Batgirl has always been a favorite among fans of the extended family of a certain pointy-eared vigilante. In fact, the character has only grown in popularity since her original introduction in 1961. While the first woman to don the Batgirl costume was Betty Kane, it was Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon, who brought the character the love and admiration of fans. Since Barbara’s introduction, we’ve enjoyed countless adventures with Batgirl all across Gotham. Some of her latest cases have even taken her to Gotham’s hipster bastion of Burnside, and since Rebirth, she’s been traveling the world as a sort of crimefighting “study abroad.”
Life is good for Barb, but even she’s lived through a few unsavory moments throughout her crimefighting career. We probably don’t have to remind you of the events of The Killing Joke at this point. Batgirl’s story in that book remains one of the character’s darkest moments. In fact, it’s one of the darkest moments in comic book history, period. Beyond that, Batgirl’s suffered through a few awkward moments, including wardrobe malfunctions, being turned into a snakewoman and being captured in a barn by one of the silliest villains ever brought to the screen. CBR counts down 15 of the most awkward images you’ll ever find of Batgirl:
15. THAT ROOFTOP SCENE
When WB announced that it was adapting Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke as an animated film, the question on fans’ minds was how faithful the movie would be to the original source material, especially in terms of Barbara Gordon’s story. Would the film show Barbara’s controversial assault at the hands of the Joker or would that aspect of the story be cut for the screen?
Brian Azzarello, who wrote the adaptation, didn’t skim on Barbara’s story, though. In fact, on top of including the implications of the assault, he also added a prologue that frustrated some fans and critics for the way it portrayed Batgirl as a woman obsessed with Batman. Above, you can see a picture of the young hero preparing to sleep with Batman, a moment that’s really stomach-churning to many fans.
14. TIED UP IN A BARN
Batman had many wonky adventures in the 1960s, especially on the psychedelic and groovy live-action series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. But these parodic Batman stories didn’t just feature the Dark Knight and Robin, the Boy Wonder. Batgirl, as portrayed by the wonderful Yvonne Craig, was also along for the ride, helping the Dynamic Duo take down a colorful gallery of rogues that included Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin and even a dude dressed as a cowboy named Shame.
In one of the two-part stories, “The Great Escape”/”The Great Train Robbert,” Shame captures Batgirl and locks her up in a barn. He binds her hands and gags her with a kerchief. It’s certainly an embarrassing situation for Batgirl, especially since she was caught by such a silly rogue.
13. THE CONTROVERSIAL COVER
The Killing Joke has always been a controversial entry in Batman canon. Sure, it’s the accepted origin story of the Joker, one of the greatest villains in comic book and movie history, but it’s also not aged very well when it comes to the Batgirl storyline. It’s no secret that Alan Moore and Brian Bolland totally fridged Barbara in order to push Batman to the point where he would kill the Joker. Years later, the plot development remains cringe-worthy.
While you’d think DC would want to distance itself from the comic’s controversial assault, the publisher instead called attention to it once again in the final days of the New 52 with a variant cover for Batgirl #41, which featured the Joker finger painting a bloody smile on a terrified Batgirl’s face. DC ended up canceling Rafael Albuquerque’s variant after fans were less than enthused with the gruesome image.
12. SASHA GREY BATGIRL
With a Batgirl movie currently in development at Warner Bros., there has been no shortage of fan castings on the internet. After all, no one’s actually been cast in the role just yet — and the film doesn’t even have a director anymore, now that Joss Whedon has dropped out of the project. So it might be a while before we hear anything official concerning who will play Batgirl.
Digital artist Dexter V. Laine has a thought as to whom should don the cowl, and it’s a choice that will certainly turn some heads: it’s none other than multimedia film star Sasha Grey. The suit Dexter has created certainly supports this more adult version of Batgirl. We doubt this will ever happen, but like all fan castings, people can dream.
