advertisement

The DC Comics Characters That Came Before Stargirl

In the early '40s, DC debuted the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey comics — the perfect form of escapism for anyone living through World War II. The Kid was a listless, rich teenager named Sylvester Pemberton who decided to one day save the world and battle Nazis. Pat Dugan, his chauffeur and mechanic, joined him. The two became superhero duo Star-Spangled Kid (Sylvester) and Stripsey (Pat) and they kicked Nazi butt until Sylvester was murdered by Solomon Grundy and Pat went into comic book retirement. After that, Pat married Courtney's mom, Barbara Whitmore, in 1999.
On the show, Joel McHale portrays the Starman, who Star-Spangled Kid eventually becomes as an adult in this version. Luke Wilson plays the CW's version of Pat and Amy Smart is Barbara — making them a dream duo for anyone still thriving on '90s nostalgia.

How Courtney Becomes Stargirl In The Comics

Courtney one day discovers the original Star-Spangled Kid superhero uniform in the basement and puts it on as an act of rebellion, since she’s still mad at her mom for marrying Pat and for moving all the way from Los Angeles to Blue Valley, Nebraska. She decides she’s going to become the modern-day Star Spangled Kid and take on supervillains, and though he initially tries to stop her, Pat eventually decides to fight alongside her and creates his robotic S.T.R.I.P.E. suit — yes, his suit is basically the same thing as Iron Man’s suit from Marvel comics. The two become... drum roll please... Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. Subtle, right?
Advertisement
Photo: Courtesy of The CW.
Courtney eventually joins the Justice Society of America, which Book Riot says is composed of legacy superheroes’ children like the OG Star-Spangled Kid’s son, Jack Knight. In the comic books, it’s Jack who gives Courtney a powerful cosmic staff his dad created and used back in the day. In the CW show, however, Courtney finds the staff in the basement along with the uniform.
Once Courtney fully embraces her identity as Stargirl in the comics, she makes it her mission to avenge Star-Spangled Kid's death and kill Solomon, who has become more deranged after dying and being brought back to life as basically a zombie villain, thanks to a dip in Joker’s chemical plant.

What Are Stargirl's Powers?

Although Stargirl isn’t born with natural abilities, she is a trained gymnast and kickboxer. Her uniform and cosmic staff give her the ability to become super fast, strong, and agile. It also gives her the power to project shooting stars and fly.

Stargirl Is Kind Of Based On A Real Person

Johns' inspiration behind Courtney is actually a really sad one: He had a sister named Courtney who died in the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996. She was on her way to France as a foreign exchange student. Johns memorialized her by creating the forever ambitious and unstoppable Stargirl.
The CW's Stargirl is executive produced by Johns, so it stays pretty true to its comic book origins. Even though the series is getting a modern day makeover, it'll still represent everything the OG Stargirl fights for: America and justice for her predecessors.

More from TV

R29 Original Series