Stargirl First Reviews: A Nostalgic, Action-Packed 'Must See' for DC Fans

Critics say DC Universe's newest TV offering is a fun throwback to the Golden Age of comics with heart, adventure, and a star-making turn from Brec Bassinger.

by | May 1, 2020 | Comments

Not to be confused with the Disney+ movie of the same name, DC’s Stargirl series is here to shake up the superhero genre with a big dose of fun.

The TV show, which is inspired by the Geoff Johns–created comic series Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E., tells the tale of the Justice Society of America’s demise and the subsequent rise of a young new hero. That hero is Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), who goes from innocent yet lively high school teenager to a spry, acrobatic, staff-wielding vigilante-in-training. The series kicks off with Courtney’s family moving from Los Angeles to Blue Valley, Nebraska; her mother Barbara (Amy Smart) and new stepfather, Pat (Luke Wilson) are looking to start a new life in this small town. But it’s not long before Courtney discovers her stepdad is not who he seems. 

After discovering some peculiar items in the basement — and becoming acquainted with the late Starman’s (Joel McHale) Cosmic Staff — the teenager learns Pat was once known as S.T.R.I.P.E., superhero sidekick to the JSA. As you’d expect, Courtney quickly embraces her new role as budding superhero, with Pat’s reluctant guidance, and takes on the mission of upholding justice in the face of old foes, while inspiring the rise of an entirely new generation of heroes. 

Stargirl (DC Universe)

Stargirl is the first series partnership between DC Universe and the CW, and every episode will premiere on the streamer before hitting the network a day later. This all makes sense given the involvement of Arrowverse mastermind, Greg Berlanti; the events that went down in The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover resulted in the creation of a new Earth-2, which helped spawn this show. And in this realm, the legacy of the Justice Society of America lives on.

It’s worth noting that Johns (Titans, Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol) not only gets a co-creator credit here, but he also writes a number of episodes. Given the personal connection Johns has to the story — the comic was inspired by his sister Courtney who died in the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster — we’re surely in for an emotional rollercoaster.

“She’s the first character I ever wrote in comic books and created her in my very first comic book,” Johns told EW. “She was inspired by my late sister, so it means a lot to me personally to have come off the page and onto the screen like this, and to work with the crew and the cast that I did. It was amazing.”

So, how is the new series? Here’s what the critics are saying about Stargirl.

(Photo by © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Newcomer Brec Bassinger is perfect as Stargirl

Bassinger is an inarguable star. She makes the show; it’s a performance where you can track the character’s progression from fish-out-of-water to bonafide hero just from the way Bassinger carries herself. — Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

Brec Bassinger dazzles as our lead, and with the entire show on her shoulders, she proves to be a very capable lead actress. — Ferdosa Abdi, Geeks of Color

…the actress embodies the Courtney Whitmore from the source material more often than not, showing her sweet and fun side away from those irritable family moments. — Kyle Wilson, Lamplight Review

(Photo by Jace Downs/The CW)

Luke Wilson shines as Stargirl’s superhero sidekick stepdad

The real standout, however, is Luke Wilson as the put-upon Pat. While Wilson has worked steadily for over two decades, he’s been somewhat under the radar since his early-2000s heyday. But he shines in Stargirl, perfectly balancing Pat’s roles as awkward new stepfather, exasperated elder, and superhero sidekick, making for a thoroughly appealing character. — Cynthia Vinney, CBR

Wilson, by the way, is an absolute gift to this show. He sells every single line, even the most far fetched ridiculous ones. — Grace Randolph, Beyond the Trailer

The action sequences and special effects are surprisingly strong

If you are or have ever been a fan of the Arrow-verse, then Stargirl will be right up your alley. However, it will be that little bit sweeter thanks to the big budget attached to the show – allowing it to be very visually pleasing in hand with some great action-packed set pieces. Stargirl is a must-watch for any DC Fan. — Alex Page, Discussing Film

The amazing action-packed opening sequence completely blew me away in size and cinematic scope – it might just be the best thing DC has ever done on the small screen. The visual effects are particularly impressive and on par with Swamp Thing, with a number of powers, including the cosmic staff, wonderfully brought to life. — Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

So how does Stargirl compare to the likes of Supergirl and The Flash? Budget-wise, the special effects are a slight step up from what Arrowverse fans might be used to. Courtney’s gymnastic skills are put to great effect here as she flips around baddies using her cosmic staff. Props must be given to that extremely impressive prop too, which genuinely feels like a character in its own right thanks to some fun visual quirks. — David Opie, Digital Spy

(Photo by © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

It’s a fun, family-friendly throwback to DC’s Golden Age

Time and again when watching DC’s Stargirl — especially the first couple of episodes, out of the five I screened — it very much evoked the Walt Disney films of “old,” namely the ones in which college student Kurt Russell was accidentally bestowed with one power (invisibility) or another (supersmarts), and rightly geeked out. — Matt Webb Mitovich, TV Line

It’s big, epic, and cartoonish in a very fun way. — Alex Cranz, I09

There’s something nostalgic and purely fun about DC’s Stargirl that makes it nearly irresistible. The series has a reverence and love for a simpler time, yet still firmly plants itself in the modern with a similar, but more guarded sense of optimism. — Kyle Wilson, Lamplight Review

Stargirl premieres Monday, May 18, on DC Universe and Tuesday, May 19, at 8 pm ET/PT on the CW.

Thumbnail: Smallz & Raskind/The CW

Stargirl: Season 1 (2019)

Adjusted Score: 91.416%
Critics Consensus: A stellar series perfect for anyone looking for a little hope, Stargirl is delightful fun the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: About a high-school student who bands together with the Justice Society of America to fight villains, past and present... [More]

Tag Cloud

Hulu Emmy Nominations romantic comedy Photos boxing Nominations FX cooking true crime classics Exclusive Video festival technology 72 Emmy Awards HBO Max Turner Classic Movies CBS Toys Women's History Month Binge Guide Black History Month Crackle The Academy zero dark thirty HBO Premiere Dates Polls and Games versus GoT concert disaster venice YouTube space theme song CW Seed adventure psycho reviews aliens Music doctor who Esquire GLAAD Dark Horse Comics Shondaland 2021 NYCC binge canceled TV shows Christmas Apple TV Plus streaming ITV Amazon Prime APB Spectrum Originals satire Shudder spinoff rotten movies we love Lifetime Mary poppins National Geographic CNN docuseries Britbox TCM Food Network festivals BAFTA Mary Poppins Returns unscripted Drama dogs TCA science fiction Song of Ice and Fire zombies book LGBTQ WGN The Walking Dead Interview TCA Awards dark Winners 24 frames all-time Funimation Country nbcuniversal Discovery Channel Marathons IFC Films The Walt Disney Company diversity deadpool spanish what to watch crime thriller serial killer screenings Syfy 007 cancelled joker talk show Apple trailers animated TV cinemax Broadway anime Pride Month Netflix Christmas movies Logo Marvel Tumblr asian-american sitcom Arrowverse Mary Tyler Moore OWN PaleyFest indiana jones cartoon Sci-Fi movie hollywood USA Network television DC Universe RT21 mission: impossible series remakes Horror fresh Sundance Now latino cars CMT History war Ghostbusters Infographic renewed TV shows period drama Western canceled E! BBC Awards PBS Warner Bros. tv talk rom-coms kong Reality Classic Film spider-man independent Fox Searchlight Watching Series franchise sequel comics foreign richard e. Grant Best and Worst DC streaming service Legendary ESPN Amazon PlayStation sequels Year in Review teaser First Reviews 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards blockbuster Trophy Talk natural history superman Action parents miniseries Ovation Avengers Masterpiece Sony Pictures Columbia Pictures 45 Grammys Sundance best SXSW Film Festival ABC Family 2019 SDCC FXX facebook Fantasy Hallmark Christmas movies DC Comics BBC America Elton John sports anthology travel BET Awards Amazon Prime Video prank Opinion die hard Marvel Studios Acorn TV critics Freeform reboot Writers Guild of America Travel Channel italian documentaries Paramount Network documentary award winner LGBT TBS Universal christmas movies Rocky RT History Mudbound President Cartoon Network singing competition Comics on TV political drama CBS All Access MTV E3 Box Office Pop TV rt archives nfl TNT 71st Emmy Awards VICE adaptation films dc 99% cancelled TV series blockbusters monster movies OneApp obituary 4/20 TCA 2017 biography 21st Century Fox SundanceTV elevated horror Netflix batman rotten DGA A24 Hear Us Out ABC Pop Certified Fresh Apple TV+ Calendar movies Tomatazos Pet Sematary Thanksgiving comic books historical drama Showtime ratings based on movie Vudu MSNBC Comic Book Rocketman Set visit mockumentary chucky Tubi Ellie Kemper police drama cults Schedule video on demand popular Black Mirror cancelled television a nightmare on elm street Super Bowl GIFs crossover Holidays supernatural 2016 Podcast witnail Kids & Family FX on Hulu medical drama TCA Winter 2020 Tarantino Stephen King revenge Mystery Trailer New York Comic Con Starz stoner spy thriller halloween justice league Disney+ Disney Plus Extras Bravo IFC 2018 video strong female leads Martial Arts Amazon Studios thriller Alien women golden globe awards quibi boxoffice Lifetime Christmas movies Emmys Awards Tour The Witch japanese Cannes Endgame ABC Signature Teen Red Carpet Disney streaming service godzilla Peacock Film psychological thriller cancelled TV shows FOX TV Land Sundance TV crime El Rey razzies harry potter American Society of Cinematographers HBO Go Disney Channel worst movies Walt Disney Pictures Crunchyroll finale Hallmark 2015 twilight Spring TV The Arrangement BBC One Academy Awards Musicals The Purge toy story breaking bad telelvision 20th Century Fox news james bond Comedy Central AMC halloween tv Anna Paquin nature NBC ghosts king kong hist Chilling Adventures of Sabrina indie Character Guide free movies game show YA kids comiccon directors blaxploitation comic Paramount Plus TV renewals spain Nickelodeon composers MCU emmy awards Mindy Kaling south america Musical Marvel Television Election VH1 politics slashers crime drama game of thrones criterion cats Rom-Com Superheroe scorecard Valentine's Day Turner golden globes dramedy BET Video Games stand-up comedy USA Holiday Star Trek Brie Larson discovery Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt ViacomCBS Rock A&E Reality Competition Baby Yoda TV One 2017 football Epix sag awards toronto jurassic park werewolf stop motion Countdown Superheroes Sneak Peek universal monsters kaiju children's TV docudrama hidden camera robots worst TruTV dceu vampires Pirates french australia Fox News Spike Comedy Pixar Winter TV social media 2020 dragons First Look Adult Swim fast and furious WarnerMedia screen actors guild cops scary movies See It Skip It Lionsgate black Quiz spanish language Lucasfilm transformers YouTube Red X-Men zombie Fall TV casting VOD pirates of the caribbean Summer name the review San Diego Comic-Con archives jamie lee curtis Cosplay comedies Captain marvel Trivia mutant Chernobyl Paramount Disney Plus Disney Animation superhero Television Critics Association ID green book Family romance laika DirecTV YouTube Premium Nat Geo Heroines hispanic TIFF The CW Oscars Biopics Television Academy child's play TLC Star Wars Creative Arts Emmys