Batgirl is one of the most popular DC superheroines, along with Wonder Woman and Supergirl, with a variety of women assuming the title throughout the years. However, the most iconic identity associated with Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, daughter of police commissioner James Gordon. She has served as Batman’s sidekick, a love interest for the original Robin, Dick Grayson, and eventually joined the Huntress and Black Canary to form the Birds of Prey crime-fighting team. Batgirl has also shown up in a multitude of other media outlets since her debut in 1961.
She was one of the first live-action superheroines to be portrayed in a television series, was often featured in animated series and movies, and she’s even shown up in video games. Dedicated, super smart and a whiz with computers, Barbara Gordon quickly made a name for herself away from Batman’s shadow. Even after being shot by The Joker, which left her paralyzed, Barbara found other ways to fight the good fight assuming the identity of Oracle, a master of the cyber-realms. Barbara Gordon is a female superhero icon, helping to pioneer the idea of feminism in a male-saturated superhero community. With that in mind we’re taking a look at some of our favorite Batgirl looks throughout history.
20. CHARLOTTE GAGE-RADCLIFFE
After Barbara Gordon became Oracle following her paralyzation by the Joker, there were a few women who took on the mantle of Batgirl. In the pages of Birds of Prey, a metahuman with the ability to teleport named Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe was one of them. Showing up in a homemade variation of Barbara’s classic Batgirl costume, Charlotte used her martial arts skills and a few Batarangs to save a couple from muggers. Onlookers had assumed she was the real Batgirl, having returned to active duty.
The costume consisted of blue jeans, sneakers, a T-shirt with a bat symbol on it along with the traditional cowl and cape. Her activities eventually drew the attention of Oracle, who ended up having a heart-to-heart with the young girl about the dangers of being a hero. Charlotte agreed to retire her Batgirl identity, but not to abandon her heroic activities and later become Misfit.
19. BETTY KANE
Originating the character of Batgirl, referred to as Bat-Girl in the ’60s, was Betty Kane. Betty was the niece of Kathy Kane, also known as Batwoman, and after discovering her aunt’s double life, convinced Kathy to train her as her sidekick. Believed to have been created solely as love interests for Batman and Robin, in an attempt to dispute allegations that they were gay, Batwoman and Bat-Girl disappeared from print in 1964.
However, both superheroines would later return in the ’70s with Batwoman, ironically, becoming one of DC’s first out lesbian superheroes. Betty Kane’s original outfit more resembled the classic Robin costume. It was a green dress with a green cape, ankle boots and black masquerade mask. She would later serve as a member of the Teen Titans and Young Justice, eventually assuming a new heroic identity as Flamebird.
18. STEPHANIE BROWN
Stephanie Brown made her debut as the daughter of the criminal Cluemaster in the early ’90s. She originated as an amateur vigilante named Spoiler, but briefly became the fourth Robin and the third Batgirl. In fact, she had her own ongoing Batgirl series from 2009-2011. Stephanie is the only character to have been both Robin and Batgirl in mainstream continuity.
Stephanie’s Batgirl costume was actually more in line with Batman’s, wearing a ribbed black leather suit with a yellow bat symbol on the chest. She also had the standard yellow utility belt, as well as a yellow leg satchel and finned gloves and motorcycle boots. She wore the standard Bat-cowl that allowed her long blonde hair to flow freely.
17. HELENA BERTINELLI
A decade after the creative retirement of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, a new version appeared in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83 during Batman’s “No Man’s Land” story arc. This new Batgirl is later revealed to be Helena Bertinelli, who most readers already knew as the heroine Huntress. Batman eventually forced Helena to abandon the mantle of Batgirl due to her inability to stick with his moral code.
Helena basically used a female version of the Batman feature film costume worn by Michael Keaton. An all-black bodysuit with a yellow utility belt and a gold disc on the chest with a black bat symbol in the middle. The costume also an opening at the base of the neck, so Helena could wear her black hair down.
