Stargirl has become a hit because of its upbeat characters and stories as well as its complex setting. One way the series succeeds in blending the style of its storytelling with the aesthetics of its setting is through the costumes worn by its superheroes.
Executive producer Geoff Johns and costume designer Laura Jean Shannon have built a strong creative collaboration over the course of multiple shows. Shannon has also won acclaim for her innovative designs for everything from films like Iron Man and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle to series like Black Lightning and The Boys. For Stargirl, Johns and Shannon worked hard so that the costumes would fit the classic Golden Age of superheroes feel of the show.
Stargirl Repurposes Starman’s Costume
The most iconic costume of the series is the one worn by lead character Courtney Whitmore when she takes on her identity as Stargirl, and it reveals much about her character’s personality. Her resourcefulness and willingness to bend the rules are shown in how she takes the remains of Starman’s costume from her stepfather Pat to make her own costume once she has become the wielder of the cosmic staff. The scene also drives home her reverence for Starman and dedication to continuing the work of the Justice Society of America (JSA).
Courtney makes the design entirely her own though, hilariously destroying a crafting classroom’s collection of sewing machines as she finally manages to repurpose the fragments. Always thinking about protecting others, she adds a mask to the costume. Her practicality and athleticism come through in the halter top and shorts combination she chooses, and both her hopeful nature and core identity as a 15-year-old girl are reflected in the colorful, cheery, and attractive result.
Pat Dugan Builds His S.T.R.I.P.E. Armor
The armored suit worn by Courtney’s stepfather and reluctant mentor Pat Dugan is completely different from Stargirl’s outfit. Pat had once been the sidekick of the original Starman before he was killed along with the rest of the JSA by the Injustice Society, and Pat has spent the years since this tragedy tracking down the villains and building his armor.
The two strongest aspects of Pat’s character are his sense of himself as a protector and his talent as a mechanic. Pat’s workshop is bright, spacious, well-organized, and feels like the kind of space where he has spent countless hours testing and perfecting his technology. He’s proud that he built his armor out of car parts, and the blocky result serves as a stark visual contrast to Stargirl’s sleek garb.
The scenes of Pat repairing his armor in the Nebraska fields outside his barn are not only funny but also show his stubborn side and willingness to get dirty and banged up to make sure he’ll have the weapons he needs to help Stargirl. And Courtney herself charmingly shows her teenage wits when she decides that her stepfather’s superhero codename will be S.T.R.I.P.E. — and that it will stand for Subatomic Tactical Robot Internet Pat Enhancer.
A well-designed superhero series needs to get a lot of details right if it wants to become a breakaway hit. One of the most important though will always be the costumes that are worn by the heroes, and those in Stargirl are of the highest quality.
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