The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t the only place where the world’s greatest heroes join together in one continuity. Since 2012, DC Comics have populated television with their own superhero properties, beginning with Arrow before slowly rolling out The Flash (2014), Supergirl (2015), Legends of Tomorrow (2016) and Black Lightning (2018). Now the Bat of Gotham finally takes storm!
No, not that Bat. The Bruce Wayne of the Arrowverse has long been teased, but it’s the character’s mysterious vanishing that propels his cousin Kate Kane take up the titular mantle of Batwoman.
If you’re unfamiliar with the DC lore, you may be mistaken in thinking that Batwoman had been crafted just for the show. Kate Kane has been a long-standing hero who, just as in the show, took over as Gotham’s caped crusader while Bruce Wayne seemingly passed during Final Crisis.
What has made Batwoman so enduring in the comics is her existence as a prominent Lesbian superhero, her military history and her own rogues gallery that evoke the same eeriness that readers have come to expect from the villains of Gotham. Now that the history lesson is over, how does the show take all of this into consideration?
Pretty well, actually. Like most CW shows, Batwoman exhibits some of the same growing pains when trying to find its identity. With so many shows and heroes nowadays it’s easy to get lost in the fold, especially when you’re tasked of separating a character from their own – much more famous – cousin.
Rose slowly becomes more comfortable with the Kate Kane character, expanding beyond her usual action-woman typecast.
Once the exposition is completed, and Kate Kane finally steps into her own Bat-suit, which looks wonderful and mostly comic-accurate (the “tail” of the Bat-symbol should go down further), the series goes into high-gear – or as much as a show can with a 22-episode season.
I had my doubts about Ruby Rose. I definitely don’t despise her as an actress, but I also wasn’t overly struck by her debut performance in last year’s Elseworlds crossover event. Much like the rest of the series, Rose slowly becomes more comfortable with the Kate Kane character, expanding beyond her usual action-woman typecast.
Kate’s backstory of being discharged from the military under the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy remains a potent force in the series. While there have been many LGBTQ+ characters in the Arrowverse, Kate’s constant exposure to the conservative public of Gotham heralds her courage more than any high-octane action sequence that show scatters in.
This is particularly evident during a restaurant scene in Episode 7 – ‘Tell Me The Truth’ – with series love interest Sophie. As we find out in the pilot, Sophie is the woman that Kate is caught having a relationship with in the army, but signs a waiver of denial instead. Kate’s continued contact with Sophie is maintained by the latter’s employment in Jacob Kane’s security company: Crow Security.
Security and class are constant themes in the series. Questions of being only as safe as you feel are raised throughout, while also meditating on the ironic distribution of security across Gotham City. Even Kate’s social security is thrown into the air as the city persistently denies her.
Batwoman packs enough style and mystery to help it through its first season
Of course, every hero is only as good as their villains. It’s very true for Batman – Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Catwoman – and it’s even more vital for Batwoman. Fortunately, the writers have decided to loosely adapt the Elegy storyline – one of Batwoman’s first standalone stories – and have her face mad gang leader Alice.
Alice, who commands The Wonderland Gang, is portrayed by Rachel Skarsten, who had previously played Black Canary on the short-lived Birds of Prey series in 2003. Skartsen is clearly having fun with the role, as most actors do when playing the crazy-killer-type, but also adds depth with moments of sobering sanity.
All-in-all, bolstered by Rose and Skarsten’s performances, Batwoman packs enough style and mystery to help it through its first season, and enough potential to arose excitement for its season renewal.
Batwoman is now showing on E4 on Sundays at 9 p.m.
Last modified: 2nd April 2020