Summary: The mystery of Hawkgirl is revealed when a Thanagarian fleet arrives on Earth, bringing warning of an imminent invasion by their hated enemies, the Gordanians. To prepare Earth for the upcoming battle, the Thanagarians—under the command of Commander Hro Talak—occupy the planet and begin construction of a force shield generator in the Gobi Desert. However, all is not as it seems, and the Justice League soon finds itself betrayed by their teammate, but even Hawkgirl finds that she is ignorant of Talak's true intentions. Racing against time, the Justice League must stop the Thanagarians from accomplishing their mission, and Shayera Hol must choose between duty and mercy.
JL Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, J’onn J’onzz, Hawkgirl
Featured Character: Hawkgirl
Villain: Hro Talak
Supporting Villains: Kragger, Paran-Dul, The Thanagarian Military
Cartoon Network on “Starcrossed”: “When a Thanagarian force arrives and occupies Earth, Hawkgirl is torn between loyalty to her homeland and love of her adopted planet (courtesy of Animation Insider).”
Bruce Timm on “Starcrossed” (circa 2005): “This is something that we literally had in the works since day one. We had a meeting with Paul Levitz, who at the time was the vice president of DC Comics and now he’s the president, and he suggested that somewhere in the course of the show we should do a big stunt episode where one of the major characters gets killed or one of them betrays the League. Even though this came from his own lips, we knew from experience that they really would not allow us to kill off one of the regular characters. It’s a real touchy thing. So we knew we wouldn’t do that, but the notion of a betrayal was intriguing. The next step is deciding who will betray the League. Obviously it can’t be Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman. We quickly narrowed down the list of suspects to Hawkgirl. It had to be her.
“At the same time, even though we hadn’t even started writing her, I’d always had a great affection for the character in the comics. In a way we knew that would make it that much more of a conflicted story, that you would actually have much more of a tragedy if she betrayed the League against her better judgment; if she was conflicted about it and not just out-right evil. Hopefully, if we played our cards right, the audience would be sympathetic to her and feel her anguish in the story. And, just to increase the tragedy of the whole thing, we felt she needed to fall in love with somebody in the League and John Stewart was the obvious choice. Maybe not so obvious at first, since they’re both fairly military it would give us an opportunity to play them against each other initially, but then gradually fall in love over the course of the first two seasons. So we actually delayed them getting together as a couple as late as we could so that just as the audience is saying, ‘Finally, they’re together, we’ve been waiting for his,’ bang, her boyfriend shows up.
“It’s a dirty trick to pull on your audience, but you’ve got to do these things, you’ve got to change up. The audience is so sophisticated and they’ve been seeing these kinds of shows for their entire lives, they can predict story points way in advance, so you’ve got to throw them curve balls.
“I’m happy with it—it’s easily in the same league as ‘[The] Savage Time’ and I think it ultimately pays off. By the end you’ve been on a great roller coaster with some excellent set pieces in it and you get put through an emotional wringer. It’s very dramatic and all of our actors were absolutely at the top of their game when we recorded it, so the vocal performances are very, very affecting.
“When we plotted it out, we honestly didn’t know if we would be doing any more episodes; at that point we hadn’t gotten a pick up. We said, ‘If this is our last episode, let’s go out with a bang. Let’s blow up as much stuff as we can.’ If it was, in fact, the last Justice League episode, it would be a satisfying conclusion, [although] satisfying may not be the right word, as the ending is pretty bleak. But that’s something the Cartoon Network specifically asked for—they wanted us to throw one little line in at the end to reassure the audience that this is not literally the end of the Justice League, [which] they can actually continue on from the end of it. A lot of things are pretty much destroyed by the end of it, but there’s still hope and it gives us an excuse to take Season Three in a different direction (courtesy of RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine).”
Bruce Timm on “Starcrossed” (circa 2004): “The basic storyline [of ‘Starcrossed’] has been in the works for a long time. We knew we’d do this story, and we’ve had a long, gradual, slow build-up in the first two seasons. [However], when it came time to write this episode, we weren’t sure we’d be picked up for a third season, so we wanted to go out with a bang—to blow everything up (courtesy of The Birmingham News).”
