Comics On TV

Batwoman Essentials: Meet Gotham's New Caped Crusader

From the character's origin story to the villains she'll fight, find out all about the Arrowverse hero played by Ruby Rose.

by | October 4, 2019 | Comments

It feels as though the character Batwoman has been on TV for a while — what with her splashing around in summer 2018 headlines and making a special appearance in last year’s Arrowverse “Elseworlds” crossover — but the debut episode of The CW’s Batwoman will be the real beginning of Kate Kane’s (Ruby Rose) television journey.

You may already know Batwoman is Bruce Wayne’s only living relative, an accomplished fighter, and very out and proud. But that’s only a sliver of who she is, what she’s fighting for, and why she has a series all her own. And combined with her ties to the already-sprawling CW multiverse of superheroes, it might be helpful to get a primer on what to expect when you sit down to watch Batwoman. Here are a few things you should know about this hero as her series begins.


1. It’s Set On Earth-1

Batwoman -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: BWN101f_0095.jpg -- Pictured: Ruby Rose as Kate Kane -- Photo: Elizabeth Morris/The CW
(Photo by Elizabeth Morris/The CW)

Currently, The CW airs six superhero shows set on three different Earths. The Earth-1 of Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl’s Earth-38, and the undesignated Earth of Black Lightning. The latter two occur on different Earths because they were not developed as CW shows — Supergirl first aired on CBS and Black Lighting was developed for Fox — but their alternate universe homes also pay homage to DC Comics and its fascination with alternate realities.

But as last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover made clear, Batwoman takes place on Earth-1. Which means it is possible for characters from The Flash and Arrow to make easy visits to Gotham City. Of course, that famous DC town was not always available to Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti. Thanks in part to the way DC Entertainment handles film and television rights, the use of Gotham City icons had to be approved by several levels of management. Even a passing reference to Batman in an episode of Arrow a few years ago required executives at DC, Warner Bros, and Fox to sign off on it as Gotham was still on the air on Fox and Batman movies are always in development.

Some of those barriers have been cleared to make Batwoman possible, but it means you may be waiting some time to see your favorite Gotham City villains on the show. Most of the marquee rogues are typically reserved or Batman feature films and, thanks to a deal made with 20th Century Fox in the 1960s, the Fox broadcast network always has first dibs to Batman characters on television. There are exceptions, though, like Tommy Elliot — the more recent villain known as Hush — who will appear in the form of actor Gabriel Mann in upcoming episodes and Magpie (Rachel Matthews), a fairly minor villain from the 1980s. Both appeared on Gotham, but are easier for the series to tap than, say, the Penguin.

That said, Kate has her own rogues gallery, including the murderous and twisted Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and, if previews are anything to go by, the Crows private security firm run by her father Jacob (Dougray Scott).


2. Gotham City Has Its Own Cast Of Characters

Batwoman -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: BWN101b_0688.jpg -- Pictured: Rachel Skarsten as Alice -- Photo: Kimberley French/The CW
(Photo by Kimberley French/The CW)

Besides Kate, Jacob and Alice, the Gotham of Batwoman will be fairly populated from the first episode on. Other characters include Kate’s stepmother Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis), stepsister Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), Wayne Industries caretaker Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), and Crow agent Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).

Applying the old evil-stepmother trope, Kate and Catherine do not get along. Kate is a loner who left home after high school, while Catherine is a mover-and-shaker in the Wayne-less Gotham. She does have a vested interest in reversing the city’s reputation as a crime-riddled hellhole, however, which is definitely compatible with Kate’s new job ridding her city of bad guys. Med student Mary, meanwhile, may be on better terms with Kate, but her real challenge is keeping her off-the-books health clinic in the tough part of Gotham a secret.

As for Luke (based on the DC Comics Batwing character) and Sophie, it’s best you watch the debut episode without a great deal of background on either, as they are the people Kate ends up interacting with the most — and for very different reasons.

And since we’re talking about Gotham citizens, it might helpful to mention Gotham itself is more a grounded Dark Knight place than the sometimes cartoonish city of Gotham. Which is to say, people behave a little more like everyday folks instead of the mad, wonderful, and shouting denizens of the former Fox television show. It’s an important contrast for a Gotham set on The CW’s Earth-1.


3. The First Few Episodes Take Place Prior To “Elseworlds”

CW_Batwoman_1stLook_V5.jpg -- Pictured: Ruby Rose as Batwoman -- Photo: JSquared Photography/The CW
(Photo by JSquared Photography/The CW)

While Kate has a distinctive look, as seen in “Elseworlds,” it may be an episode or two before Rose is actually wearing that particular Batwoman super-suit. As revealed at screenings during San Diego Comic-Con this summer (and one at NYCC this weekend), the first episode takes viewers back to the moment Kate returned to Gotham after a self-imposed exile and discovers her cousin Bruce’s secret identity. Consequently, the complete Batwoman costume may not be seen on screen for a few episodes.

