Skip to main content

Culture Television

<em>Stargirl</em>: Superhero or super-stereotypes?

Brec Bassinger in Stargirl (CW)


Stargirl: Superhero or super-stereotypes?

Will CW hit be a culture war salvo?

On the surface, the CW’s hit new comic book adaptation Stargirl is standard superhero fare. 

Titular character Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) has a star-spangled costume and mild-mannered alter ego. Were it not for a few modern touches like a blended family with a stepfather (Luke Wilson) who acts as sidekick and a stepbrother fond of mild profanity, any network might have aired it in the last 50 years.

But look closer and it’s clear that Stargirl is setting up to become an epic battle reflecting what we’re all debating these days: justice.

On one side: the Justice Society of America, which includes Stargirl and Yolanda “Wildcat” Montez. Yolanda joins when her strict religious parents berate her for “shaming the family” after she sends a topless photo to a boyfriend.

On the other: the Injustice Society of America. Old Glory flutters proudly from the homes of wealthy white men. Their front business is a townwide gentrification project. Some members speak in Kentucky-fried accents despite living in the Midwest. Their unclear aims include “fixing the country,” “rebuilding America,” and “making it a safer place to raise [their] children.” 

It’s too soon to say Stargirl takes an unqualified stance in the culture wars. But if stereotyping your enemy comes first in creating propaganda, she may need rescuing by Captain Nuance.

Top-grossing superhero movies

 6. The Incredibles 2 (2018): $1.24 billion

 5. Black Panther (2018): $1.35 billion

 4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): $1.41 billion

 3. The Avengers (2012): $1.52 billion

 2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018): $2.05 billion

 1. Avengers: Endgame (2019): $2.8 billion