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Why The Stargirl Pilot Had To Cut Nearly 10 Minutes Off Its Run Time

The first two episodes of DC's "Stargirl" premiered on the DC Universe streaming platform back in May of 2020 (via IMDb). While the DC Universe didn't stick around for long (the streaming service was folded into HBO Max at the end of that year), the release of "Stargirl" granted Warner Bros. Television Studios a sizable win in the world of superhero entertainment. The series, which stars actress Brec Bassinger in the title role, tells the story of a teenage girl who discovers a close, personal connection to a legendary superhero.

Since its first episode, critics and audiences alike have responded well to its take on the various characters of the "Stargirl" comic (via Rotten Tomatoes). In the years since the pilot episode was released, the series has continued to thrive on HBO Max and The CW. Ironically, the original plans for the series didn't involve its primary streaming service or its current home television network. Back when the pilot episode first aired, showrunner Geoff Johns commented on how much the distribution-model change impacted the editing and story-telling processes.

The first two episodes were originally designed as a movie

Because producers assumed that the series would only be released online, commercial blocks were the furthest thing from their minds. While it may not seem like an enormous change at first, reducing the running time of the first two episodes in a show with such a rich mythology reportedly proved difficult. 

"Episodes 1 and 2, they were designed to be a two-hour 'Stargirl' movie, essentially," showrunner and executive producer Geoff Johns told Decider. "Both of those cuts, our final cuts were 50-plus minutes. That was locked."

With a new time constraint to confront, Johns and the rest of the "Stargirl" team zeroed in on which scenes could be easily removed. "That was a challenge," Johns said. "We really did look through a couple of different ways to do it." According to Decider, the unlucky scenes included a variety of establishing shots, in addition to a handful of scenes at Stargirl's high school. 

One scene that was removed features Cindy Burman (aka Shiv) (Meg DeLacy), a classmate of Stargirl's, while another includes a brief appearance by a character named Janitor Justin (aka Shining Knight) (Mark Ashworth) (via IMDb). While both of these characters become more important later, Johns ultimately concluded that these introductory scenes could be removed without impacting the viewing experience.

For those who remain uninitiated, the first two seasons of DC's "Stargirl" are available for streaming on HBO Max.