Superheroes may currently be at the height of their on-screen careers. From the 12-year-old Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screens, to the near decade-long Arrowverse on the small screens, this may truly be the Golden Age for superheroes… well, a second Golden Age, at least.
The End of the Golden Age
Oddly enough (and I’ll tell you why in a bit), the Golden Age of comics are especially relevant now. With the CW DC superhero shows having just undergone a similarly-impactful Crisis in the series’ annual crossover, the shared universe is now facing a new era of sorts. While most of its existing shows (The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning) are continuing—albeit with modified continuities—the end of the pioneering Arrow is marked with the birth of new content.
Much like how 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths saw the official end of the Golden Age heroes of the DC universe and the rebirth of the silver age heroes in the comic, the CW series also sees the end of Arrow (a Golden Age hero) and the new seniority of The Flash (Barry Allen being the demarkation of the Silver Age’s birth). Interestingly, thanks to the nostalgic tendencies of a certain Geoff Johns, the Golden Age has seen significant revivals in the form of the Justice Society’s rise in modern day comics, and even the original Superman returning in 2005’s Infinite Crisis.
Almost all of the Golden Age’s reprisal was preceded by Johns introducing Courtney Whitmore, the modern-day successor of the original Star-Spangled Kid—a name she bears before rebranding herself Stargirl!
Inspired by his late sister, Johns introduced Courtney Whitmore in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., his earliest contribution to the DC universe. The stepdaughter of Pat Dugan, a Golden Age hero who served alongside Sylvester Pemberton, the original Star-Spangled Kid, Courtney’s first foray into super heroism occurs when she finds Pemberton’s cosmic converter belt.
Jumping headfirst into crime-fighting, Courtney’s high-risk adventures forces Pat to don a suit of armour and accompany her as a sidekick and protector with the alias of S.T.R.I.P.E.—short for Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer… explaining why Geoff Johns got hired by Marvel after this.
Anyways, shortly after the beginning of her career, Courtney is not only bestowed the cosmic staff of the ex-Starman Jack Knight, but is also inducted into the JSA. She subsequently changes her name to Stargirl and has since become one of the most prominent members of the team.
In the New 52 reboot, Courtney was first inducted into Justice League America, before she eventually joins the Justice League United. All that said, she was last seen with an iteration of the Justice Society in the conclusion of the recent Doomsday Clock event.
Given her Golden Age roots but modern day role, it’s appropriate that the new, post-Crisis CW stable of DC shows begin with an adaptation of Stargirl.
After all, the character has already been teased multiple times with three separate appearances prior: two from alternate Earths within the pre-Crisis CW multiverse, and an initial one in Smallville. Fittingly, this Courtney Whitmore, like the Stargirl of the comics, heralds the return of heroes from the Golden Age in modern continuity.
There are differences, however. The series skips her Star-Spangled Kid origins, bypassing both the moniker and the belt. But it does maintain her connection to Sylvester Pemberton who goes by Starman here, forgoing his actual alias of Skyman.
Nevertheless, the spirit of Stargirl is maintained thanks to creator Geoff Johns’ energetic writing, and actress Brec Bassinger’s eager portrayal of the character. Even Luke Wilson brings everything together with his Wilson-esque charm as Pat Dugan.
To find out more about CW’s Stargirl, here’s our interview with star Brec Bassinger: