Superheroes hold a special place in American culture. Regardless of how they got their powers or what those powers are, fans are inspired and encouraged by the struggles, shortcomings, and victories of their favorite heroes.
A Relatable Hero
Courtney Whitmore knows what it’s like to be a modern teenager, an absentee father, a step-father she resents and takes every opportunity to annoy, and the struggle to fit in after moving from California to Nebraska. She understands the challenges of young romance, friendship, and the responsibility of being a superhero. This is part of what makes DC’s Stargirl such a relatable hero, viewers of all ages can empathize with her story.
Geoff Johns, the executive producer, does a wonderful job weaving everyday life into the tale of a young superhero on her way to rebuilding the Justice Society of America (JSA). The storyline inspires hope in viewers who watch Courtney’s struggle to find and take her place. With the fearless naivety of youth and the sense of invincibility provided by the Cosmic Staff, she suits up to fight crime and takes the battle directly to her enemies, believing this is her purpose.
Stargirl may be the star of the show, but ultimately, she doesn’t go it alone. Her willingness to recognize her weaknesses and seek out others with a similar passion and desire demonstrates a genuine sense of leadership and responsibility. As the new JSA comes together fans see the power of working together and how individual shortcomings are balanced out by the strength of others. By cultivating teamwork, Stargirl demonstrates the positive side of asking for and receiving help.
It is not how the members of the new JSA are similar that makes it great, but how they are different. Each one has unique strengths, passions, gifts, and desires and each comes to the table for its own unique reason. It is not their similarities that make the JSA strong, but their willingness to show up with all their differences. Viewers of all ages can take a page from the story and begin to recognize and celebrate, not only what makes them unique and special, but what makes others stand out as well.
Not All Roses
Stargirl is not all roses and rainbows, and Courtney is not the perfect teen. She is strong-willed and independent. Her abilities give her a sense of invincibility that many young people can relate to. Rather than allowing her step-dad to help train the new JSA members, she causes division by showing off and disrupting his efforts. Her imperfections endear her to viewers rather than put them off and remind them that even though there is always cause and effect, and some things cannot be undone, there is power in getting up and continuing to move forward.
DC’s Stargirl is a story of courage, strength, finding an identity, and embracing destiny. Like all good superhero stories, it stirs a sense of valor and hunger for purpose in viewers and instills some valuable lessons along the way.