Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Stargirl, season 1, episode 1, "Pilot."
The pilot episode of Stargirl is packed with references to DC Comics in general and specific nods to the comics which inspired it. This is to be expected given that the series is the passion project of executive producer Geoff Johns, who co-created the show's lead character, Courtney Whitmore, and is famed for drawing upon the rich history of DC Comics in his writing.
Courtney Whitmore first appeared in Stars and STRIPE #0 in July 1999. Introduced as the bratty stepdaughter of former superhero sidekick Pat "Stripsey" Dugan, Courtney discovered her stepfather's secret past and blackmailed him into letting her use the costume pieces she discovered to set herself up as the new Star-Spangled Kid. A gifted gymnast and martial artist, Courtney turned out to be a natural for the life of a superhero and Pat soon found use for a suit of robotic armor he'd been tinkering with, as the small town they'd just moved to proved to be a surprising haven for supervillains. Courtney later took on the name Stargirl and acquired the Cosmic Staff of the last Starman upon his retirement.
The pilot episode of Stargirl sticks fairly close to Courtney's origin story in the original Stars and STRIPE comics, though she will not be transitioning through a period of being the Star-Spangled Kid before she becomes Stargirl. The episode makes a number of references to the series, however, along with some nods to the DC Comics' universe in general. Here's a breakdown of every DC Comics Easter egg in the Stargirl pilot.
The pilot episode of Stargirl opens with the words "A Golden Age of Heroes protected the world for decades. Ten Years Ago, that Golden Age ended." Apart from establishing the setting and the context of the opening battle between the Justice Society and Injustice Society, these lines also make reference to the 1993 DC Comics' miniseries that inspired the reemergence of the Justice Society of America at DC Comics in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Written by James Robinson with art by Paul Smith, The Golden Age detailed the post-war fates of the many mystery men (and women) making up the Justice Society of America and All-Star Squadron, as they faced a new threat heading into the 1950s. Though originally intended to be an Elseworlds story, some elements (such as the JSA being forced to retire or unmask as a result of the McCarthy Hearings) were introduced into the post-Crisis Justice Society history established in the 1994 Starman series also written by James Robinson, which went on to inform the 1999 JSA series co-written by Robinson and the 1999 Stars and STRIPE series that spun out of Starman.
As Stripesy speeds toward the Hollywood Hills mansion where the Injustice Society and Justice Society are battling, a green burst of fire blows a hole through the roof. Though he isn't mentioned by name in the episode, this is a nod to Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern. Unlike the many Green Lanterns who followed him, whose powers were based on advanced alien science, Alan Scott's lantern and ring were magical devices whose power manifested in the form of green flames. This same green fire can be seen burning throughout the mansion once Stripsey enters the building.
The first superhero team historically in the reality of DC Comics, the Justice Society of America first appeared in All-Star Comics #3 in December 1940. Stripsey personally witnessed the deaths of several members of the Justice Society of America as he searched for Starman during the opening battle scene. Not all of the members were identified by name during the episode, though they are all visible in a photo Courtney finds in the basement later. From left to right beginning on the back row, they are:
- Johnny Thunder: The 7th son of a 7th son, John L. Thunder possesses both a fool's luck and the power to command the mystic being known as the Thunderbolt.
- Green Lantern: The owner of a mystic jade lantern, Alan Scott sheds his light over dark evil and has the power to accomplish anything he wills to happen.
- Hawkgirl: The reincarnation of an Egyptian queen, Shiera Saunders is a master combatant who flies through the use of the mysterious Nth Metal.
- The Flash: Granted super-speed after an accident in his college science lab, Jay Garrick fights crime as The Fastest Man Alive.
- Hawkman: An archaeologist and heir to an ancient curse, Carter Hall is a high-flying warrior, scholar and Chairman of the JSA.
- Doctor Fate: Trained in the mystic arts by the Lord of Order Nabu, Kent Nelson defends Earth from mystic threats as one of the world's most powerful magicians.
- Thunderbolt: A genie-like being from the 5th Dimension, the Thunderbolt appears whenever Johnny Thunder says the mystic word "Cei-U." ("Say, you!")
- Wildcat: A former heavyweight boxing champ, Ted Grant put his fighting skills to use outside the ring as a crime-fighter.
- Hourman: Chemist Rex Tyler invented a formula, Miraclo, which grants him superhuman strength, speed and stamina for one hour per day.
- Starman: Wielder of the Cosmic Staff, Sylvester Pemberton can control gravity and energy around him, generating force-fields and radiating light.
- Sandman: Wesley Dodds suffers from prophetic dreams which compel him to seek out evil before it strikes and put it to rest with his sleep gas gun.
