With the announcement that a Batwoman series would soon be joining the CW’s colorful line-up of superhero shows, came the expected outpouring of opinions from all of comic fandom. This wasn’t unprecedented; Batwoman has a group of devoted supporters that have been waiting for her to have the spotlight. What wasn’t anticipated was the outcry from the LGBT community over various facets of her character development, from the casting choices to how to handle her lifestyle. Batwoman has been a notable figurehead of inspiration for the LGBT community for several years now, being one of the most prominently openly gay characters in comic book history. This is a polarizing point for some, as the original Batwoman started not as a member of the LGBT community, but as a means to prevent suspicion that the Batman and Robin of the ‘60s weren’t part of it as well!
Kate Kane is a military trained, quick witted young woman who has suffered immense tragedy in her life and pulled through to be a hero. Her interests lie in righting the wrongs of social justice and fighting for the disenfranchised everywhere (which includes those in her Jewish faith), and may just be the best superhero to reflect the modern times in which we live. Ultimately, what’s important for fans of Kate Kane is that her series has a solid original story, well developed characters, good acting, and a fundamental understanding of its source material. Fans want to know that she will be treated with respect, and not as another Batman clone. What’s interesting is that in some cases her character has received more attention from non-comic book fans surrounding her lifestyle than it would have otherwise, and their opinions may shape the show’s development.
20 WHAT FANS WANT: BATMAN CAMEOS
Whether you’re a true fan of Batwoman or simply have tertiary knowledge of her comic, the one thing that can be agreed upon is that without Batman, there is no Batwoman. Kate Kane is a legitimate part of the Bat Family, who all work together to protect Gotham. Batman literally inspired her to become a superhero, and is a vital part of her crime fighting history.
Watching Supergirl on the CW, it takes a certain suspension of disbelief to understand that Superman isn’t in the series all that much. For the new Batwoman series, it’s important to establish Batwoman’s position as a bonafide crime fighter with the support of the Caped Crusader himself, as well as give another actor the chance to play him.
19 WHAT THEY DON’T: BAD CASTING
Ever since the news broke that Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black fame would be portraying Batwoman, comic fans became suddenly polarized. Whether people were in favor of or against the casting decision largely seemed to depend on their opinions of Rose’s acting ability as well as gender identification.
Like Heath Ledger being cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight or Ben Affleck being cast as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rose faced the same harsh scrutiny about character fit. Fans will simply have to wait and reserve judgment until the annual Arrow crossover event and she makes her debut appearance -- they may find that they are pleasantly surprised.
18 WHAT FANS WANT: POSITIVE LGBT REPRESENTATION
The world of comics has become more and more inclusive as time passes. The presence of LGBT superheroes has slowly become normalized in both the Marvel and DC Universe, where their lifestyles are never detrimental to their ability to protect and safeguard humankind. Astonishing X-Men #51 depicted the marriage of male couple Northstar and Kyle Jinadu, and was the first officially shown wedding of a gay couple for Marvel Comics.
Casting Ruby Rose, a genderfluid woman who identifies as gay, was a purposeful decision by the casting directors of the CW. While some members of the LGBT community feel she is “trendy” or “not gay enough”, it’s a step in the right direction that mirrors the decision to make Batwoman gay in 2006.
17 WHAT THEY DON’T WANT: CORNY DIALOGUE
While the CW boasts many popular superhero television shows, including The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow, it has been criticized for the overall tone of those series. The CW’s demographic is largely adolescent and young adult, and the dialogue of its series tend to reflect that.
Many Batwoman fans worry that a character known for her dry wit and somewhat erratic demeanor won’t translate well if handled improperly by CW writers. While some series can get away with a fair amount of jocularity and comic relief (The Flash), the tone of Batwoman should feel a lot more like Gotham over on Fox Network. In fact, the tone of Jessica Jones is even more appropriate, but its content would be too dark for network television.
16 WHAT FANS WANT: GRITTY STORYLINES
Batwoman’s storylines have always carried with them the gritty and edgy flavor of any intellectual property related to the Dark Knight. Her mother passed away, her sister went insane, and she was a military brat that was never in one place for long. Hers was a life of isolation and distrust, which she used to become self-reliant.
Some of the motivations behind Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman are similar to Kate Kane’s, and therefore require a thematic tone that the CW will have to work to deliver. The Batwoman series shouldn’t be similar to the current line up of Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, but be CW’s chance to depict a more mature format.
