Bats Are This Woman’s Best Friend
Kate Kane: “That bat they shine in the sky… civilians think it’s a call for help. The bad guys think it’s a warning… but it’s more than that. It’s something higher. It’s a call to arms… I’ve found my way to serve…I finally found a way to serve.”Batwoman: Elegy .
A cargo ship pulls up to an abandoned dock. Shadow figures begin carrying boxes onto the shore. Guns, drugs, stolen goods, and women are brought off the ship. The crooks work quickly, but aren’t worried about interference. After all, the police are busy with a crime wave while Batman and Robin sightings have been reported on the other side of Gotham.
The gang’s boss hears a yelp. He draws his gun as a goon goes down with another scream. He’s worked in Gotham long enough to recognize a Bat-attack and scans the tops of the shipping containers. Sure enough, he sees someone leaping down at him. He aims at the attacker, but a kick shatters his shoulder before he can fire. Batwoman knocks him out and calls the police before leaving.
Batwoman is one of DC’s more recent stars. She was a bit player in the comics who got a massive boost when the mainstream media latched onto her being gay. So who is she? How did she become a superhero? What is her connection to Batman? Let’s find out.
Family Business: Batwoman’s Backstory
Luke Fox: [Holding Kate at taserpoint] “Wayne security. You owe my boss a new door.”
Kate: “Your boss is my cousin.”
Batwoman debuted in Detective Comics #223 in 1956. She was created by Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff. Batwoman was created to counteract Fredric Wortham’s infamous book Seduction of the Innocent, which among other things, claimed that Batman and Robin were gay lovers.
Wealthy heiress Kathy Kane was Bruce Wayne’s maternal cousin. She fell in love with Batman and became a superhero in order to get close to him. Kathy was soon joined by her niece Betty Kane, who became the first Batgirl and a potential love interest for Robin. She eventually retired and was later killed by the League of Assassins.
The modern Batwoman is Kate Kane. She joined the army and went through basic training, but was discharged when she refused to lie about her sexuality under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rules of the time. Kate wandered Gotham City looking for a purpose until she noticed the Bat-Signal one night. She realized that she could use her training to help people and decided to become Batwoman
Alice in Gotham-Land: Batwoman’s History
Red Alice: [to Batwoman] “You have always put yourself ahead of others. The opposite reflection of me through the looking glass.”– Batwoman #40
Batwoman soon encountered Batman, who was investigating the new vigilante using his symbol. The two quarreled over her ruthless combat style and willingness to use guns, but they managed to compromise. Batwoman has repeatedly refused to become part of the Bat-Family or Batman Inc. because she refuses to be just another part of his legacy.
Batwoman found her Commissioner Gordon equivalent in Maggie Sawyer, a longtime supporting character from the Superman series. Kate revealed her identity after they became engaged. Publishing executives put the kibosh on the marriage due to their philosophy that heroes should always be miserable.
While investigating a group called the Religion of Crime, Batwoman came into conflict with their leader, Red Alice. This crazed crook constantly quotes Alice in Wonderland and fights with knives coated in hallucinogens. During a fight, she discovered that Red Alice was her long-thought-dead sister, Elizabeth Kane. Batwoman convinced Red Alice to reform and has since taken her on as a sidekick.
Army Bat: Batwoman’s Powers and Personality
Kate Kane: [looking at Batman’s costume] “I need you to fix the suit.”
Luke Fox: “The suit is literal perfection!”
Kate: “It will be… when it fits a woman.”Batwoman (Trailer)
Kate Kane was a rising star in the U.S. Army before her discharge. She became Executive Officer of her brigade and was awarded several medals. She is an expert at boxing, gymnastics, detective work, and parkour, among others. As Batwoman she has a reputation for being tough enough to shrug off severe damage. She even survived being stabbed in the heart and killed the guy who stabbed her
Batwoman eschews Batman’s gear for her own. She uses Batarang knock offs called “Thorns”, a constricting rope called a python coil, guns, canisters of Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin, and tasers or flamethrowers in her gloves. Batwoman is also an expert at improvising weapons from her surroundings.
Batwoman is harsh and snarky, but has a soft side. She sticks to her ideals above all else, like when she refused to lie about her sexuality to stay in the army. Batwoman is brutal when fighting criminals, even willing to kill those she considers irredeemable.
The Actors Who Play Batwoman
Batwoman debuted in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman with Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick voicing the vigilante. She next appeared as a main character in Batman: Bad Blood, voiced by Yvonne Strahovski of The Handmaid’s Tale’s fame.
Batwoman made her Arrowverse debut in the crossover “Elseworlds”, with Orange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose in the role. She will get a self-titled spinoff in the fall of 2019. The series will feature Kate Kane traveling to Gotham after Batman disappears and assuming the role of Batwoman.
Didya get all that?
Batman’s kick-ass cousin.
Photo: JSquared Photography/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.