With its active comic book subculture, the United States is likely the bastion of superheroes, thanks to powerhouses Marvel and DC churning out new content on the regular.
But with so many new releases over the past few years, are superheroes still relevant in this day and age?
Actress Brec Bassinger, star of DC’s latest superhero series Stargirl, seems to think so, saying that superheroes in general allow a form of escapism for those watching or reading.
“It’s like real people who can do powerful, crazy things, and so it allows people to escape in a world of fantasy.
"I think it’s a good outlet for people in this day and age,” she said over a phone interview from Los Angeles, California, the US.
The new series sees Bassinger in the role of Courtney Whitmore, a high school student trying to fit in who finds the powerful Cosmic Staff. Soon after, she takes the mantle of Stargirl and inspires a new generation of superheroes continuing the legacy of the Justice Society of America.
Bassinger said what made her character unique compared to other superheroes was a balance of the two lives she led — a superhero and a student.
“A lot of the other superheroes are already in their adulthood, where Courtney’s still very much figuring herself out — who she is, who she wants to be. I think that aspect makes her really special and relatable.”
As for what Courtney and Bassinger share in similarity, she found that it’s naivety, which is actually one of her favorite aspect of the character.
“It’s because she has this child-like optimism, which is great, but it gets her in trouble sometimes.
"For me, I’m very much an over thinker. I am so indecisive and not her; she’s just, like, always jumping the gun and going for things,” she said.Accidental hero: Courtney Whitmore’s (right) involvement is linked to her stepfather Pat Dugan's (Luke Wilson) role in the Justice Society of America. PHOTO: Warner TV
With the series being her introduction to superheroes, Bassinger revealed that one of the hardest things during filming was the long hours. One particular day, she started filming at 9am, only finishing at 5am the next day.
“Training wasn’t really difficult, but it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot of different things.
"The Cosmic Staff! I love that thing, it’s so fun and a great scene partner, but I’m very accident-prone, so when you put a six-foot pole in my hand and ask me to combat-fight with it, it all goes downhill from there.”
A competitive cheerleader before her jump into acting, Bassinger made a name for herself in teen-oriented sitcoms on Nickelodeon.
Stargirl marks the 21-year-old’s first foray into the superhero genre, as well as her induction to the DC universe.
Before filming Stargirl, Bassinger revealed that she had actually never read a comic book.
“Growing up, I went to the amusement park Six Flags, where the Justice League is very prevalent and was plastered all over the amusement park, so I knew the different characters in the DC comics.
"I grew up watching the films of course, but before Stargirl, I never actually sat down and read a comic,” she said, adding that she would get well acquainted with the comics after landing the role.
She described her experience being part of the DC universe as “surreal”, saying that during her Nickelodeon days, she remembered seeing Grant Gustin of The Flash fame during the Kids’ Choice Awards.
“I hadn’t watched The Flash at that point, but I knew who he was, and everyone there knew who he was because they were all crowding around him and fangirling.
"To get to be a part of a universe he’s in — it’s crazy, it blows my mind. I feel so lucky.”
The 13-episode first season of Stargirl premiered on May 18 on the video-on-demand service DC Universe, with Asian viewers receiving a four-episode back-to-back premiere on June 10 on Warner TV.
On review website Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a 91 per cent freshness rating out of 33 reviews.
Overall, Bassinger said that feedback so far had been positive, even though showrunner Geoff Johns earlier warned her that not everyone would like the show and to prepare for negative comments.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and Geoff and I would text back and forth and he’s like ‘normally I hate Twitter, but these tweets are all so nice and I kinda like it’ and I’m like ‘I know! Where is this coming from?’
“Something that’s really cool to see people’s responses to is the surprise they get watching the show.
"Like, they expect it to be good, but it exceeds their expectations, and that’s a really good feeling.”