Sunday, June 16, 2024

Overanalyzing Our First Look at Batwoman

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Since the moment Batwoman’s inclusion in this year’s CW Elseworlds crossover became known, we here at the Fandomentals have approached it with varying levels of excitement and worry. A variety of opinions bounced around with each bit of news. Now, we have our first look at Kate Kane in action, courtesy of this teaser. Yeah, it’s not much. What can we really say based on so little?

A lot, obviously! So let’s talk about everything the CW revealed in this first 20-second look at Batwoman.

The Batman Question

Look, I know it seems wrong to start off a Batwoman analysis by talking about Batman, but we have to. Batwoman doesn’t exist without Batman. I’m not just talking from a smartass, overarching IP standpoint, either. Kate Kane only dons the cape and cowl because Batman appears one night in an alley and provides much-needed inspiration in her life.

The first question coming to mind upon the announcement of a Batwoman TV series, of course, involved Batman’s inclusion in the Arrowverse. And if he was not included, how exactly would they explain Batwoman’s existence without him? Well, now we know Batman very much exists in the Arrowverse. He’s just…gone?

The official explanation is that Batman has been missing for 3 years, and in his absence Gotham fell apart. Crime flourishes and it’s described as a ghost town. The other heroes debate whether Batman actually exists. Clearly he did, as we get a shot of the Bat signal. There’s even a shot of prisoners escaping and a very obvious Joker laugh. I think we can all agree it would be messed up if a Batwoman show has The Joker but not Batman, right?

No one expected Batman to show up in this crossover. I don’t expect him in Batwoman’s first season, either. He will need to show up eventually, though, right? Will Bruce Wayne be around, at least? He and his persona are simply too important to the current comics version of Kate Kane to simply ignore, and it looks like the Arrowverse understands that. I still wonder how exactly they will handle the reasons for Batman’s absence, and his role in Kate Kane becoming Batwoman.

Most likely CW wants to keep the door open for future appearances. Superman’s presence loomed over Supergirl’s first season, but he did not appear until season 2. Batman will be even trickier. In this writer’s opinion, he’ll still most likely play some role in Batwoman’s eventual first season.

The Batwoman Answer

Based on this teaser, it looks like Kate Kane has stepped into Batman’s shoes. This raises many interesting questions, and the possible answers make me worry a bit.

To put it simply, Batwoman is not Batman. She does not have the same goals or motivations. Kate Kane’s reasons for wearing the cape and cowl differ drastically from Bruce Wayne’s. Bruce is a loner, an angry child with a martyr complex fighting an impossible war against the concept of crime rather than any specific foe. His fight is one meant to be suffered through alone due to unprocessed feelings over the death of his parents.

This is not Kate Kane. Kate is a soldier, a leader, a person with intentions behind her fight. She did not respond to her own childhood family deaths with unfocused rage against the concept of crime. She followed her father’s path into the military and based her life around service towards a greater good. When she was kicked out of the military for being gay, she becomes Batwoman as a sort of replacement for her lost military career. She serves the symbol of the Bat, but does so in her own way, not Bruce’s way. Where Batman’s storylines involve him fighting grander battles for the soul of Gotham City, Batwoman fights personal battles for her own soul.

They also differ quite significantly in their methods. Batman approaches every threat from the viewpoint of the larger conceptual battle for Gotham. He looks for symbolic victories, to the point of risking his life and the lives of others. Every conflict must resolve in a way furthering his grander, impossible hopes for Gotham City. He is The Bat. Even when he passes the costume on, others who wear it still serve by his example, as do those who serve as part of the greater Bat Family.

Kate, of course, is a part of this group. Despite serving the symbol of The Bat and typically following Batman’s rules, she still has her own way of handling things. Again, it leads back to her being a soldier rather than Batman’s lone ninja shtick. She is okay taking the steps Batman isn’t. One will take the shot where the other never would, even at the cost of innocent lives. Kate Kane’s main concern is completing the mission. Batman’s costume is a symbol. Batwoman’s is a uniform.

Right now, it appears Batwoman might take the Supergirl approach of using a character of similar powers/abilities to fill the role of a more popular character. That works with Supergirl; while Kara Zor-El certainly has her own character, she is traditionally similar enough to Superman that CW could get away with using her to tell familiar Superman stories. Maybe Batwoman’s longer, older comic history kept her very similar to Batman. Thing is, CW is adapting the current Kate Kane. That Kate Kane is no Batman.

I suppose it may work either way. Plenty of people may be happy to have Kate fill the Batman role on TV since there’s little-to-no chance Bruce himself will show up on the small screen anytime soon. It’s not like Batwoman can’t be a good show with Kate copying her cousin. It would just be a damn shame to have this version of the comic character wiped out by a more popular show that erases many of her defining traits. Especially when the fight against erasure IS one of her defining traits.

And I can’t pretend Kate Kane wouldn’t do her part to fill Batman’s absence. This concept certainly isn’t my problem. She still wouldn’t be Batman. She would have her own way of going about protecting the city. Will they allow her this unique way or make her a Batman clone?

I suppose we won’t know for sure until the crossover airs.

The Suit Looks Great

I know, small victory. But come on! We all worried what the hell the suit would look like. Superhero costumes on TV are a mixed bag at best. How do you translate the color and style of a comic book to TV? The X-Men movies throw everyone in black for a reason.

Thankfully Kate already wore black. And damn it looks good.

Despite some complaints about the obviously repurposed Batman mask, they absolutely nailed the Batwoman aesthetic. The bright red wig actually looks pretty good, even if I’m not sold on the way it flows over the front of the mask. They even kept the red in the rest of the costume, though obviously toned down for TV. Batwoman immediately jumps to the top of the list of best superhero costumes on TV.

She even looks about as pale as you could expect! I had little reaction to Ruby Rose’s casting, having no recollection of her in anything, but at the very least she looks the part. She even does a nice job with the very Kate-like smirk.

It’s most definitely just the optimist in me, but it helps my confidence in the eventual product when they get something like the costume so right. We’ve all seen enough really terrible superhero costumes in TV and movies that it means something when they do a good job with one. I expected much worse. It speaks of some effort to get things right. If they care enough to make the costume look good, they hopefully care about the character wearing it just as much.

Or maybe I’m just sucking hope out of a stone because I really want Batwoman’s TV introduction to work.

We’re a mere two weeks away now. Arrowverse crossovers, and big comic crossovers in general, tend not to excite me much. I typically have to see too many characters I don’t care about take time away from those I do, and those I do too often act out of character. Crossovers also typically involve cosmic, multiversal nonsense that doesn’t appeal much to me. It’s very much a matter of personal taste. Some like it. Some do not.

I’ll be glued to this one, though. Batwoman is awesome, and she deserves a much bigger fanbase. I hope CW gives it to her. And I hope they give it to her, not someone else bearing her name and uniform.

Video and Images Courtesy of CW

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