The CW’s Batwoman premiered this week. Here are the reasons we loved it.
Batwoman is finally here and we couldn’t be more excited! Not only have we got a rare female superhero headlining a solo show, but Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane is also a queer character.
We had been given a glimpse of Kate Kane in 2018’s Arrowverse crossover, ‘Elseworlds’, and it only whet our appetite to see more.
After a long 10-month wait, we have finally got our wish. The pilot episode of Batwoman has arrived and it was as exciting, and as dark, as we had hoped.
Here are the top six reasons we loved the premiere episode of Batwoman.
Spoilers ahead so watch the episode before reading on!
6. Training in the Cold
There are numerous references to Batman and Batman-related properties in the Batwoman pilot. The opening scene is clearly an homage to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy which saw Bruce Wayne being trained by his mentor, Henri Ducard, on a frozen lake.
Batwoman opens with Kate Kane submerged in freezing water, her legs bound in cuffs. Her task is to escape through a small entry hole but someone covers it before she can escape.
But Kate is resilient. She recalls her great loss, that of her mother and sister, and finds another way out.
Turns out, what we witnessed in the opening scene wasn’t a diabolical murder attempt, but Kate’s training at the hands of her wily, and slightly sarcastic, mentor, played by Gray Horse Rider.
Like her cousin, Bruce Wayne/ Batman, Kate has taken to colder climes to become stronger and more hardened after the losses she has suffered at the hands of her home city, Gotham.
It’s an unexpected opening scene, not because of the peril it puts its hero in—which parallels the Arrowverse’s origins with Oliver Queen’s discovery on an island. No, what was unexpected, and fun about the Batwoman premiere, was how Kate’s lesson was interrupted by a call from her stepsister, Mary (Nicole Kang), otherwise described as a ‘girl who talks too much’.
For a dark, brooding superhero, who is meant to be created in the mould of Batman, Batwoman had plenty of humour. Come for the action; stay for the humour, declared the opening scene.
5. Kate’s Tragic Past
Batwoman readers would be familiar with Kate Kane’s past, but it’s still just as shocking and tragic to see it in the pilot for the show.
We see a young Kate and her sister, Beth, trying to take a picture of their twin necklaces when a truck intentionally rams into their car.
But that isn’t what kills them. The car ends up precariously hanging from a cliff, heading for certain doom, until the girls see their saviour—Batman.
Batman manages to hook the car to a tree to hold it in place, while the family gets out. But only Kate escapes before the hooks break and the car plummets, taking Kate’s mother and sister with it.
As if that isn’t tragic enough, their bodies are never recovered, and it takes a toll on Kate’s father, Colonel Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott), and Kate’s relationship.
To make matters worse, Kate is certain that had Batman not left to chase after the villain, her family would have been saved.
It’s ironic that she thinks of her cousin Bruce as her closest friend and relative after the incident—Bruce never leaves her side after the loss of her family. Was someone trying to make up for their guilt? We find out more later in the episode.
Much has been made of Batman’s origins, but plenty of characters have had difficult lives, and they don’t all turn out to be dour, and sometimes dull, characters like Batman.
In Kate Kane, Batwoman gives viewers a multifaceted protagonist who has used her past to fuel her personality, not stifle it. We are going to enjoy seeing more of her as the show goes on.
4. Kate and Sophie
As the episode progresses, the audience learn that the tragedy in Kate’s life isn’t limited to the loss of her sister and her mother.
Kate managed to get some semblance of a life back as she grew into adulthood—she joined the military on her father’s behest, and found the love of her life, Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy).
The two were happily in love but unfortunately, the military frowned upon their relationship, asking them to denounce their sexuality, or leave the military.
Kate chose the latter option—she never wanted to be in the military anyway, and she wasn’t going to live a lie. Sophie, not so much. Unlike Kate, Sophie had no option but to continue in the military, and she had to condemn her true self to continue in the field.
But Sophie and Kate’s paths are bound to cross again—as one would expect on a CW show. Sophie ends up being one of the top Crows in Colonel Jacob Kane’s organisation.
And it is while on duty that Sophie is captured by new Gotham villain Alice (Rachel Skarsten), as a lure for both Kate, and Colonel Kane.
Sophie and Kate’s doomed romance ended up being a highlight of the episode, and Ruby Rose practically shone in her scenes with Tandy.
I wasn’t a fan of Sophie being damselled—though we understand why it was necessary—and I hope Batwoman will give her more to do in coming episodes.
Romance has always been a central focus of the Arrowverse shows, and with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl,and Black Lightning, this pocket of the superhero universe hasn’t shied away from queer romances.
