When the Golden Age superhero group the Justice Society of America (JSA) falls, their leader Starman (Joel McHale) passes his Cosmic Staff to his sidekick Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) to find a rightful successor.
Ten years later, Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), Dugan’s stepdaughter accidentally discovers the staff and activates its dormant powers.
Will she be able to take up the mantle of Stargirl?
Executive producer Geoff Johns, the highly esteemed DC comic book writer responsible for renowned storylines such as the Flashpoint crossover event, created the character Stargirl to honor his late sister Courtney.
Stargirl who debuted in the first issue of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. in 1999 has been a relative fixture in DC Comics, and boasts membership in several superhero teams including the JSA, Young Justice, Suicide Squad and the Justice League itself.
Johns’ treatment of the character has always had a personal skew for him, but he has always done it with respect to the integrity of DC lore, and this is what makes Stargirl as a show most intriguing – Johns knows the source material by heart.
Therefore, he will likely pour his heart into this project.
During the pilot episode, nods to the comic book were littered from the beginning with the Golden Age JSA battling to the death with the Injustice Society, and it ends with a teaser for Dugan’s superhero persona/robot armor S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer).
McHale’s brief performance as Starman was particularly notable as he reluctantly hands Wilson’s character his staff.
As Starman falls in battle in the arms of Dugan, he asks him to find a worthy successor while comically reiterating “Definitely not you.”
For over ten years, Dugan was either unsuccessful or unwilling to impart the powerful relic from his dead friend to another, and this begins the story of Stargirl.
The show is set in the fictional Blue Valley, Nebraska where Dugan along with his son Mike (Trae Romano), wife Barbara Whitemore (Amy Smart), and stepdaughter Courtney move from California to look for a fresh start as a family.
The cinematography and soundtrack of the show elicit an old-timey vibe when the scene shifts to Nebraska, and it’s reminiscent of Marty McFly going back in time on Back to the Future.
There’s even a great scene highlighting the difference in culture between California and Nebraska when the Whitemore-Dugans walk around town, and people greet them with a smile.
As Mike and Courtney are bewildered by what they see as odd behavior from strangers, Dugan and Barbara reply plainly, “They’re just being friendly.”
When the step-siblings have their first-days at school, Mike integrates among the nerdy click fairly well, and claims they have more time for video games because there’s nothing to do in Nebraska.
Meanwhile, Courtney struggles as she finds out there is no gymnastics team, and she quickly finds herself on the “loser” table with a bully immediately picking on her.
The new high school scenes are as cliche’ as they come, and is a far too familiar a trope as any, but it’s the pilot so it’s a forgivable bit for now.
As it turns out, the bully Henry (Jake Austin Walker) is the son of Dr. Henry King, Sr. / Brainwave (Christopher James Baker), and Courtney encounters both after inadvertently awakening the Cosmic Staff.
Moreover, this version of the Cosmic Staff has limited sentience, similar to Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation in the 2016 film, and is a unique trait that’s never been used in past incarnations.
Where will the show go moving forward?
The main drive of the Stargirl character has always been to bring the glory of the JSA back to contemporary times, and during the pilot, the pieces of the story were put into place with an enjoyable tone.
Luke Wilson brings his comedic chops to support the fresh face of Brec Bassinger as a teenage female superhero lead, which is uncharted territory for the most part.
The chemistry between Wilson and Bassinger is already filled with humor and heart, and it’s a stepfather-daughter relationship that could be interesting to watch as it evolves.
However, the teenage demographic might be a tough audience to crack since there is a myriad of shows available on several streaming services already, and though there is a place for teenage superheroes, based on the recent successes of Young Justice, Titans, and Cloak and Dagger, Stargirl could be lost in the shuffle.
Because unlike those aforementioned shows, Stargirl, relatively speaking is less dark, less mature, and seems a bit too old-fashioned, which is exactly the point of the character in the first place, and it could either work for or against the show’s success.
VERDICT: Probably not worth streaming – for now.
Stargirl seems to want to pay homage to the Golden Age of Comic Books, and in doing so has set itself apart from other contemporary teenage drama shows that seem to always want to subvert expectations and desecrate long-standing sacred source material – looking at you Riverdale and Titans.