11. COUTURE BATGIRL
Go to any Comic Con this side of the Mississippi (and the other side, too) and you’re bound to run into at least one cosplayer paying tribute to Batgirl with a DIY creation. You’ll see them dressed as a more classic Batgirl, an Animated Series Batgirl, Gail Simone’s Batgirl and the Batgirl of Burnside. (You probably won’t see them dressed as Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl, though…) Then there are those cosplayers who add a brand new spin to the costume.
Cosplayer Anastasia Grace has created a more stripped down version of Batgirl for her unique cosplay. She calls this look “Couture Batgirl,” and it’s easy to see why. This cosplay seems to fit a very specific kind of Batgirl we’ll probably never see in the comics.
10. UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH ROBIN
Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon were straight up a couple back in the 2000s — not just an item. In fact, just a year after 2005’s Infinite Crisis event, which put most of the DC Universe (including Nightwing) in serious danger, we got Nightwing Annual #2 from Marc Andreyko and Joe Bennett. This special issue explored how the first Robin and Batgirl got the hots for each other all the way back when they were still just sidekicks.
The issue features a flashback to an early team-up to stop Crazy Quilt’s latest criminal plot. Unfortunately, Robin and Batgirl are outmaneuvered and locked in a safe — in very tight quarters. The panel above makes it pretty clear that Robin didn’t mind being that close to Batgirl at all.
9. BATMAN GETS BATGIRL PREGNANT
Batman Beyond 2.0 was a godsend to many fans who wished for more episodes of the beloved animated series well after the show was canceled. This comic book continued the adventures of Terry McGinnis through a futuristic Gotham City and even shed more light on Bruce Wayne’s past. One of the big questions remaining after the show went off the air was: why didn’t Dick Grayson ever make an appearance?
The comic book addressed this head-on. In a flashback, we learn that Barbara and Dick were dating during their sidekick days. One night, Bruce and Barbara also slept together behind Dick’s back, and Batgirl became pregnant with Batman’s baby. Things were obviously awkward between the three afterward, but even more messed up was the fact that Bruce had taken advantage of both of his apprentices.
8. THE TRANSGENDER CONTROVERSY
While Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr’s arrival to the world of Batgirl was largely held as a triumph and much-needed shake-up for the character, their time on the book wasn’t without its controversies. In the early days of their run, one of the big storylines involved a fake Batgirl impersonating the real one and sharing her exploits on social media. This obviously pissed off the real Batgirl, who set out to find the imposter.
What she and fans discovered caused a public outcry from the LGBTQ community. The imposter was revealed to be Dagger Type, a transgender character who was portrayed as a villain and someone not right in the head. The portrayal was heavily criticized by both fans and critics, who pointed out that the comic leaned heavily on dangerous stereotypes about transgender people. The entire creative team apologized for the story soon after.
7. BATGIRL’S GOT A GUN
Batman has one rule that separates him from his villains: he doesn’t kill. Sure, he’s slipped a few times over the years, but he’s kept his promise for the most part. He expects the rest of his family to follow this rule, too. Dick Grayson had to fight the temptation to kill when coming face to face with his parents’ killer in both the comics and Batman: The Animated Series. And then there was Batgirl’s own temptation.
When Barbara returned to the role of Batgirl, she quickly came face to face with the Joker once again, and she wanted payback for what he did to her in The Killing Joke. Batgirl pulls a gun on the Joker and comes very close to pulling the trigger on the clown once and for all. The only thing that saves the Joker’s life is the fact that he’s kidnapped Batgirl’s mom.
6. THE IMPLIED ASSAULT
This is undoubtedly the most infamous series of panels in Batgirl’s long career as a crimefighter. It depicts a scene that should make all fans shudder, as the Joker has his way with an incapacitated Barbara Gordon. Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr even went as far as trying to erase it from the character’s continuity altogether. After all, fridging a female character is never a good look, DC.
