Batwoman Is Moving the Dial When It Comes to the Superhero Genre’s LGBTQ+ Representation on TV
Batwoman is the newest addition to The CW’s "Arrowverse" — a robust collection of intersecting DC Comics shows that include Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning and a few web series. The show stars Australian actor Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, a.k.a. the titular vigilante. In this iteration, Kate is Bruce Wayne’s cousin who returns to a Batman-less Gotham and decides to don (her version of) the iconic suit.
So, what was Kate up to before her stint as the caped crime-fighter? We learn that Kate was off finding herself after she and her ex-flame Sophie Moore — who now works at Kate’s father’s high-end Gotham security firm, the Crows — were kicked out of a military academy during the era of "don’t ask, don’t tell." Right out of the gate, the show doesn’t shy away from Kate’s queerness, which dates back to a 2006 run of the Batwoman comics in which Kate is a lesbian of Jewish descent. At the time, Out Magazine asserted that "Batwoman [was] the highest-profile gay superhero to ever grace the pages of DC Comics."
That fact, of course, made casting the character all the more important. When it was announced that Rose, who self-identifies as "fluid in [her] gender, but also [as] a lesbian," was chosen, fan reactions were mixed: Some felt Rose wasn’t "gay enough" to don the mantle (nor is she a Jewish person), while others complained that the show would "pander" to the "social justice warrior agenda," thus turning off more conservative viewers. But when Batwoman premiered in the fall of 2019, it became The CW’s most-watched series premiere since Black Lightning’s January 2018 debut.
From Anissa Pierce to Nia Nal, The CW’s Arrowverse Embraces LGBTQ+ Representation
The fact that Kate’s queerness didn’t impact the show’s initial reception is probably not surprising to longtime Arrowverse viewers, who have become accustomed to increasing LGBTQ+ representation in the DC-based shows since Arrow’s 2012 debut. While there have been quite a few landmark moments, another that stands out is the introduction of Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). Sara is perhaps better known by her White Canary moniker, or as the captain of the Waverider, a ship that allows her rag-tag team of heroes to travel through time.
Uncanny Metaphors to Marvel At
Superhero narratives have long been rife with metaphors about queerness: A soon-to-be-hero discovers some latent power, something new about themself, and learns not only to accept this new self-discovery, but to have pride in it — to declare it. (Like, you know, "I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman." Very declarative.) These superhumans often hide their identities or keep secrets as a means of preserving their safety and privacy.
Batwoman Reveals Her (Queer) Identity
This mid-season premiere takes place after the mega-crossover event that saw all of the Arrowverse heroes traversing time and space in an epic team-up. In an effort to avoid spoilers, we’ll just say Kate Kane found out that her cosmic destiny was to be the "Paragon of Courage" — a fancy way of saying her bravery defines her. In the aftermath of this discovery, Kate grapples with whether she’s as courageous as the fates believe. The fact that she saves a handsome police officer — who publicly tries to kiss her, thus causing all of Gotham to assume they’re romantically involved — doesn’t help matters.