However, in Ruby Rose, Batwoman has an out genderqueer lesbian actor playing a lesbian character, which is a major positive that we hope will herald more representation in the future.
3. Batman References
Unsurprisingly, there are tons of Batman references in this pilot of Batwoman. Fortunately, they don’t overshadow Batwoman’s story, as they did in ‘Elseworlds’, which is a relief.
However, the Batman references we get are important and tie Batwoman’s existence into the mythos of Batman that Gotham has bought into.
For instance, we see the infamous pearls that belonged to Martha Wayne, the night she and her husband, Thomas, were murdered—the night that birthed Batman, effectively.
Kate is helped, and hindered, by the only person running Wayne Enterprises—Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson)—a clear reference to Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman and Chris Chalk in previous Batman properties.
And, of course, the password to the Wayne Enterprises surveillance system is ‘Alfred’. Very inventive, Bruce.
When Alice (Rachel Skarsten) threatens to blow up the Gotham movie night, the film on show is none other than The Mark of Zorro, the very film that caused a young Bruce Wayne to force his parents to leave the theatre and send them into the hands of Joe Chill in Crime Alley. Here, the film acts as the first appearance of Batwoman.
If you read into the subtext of the episode, it seems that Batman was Gotham’s past but Batwoman is the city’s future. And that is something to be excited about.
2. Kate Becomes Batman
At the aforementioned film night, the citizens of Gotham, having survived one attack by the mysterious Alice, are blissfully unaware of their impending doom at the hands of Alice’s mega-bomb.
Alice, who clearly has a vendetta against Colonel Kane, gives him a difficult option—save the people of Gotham, or Sophie, the woman he cares for as a daughter, even more than Kate.
This is a possible homage to similar scenes in Batman Forever and in season one of Arrow.
But neither Alice, nor Colonel Kane, have factored in a new masked hero—the as-yet-unnamed Batwoman.
Kate, dressed in a modified version of Batman’s old armour, uses the grapple guns to dispose of Alice’s goons, before leaping into the fray to fight Alice.
As Batwoman is an Arrowverse show, the stunts are expectedly well-choreographed. But this scene isn’t just about the action.
In a scene reminiscent of The Dark Knight, Sophie plunges to an imminent death before Kate flies to her rescue. The two share an almost-intimate moment, punctuated by the fact that Sophie doesn’t know it is Kate under the mask—a throwback to the classic Batman mythos.
Though Kate doesn’t catch the villain, she is left an important clue, and in true Batman-style, she makes her exit—standing on a gargoyle, the Bat-signal shining behind her, the people of Gotham looking up and pointing. “It’s Batman!”
I love this moment from the Batwoman pilot. It ties in beautifully to the philosophy of Batman—that he/she is a symbol to the people of Gotham. A symbol of fear for villains, and of hope to citizens.
Anyone can wear the mask and be Batman—they just need to have their hearts in the right place.
Batwoman’s pilot episode runs with that concept by placing Kate in the shoes of Batman, a bringer of hope to the people of Gotham.
It will be interesting to see how she eventually takes on the moniker of Batwoman, and how the people of Gotham will react to it.
1. The Revelations
The pilot episode of Batwoman ends with two major revelations for Kate, and they are devastating.
Having saved Sophie’s life and taken a step towards finding ways to mend her relationship with her father, Kate hopes to get a semblance of happiness back in her existence.
When Sophie runs into her at the Crows headquarters, it looks like Kate’s wish to be with her one true love will come true. Alas, no.
The pair are interrupted by an overly-concerned man, who eventually introduces himself as Sophie’s husband. Kate is shocked, and so are the audience.
There appears to be no sign that Sophie is bisexual or pansexual, so this can only mean that she has gone into her closet and married a man to continue her military career.
That is a very unfortunate way to have to live and I hope Batwoman will dissect the many ways that queer people are forced to hide their identities to conform to society’s expectations.
If that isn’t bad enough, Kate returns to the Batcave to study her only evidence from Alice—a jewelled knife that is adorned with the same stone that Kate and Beth had on their matching necklaces before Beth’s death.
Alice had displayed a surprising amount of intimate knowledge about Kate and her father in an earlier scene. Kate had wondered how she could have known so much, but it now becomes clear—Alice is Beth.
The opening episode of Batwoman had plenty of action and heart, as well as a great cast of characters and a sincere protagonist. It’s everything one would expect from a CW show, with a good amount of diversity, which is a massive bonus.
With the revelations and relationships we have seen in the opening episode, Batwoman promises to be an excellent new addition to the Arrowverse. We cannot wait for more.