- Doctor Mid-Nite: Surgeon Charles McNider was seemingly blinded by an accident but his sight became enhanced whenever he was in total darkness.
First appearing in All Star Comics #37 in October 1947, the Injustice Society was made up of the archenemies of many of the Justice Society of America's members. They joined forces in the hopes of being able to destroy their hated foes by working together. In the world of Stargirl, they were successful, following a devastating battle on Christmas Eve. Members of this incarnation of the Injustice Society seen in the Stargirl pilot include:
- Icicle: The leader of the Injustice Society, Jordan Mahkent is a cool, cruel businessman with the power to generate and control ice.
- Brainwave: A medical doctor and a powerful psychic, Dr. Henry King is capable of reading minds and moving objects with a single thought.
- Tigress: Once an assassin for hire, Paula Brooks is a master combatant who now poses as a simple gym teacher at Blue Valley High School.
- The Wizard: Now a city councilman in Blue Valley, William Zarick is a powerful magician who uses his powers to profit himself.
- Sportsmaster: A self-proclaimed expert on all things athletic, Larry "Crusher" Crock runs a gym down the street from Pat Dugan's garage.
- Solomon Grundy: A hulking zombie named after an old nursery rhyme, Solmon Grundy makes up in brute force what he lacks in wit.
- The Gambler: The latest in a long line of con-men and card-sharks, Steven Sharpe seeks bigger game as the CFO of The American Dream.
Alternatively known as the gravity rod, the cosmic rod and the cosmic staff, Starman's weapon of choice grants its wielder the power to absorb ambient stellar radiation and manipulate in a variety of ways, controlling gravity, creating force-fields and generating light and heat. The version of the Starman's trademark weapon seen in Stargirl is based on the Cosmic Staff designed for the 7th Starman in the comics, Jack Knight, and was built with a distinctive spearhead and staff so as to take advantage of Jack's martial arts training, acting as a physical weapon while also allowing him access to the standard Starman powers. When Jack retired as Starman, he gave his Cosmic Staff to Courtney Whitmore, who took up the name Stargirl after originally fighting crime as the second Star-Spangled Kid.
The distinctive petasos helmet worn by Jay Garrick as The Flash is seen discarded on the ground and coated with ice as Starman and Stripsey make their escape. This would seem to imply that The Flash wasn't quite fast enough to get away from Icicle. Still, fans of the character are hopeful The Flash may have managed a speedy getaway, perhaps somehow managing to break the barrier between worlds and making his way to Earth-Prime in time for The Flash season 7?
In the original Star-Spangled Kid comics, Pat "Stripesy" Dugan had a custom car which he disguised as an ordinary limousine; the Star-Rocket Racer. This miraculous car had concealed jet and VTOL parts which allowed it to fly like a jet or helicopter as needed. While Pat's car in Stargirl is a classic convertible rather than a limo, it has the same technology and transformative capabilities as the Star-Rocket Racer in the comics, allowing him and Starman to escape the battle with the Injustice Society, albeit with Solomon Grundy getting in a hit that results in a crash landing later.
When the pilot picks up in the present day, it opens on Courtney Whitmore as she's in the middle of packing the last of her belongings before moving away from Los Angeles. A moving van from American Action Movers pulls up just before the teenage Courtney appears for the first time. The font used for the word "Action" is identical to the logo for Action Comics; the comic book which kicked off the Golden Age of Comics in 1938 with the first appearance of Superman.
Courtney Whitmore's best friend Mary Kramer shows up to wish her well as she's finishing her packing. Depicted as a pale-skinned redhead, as in the original Stars and STRIPE comics, Mary Kramer was Courtney Whitmore's best friend in the comics as well. Stargirl changes things up, however, by having Mary be Coutrney's oldest friend since they were little kids. In the comics, Mary lived in Blue Valley and was the first of the locals to reach out to Courtney after she moved.
As Courtney is packing, the camera pans across proof of her being a gifted athlete. She has several medals and trophies for gymnastics and martial arts and there are several photos showcasing her accomplishments. She is also shown to own a pair of boxing gloves. In the original Stars and STRIPE comics, Courtney was an aspiring gymnast and kickboxer long before she became known as Stargirl.
Pat Dugan claims that the town of Blue Valley, Nebraska, was the birthplace of actor Nick Nolte, dancer Fred Astaire, Lakota war leader Crazy Horse, professional baseball player Wade Boggs and President Gerald Ford. In the comics, Blue Valley is best known as the birthplace of Wally West, the first Kid Flash. The Stars and STRIPE comic ended with the town putting up a new sign on the town's border declaring it to be the home of the new Star-Spangled Kid and STRIPE.
