Stargirl, and Why Human Superheroes Are the Best Heroes

No offense intended toward Superman – It’s just that an alien from another star who can see right through people, is impervious to bullets, can fly faster than anything, and can shoot lasers out of his eyes is not exactly providing humanity with a role model that can possibly be followed.

DC’s Stargirl, on the other hand, is refreshingly human. While she finds herself in fantastic situations beyond the world we know, Stargirl herself is as human as you are – with her own flaws, weaknesses, and motivations.

We Can Be Heroes

“Stargirl” is the creation of executive producer Geoff Johns, who has a knack for reinventing DC’s lesser-known characters. The series first aired in 2020, and is scheduled to release its second season in summer 2021.

Stargirl begins her story as Courtney Whitmore (played by Brec Bassinger, a typical human teenager. After a bad first day at her new high school, she is feeling generally annoyed with her stepdad and his role in moving her family to Nebraska. That’s when she discovers her stepdad, Pat Dugan has been hiding a secret: He was once the sidekick of Starman, and to this day is the guardian of the Cosmic Staff that gave the hero his powers.

The Home Team

While not everyone in the “Stargirl” series is a typical human – they face villains with supernatural psychic abilities and are expected to face far more supernatural evils in the next season – the home team is decidedly human.

Stargirl’s powers appear to be entirely contained within the Cosmic Staff. While her ability to connect with the staff and channel its power is unique, she is just as human and vulnerable as anyone else. Her sidekick Pat Dugan is also an ordinary man. Faced with extraordinary circumstances, he must turn to ingenuity and skill. He creates S.T.R.I.P.E., a fifteen-foot mechanical suit of armor, to protect the team of young heroes they are assembling.

Many of the other teens that Courtney’s recruits to join the new Justice Society of America are also human, without the mutations, alien DNA, or other augments that so frequently explain how one could become a hero. Arguably, they have better tools – like a nanotechnology suit with claws that can cut through metal, smart goggles with enhanced vision and decoding technology, and of course a glowing staff that can fly and blows things up – but through each new challenge these human heroes must figure out how to use the tools they are given and turn things around for the side of good.

Stronger Together

“Stargirl” tells an inspiring story. It is equal parts exciting, empowering, warm, and funny. The most important thing about human heroes is that they are relatable. It may be hard to imagine how you’d face down a malicious faction that subverts your family through mind control until you see how Courtney handles it.

Without alien DNA or the blessings of the Amazons, young Courtney does what anyone would do. She rises to the challenge, calling on her friends and family for support, and makes everyone stronger along the way.