Superheroes are quirky by nature. It’s difficult adapting them into modern times with seriousness and stakes because the entire genre has an inherent camp value. Some films and shows manage to take a dramatic approach to these characters. But sometimes, it’s just best to lean into the corniness and let the chips fall where they may. That’s exactly the approach that DC’s Stargirl takes.
I knew absolutely nothing about the character going in and I only had a passing knowledge of the Justice Society of America as a whole. So it was nice going into the first season with a blank slate. The first few episodes of any superhero origin are always fairly rough as the same formula has to play out to get things going. But what Stargirl does that other shows do not is that it throws a lot of characters into the mix from the very beginning. This sometimes overloads a show and there’s just too much for the viewer to process. But Stargirl manages it by playing into the mystery of the Injustice Society and what they have planned. Even given this slow drip approach, the show doesn’t waste a whole lot of time introducing its origin stories or having villains that are a threat to our heroine. Because of this, tension starts from a very early episode and stays high throughout.
Yes, there will be superhero fans that won’t like this show. Specifically, fans of DC’s Snyderverse will be turned off by the show’s campiness. But if you lean into it and embrace the corniness for what it is, you will find that the show’s light tone is a relief and Stargirl (Brec Bassinger) herself has enough charm to keep it fun. But oddly enough, that doesn’t mean the show lacks for stakes. One of the benefits of introducing so many characters is that they can become expendable, and they are sure to be more deaths before the season ends.
Stargirl is streaming on HBOMax.