It was revealed years after The Killing Joke was first released that Brian Bolland had actually drawn panels that were even more brutal than the ones actually included in the book. Those images were later leaked, showing a naked and bloody Barbara writing in pain. We are hopefully well past the days where we’ll have to witness something like this in a comic book again.
5. SERPENT BATGIRL
Detective Comics #515 kicked off one of the most bonkers comic book stories ever, as Batgirl faces off against the monstrous Lady Viper, a villain who’s half-woman half-snake. While trading fists, Lady Viper manages to bite Batgirl. This wound has serious consequences for Babs, who later discovers that she’s been turned into a snake woman just like the villain. It’s pretty much the most horrifying thing ever.
Batgirl spends the rest of the storyline lamenting her unfortunate situation, as if she were a Kafka character, but manages to take down Lady Viper anyway. She finds a way to transform herself back into a regular woman. The panels above should show you just how awkward Batgirl looked as a snake-woman hybrid. Actually, these images might actually be nightmare fuel.
4. BATGIRL RIPS HER TIGHTS
“Batgirl’s Costume Cut-Ups” is seriously one of the most misogynistic stories ever put on paper. Detective Comics #371 by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane features Batgirl having to deal with her own “feminine weaknesses,” namely her vanity. During a fight with the Sports Spoilers Gang, Batgirl’s headpiece becomes undone and she rushes to fix it, which allows the criminals to get away. Barbara is extremely hard on herself about this and decides to make it her mission to fight her “instincts” in order to become a better crimefighter.
Later in the story, Batman, Robin and Batgirl are once again trading punches with the Sports Spoilers Gang. This time, Batgirl decides to use her femininity as an advantage against the band of thugs by ripping her own tights. As you can see from the panel above, this distracts the bad guys and allows Batman and Robin to take them down.
3. BATGIRL AND JOKER AT THE ALTAR
Gail Simone brought Barbara Gordon back to her former glory during DC’s New 52 relaunch, returning her ability to walk and fight crime on the streets. But Batgirl still had some unfinished business with the Clown Prince of Cime, the villain who had paralyzed her in the first place. Her showdown with Joker came in Batgirl #15, which was a tie-in issue to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Death of the Family” storyline on Batman.
In this issue, Joker hatches a plan to marry Batgirl, forcing her to walk down the aisle with him after kidnapping her mother. It doesn’t happen, but it is a moment of pure horror. The panel above will give pretty much anyone goosebumps. If this picture doesn’t make you shudder, you’re a monster.
2. ALICIA SILVERSTONE AS BATGIRL
The fact that a bunch of suits sat in a Warner Bros. boardroom and nodded their heads enthusiastically at Joel Schumacher’s ideas for Batman & Robin will remain a bit of a mystery until the end of time. After the release of this incredibly lambasted Batman movie, many fans hoped WB would freeze in hell for releasing such a clearly tongue-in-cheek take on their favorite superhero.
While much of the ire was aimed at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy, fans also took aim at Alicia Silverstone’s Batgirl and her awful string of one-liners (the “compost” line, ooof). There was also that awkward scene of Batgirl suiting up for the first time, the camera zooming in on all of her various body parts to show just how form-fitting the suit was. Batgirl probably could have done without so much attention from the camera.
1. BATGIRL VS. NIGHTWING
It’s no secret that Dick Grayson, the first Robin and current Nightwing, and Barbara Gordon have always been into each other. There have been plenty of comics depicting the two lovebirds in tender moments or flirty situations. Sometimes they also get very up close and personal. It’s no wonder people ship these two characters so hard. As Batman’s first disciples, it’s almost like fate brought Dick and Barbara together.
Artist BlondTheColorist certainly likes putting these two together and isn’t afraid to get a bit risqué with the fantasy. As you can see, Batgirl’s decided to take Nightwing by surprise. It should be said that Batgirl, like many other heroines, has struggled over the years to not be sexualized. Writers like Gail Simone, Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Hope Larson have helped the character move away from a most tired cliché.
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