When most people hear the name “Batgirl,” odds are that the first character to come to mind is Barbara Gordon, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. She first donned her black-and-yellow cape in 1967 and has been a comic book mainstay ever since, both as Batgirl and as her subsequent crimefighting identity, Oracle. Her popularity has been further cemented by other media. Whenever a Batman TV show or film wants to include a Batgirl, odds are they’re going to go for Babs. But as with most Bat-family members, the name Batgirl comes with a powerful legacy attached. It has been passed from hero to hero, each of whom brought their own unique flourishes to the role.
This list will take a look at every person to ever call themselves Batgirl. We’ll start with the worst of the lot and slowly work our way up to the most epic Batgirl of them all. Some of the characters at the bottom of the list are those who got a shot at continuing the legacy and blew it. Many were outright supervillains who brazenly stole the Batgirl identity for their own purposes. The characters at the top of the list are those who truly made Batgirl their own. They threw everything they had and more into being a superhero, often at great personal cost. So who brought honor to the Batgirl legacy, and who should never have been allowed anywhere near the name? And where does your favorite Batgirl rank? Just keep scrolling on down to find out!
Clayface has bedeviled the Bat-crew in one form or another since 1940. His primary talent is the ability to mold his clay-like body into any form that will prove most useful to him. In Batgirl #13, he disguises himself as Batgirl to throw off both his opponent and the police officers looking on.
Fortunately for the real Batgirl, one of the officers shoots Clayface, resulting in a spurt of clay that definitively proves which one is the real heroine and which is the disgusting blob monster. Clayface’s time as Batgirl was extremely brief and did not end well for him. Hence his low placement on this list. That and, you know, he’s a bad guy.
14. BARBARA WILSON
This Batgirl debuted in 1997’s Batman & Robin. Although she shares a first name with the most famous Batgirl, they could not be further apart personality-wise. Ms. Wilson is Alfred’s niece and has only recently arrived in Gotham City after attending school in England.
Towards the end of the film, Alfred decides that she would make a good crimefighter and lets her into the Batcave, thus betraying his employer’s secret identity to a lady who needed rescuing from a motorcycle race. This Batgirl’s most useful contribution to the cause of justice was her immunity to Poison Ivy’s love potion, and that’s thanks more to Ivy’s carelessness than to Batgirl’s “talents”.
13. HARLEY QUINN
In her first solo series, Harley Quinn decides that a change of identity was in order. She dons a Batgirl costume so convincing that she successfully tricks Robin into believing she’s the real deal… until she starts talking, that is. The fact that she starts deliberately pushing all his buttons is another big giveaway.
Now by this point, Barbara Gordon had given up the Batgirl identity quite a while ago, and her chances of ever taking it up again were destroyed by a particularly brutal attack by the Joker. Needless to say, the sight of this irreverent impostor running around Gotham infuriates the Bat-clan, including then-current Batgirl Cassandra Cain.
Booster Gold and his sister, Goldstar, were both born in the 25th century. But since they have the technology to travel through time, most of their adventures take place in various other time periods. In Booster Gold #12, they travel to present-day Gotham City to fix the timestream by taking down minor Bat-villain Killer Moth. However, they must do so as Batman and Batgirl.
Accordingly, Goldstar knocks out Barbara Gordon and steals her costume. Once she and her brother defeat Killer Moth, Goldstar and Booster leave the 21st century and their stolen identities behind. Sure, they accomplished their mission, but they had to scare the bejeepers out of Alfred and the Gordons first. They lose some Bat-points for that.
11. BLACK BAT
This isn’t technically a Batgirl, but rather a resident of the Amalgam Universe, where Marvel and DC characters are combined into new characters that share traits from both their predecessors. Black Bat is Barbara Gordon Hardy, a mash-up between Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon and Felicia “Black Cat” Hardy.
Babs started out as a thief but then decided she’d rather join S.H.I.E.L.D. She calls herself the Black Bat and becomes a superhero to prove that she has truly turned over a new leaf. After S.H.I.E.L.D. agrees to make her an agent, Barbara falls in love with Bruce Wayne, also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
10. CHARLIE GAGE-RADCLIFFE
After losing her family in an apartment fire, Charlotte “Charlie” Gage-Radcliffe decides to reinvent herself as a superhero. After all, she loves Batgirl and has the ability to teleport — what else could she possibly need? Charlie slaps together a costume, teleports into Oracle’s super-secret hideout and declares herself the new Batgirl.
To no one’s surprise but her own, Charlie’s actions do not endear her to Oracle, who rather brusquely tells her to pack up and go home. Charlie does give up the name Batgirl, but she refuses to give up her dream of becoming a superhero. She starts calling herself Misfit and goes on several missions with the Birds of Prey.
9. HELENA BERTINELLI
Helena is primarily known as the Huntress, the purple-clad, crossbow-wielding heroine who never quite learned how to play nice with others. She works with the Batman Family but is not necessarily a part of it. She did, however, get to be Batgirl for about five minutes.
