Joel McHale has had an interesting career after hosting The Soup and starring in Community. Since those auspicious roles, McHale has dabbled in numerous TV shows, hosting duties, guest appearances, and feature films; he even had a brush with the early days of superhero cinema back in 2004 when he had a bit role in Spider-Man 2. But now, McHale will get a chance to be a proper superhero in earnest as it’s being reported that DC Universe’s streaming series Stargirl will add the accomplished funnyman to the cast.
Variety‘s write-up has McHale set to star opposite Brec Bassinger, who plays the title role and her mild-mannered alter ego Courtney Whitmore. Now Variety reports that he’ll be playing a character by the name of Sylvester Pemberton and his heroic identity of Starman, but longtime DC Comics fans might be a little confused by that particular combination. We’ll sort that out in a moment, but it seems that, if Variety’s details are correct, McHale’s character would be a sort of amalgam of the Golden Age heroes Starman and the Star-Spangled Kid.
First up, let’s sort out Stargirl herself. Created by Geoff Johns and making her first appearance in 1999, the superhero wields a powerful Cosmic Staff and dons a star-spangled costume, both of which she finds among her step-father’s belongings. The show itself centers on Whitmore, a high school sophomore who inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. And with McHale’s casting, the picture starts to get a little clearer.
Originally created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Jack Burnley back in 1941, the original Starman went by the alter ego of Ted Knight before his sons David and Jack ultimately took on the moniker. The original Starman, an astronomer by training, invented a gravity rod that became a cosmic rod and, eventually, a cosmic staff that granted its wielder the ability to fly and manipulate energy. Meanwhile, Sylvester Pemberton, a.k.a. The Star-Spangled Kid and Skyman, was created by Jerry Siegel and Hal Sherman, also doled out patriotic punches with his arrival in 1941. Interestingly enough, the Star-Spangled Kid had an adult sidekick by the name of Pat Dugan, who went by Stripesy. The kid would go on to use Starman’s cosmic rod for a time before resorting to his own super-powered cosmic belt to grant him superhuman abilities. The connection here is that Dugan ended up being Courtney Whitmore’s step-father; it was his collection of crime-fighting gear that she finds and modifies to become the second Star-Spangled Kid, and ultimately, Stargirl.
Make sense? Maybe, maybe not, but it looks like McHale’s character may act as a mentor of sorts to the young superhero-in-training. Pemberton never possessed any innate superheroic abilities as they were all granted to him through technology; the same can be said for Stargirl, so she’s in good hands with the former team of Pemberton and Dugan leading the way.
Stargirl hails from executive producers Greg Berlanti, Johns and Sarah Schechter. Johns, who goes back to his very early comic book roots with this project, is also set to write the premiere episode and will serve as showrunner. We’ll have more on Stargirl as we hear about it, so stay tuned!