In the latest episode of DC's Stargirl, viewers are introduced to Courtney Whitmore's (Brec Bassinger) first recruit for the new Justice Society of America, Yolanda Montez/Wildcat (Yvette Monreal). But while Courtney's transformation into Stargirl is one that comes from, in a real sense, a place of hope, Yolanda's story is much darker with the would-be hero's life having been utterly destroyed by a cruel act that exposed deeply personal photos to the entire student body. For fans familiar with the character from comics, Stargirl's take on Yolanda is very different from her canonical origin, but series creator Geoff Johns explains it's one that helps root the character in the show's contemporary setting while also giving him a chance to work with a character he loves.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Johns explained that he never got a chance to write Yolanda in the comics, but he's always loved the character so bringing her into Courtney's story was a real priority when crafting the show.
"The story behind Yolanda, Courtney is going to meet ... she doesn't have any friends yet. And Yolanda becomes her first real friend, but taking Wildcat in the comics, Yolanda Montez wasn't around a long time," Johns said. "By the time I got the comics they'd killed her, and Beth Chapel off in this weird Eclipso issue and they never had a chance to be in the next JSA generation. And there was a moment where I was going to bring Yolanda Montez back when Dale Eaglesham and I did JSA in the mid-2000s, and there's even an Alex Ross sketch of the first cover that has her on it. And then ultimately, I don't remember, we had so many characters that we couldn't fit her story in, and I never got a chance to write her, but I always wanted to because I loved what I saw her first appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths."
He continued, "I knew I wanted it to have Stargirl recruit a new generation of characters. And Yolanda Montez was 100% like number one. I want to write Yolanda. I never got a chance to, and I've always loved the character, but I never had a chance to write her. And so that was like bringing her in and as the first recruit was just like, it was just a check that that's going to be her. And then we came up with her backstory and a little bit and everything and really, James Robinson wrote that script, which is a wonderful script and really got into her."
Getting into Yolanda as a character required some changes. In comics, the Yolanda Montez version of Wildcat was the goddaughter of the original Wildcat, Ted Grant. Born with superhuman powers as the result of experimental drugs given to her mother while she was pregnant, Yolanda picks up Ted's super heroic mantle when he's crippled saving a child in Crisis on Infinite Earths. She ends up becoming a hero in her own right and joins up with the team of heroes called Infinity Inc. On Stargirl, Yolanda is a Blue Valley student at the top of her game when intimate photos she took for her boyfriend and spread through the whole school causing her to be bullied, shamed, and even ostracized by her own family. It's a heavy story and a big shift, but for Johns, it was important for Stargirl to reflect 2020 and, unfortunately, Yolanda's story is one that is all too real, though as the series continues Yolanda will be able to connect with her Wildcat predecessor by relating her struggles to his.
"And she's a character that obviously plays a prominent role throughout the entire show. And Yvette Monreal is an amazing actor and we tackled some issues that are again, although we're set, we're a very kind of show that it sometimes can feel like we're set in a timeless era," Johns said. "We are set firmly in 2020. And I think Yolanda's story in particular reflects that. We didn't want to do like ABC After School special. We didn't want to get too, I don't know, message-y with this story. It's just who she is and what she's experienced. And it's something that ironically, there's going to be something that she finds in Ted Grant that inspires her even more, that he dealt with his own problems and struggles. And that's part of the show as we get into these characters more deeply, we see it's not just about the name and the costume, everything else, but about these stories and who these people were that really inspired the new generation, like who, clearly Courtney believes Starman's her father, and is embracing that with Yolanda. It's just the more she finds out about Ted Grant, the more she's holding onto being Wildcat, because it means so much to her."
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