The problem is though, it plays like a familiar movie we’ve all seen a million times, and is it worth seeing the same movie again over the course of a series-long narrative?
True, the characters are relatively new to the average viewer, but the encompassing premise is simply not.
Nevertheless, Geoff Johns’ personal pet project started off well, its cinematography is excellent, and has definitely done the source material justice (pun intended).
In the meantime, unless you’re a fan of the comic or simply want to support a likely groundbreaking female teenage superhero lead of our time, then streaming Stargirl might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
5 Powerful Shows, Movies, and Documentaries to Watch to Learn About Racial Injustice
Guest post: Hiba Abdillahi
There’s a problem in our country. If you’ve been watching new news or checked in on social media, you have seen the murder of African American men at the hands of police (most recently, the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody), racially-motivated encounters, and, as a result, protests, riots, and lootings that have spanned nationwide.
The conversation about racial injustice, racial inequality, and systematic racism has never been louder or more charged up, and for those of you who may not know much about it or have never experienced it first hand, it’s a time to get educated.
The list of shows and documentaries that cover what it’s like to be black in America and capture institutionalized racism continues to multiply quickly as streaming services.
But we’ve narrowed it down to a list of 5 shows, movies, and documentaries that can be a starting point for you and your family to help you understand how root of violence against black Americans and how it affects everyone.
1. When They See Us (Netflix)
The jarring Netflix mini-series by Ava Duvernay is based on the story of the Central Park Five, a group of five black Latino boys failed by the justice system after they were wrongfully convinced of raping and assaulting a woman in Central Park in 1989.
2. 13th (Netflix)
How much do you know about the U.S prison boom? Once again filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores issues of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States in the Academy Award-nominated documentary.
3. I Am Not Your Negro (Youtube or Amazon Prime)
Sometimes we need to look back, to see how we can move forward. This documentary is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin and covers the history of racism in America, focusing on the stories of Civil Rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. Dear White People (Netflix)
We could all use some comic relief these days while educating ourselves, of course. This comedy-drama series on Netflix follows a group of black college students at an Ivy League (predominately white) college. The series covers plenty of racial topics young African-Americans face including cultural bias, social injustice, misguided activism, and slippery politics.
5. If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
It’s the story we’ve seen play out in our society time and time again. Based on the novel by James Baldwin, the 2018 drama focuses on a young black man imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and a young back couple fighting for justice and the American dream.
Bonus: Just Mercy
Michael B. Jordan’s film follows the real-life story of defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, who fought to clear Walter McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx), wrongfully convicted of murder and placed on death row.
Warner Bros. announced it will be free on all digital streaming platforms during the month of June to teach people about systemic racism.
Rick and Morty Finale Review – Attack of Beth’s Clone (4 x 10)
Rick & Morty wrapped-up season 4 with a Star Wars homage episode, titled “Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri,” that revisited the Clone Beth and Phoenix Person / Tammy story arcs.
The seeds of this finale, of course, were planted way back in season 3 episode 10 “The Rickchurian Mortydate” where Beth discussed the idea with Rick of having herself cloned, so she can live two lives.
In the same episode, a post-credits tag showed Tammy, the treacherous Galactic Federation agent / Summer’s ex-BFF, reviving her ex-lover / Rick’s BFF Phoenix (formerly Bird) Person into a cybernetic body – a la Darth Vader.
For a long time, absolutely nothing was ever explicitly established on-screen to further develop these arcs, that is, until now.
A TALE OF TWO CLONES
Beth has been a pretty low-key character this season and has only played a major role in a couple of episodes, but she came back big time toward the end, gaining momentum from episode 9, and following through with a bombshell revelation in the finale.
Since “The Rickchurian Mortydate,” it’s revealed in this episode that Beth was actually cloned by Rick per her request, and there have been two Beths leading completely different lives simultaneously.
One Beth (let’s call her Space Beth) pursued adventure in the galaxy as a rebel hero fighting against the New Galactic Federation (NGF), just like Rick did when he was younger.
