The CW sends audiences on a long-overdue trip to the Golden Age of DC Comics with Stargirl, a series about high school student Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) taking on the mantle of Sylvester Pemberton’s Starman after finding the Cosmic Staff among his stepfather’s belongings. Pemberton, played by former The Soup host Joel McHale, is a member of the Justice Society of America, known to stalwart comic book fans as the original iteration of the Justice League. In the comics, Sylvester Pemberton was a teenager, not an adult, and protected Earth as the Star-Spangled Kid. Whitmore’s stepfather is Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson), Pemberton’s sidekick. Dugan dons an Iron Man-esque superpowered suit of armor as S.T.R.I.P.E. to assist Stargirl in her adventures. DC’s Stargirl premiered its first season last year on the now-defunct DC Universe. The show was renewed for a second season a few months later, in response to positive reviews. The CW just greenlit a third season yesterday, according to Variety’s Joe Otterson.
Mark Pedowitz, chairman and CEO of the CW Network, made a double announcement, renewing Stargirl for Season 3 alongside Christina M. Kim’s Kung Fu. The latter is a small-screen adaptation of the 1972 television show of the same name, starring David Carradine as Kwang Chai Caine, a Shaolin monk in the American Old West. The series is famous for snubbing Jeet Kune Do founder Bruce Lee during casting; Lee conceptualized the show with Ed Spielman. Pedowitz highlighted modern-day feminism in his announcement, saying, “We are beyond proud to continue to share the stories of Nicky Shen and Courtney Whitmore, two strong, powerful young women at the center of this new generation of hit shows for The CW in Kung Fu and DC’s Stargirl. While each boasts remarkable talent on both sides of the camera, Kung Fu and DC’S Stargirl have not only treated fans to some visually stunning action and high-flying heroics, but they also both strike very powerful emotional chords as they delve into the family dynamics and personal relationships at their core, and we are so excited to see what happens next.” The second season of Stargirl promises crazier villains — particularly Eclipso, the literal manifestation of God’s Wrath — and the return of Joel McHale’s Starman. It will be airing exclusively on the CW on August 10.
The Justice Society of America last appeared on the CW in Legends of Tomorrow, albeit the original 1940s version. Here, the JSA ended decades of crimefighting after Rex Tyler, otherwise known as Hourman, was murdered by the Reverse Flash. A different version of Stargirl, played by The Order’s Sarah Grey, featured on the show. This Courtney Whitmore hailed from 1942 along with the rest of the World War 2-era JSA; she stayed behind in the sixth century, forming her own court of Camelot as their wannabe Merlin. Brec Bassinger’s Stargirl is the present-day iteration of the same character.
Smallville film Absolute Justice also had its own version of the Justice Society of America, complete with its own Stargirl. In this version, Courtney Whitmore (Britt Irvin) avenges the death of her mentor Sylvester Pemberton (Jim Shield) by teaming up with Hawkman and Doctor Fate in taking down Cameron Mahkent, the second Icicle. Stargirl also appeared in Smallville episodes “Icarus” and “Prophecy,” to assist Clark Kent in the fight against Deathstroke and Toyman, respectively. Jordan Mahkent, Cameron’s father, is the primary antagonist of the first season of DC’s Stargirl. He is the leader of the Injustice Society of America in the present day and is responsible for this timeline’s Sylvester Pemberton’s death. Neil Jackson (Nocturnal Animals) played Jordan while Hunter Sansone plays Cameron.
In her solo series, Stargirl assembles the current generation of the Justice Society of America and becomes their de facto leader. She possesses multiple abilities, including superhuman strength and reflexes, flight, and cosmic manipulation. Like her name implies, she can also create shooting stars with her hands. The character was originally created by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder, and was inspired by Johns’s late sister (also named Courtney) who perished in the 1996 crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800.
Hollywood has yet to debut a big-screen version of the Justice Society of America in live-action, whether past or future. Warner Bros. announced a Justice Society movie is currently in the works, however, with some members — notably Carter Hall/Hawkman, Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate, Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone, and Albert Rothstein/Atom Smasher — appearing for the first time in Black Adam, confirms Dwayne Johnson in an exclusive interview with Screen Rant in 2019. Is Stargirl going to be part of the crew? The Rock didn’t say, but with a Stargirl solo movie reportedly on the way, we sure hope so.