With the pilot episode for the CW's Batwoman series scheduled to begin principal photography next month, the Arrowverse series has announced that Rachel Skarsten (Reign) has been cast to play Alice, the show's primary antagonist opposite Ruby Rose's eponymous superhero. She's the perfect choice for the Gotham City-based hero's main "big bad," as Alice is nightmarish figure in the comic books who became Kate Kane's most identifiable nemesis and stands the chance of becoming the most personal villain in the Arrowverse to date.
Introduced in 2009's Detective Comics #854, written by Batwoman co-creator Greg Rucka and illustrated by acclaimed artist J.H. Williams III, Alice arrived as a fearsome figure within Gotham's Religion of Crime, uniting much of the criminal underworld with a zealously murderous fervor. Inspired by Lewis Carroll's classic fantasy story Alice in Wonderland, Alice arrives dressed as in a Victorian-era costume, a painted white face and curly blond hair, speaking mainly in direct quotations from Carroll's text. Denying any connection with fellow Alice in Wonderland-inspired villain Mad Hatter, Alice's original plot was to unleash a toxic gas across the city, potentially killing millions of innocents.
An expert with blades, guns and poisons, Alice commands a devoted small army of followers to do her bidding, and nearly killed Batwoman in their first major confrontation. After the villain teased a connection to Kate Kane and her father Jake, Kate obtained a sample of Alice's blood and confirmed her suspicions: The mass-murdering villain is actually her long-presumed dead identical twin sister, Beth.
It was revealed that as children, the Kane family was attacked by a mysterious terrorist group resulting in the death of their mother Catherine and Beth's apparent demise. Elizabeth was actually survived, however, and was raised by the Religion of Crime where she took on the Alice persona and rose through the ranks of the criminal cult to take on a leadership role.
After she was killed by a fall into Gotham Harbor while battling Batwoman, the Religion of Crime recovered Alice's body and had it interred in a sarcophagus. After the sarcophagus was recovered by D.E.O. operative Cameron Chase and brought back to the government agency's headquarters. The organization's director, Mister Bones, resurrects Alice and helps her break through her childhood conditioning, regaining her identity as Beth Kane in the process. It's eventually revealed that Beth's revival and rehabilitation is part of Bones' greater plan to finally put an end to Batwoman's vigilante activities, and the rogue D.E.O. director nearly kills Beth once again in the ensuing struggle before being defeated for good.
After further rehabilitation under the supervision of her father, Beth returns to Gotham and takes on the alter ego Red Alice, reconciling with her twin sister and decided to use her vast talents to atone for her previous actions while serving as a member of the Religion of Crime.
How much inspiration the upcoming DCTV series will take from the source material remains to be seen, but Alice is certainly Batwoman's most personal, tragic enemy. And while the Arrowverse's incarnation of the D.E.O. is currently relegated to Supergirl's alternate world, Arrow has set a precedent of the federal government cracking down on unsanctioned vigilantes which could carry over to Batwoman, perhaps serving as an introduction to Mister Bones and his vendetta against Kate and Beth Kane as well.
With the pilot for the planned series expected to begin filming next month in Vancouver, it will be interesting what new details from the DC Comics adaptation transition to the show but the series certainly has a wealth of narrative material to draw from with the acclaimed comic book run.
Written by Caroline Dries and developed for The CW, Batwoman stars Ruby Rose, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Camrus Johnson and Nicole Kang.