This version of Beth has cybernetic enhancements as well and has been put on the NGF’s “Most Wanted” list, which basically fulfills a recurring gag in her character that she is basically Rick, but a woman.
Too smart for her own good, jaded to a fault, and limitlessly stubborn.
Space Beth even has her own spaceship, which she uses to go back to Earth after finding out that Rick planted a proximity bomb on her neck in case she comes anywhere near the other Beth.
She attempts to kill Rick in this episode because of this and gloats to her father that she’s replaced him as the most dangerous being in the galaxy.
Even the NGF admits this saying that Rick becomes a “non-threat” when he is left alone.
Regardless, this Beth seems satisfied with her personal accomplishments and has reached her full potential as a badass and a person.
In the words of Morty, “Like father, like god damn daughter.”
Meanwhile, the other Beth (aka “Normal Beth”) stayed home on Earth where she reconciled with Jerry, whom she was on the verge of divorcing, and fixed her broken albeit insanely dysfunctional family.
She even managed to get everyone, including Rick, to do periodic family psychiatric therapy sessions.
This version of Beth decided to live a “normal” life and became less like Rick.
Nevertheless, she is equally satisfied, fulfilled, and self-aware of the life she had chosen.
In other words, this Beth is happy.
She isn’t even shocked at the idea that she may be a clone when Space Beth shows up.
Nothing phases her anymore because she knows who she is, and has developed a healthy acceptance of it.
This is a direct contrast to her father who, despite knowing who he is (essentially a near unparalleled genius god scientist), can not come to terms with his own existence and has a deeply suppressed depression because of it.
The episode explores these dynamics in a subtle way but does so in the signature dark comedic style that the show is known and loved for.
In the end, when the space dust settled Jerry, Morty and Summer now seem to accept having two different Beths as the norm.
“I love having two moms,” said Summer.
Followed by Jerry who quickly responded, “I love having two wives.”
However, when Rick tries to tell which Beth is the clone via a Mindblower Vial memory, he made it so even he wouldn’t remember, his family berates him for being a bad father and claim they don’t even want to know.
Rick watches it alone, and the memory reveals that he removed the labels “Real Beth” and “Clone Beth” from the tanks he used to clone Beth, and shuffled them, so it’s impossible to know who his real daughter is.
This makes Rick come to a self-realization that he is indeed a terrible father because he would be content in killing either one of the Beths if he favored one over the other.
It should be interesting to see where the show takes this development next season.
Will Space Beth bring a new dynamic to the show permanently? Or will they just kill her off-screen?
Could go either way with this show at this point.
THE RISE AND FALL… AND RISE AGAIN? OF PHOENIX PERSON
It was simply amazing to see these two characters again and in the canon storyline this time.
They were last seen in”Never Ricking Morty,” but were basically a figment of imagination in that episode.
Tammy, before meeting her poetic demise at the hands of Rick and Summer in this episode, led the NGF to Earth to look for Beth aka “Blade Smith” and take her in.
And the absurdly morbid way she was used to defeat Phoenix Person, by Jerry no less, is a scene that should be watched because it’s simply too difficult to put into words.
Seriously, it’s messed up and hilarious at the same time.
Before that though, he has a super awesome sci-fi fight scene with Rick where he almost kills him.
In the end, Rick saves his best friend from the brink of death (the parallels with Anakin/Darth Vader continue) and stores him in the garage in hopes of rehabilitating him.
So while the arc of Tammy is permanently shut, there is potential for more Bird/Phoenix Person appearances in the future!
BATTLE FOR THE INVISIBILITY BELT
As usual with this show now, you can never trust the promos.
Though the invisibility belt did play a major role in the main arc of the episode, it was mostly relegated to B-storyline.
Basically, Morty and Summer fight over it so they can both do pervy teenager stuff.
And they kind of used it against the NGF invasion, which is sponsored by Wrangler jeans, apparently.
But in the end, it’s used by Jerry to save the day. Go figure.
It’s tough to do a Star Wars homage because it’s been done before many many many times.