Rich Fogel on “Starcrossed” #1: “This is a huge story that centers on Hawkgirl and the conflicts that arise when her fellow Thanagarians arrive here on Earth. We knew we were going to do this story from the very beginning, but we didn’t want anyone to know what we were planning for Hawkgirl. In fact, when I was writing about her in the initial series bible, I had to fabricate a false cover story for her origin. This is because we knew that the bible would be used in publicity and marketing for the series, and we didn’t want the truth to get out too early. It felt like a real cloak-and-dagger spy operation! We dropped clues and red herrings here and there, but we always knew where we were going.
“Tim Truman’s Hawkworld mini-series was probably our greatest influence, but our concept draws from many other sources as well. DC was incredibly supportive during the development of ‘Starcrossed,’ although they understandably had reservations about using Katar Hol in a story like this.
“Beating out a story as big and complex as ‘Starcrossed’ took a long time, but we wanted to get it right. Unfortunately, after we got it locked down, we ran into a scheduling crunch that meant I couldn’t write the entire arc by myself. Luckily, [writer] John Ridley is a big fan of Justice League [and] we had been wanting to work with him, so we were able to hand off Part Two to him. He did a fantastic job and captured the war-like rhetoric of the Thanagarians perfectly. Thanks, John! Then, the ever-reliable Dwayne McDuffie was able to step in and do the final draft of Part Three (courtesy of [website name removed]).”
Rich Fogel on “Starcrossed” #2:
“We thought this might’ve been the last episode.
It’s such a big story and it affected all of the characters so deeply.
If you’re going to go out, go out on top of your game.
I think we would’ve been satisfied if this had been the end of the
show. [...] Although
we were aware of the [JLA story arc]
Dwayne McDuffie on the other DC heroes: “We didn’t have the rights [the expanded League members when we did ‘Starcrossed’], nor is it fair to introduce dozens of characters new to most of the audience, just to have them not matter in the story we’re telling. I imagine all of those guys fought the battle in their own ways. As in any war movie, we followed the seven guys who ultimately got the job done (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Dwayne McDuffie on symbolism in “Starcrossed”: “Fire represents knowledge in many rationalist cultures […and] with that in mind, as well as J’onn’s purpose for being in Kragger’s head, it’s pretty easy to parse that aspect of the sequence’s imagery. Also, the Thanagarians aren’t atheists; they worshipped Ichthultu—until they outgrew him and kicked him out. They certainly have the concept of a temple as a sacrosanct place, and what’s more sacrosanct than the contents of one’s own mind (courtesy of Toon Zone)?”
Dan Riba on the Flash's unmasking scene: “At first, I think we weren’t sure whether Flash was Wally West or Barry Allen. I think we knew it was Wally, but sometimes there would be a hint—‘Oh, maybe it is Barry.’ We just wanted to keep it a secret for a little while (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”
Bruce Timm on movie references in “Starcrossed”: “There are quite a few Flash Gordon references throughout ‘Starcrossed;’ [for example], Paran Dul seems very General Kala-like to me at times. Also, […] the Talak / Kragger / Shayera triangle is pinched directly from Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, right down to Talak (James Mason) slugging Kragger (Martin Landau) right in the smirking mouth (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on "Starcrossed" as a series finale (circa 2005): “The whole mandatory series finale thing is a relatively recent development. Shows like M*A*S*H* and All in the Family had ‘em, it’s true, but they were relatively rare back in the day. Also, a lot of shows get cancelled too late in the game for the producers to plan a proper farewell (as almost happened to Angel, and happened to all my previous shows).
"It kind of bugs me that BTAS, STAS, and Batman Beyond all went out with a ‘poof’ instead of a ‘bang’ (actually, Superman’s ‘Legacy’ was the closest thing we ever had to a true ‘the end,’ but even it was a bit of a cliffhanger, and a downer to boot). On JL / JLU we plan on each season being our last, just in case. We want to have a satisfying conclusion to each season, but still keep the door open to continue the series should be get picked up.
“’Starcrossed’ is a good example: if we hadn’t gotten picked up for more episodes, it would have been an excellent way to end the series. Fortunately, we did get picked up, and the events of ‘Starcrossed’ tied in perfectly with the JLU re-format. If we’ve done everything right, the current season’s finale [for Season Four] will work pretty much the same way (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Screen Grabs from Starcrossed
Commentary coming soon!
courtesy of Toon
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