15 WHAT THEY DON’T WANT: A BATMAN CLONE
One of the biggest challenges facing the writing team of the new Batwoman series is not turning their lead character into a Batman clone. The way the character was originally conceived in 1956, Kathy Kane was a boujee socialite ala Bruce Wayne who, while having too much champagne one evening was the victim of an aggressive attack which required Batman’s intervention.
Batman’s heroic appearance inspired Kathy to become a superhero like him, and use her own gobsmacking wealth and influence to fight crime. Batwoman’s newly revised origins in 2006 alter this story slightly, but some aspects carried over. Kate Kane will need to stand out from under the shadow of her cowled mentor if she’s going to make her mark on the superhero sphere.
14 WHAT FANS WANT: POISON IVY AND CATWOMAN
Being a crime fighter in Gotham City, it makes sense that Batwoman would logically face some of the same villains from Batman’s infamous rogue's gallery. Most notably, Batwoman has gone up against Poison Ivy and Catwoman several times in the comics. Having them appear in the television series would be a great way to anchor Batwoman into the greater Bat Universe, and give viewers a chance to see some of their favorite villains.
Making Poison Ivy and Catwoman major players in the series would give the female villains a chance for greater character development, as well as maintain a connection to Batman if it isn’t possible to give him any cameos.
13 WHAT THEY DON’T WANT: POORLY DEVELOPED STORYLINES
Next to Netflix, CW has the most superhero shows currently in circulation. It’s line up consists of The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, and Black Lightning. As each season progresses in these programs, the writing can get disorganized and confusing, with beloved characters treated like an afterthought. As the series become increasingly interconnected, poorly developed storylines threaten to dismantle their cohesion.
For Batwoman to be successful, it will need to have concise storylines, with proper exposition. Shows like Inhumans on ABC failed because unless viewers’ comic knowledge was vast, it fell apart under the weight of its own material and poor acting.
12 WHAT FANS WANT: ARROWVERSE CROSSOVERS
Batwoman will be making her debut in the annual Arrow crossover even this year, allowing her the chance to interact with dozens of characters from the Arrowverse that are already in rotation across several storylines. What will keep Batwoman relevant in her own series will be the continued support from the Arrowverse in the form of crossovers.
While these crossovers don’t necessarily need to be frequent, and shouldn’t alter the tone of the series itself, they’ll do a lot to legitimize Batwoman as a major player alongside The Flash, the Green Arrow, and their superhero cohort. And fans will enjoy seeing one of the Bat Family members interacting with the Arrowverse on a regular basis.
11 WHAT THEY DON’T: A FORCED AGENDA
Both comic book fans and Batwoman fans have been fairly vocal about the fact that they don’t want a forced agenda driving the series. This is in direct response to casting Ruby Rose, who identifies as gay, in the lead role.
Now it should be clarified, that these same fans were also upset when Batwoman was made gay in her 2006 reboot. They felt that a wave of “political correctness” was forcing writers of comic books to acquiesce to the demands of “social justice warriors”, and altering beloved characters to suit their needs. In fact, the character was changed to reflect (and include) a more diverse readership base.
10 WHAT FANS WANT: SOCIAL JUSTICE THEMES
Batwoman has always had a fiercely protective streak when it comes to those in need, especially regarding issues of social justice. While superheroes tackle all sorts of tragic calamities, Batwoman will be more like the X-Men when it comes to championing themes of inclusivity, tolerance, and progress.
Superheroes and their story arcs often reflect the times in which they’re created, and their writers often use their genre to mirror aspects of everyday life that could concern them. Batwoman being a firm believer in social justice is certainly apropos to the current socio-political climate, and reflects DC Comics' more progressive views.
9 WHAT THEY DON’T: DIVERSITY FOR DIVERSITY’S SAKE
There has been a growing rumble in the world of comic book fandom about diversity for diversity’s sake. Comic fans are seeing their favorite characters get either gender swapped or have their races changed, sparking indignant outrage about the motivations of publishing houses. Did making Thor female attract more female readership? Or making Spider-Man black?
The point of these changes is meant to convey that while new characters of different genders and races can always be created, anyone can also assume the mantle of an iconic superhero. The worthy can wield Thor’s hammer, or throw Captain America’s shield. Including a gay superhero in the current line up of superhero shows simply reflects the current times.
8 WHAT FANS WANT: THE QUESTION
Prior to the New 52 reboot, Batwoman was involved with a member of the Gotham Police Department, Renee Taylor. Still in the closet and undesirous to have their relationship known, it was kept hidden from the public. Taylor became the protegee of Vic Sage, aka The Question, an aggressive investigative journalist turned crime fighter.