16. SUPER BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
Super Best Friends Forever was an animated short featured in an anthology series of DC Comics characters that aired on Cartoon Network. This anthology series also gave birth to the Teen Titans animated series reboot, Teen Titans Go!, but Super Best Friends Forever focused on younger versions of Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Girl joining together to fight crime and rid the streets of evildoers.
This Batgirl wore a costume similar to the one seen in the ’60s live-action Batman television show. Following the same purple-and-gold color scheme, she wore a purple bodysuit, with a gold utility belt, boots, gloves and bat symbol on her chest. Her cape would also be the two-toned cape similarly worn by Yvonne Craig, with purple on the outside and a gold underside.
15. BATMAN & ROBIN
Oh, the Schumacher-era Batman movies, how we love to hate them. First, Val Kilmer’s turn as the Caped Crusader fell flat in Batman Forever, then the dreaded nipple costumes pop-up for everyone in Batman & Robin. One thing he did give us, though, is the first feature film appearance of Batgirl. Granted, it was in a very roundabout way.
This Batgirl’s real identity was Barbara Wilson, a niece of Alfred’s turned heroine and portrayed by Clueless star Alicia Silverstone. While the writing was horrid and the action scenes lackluster, we finally got to see Batgirl join Batman and Robin on the big screen. Her outfit was totally different from any Batgirl costume we had seen before, all black with silver accents like a belt, small bat symbols at the top of her thighs and a Robin-like domino mask.
14. CASSANDRA CAIN
Following the events of the “No Man’s Land” story arc in 1999, we were introduced to a new Batgirl, Cassandra Cain. Daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva, Batman and Oracle gave approval for her to assume the Batgirl mantle after saving Commission Gordon’s life. She later becomes an agent, and ward, of Oracle. In the beginning Cassandra cannot speak and can only communicate with gestures and drawings, leading to a heightened ability to read people’s body language.
Cassandra’s Batgirl costume is different in that the cowl completely covers her face and shows no hair. The rest of the outfit is a pretty standard Bat suit and cape, with the yellow utility belt and a gold outline of a bat on her chest. She would eventually adopt the identity of Orphan, a tribute to her deceased father.
13. THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
The Lego Batman Movie is a 3D computer-generated animated superhero comedy that was a spin-off of the popular Lego Movie. In the movie, we are introduced to Lego versions of classic Batman characters, as Batman attempts to overcome his greatest fear to stop the Joker’s latest scheme. Other villains including Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn and Catwoman also make appearances.
In the movie, Batman and a young Robin are joined by Batgirl, an adult Barbara Gordon who has recently taken over as Commissioner of Gotham City Police Department from her father. Batgirl is voiced by phenomenal veteran actress Rosario Dawson and reluctantly works with Batman in order to restore peace to Gotham City. Towards the end of the movie, we see Barbara become Batgirl, donning the now classic purple and gold costume and being instrumental in the final fight against Gotham’s villains.
12. THE BATMAN
Another DC animated series, The Batman ran from 2004-2008 on the Saturday morning Kids’ WB block. The series borrows a lot from previous Batman story-lines, but it doesn’t follow any particular continuity or story arc from the comics. The majority of the classic Batman characters appear, though radically altered in design from those of their comic counterparts.
The show introduces Batgirl in season three as a young incarnation of Barbara Gordon, still daughter of Commissioner Gordon. In this continuity, she would go on to become Batman’s first sidekick (since animated Dick Grayson was being used in the Teen Titans animated series). This Batgirl’s costume was a play on the ’60s purple suit, adding a gold ring belt and a shift dress, making it have more of a mod vibe. The gold boots and gloves were also changed to black.