Once the family starts unpacking and settling into their new home, Pat opens up a trunk in the basement and digs through it, looking as several files stamped "J.S.A. CLASSIFIED," which profile various members of the Injustice Society. This scene offers the first hint as to why Pat truly wanted to move to Blue Valley. It also serves as a nod to JSA Classified. a spin-off series from the 1999 JSA comic which ran from 2005-2008.
On her way to lunch, Courtney is approached by Cindy Burman, the head cheer-leader of Blue Valley High School and the apparent queen bee of the schoolyard. What seems to be a friendly effort to reach out to a new student quickly turns into a scene from Mean Girls, after Courtney rejects Cindy's suggestion that she try out for the cheer-leading squad and that she could be her second-in-command. In the comics, Cindy takes up the identity of the supervillain Shiv and becomes Stargirl's arch-enemy.
Upon reaching the cafeteria, Courtney is pushed by Paula Brooks to go sit at the table belonging to "The Singles" or "The Losers," all the kids who aren't part of a clique for one reason or another. This includes perky nerd Beth Chapel, rebel Rick Tyler and the withdrawn Yolanda Montez. In the comics, all three characters appeared in the JSA spin-off series Infinity Inc. as the successors of Doctor Mid-Nite, Hourman and Wildcat respectively. Based on the posters advertising Stargirl, they seem poised to do the same in this reality.
Yolanda is bullied by a football player named Henry, who was later revealed to be Cindy Burman's boyfriend and the son of the villain Brainwave. In the comics, Henry King Jr. inherited his father's psychic powers upon his death, but tried to redeem his family name by becoming a superhero with the unfortunate codename of Brainwave Junior. He later dropped the "Junior" to become the second Brainwave but also developed a mental imbalance that caused him to become a villain and then a danger to himself and others unless kept heavily sedated. There's also a bit of a visual joke here, as with his red hair and blue letter jacket, Henry King Jr. resembles Archie Andrews from Riverdale and this version of the character comes off as a twisted version of Archie's big-man-on-campus persona.
After Courtney's first encounter with the Cosmic Staff and her indirectly destroying Brainwave's car while trying to let the air out of the tires, she returns home to find Pat Dugan waiting for her. Pat reveals his past as Starman's sidekick to Courtney and a discussion unfolds regarding how it's possible that the Cosmic Staff works for Courtney when it never lit up for anyone else but Starman before. This leads Courtney to the idea that Starman is her long lost father, who disappeared on the same night the Justice Society died fighting the Injustice Society. As proof, she offers up a locket containing the only photo she has of the man she knew as Sam Kurtis, pointing out a faint resemblance between him and Sylvester Pemberton.
In the comics, Sam Kurtis was the name of Courtney Whitmore's biological father, but she never met him until after she became a superhero in the original Stars and STRIPE comics. Kurtis was quickly revealed to be a two-bit con-man, who scammed Courtney out of the antique locket her grandmother gave her, which was Courtney's most prized possession as she had been told it was the twin of a locket her father had kept. While Sam had indeed kept the locket, he only sought out his daughter after finding a buyer who would only pay for a matched set of both lockets. The experience shattered the romanticized image Courtney had of her long-lost father and she later learned that he was a low-ranking member of the Royal Flush Gang. It seems likely that Stargirl is setting its version of Courtney Whitmore up for a similarly harsh life lesson.
The Little Mermaid is the Absolute Worst
In the wake of Frozen 2’s $1 billion haul, the debate rages on about who is the best Disney princess...
The 30 Best Movie Trilogies of All Time
What makes a good trilogy? Well, for starters, you have to follow the same theme throughout the entire series —...
18 celebs that were on TV before becoming Movie Stars
Everyone knows that movie stars get more love than the actors on tv. Why is that? Perhaps there is truly...
Best Female Leads in Horror Film History
From “Scream Queens” to “Final Girls” the female role has continued to evolve in the horror genre, no longer are...
10 Overlooked Movies of the 2010s
The 2010s was a solid decade for cinema. Even with a rise of remakes, creators didn’t shy away from innovation....
10 Times Someone From Jackass Should’ve Died
As America entered the 21st Century, man reached an evolutionary peak once thought unattainable. With the invention of personal internet...
Slow to Fast: All 9 Fast & Furious movies ranked from worst to best
Fast and furious. There are no two words that have meant so much in cinematic history. Love it, or hate...
10 Most Underrated Shows of the 2000’s
It’s a new decade in this 2020, which means we’ve said goodbye to so many shows, and we’re saying hello...
20 Films That Will Have You Reaching For Tissues
Sincerely, how good does it feel after you weep uncontrollably? Is it wrong to find pleasure in undergoing melancholy from...
10 worst movies with a Star-studded cast
Even the brightest stars cannot hope to lighten up the darkest nights. That goes to say that even if a...