LOS ANGELES — Geoff Johns, the former president and chief creative officer of DC Entertainment, considered his sister akin to a superhero, but instead of otherworldly strength or special powers, her special gift involved her generous heart and sense of adventure.
“She always wanted to help people. She was very positive. She walked in a room and she just had energy,” Johns said of 18-year-old Courtney, who was killed in 1996 in the TWA Flight 800 plane explosion off the coast of Long Island, New York.
“She was fearless,” Johns added.
He’s keeping the spirit of his sister alive with the new series “DC’s Stargirl,” which debuts Tuesday on the CW network. It features Brec Bassinger as Courtney, a heroic teen with a strong moral compass.
The show was “born out of a desire to keep her spirit alive,” he said recently, adding that he wanted to “put that positive energy I thought she had back into the world.”
We meet the TV Courtney as she’s begrudgingly moved to small town in Nebraska with her mom (Amy Smart), new stepdad Pat ( Luke Wilson) and stepbrother, Mike. While snooping in the basement of her new house, Courtney discovers a staff with magical powers that leads to the revelation that her annoying stepdad was once a superhero sidekick. She decides to use the powerful staff to form a new generation of superheroes— with Pat coming out of retirement to be her chaperone.
Bassinger learned early on whom her character was based on and felt a responsibility “to do this role right for Geoff and his family. It’s like I wasn’t just doing this role for myself, I had other people I wanted to do it for.”
Johns pictured Wilson when he conceived of the character Pat and lucky for him, the actor was amused by the idea of an adult sidekick paired with a teenage superhero.
“I thought that was a really good comedic aspect to go along with all the action and stunts,” he said.
Johns doubled down on his investment in the series by moving from Los Angeles to Atlanta for filming and serving as co-showrunner.
“I loved just being focused on making this show because I wanted to put everything I had, my heart and soul into it. I just care about it so much,” he said. “I love superheroes, obviously, but it’s not just like another superhero show, it’s really special to me.”
Johns hopes with people mostly staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic, families will make a point to watch “DC’s Stargirl.”
“Because this show is about a family and legacy and loss, I wanted it to be for everybody— so parents and children could watch it together. It’s designed for co-viewing. I felt like there was an absence of family-driven shows,” he said.
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Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press