11. DC SUPER HERO GIRLS
Launched towards the end of 2015, the animated show DC Super Hero Girls went on to spawn an action figure franchise and inspire young girls around the world. Focusing on teenage versions of well-known DC heroes and heroines who attend classes and deal with the awkwardness of growing up along with the stress of having superpowers, the show has become a hit in the United States. Classic heroines like Wonder Woman, Katana and Bumblebee were given child-friendly assignments to save the day on a regular basis.
Batgirl is one of the main characters featured as well. Using the “Batgirl of Burnside” costume for inspiration, creators of the show replaced the cowl with a hoodie, dropped the cape and gave her a bat backpack. Rounding out the outfit are gold arm bracers, utility belt and yellow combat boots.
10. THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES
After the successful Batman: The Animated Series of the early ’90s came to an end, The New Batman Adventures took its place and aired from 1997-1999 and focused more on Batman’s supporting cast of characters, including Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl. Although it didn’t stay on the air as long as its predecessor, it was still an important step towards Bruce Timm’s universe of animated shows and movies.
This version of Batgirl was a slightly older Barbara Gordon who was Batman’s sidekick and eventually ended up in a relationship with former Robin, now Nightwing, Dick Grayson. Her costume is similar to her New 52 look, with a black bodysuit, dark purple cape and cowl with gold gloves, utility belt and bat-shaped boots. Her cape is also two-toned (gold and purple), reminiscent of her ’60s Batman costume.
9. YOUNG JUSTICE
An animated adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on its young superheroes, Young Justice debuted in 2010. With its realistic depiction of classic characters such as Kid Flash, Speedy, Superboy and Miss Martian, along with life and death stakes, the show quickly became a hit with fans. The show was canceled after only its second season, but fevered fan support ended up bringing it back for an upcoming third season.
Batgirl was introduced as a main character of the second season, while she had appeared briefly as the civilian Barbara Gordon in season one. In this version, she is a protegee of Batman and is shown to have a close friendship with Nightwing. Batgirl sports the female version of the classic black and gray Batman costume, with a gray bodysuit and black boots, cape, cowl, bat symbol and some additional armor around her rib cage.
8. THE SILVER AGE
With Catwoman being such a hit on the ’60s Batman television show, producers asked DC for more female characters. Thus, the heroine we all know and love as Barbara Gordon was born. Making her debut around the same time as on television, Batgirl first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics with a secret identity as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Although Batman initially insists she give up crime-fighting due to her gender, Batgirl defies his objections and eventually wins his respect.
Batgirl’s Silver Age costume was a female version of the current Batman look with more feminine modifications. A black bodysuit with gold gloves, knee high boots, a utility belt and gold bat symbol on her chest rounded out the look. This remains as one of the favorite vintage Batgirl costumes.
Comparable to Marvel’s What If… line of comic books, Elseworlds takes superheroes out of their usual settings and puts them into strange times and places. In the pages of Supergirl & Batgirl, we learn that Commissioner Gordon and his wife are murdered after attempting to stop a hit that’s been placed on Bruce Wayne’s family, leaving Barbara an orphan. Bruce would never become Batman, but Barbara would become Batgirl, using both might and technology to protect the people of Gotham City.
Batgirl’s costume had a built-in supercomputer to aid her in battle (think Iron Man’s Friday). There was the classic black suit with cape and cowl, but technological armaments were also added, with metallic accents like shoulder pads and arm bracers. This was quite simply the first time we saw Batgirl look like a badass.
In 2016, DC Comics announced it would once again be rebooting all of its monthly titles under the Rebirth event. The relaunch reinstates elements of the pre-Flashpoint continuity while maintaining elements of The New 52 at the same time. A fifth volume of Batgirl was issued, along with the inaugural run of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. This version of Batgirl is a student attending Burnside College in a trendy Gotham City neighborhood called Burnside.
Wanting to get away from the armored look, creators did a modern take on the ’60s TV show costume, while also making it practical for a college-aged person. Taking inspiration from Cooke’s Catwoman and McKelvie’s Captain Marvel, artists stuck with the purple and gold color scheme with some alterations. Her cape was now removable, her utility belt was simplified by adding a thigh satchel and the look was topped off with yellow combat boots.