From a narrative standpoint, this is the right way to go as it means things like the Batwoman wig and red cape get to mean something to the audience. But for those watching the continuity between Batwoman and the other CW superhero shows, this means a good chunk of the first season occurred prior to last year’s “Elseworlds” crossover.

And just to make things even more confusing, the timeline has to sync up before December’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover, since Kate will be featured in the story.

In its own strange way, this also honors DC Comics and the way it tells stories, just without a helpful editorial caption to tell you these events are taking a place a year and a half ago. As you actually watch Batwoman, this may not matter too much in the short term — it has to tell its own story after all — but it may come up in December.


4. It Is An Origin Story

Batwoman -- "Pilot" -- Image Number: BWN101e_0193.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Ruby Rose as Kate Kane and Camrus Johnson as Luke Fox -- Photo: Kimberley French/The CW
(Photo by Kimberley French/The CW)

As mentioned above, a large part of the show’s first season will form an origin story. It seemingly takes its cues from Batwoman: Elegy, a story by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III that really set the tone for Kate in the DC Comics universe. It reveals key details about Kate’s past — getting kidnapped with her twin sister at a young age, getting kicked out of the military when her same-sex relationship was exposed, etc. — and serving as a de facto origin tale even though Kate had been operating as Batwoman for a good year or two prior to Elegy’s publication in the pages of Detective Comics.

On the show, some of these details are getting remixed, but it will depart from Elegy in a key way — it will spend far more time showing Kate becoming Batwoman. Back in the comics, the character was always fully formed. But for television, it is important to see Kate making certain choices, literally learning the ropes and cementing her identity.

We have to admit that choice is dramatic satisfying for a series like this. And, as it happens, Berlanti pulled this off before on Arrow. Halfway through its second season it introduced Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a visiting crime scene analyst who began a quasi-relationship with Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). By the end of the season, he was struck by lightning and awarded with his own show. Thanks to the Arrow appearance, the audience had the chance to decide if they liked Barry while the first season of The Flash saw him discovering powers and hitting certain important milestones.

And like Barry at the time of his debut, Kate is a person a lot of viewers only know through reputation or her brief appearance in the Arrowverse last year. Giving her a handful of episodes of self-discovery gives the new program — and the audience — plenty of time to obtain a clearer picture of Kate.


5. It Is An Action Show

Batwoman --"Down Down Down" -- Image Number: BWN103b_0196.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, Nicole Kang as Mary Hamilton and Meagan Tandy as Sophie Moore -- Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW
(Photo by Robert Falconer/The CW)

Thanks to the success of The Flash, the subsequent Arrowverse shows have been filled with metahumans and crazy super powers. Even the fairly grounded Black Lighting, which exists outside the Arrowverse framework, indulges in its super-power displays and, indeed, made the collection of metahumans a key part of its storyline. But Batwoman is a return to the pure action show roots of Arrow. Like that series’ early days, Kate, her associates, and her enemies will lack for big, bright powers.

Granted, that’s baked right into the premise — members of the Batman family are generally conventional humans trained for peak performance — but it means the show will have a different feel than what you might expect. This is doubly true as Arrow finds itself dealing with alternate realities and a multiverse entity as part of its eighth and final season. Week-to-week, this means you should expect a lot more close-quarters fighting and, perhaps, a reliance on gadgets. Hopefully, the latter will set the program apart from Arrow, which avoided trick arrows for a long time.

The return to action also means the show will be less tied to the campier elements of the DC Universe. That’s probably a good decision as Batwoman is paired on Sundays nights with Supergirl, a show filled with powered aliens and a generous helping of goofy camp to offset its often-serious stories. And considering the rumblings that a “World’s Finest” team-up between the two heroes may eventually happen, contrasting their worlds can only be a net positive. A similar difference in tone helped set The Flash apart from Arrow.

But considering Batwoman’s comic book past includes some wild monsters, aliens, and prophecies, we wouldn’t put it past the production team to introduce something decidedly fantastical into the mix after “Crisis on Infinite Earths” or in the first season finale.

Until that occurs, though, expect Batwoman to be a show about fighting for one’s identity. Whether or not that’s a meta-commentary on the show itself (and its place in the Arrowverse) remains to be seen.


Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.


Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Nat Geo TNT unscripted Shudder fast and furious Cartoon Network latino Comedy Central Mary Tyler Moore Super Bowl cancelled worst movies Lifetime Christmas movies President green book robots Nominations LGBT Black History Month Martial Arts italian video Red Carpet Anna Paquin classics crossover video on demand independent Disney+ Disney Plus SundanceTV VICE Rocky The Witch Freeform Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spanish language APB Stephen King animated Baby Yoda BET Awards twilight Academy Awards YouTube kids Ovation Marvel Columbia Pictures medical drama disaster sequel comics WarnerMedia Disney streaming service SXSW zombie Biopics Tarantino Thanksgiving news 72 Emmy Awards historical drama Schedule CBS All Access Trailer 2015 justice league Paramount New York Comic Con Binge Guide Opinion The CW worst screen actors guild 2020 Writers Guild of America Mary Poppins Returns Amazon Prime Pop series free movies mission: impossible mutant Hallmark cartoon movies doctor who a nightmare on elm street Emmys Character Guide BAFTA stand-up comedy Lucasfilm child's play Summer Netflix Christmas movies The Academy nbcuniversal Mindy Kaling universal monsters Hallmark Christmas movies Netflix 71st Emmy Awards emmy awards 24 frames space Tumblr crime drama nfl A&E Extras sequels casting Britbox Arrowverse Esquire A24 IFC Films Star Wars festivals Podcast Ghostbusters Toys Musical game of thrones Chernobyl versus cats ITV Epix ABC Family Sony Pictures 2017 miniseries indie Creative Arts Emmys Fox Searchlight travel 45 X-Men PlayStation Holiday renewed TV shows dogs Bravo revenge Crackle Watching Series Awards Music critics GLAAD thriller spider-man The Purge scorecard Trophy Talk Syfy Kids & Family Horror vampires GoT American Society of Cinematographers TBS anthology 21st Century Fox Pop TV cops CW Seed slashers hist screenings DGA toronto USA streaming Box Office Comedy rotten Emmy Nominations CBS Election Funimation foreign Christmas name the review Crunchyroll cars FX Television Academy theme song hispanic crime Rom-Com Paramount Network anime HBO political drama SDCC Ellie Kemper DC Universe Comics on TV Star Trek joker venice Fall TV dramedy YouTube Red Photos blockbuster 2019 Valentine's Day quibi Lifetime Warner Bros. Black Mirror social media Apple E3 PaleyFest south america TV laika finale christmas movies Video Games DirecTV Winter TV dc Premiere Dates Winners reboot Adult Swim MTV scary movies Women's History Month binge TCA 2017 Heroines cinemax VH1 stoner transformers RT History Turner tv talk NYCC obituary Starz Musicals TV Land Amazon The Arrangement aliens what to watch diversity ABC Food Network MCU zero dark thirty 007 National Geographic period drama History documentaries parents franchise films reviews rotten movies we love golden globes cooking science fiction Calendar DC streaming service festival Sci-Fi sag awards based on movie french Sneak Peek TV renewals Classic Film Song of Ice and Fire remakes LGBTQ Oscars PBS Grammys supernatural Film Festival spanish San Diego Comic-Con Spring TV all-time Amazon Studios BBC America canceled TV shows Universal OWN concert criterion Cosplay RT21 cancelled TV shows 20th Century Fox Reality Competition ratings 4/20 talk show Family football hollywood spain Television Critics Association Vudu TCA Awards Sundance TV politics Brie Larson natural history Fantasy richard e. Grant superhero USA Network TIFF strong female leads Avengers WGN CNN FX on Hulu 2016 Interview psychological thriller Pride Month asian-american indiana jones Discovery Channel chucky facebook zombies BBC Animation First Look sitcom E! El Rey technology BET spy thriller Marathons Marvel Studios best Rocketman spinoff romantic comedy Amazon Prime Video YA Reality Showtime Chilling Adventures of Sabrina BBC One discovery Lionsgate Logo dceu archives FXX OneApp Hulu Rock TCM NBC witnail Spectrum Originals boxoffice First Reviews Western blaxploitation Film Trivia Pixar Endgame Peacock halloween AMC Awards Tour Disney TCA psycho ghosts Turner Classic Movies cults comic MSNBC Spike game show halloween tv award winner adaptation Drama Mary poppins Pirates TCA Winter 2020 docudrama Teen directors comiccon Certified Fresh Pet Sematary Acorn TV crime thriller satire 2018 Holidays toy story Captain marvel harry potter adventure IFC Travel Channel CMT Countdown television HBO Max Mudbound Sundance Nickelodeon GIFs The Walking Dead Action biography police drama TLC book VOD Disney Channel Elton John See It Skip It Fox News Tomatazos Disney Plus Polls and Games Shondaland mockumentary cancelled television Superheroes Superheroe ESPN nature die hard werewolf comedies Sundance Now composers canceled dark stop motion elevated horror movie DC Comics Best and Worst teaser serial killer Dark Horse Comics breaking bad Masterpiece jamie lee curtis batman TruTV dragons Walt Disney Pictures singing competition Cannes Infographic Year in Review Comic Book YouTube Premium Country Tubi Apple TV+ documentary FOX children's TV cancelled TV series Set visit war Quiz Marvel Television Apple TV Plus sports true crime HBO Go Mystery romance Hear Us Out