On Leather Wings: Batwoman Comes to TV by Jerry Whitworth
Two years ago, it was rumored Batwoman was coming to Supergirl. Such did not come to pass but next year, it’s expected the heroine will get her very own television series. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced Batwoman will be joining the Arrowverse as part of a five episode crossover event that will also place Black Lightning in that same multiverse. At this time, it’s unknown what Earth the character will be placed upon (Bruce Wayne was only just referenced by name on Arrow last season as Batman has been alluded to but not named on Supergirl) or if such a question will even be necessary (details of the event are, again, yet known which then does not rule out an adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths). However, just after Comic-Con came the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour where we learned Batman exists in the Arrowverse but is not scheduled to appear, Batwoman lives in Gotham City, and that a pilot is being filmed for the mid-season to determine if there will be a series (however, it was also stated none of the Arrowverse shows are in any danger of being canceled which likely means executives are high on the brand and thus its extension). Recently, it was announced Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, John Wick: Chapter 2) will be playing the eponymous character. Working with virtually no details, lets take a look at the character and speculate upon what a Batwoman television series could entail.
As mentioned, Batman exists in the Arrowverse (though, he’s not scheduled to appear) and Batwoman lives in Gotham. This, of course, doesn’t tell us which Earth or even if the Batwoman series will be set in Gotham (just because she’s there now doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll remain there). This provides two likely scenarios to examine: a Batwoman who co-exists with an absent Batman in Gotham or a Batwoman that strikes out on her own in another city. For the former, such is slightly reminiscent of the failed Birds of Prey television series. Therein, Batman and Catwoman’s daughter Helena became the Huntress to combat crime in Gotham following the disappearance of her father and death of her mother masterminded by the Joker (who was subsequently incarcerated). It’s likely Batwoman will, however, borrow from the Supergirl formula where we’re told she’s Superman’s cousin and we get mentions and brief cameos by the Man of Steel but don’t get a true appearance until the second season and who didn’t emerge in the third season (despite the fact he was shown having a Legion flight ring in the first season which went completely unmentioned when the Legion appeared in the third season).
With Supergirl in mind (whose eponymous character is based out of National City and not Metropolis), then, the more likely scenario is that Batwoman will be in another city so as to answer the question why we never see Batman. While the show’s writers could very well create an entirely new city as they did for Supergirl, it would be intriguing if she emerged in Blüdhaven. In the comics, Blüdhaven is a sister city to Gotham where Nightwing went to become his own man close to but away from his mentor, essentially handling Batman’s scraps or threats on their way to Gotham. In time, Robin (Tim Drake) and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) also found their way to the city. In Arrow, Blüdhaven is a sister city to Star City where several notable events in the series took place (before Batwoman was announced at Comic-Con, there were rumors she would be a character on Arrow).
When rumors swirled about Batwoman coming to Supergirl, there was also talk of Oracle (a hacker identity adopted by the former Batgirl, a paraplegic Barbara Gordon) being her partner. Again, referencing Birds of Prey, such was the case with the Huntress. These rumors coincided with the emergence of Maggie Sawyer on Supergirl. In the comics, Sawyer transplanted from Metropolis to Gotham where she became romantically linked to Batwoman, so far as they were engaged (as the book’s writers wanted them to get married but editorial at the time decided heroes could not be married and even retroactively unmarried Aquaman and Mera). For Supergirl, Sawyer and Supergirl’s adopted sister Alex Danvers became romantically linked and intended to wed until the issue of having children split them apart. This, then, leaves the door open for such a scenario to play out in the Batwoman series with Oracle and Sawyer as the supporting cast. But, obviously, there’s many routes the premise can take.
On Arrow, a code name Oliver Queen toyed with calling Felicity Smoak was Oracle until he learned there already existed an unknown entity employing that identity. The series was no stranger to using supporting characters of the comics’ Birds of Prey, featuring Huntress (mentioned last season as being “underground”), several Black Canaries (two presently active on the show), Wildcat (not seen in three seasons), Manhunter (seemingly killed off in the second season), Katana (last seen in season four as a member of the Crescent Order), Onyx (cast as a criminal last season), and Gypsy (though, the character is based on the post-Flashpoint version). Given, though, that Green Arrow had Arsenal and Speedy while Flash had Kid Flash, it’s possible Batwoman may acquire a sidekick(s) which leaves as a possibility Bette Kane (Flamebird/Hawkfire), Cassandra Cain (Batgirl/Black Bat/Orphan), Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl), Julia Perry, Bluebird (Harper Row), or Carrie Kelley (Robin/Catgirl). Batwoman had a number of supporting characters in her comics including the Question (Renee Montoya), her father Colonel Jacob Kane, Cameron Chase (who appeared on Supergirl), Ragman (who appeared on Arrow), Clayface, Etrigan, Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan, Azrael, Batwing, and Colony Prime.
It could be safe to assume given the existence of Titans, characters such as Nightwing, Red Hood, Hawk, and Dove are unlikely to appear. Not to mention, development of a Gotham City Sirens feature film likely means no Catwoman, Poison Ivy, or Harley Quinn (though, Quinn made a cameo in Arrow). Development of a Batgirl film could endanger the use of Oracle or any Batgirl for the series. Of course, it’s already been stated Batman is not set to appear and given there’s an upcoming television series based on Alfred Pennyworth, he will likely also be unavailable.
One of the issues that could be associated with Batwoman being in Gotham is that it begs appearances by Batman’s rogues gallery. Characters like the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, Mad Hatter, Clayface, Bane, Hugo Strange, Talia, Killer Croc, Black Mask, Deadshot, Prometheus, Hush, and Man-Bat would have to be considered for appearances if such was the case. On the series Arrow, several Bat-villains put it in appearances: Ra’s al Ghul, Talia, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Firefly, Solomon Grundy, Anarky, KGBeast, Merlyn, Calculator, Nyssa Raatko, Clock King, and the Dollmaker. Thus, breadcrumbs could be in place for any of these characters to return. There is also, of course, the Supergirl route where variations of her male counterpart’s rogues could emerge (Lillian Luthor in place of Lex, Indigo instead of Brainiac, Astra for Zod, a female Bizarro), female villains featured prominently (Silver Banshee, Live Wire, Maxima), and some notable villains putting in appearances (Metallo, Toyman, Parasite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Cyborg Superman, Master Jailer). Even some of Supergirl’s villains from the comics emerged like Reign, Reactron, and Psi. With this in mind, we could assume whom from Gotham’s underworld could appear.
Female versions of Batman’s rogues include Harlequin (Joker’s Daughter/Duela Dent), Query and Echo, Enigma, Jessica Dent, Fright, Lady Clay, She-Bat, Ventriloquist, Copperhead, and Dollhouse. Female villains include Lady Shiva, Roxy Rocket, Red Claw, Phantasm, Baby Doll, Nocturna, Lark, Jane Doe, White Rabbit, Orca, Madame Zodiac, Lady Vic, Double Dare, Lynx, Mouse, Tiger Moth, Alley-Cat, and the Ravens. Notable villains whom maybe available include Hugo Strange, Hush, Mad Hatter, Firefly, Killer Croc, Solomon Grundy, Mr. Zsasz, Professor Pyg, Blockbuster, Deacon Blackfire, Professor Milo, and Calendar Man. And, it would be hard to imagine a Batwoman series without Red Alice, Whisper A’Daire, Dr. Dedalus, Knife, Kyle Abbot, Medusa, Wolf Spider, or Weeping Woman.