5. BIRDS OF PREY TV SHOW
Trying to capitalize on the success of Smallville, the WB created a Birds of Prey live-action television series in 2002. The show was loosely based on the comics series of the same name, with Huntress, Oracle and Black Canary’s daughter (you read that right) fighting crime in Gotham City after Batman disappears. Despite having high ratings for the network, it was tragically canceled after 13 episodes.
While the acting and writing were questionable at times, one performance stood out: Dina Meyer’s portrayal of Barbara Gordon. While she spent most of the time in a wheelchair as Oracle, she did suit up as Batgirl in one episode and in multiple flashbacks. She wore a Silver Age version of the black and gold Batgirl costume, which was actually a repainted version of the one Alicia Silverstone wore, and it remains as the best live action depiction of the character yet.
4. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Probably the most popular Batman-related cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series ran from 1992-1995 on the Fox Kids time block. This is the first time an animated series focused on the Bat Family since The Batman/Superman Hour days. Taking a darker tone towards the Dark Knight and his adventures, the series played a seminal role in building up DC’s line of animated shows and movies.
Barbara Gordon made appearances both as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter and Batgirl throughout the show. As Batgirl, she was a sidekick to Batman along with Dick Grayson’s Robin. Character designer Bruce Timm used a darker shade of gray for her bodysuit but gave her blue gloves and boots similar to Batman’s. However, after the series moved from Fox to the WB, Batgirl’s costume was changed to the old black and gold look from the comics.
3. YVONNE CRAIG
Batgirl’s first adaptation outside of comic books arrived in the third season of the ’60s Batman live action series. Barbara Gordon had previously been mentioned and producers wanted to attract new audience members, especially young women. Actress Yvonne Craig received rave reviews, although a shared criticism of Batgirl, along with fellow TV superheroines Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, is that she was not allowed to engage in hand-to-hand combat with men on screen. Still, she went on to become an inspiration and super-heroine icon for the ages.
Series designers gave Batgirl a purple and gold color scheme, probably because Catwoman was already wearing black and gold, and got rid of the hip bag. Purple ankle boots completed the outfit. Certainly stylish for its time, this remains one of the classic Batgirl looks to ever grace the screen.
2. ARKHAM KNIGHT
Batman: Arkham Knight is a 2015 action-adventure video game that follows Batman taking on Scarecrow, who has launched an attack on Gotham City, causing a citywide evacuation. Scarecrow is also able to unite Batman’s biggest enemies in an attempt to destroy him once and for all. Luckily for Batman, he’s got back-up.
In “Batgirl: A Matter of Family,” Barbara Gordon is Batgirl on a mission to team up with Robin and rescue her father, Commissioner Gordon, from The Joker and Harley Quinn. This playable character has both fighting and hacking abilities, which allows her to take down enemies, control objects and solve puzzles. Her costume is a badass, upgraded version of her classic black and gold outfit, with the only gold part being the bat symbol on her chest. Fingers crossed this is the version we get in the upcoming live action Batgirl movie.
Following the success of the character in the ’60s live action Batman series, Batgirl would go on to be featured in Filmation’s The Adventures of Batman. This series showcased the 12-minute Batman segments from The Batman/Superman Hour and ran for two seasons. Illustrators in comics gave black material blue highlights, with Batgirl, series designers took this one step further, giving her a pure blue and gray outfit with yellow accessories. The look would later be incorporated into her comic book image.
This is probably the most identifiable and popular version of the Batgirl look. Simple in execution but the colors compliment each other and there is no mistaking Batgirl for any other hero, especially when combined with her trademark red hair. This look has been tweaked here and there over the years, but it still comes down to simple elements working extremely well together.
What Batgirl looks are your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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