The Question has been depicted as having no superhuman abilities -- simply an above average intelligence and various gadgets. At times, his character has been rebooted to have mystical components brought on by hallucinogens that allow him to “communicate” with cities. Seeing this enigmatic superhero, either Sage or Montoya, would give the Batwoman series a certain amount of credibility.
7 WHAT THEY DON’T: JACOB KANE BEING LEFT OUT
US Army Colonel Jacob Kane is not only Kate Kane’s father, but her biggest supporter. Like the Alfred to her Batman, her father often operates as an operative in the field alongside her, assisting her missions, providing her advice, and maintaining her vast arsenal. They even practice field exercises together and, when around each other, frequently babble in military jargon inconceivable most civilians around them.
Leaving out Jacob Kane would be a waste of an opportunity to show a unique familial relationship as well as a look at the meaning of going into “the family business”. Hopefully the CW will keep the character around in the capacity he occupied in the comics.
6 WHAT FANS WANT: A FOCUS ON HER MILITARY BACKGROUND
Due to the nature of Kate Kane’s upbringing as an army brat, her family was moved from state to state frequently. Her father, Colonel Jacob Kane of the US Army, was a highly decorated officer that taught Kate and her twin sister Beth the principles of discipline and hard work. When their mother passed away in a tragic accident gone wrong, her father and the military became her world.
Kate trained at West Point, determined to follow in her father’s footsteps until she was thrown out due to her LGBT lifestyle. Still, the skills she acquired were considerable and, like The Punisher, should be showcased as part of her fighting style, including reconnaissance and tactics.
5 WHAT THEY DON’T: NIGHTWING’S CRUSH ON HER
Originally, the first Batwoman Kathy Kane was introduced in 1956 in an attempt to drive home the point that Batman and Robin weren’t a gay couple. She was a love interest for Batman until she was ultimately phased out in the ‘60s. When she appeared again, it was Nightwing who was introduced as a possible romantic partner, though she resisted his advances.
Most superheroes in current television series skirt around and serious romantic relationships simply because “happily ever after” doesn’t make for compelling content. However, the current Batwoman being gay should mean that there are no annoying crushes to worry about, from Nightwing or any other male superhero.
4 WHAT FANS WANT: HER CRAZY TWIN SISTER
An interesting take on Batman’s Joker, Kate Kane has her own version in her twin sister, Beth. The Joker once said each person is only one bad day away from becoming a villain and in Beth’s case, that day occurred when she was abducted alongside her mother and watched her get shot in front of her.
Beth goes by the name of Alice, from the main character in Alice and Wonderland, and is severely mentally unbalanced. Supported by the Religion of Crime, a mysterious and dangerous cult of criminals, she eventually became the High Priestess of Gotham. Alice would be a whimsical, intriguing aspect of the series as her sister’s arch nemesis.
3 WHAT THEY DON’T: A LAME SIDEKICK
While not all sidekicks are destined to be lame, the ones associated with the Bat Family tend to be until they become accepted by fans. Like Batman’s Robin, Batwoman had her own sidekick in the form of Flamebird. Flamebird is the alias of Bette Kane, Kate Kane’s real life cousin and fellow crime fighter.
In the ‘60s, she went by Betty Kane, and was the first Bat-Girl. As a different origin story and persona was developed for Bat-Girl, Bette became Flamebird. In that iteration, she was the niece of the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane. She’s had an extensive history of involvement with the Teen Titans and hopefully gets a proper arc in the Batwoman series.
2 WHAT FANS WANT: A SOLID ORIGIN STORY
Like all superheroes, the fibre of their principles comes down to their origin story. It’s what drives them to take up the mantle of their chosen alias and safeguard the defenseless, and often reveals how they achieved their superpowers. In the case of Kate Kane, her origin story is as tragic as her cousin, Bruce Wayne’s.
The daughter of a prominent Colonel in the US Army, she was abducted alongside her mother and twin sister. While her father was able to lead the mission that ultimately saved her, her mother was shot and she passed away and her sister was presumed gone as well. These tragic events, if included in the series, will establish her motivations and her perspective as a superhero.
1 WHAT THEY DON’T: NO MENTION OF HER FAITH
While religious affiliation doesn’t tend to factor very strongly in the lives of superheroes, it’s very important to some. Kate Kane’s Jewish faith factors into all sorts of aspects of her life, from the color of her super suit, to the decor of her apartment.
By refusing to downplay her Judaism, the CW will send a clear message of tolerance and acceptance. Kate Kane can continue to serve as an inspirational figure to members of a variety of faiths, and show that a person can fight crime and have a communion with a higher power. The one may help serve the other, and allow her to take pride in her community.