DC's Stargirl creator talks first mini crossover and making season 2 scary
"We want to bring scares to this season," showrunner Geoff Johns says of introducing new, "demonic" villain Eclipso.
DC's Stargirl wants to give you nightmares this season.
The bubbly, sunny CW superhero series is dipping its Cosmic Staff into the horror pool in season 2 with the debut of new villain Eclipso (Nick Tarabay), and fair warning, the show hits the ground running with the scares as early as the opening scene of the premiere.
"That first scene was purposely at the top and mysterious and both specific and vague at the same time because I wanted everyone to know there's a tonal shift this season," creator Geoff Johns told reporters during a DC's Stargirl press conference on Wednesday. "And so right away you get that tonal shift and it is scary and it is dark, but it was important to have that up front and then right away we go to like, summertime blues and the kids patrolling at night and there's nothing going on … there's a lot of humor and fun afterward. But it was important just to set the tone of the season right away, let you know that we're going to get scary this season."
Johns began developing season 2 with the goal to do something new and surprising, which is why he dialed up the horror with Eclipso. "This season we're leaning in more to things that inspired me when I was a kid like Lost Boys or Nightmare on Elm Street or Young Sherlock Holmes, which is a movie no one knows but I loved it when I was a kid because it was a little scary," he says. "Eclipso is an amazing character for those who don't know, he's from the '60s and he's more of a demonic force in the same vein as like a Freddy Krueger or a Pennywise, and to have the kids and the adults go up against something like that this season, something that gets inside their heads and tries to expose their fears and their regrets and their guilt and use it against them and see if these heroes can rise up and stop it, it was all about darkness vs. light which is very perfect for somebody like Stargirl [Brec Bassinger]."
While Johns admits it was "tough to balance" that tone, he's proud of how the darker elements allowed him to "crack" all the characters open, not just Courtney/Stargirl. "Yolanda [Yvette Monreal] has a really personal and powerful storyline as does Rick [Cameron Gellman] and Beth [Anjelika Washington] and Courtney and Pat [Luke Wilson] and Barbara [Amy Smart] and Mike [Trae Romano] … We wanted to take some challenges and lean into a little bit of the horror element, the suspense element."
While Eclipso spends a good chunk of the beginning of the season working his dark magic on all the characters from the shadows, it doesn't make him any less terrifying. The fact that he's able to influence the new Justice Society of America so powerfully without actually operating as a flesh and blood for so long makes him more formidable than ever. "As for Eclipso, when you'll see him in the flesh, you'll see him a little deeper into the season," Johns teases. "You will see Nick Tarabay in his horrifying makeup. We wanted to build to that moment so that when he finally does set foot in Blue Valley for real and you see him manifest, it felt deserved, it felt scary, and it felt like everything had changed. When people see that episode, hopefully, they'll be both happy and scared when they watch it."
But DC's Stargirl is also bringing the light this season — or more specifically, a bolt of lightning — when John Wesley Shipp guest-stars in episode 9, reprising his role as speedster Jay Garrick from The Flash. On DC's Stargirl, he'll play Jay as the Golden Age Flash, establishing him as a member of Earth-2's Justice Society of America. This marks the first time DC's Stargirl hosts an Arrowverse crossover, made possible by the last major crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
"I grew up watching The Flash TV show, he was my favorite superhero when I was a kid and I was blown away by John Wesley Shipp when he played The Flash and then lucky enough to work with him on The Flash," Johns says. "And when he started playing Jay Garrick and we introduce our version of the Justice Society and we're on Earth-2 like the comics, we're on our own Earth, separate from the rest of these shows, but to have John play Jay Garrick, The Flash, in Stargirl, it connects our universe directly with the other shows and also shows that we're part of a grander universe."
As for what this means for future crossovers within the larger Arrowverse, Johns adds that this appearance "opens up the door to opportunities for us to, eventually, interact with those characters. And that was important. Just like the comics. And when we eventually do it, we'll do it in a hopefully very special Stargirl way."
But what about Starman? At the end of the season 1 finale, it was revealed that Joel McHale's presumed dead hero Sylvester Pemberton is not only alive but he's also making his way to Blue Valley, looking for his former sidekick Pat. "In the best comic books I always love the long-brewing subplots and the return of Starman, Sylvester Pemberton, is one of those," Johns says. "You will see him come in to play in season 2, both in flashbacks — we have a really cool episode 209, it's got a Justice Society flashback with the original members with Luke and Joel and the other JSA founders — and then you'll see Joel McHale into the later half of the season."
DC's Stargirl returns for season 2 on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.