Rick & Morty does it by explicitly not doing it in overtly obvious ways.
They hide it in plain sight, within the characters, within the story arcs, within a blink and you’ll miss it moment, or a cleverly placed easter egg.
And that’s what made this episode special.
It had the essential elements of Star Wars, but the characters and the narrative are all original concoctions.
From Tammy acting essentially as the Empire, to Phoenix Person filling the role as Darth Vader.
Which, of course, implies that Rick is Obi-Wan.
Morty and Summer are the clumsy Luke and Leia.
So Beth essentially became something like a Rey figure?
Does that mean Jerry is Kylo Ren? Oh god why.
Anyway, the finale is a masterpiece and scores . . .
Katy Keene May Be Part of the Riverdale Universe, But It’s Far Removed From the Dark Murder Series
When you first heard about a Riverdale spinoff, I’m willing to bet you didn’t think it would be a series revolving around the fashion and music industry, but that’s exactly what you get when you tune into The CW’s Katy Keene.
Devoid of murders and darkness, the series (based on the Archie Comics), spearheaded by Lucy Hale in the role of the titular character, shines bright amidst the supernatural vibes of its sister shows, Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the oftentimes supernatural lineup embraced on The CW.
In place of those murder mysteries that tend to envelop the residents of Riverdale, Katy Keene sets the stage for a coming-of-age tale that propels themes of hopefulness, following your destiny, and chasing every opportunity.
Some of us might say — the ones that were old enough to have watched Gossip Girl and Sex and the City when it aired live, anyway — that the series is the younger sister of those fashion-centric show, and fills the void they left behind quite nicely with its bubbly depiction of New York’s elite, always-on-the-go, and hook-up heavy aesthetic.
But don’t be fooled — the show’s optimistic outlook doesn’t mean it’s without its fair share of drama.
Like Riverdale, Katy Keene relies on a formula of convoluted mysteries and twists, and it thrives on throwing its characters into unpredictable and messy situations, albeit, with less murder and serial killers.
And New York, much like Riverdale, can make or break you in a minute; it can snuff out that very hope it evokes and destroy the opportunities it’s made possible until you’re left feeling more alone than ever.
Katy Keene focuses heavily on its ensemble cast — heavier than Riverdale at times — giving each of its characters a storyline to dig into.
The circumstances of the Big Apple — rent as tall as the skyscrapers and the competitiveness of its inhabitants — brings Katy, an aspiring fashion designer, closer to Jorge/Ginger Lopez (Johhny Beauchamp), an aspiring Broadway star, Pepper Smith (Julia Chan), an aspiring business owner, and Riverdale’s finest, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), an aspiring singer.
Much like Riverdale’s core four, this unit relies on each other to navigates life’s up-and-downs.
For Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, these trials and tribulations tend to consist of dark forces and mysteries such as figuring the identity of the Black Hood, the Gargoyle King, and how to escape and stop an organ harvesting cult, among others.
Katy Keene, however, offers up a dreamlike vibe while showcasing real and more relatable issues of navigating your upper 20s with the focus being on every millennial’s struggle to juggle the pursuit of a dream career in an overpriced city alongside a romantic life.
Alex says it best — you’re no one in this city without money — and thus, a lot of the drama revolves around financial situations.
Quiz2 weeks ago
QUIZ: Which ‘The Resident’ Doctor Is Your Soulmate?
The 1003 weeks ago
The 100’s Final Season Preview – The Beginning Of The End
Editorials2 weeks ago
Skeet Ulrich Explains Why He’s Leaving ‘Riverdale’ – 5 Ways The Series Can Explain FP Jones’ Exit
Coffee Table News1 week ago
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley Announce Name of Bourbon Brand
The 1001 week ago
The 100 Review- There Is No Hope (7×02)
Fuller House2 days ago
Fuller House Series Finale Recap – It’s Always Open (5×18)
Quiz2 weeks ago
QUIZ: Which ‘Katy Keene’ Character Are You?
Editorials2 weeks ago
Did Forrest Kidnap Alex Manes on ‘Roswell, New Mexico’? 5 Other Big Reveals From “American Woman”