During “No Man’s Land,” a massive earthquake leaves Gotham in ruins and prompts the federal government to quarantine the city. Batman, as Bruce Wayne, leaves Gotham to try to convince the government that this is a dumb idea. While he is gone, Helena operates as Batgirl and tries to prevent Arkham’s escaped criminals from making the situation even worse.
8. TIFFANY FOX
Futures End showed us a number of potential futures that might someday come to pass in Gotham City. In one potential future, Gotham is protected by the League of Batgirls, who operate under the direction of Barbara Gordon. The team consists mostly of Bat-veterans like Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, but they also have a spunky newbie in the form of Tiffany Fox.
Tiffany is the daughter of Batman’s good friend, Lucius Fox. She is only 12 years old, but she is already an intelligent and capable Batgirl. She even stops Bane from blowing up Gotham after Barbara fails to do so. We’re kind of hoping for this future to happen, or at least for DC to publish more stories about this Tiffany. Hint, hint.
7. BETTY KANE
The original Batgirl — or “Bat-girl,” as it was written in her 1961 debut — is Betty Kane, niece to Kathy Kane, aka Batwoman. Like her aunt before her, Betty was so inspired by the other Caped Crusaders’ heroics that she fashioned her own costume and started joining them on their adventures.
While Betty wasn’t entirely useless, she might have been more effective if she concentrated on taking out bad guys instead of trying to make Robin fall in love with her. Even after joining the Teen Titans, changing her codename to Flamebird and changing the spelling of her name to “Bette,” she remained uncomfortably infatuated with the Boy Wonder.
Another Futures End scenario brought us another, very different Batgirl: Nissa, a teenager who protects Neo-Gotham pretty much by herself. She has help from the police, of course, including Commissioner Barbara Gordon. But unlike previous Batgirls, Nissa does not have the benefit of an older, more experienced mentor to guide her.
On the other hand, Nissa doesn’t seem to have a particular need for a Bat-father figure to shadow her every move. Despite being so young, she takes on a whole gang all by her lonesome and comes out on top. She was obviously inspired by Batman and company, but she is no one’s sidekick.
5. CARRIE KELLEY
Making her debut in 1986’s seminal The Dark Knight Returns, Carrie Kelley became the new Robin to an older, grimmer Batman. She escaped a neglectful home life and found purpose and guidance as the Dark Knight’s assistant. Later, in The Dark Knight Strikes Again, she took the name Catgirl, donning a leopard-print catsuit and roller blade sneakers to honor Catwoman.
Later still, in The Dark Knight III: The Master Race, Carrie continued her apparent quest to claim every Bat-related identity for herself. She showed up as the new Batman and claimed that the original Batman was dead. But it was revealed fairly quickly that Bruce Wayne was alive after all. Shortly thereafter, Carrie finally became Batgirl.
4. STEPHANIE BROWN
Steph has gone through quite a few codenames despite being in her early 20s at best. First as Robin then as Spoiler, she did her best to help Batman, even though he was often needlessly mean to her. Stephanie seemingly did not survive “War Games,” but she eventually returned and become the new Batgirl after Cassandra Cain gave up that identity.
Despite all the terrible things she’s been through and all the legitimate reasons she has to distrust anything Bat-related, Stephanie retained an upbeat attitude as Batgirl. And you have to admire someone who can repeatedly pick themselves up, dust themselves off and still engage in snarky banter like a pro.
3. THE BATGIRLS
DC Bombshells imagines a world where DC’s most popular heroines meet during World War II and must help defeat the Third Reich and their magic zombies. When baseball player-turned-superhero Kate Kane, alias Batwoman, leaves for Europe on a secret mission, her many young admirers step up to the plate to protect Gotham in her stead.
The team includes lots of names that fans will recognize from other comics and TV shows, like Harper Row, Alysia Yeoh, Felicity Smoak, Bette Kane and Kathy Duquesne. Also, despite the name, the Batgirls happily welcome boys into their ranks, including Tim Drake and Harper’s brother, Cullen.
2. CASSANDRA CAIN
Cass’ early life was anything but heroic. Her father never spoke to her, hoping that the energy she would have used in learning speech would instead be devoted to learning martial arts. It worked, and Cass committed her first assassination at the age of eight. It was also the last one she would do. Cass was so shook by the violence she inflicted that she ran away.
After years of travel, she was accepted by Batman as the new Batgirl. Despite her inability to read, write or talk, Cass proved herself a loyal and able crime-fighter. She also became good friends with her fellow Batgirls, Barbara Gordon and Stephanie Brown. We’ll just ignore that time she broke the Joker out of prison just so she could fight him…
1. BARBARA GORDON
A predictable choice for number one, perhaps, but not an undeserving one. Barbara Gordon has done more for the Batgirl identity than anyone else on this list. And while she has had occasional romantic entanglements with Robin and later Nightwing, she did not allow those feelings to define her entire identity, unlike her predecessor, Betty Kane.
Barbara is almost as famous for her post-Batgirl activities as she is for her time in the yellow boots. After the events of The Killing Joke cost her the use of her legs, Babs became the Oracle, the computer hacking leader of the all-female super squad, the Birds of Prey. Still, for many people, Barbara Gordon will always be the definitive Batgirl.
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