Before I start, I’ll say that readers and viewers of all demographics deserve heroes with whom they can identify. Minorities, women, and our gay brothers and sisters should be represented just as strongly by well-developed, dignified characters that positively normalize the condition of all demographics. Hell, that’s the reason that I’m all-in in ignoring the talking-heads who complain about the all-woman MCU scene in Endgame. But, it’s trailers like Batwoman who give the talking heads a reason to run their mouths.
The Batwoman preview seriously weakens the character by going out of its way to drive the message that women are better than men. It’s okay to send a message, but insipid, incendiary messages are often lost in translation. The superhero landscape is beyond a question oversaturated with masculinity and sparsely populated with femininity. But the masculine component doesn’t exist to send a message that screams men good, women not good. In fact, contemporary comics are entirely opposed to patriarchy and ultra-masculinity. Writers have been mused to making compelling stories showcasing the sheer power and dominance of characters like Wonder Woman, and Big Barda on the DC side of the house and Storm, Captain Marvel, and She-Hulk in Marvel titles. In comics, women have a concrete, equal place alongside their male counterparts as heroic powerhouses.
Getting back to Batwoman, the character exists in the comics in Batman’s shadow (not unlike everyone on the bat-team), and that fact holds true in the upcoming TV series. The character is going to have to compete with what fans already know about Batman. While people may be wondering what makes her a relevant and equal hero worthy of the mantle of the bat, no one is asking, “Can she be worthy? I mean, she’s a woman.”
…is asking that.
Remember, Batgirl is a woman and her relevance as the soul of the bat-team is undisputed.
However, the Batwoman preview goes out of its way to answer the question no one is asking by saying things like, “[The suit] will be [perfect] when it fits a woman,” and “I’m not letting a man take credit for a woman’s work.” That’s not Batwoman. That’s a completely different character usurping Batwoman’s title. And, the dialog smells of trying too damn hard.
In case you’ve never read a book with Batwoman in it, let me tell you that she’s a viable, often divisive, character unto herself. She’s a character with her own identity, who is far less connected to Batman than Nightwing, Batgirl, the Red Hood, the Red Robin, and Robin. Batwoman is a landmark character who breaks down barriers like orientation and religious tolerance and does it with humility and dignity. Want to know why? Because she’s written that way. Batwoman, in the books, is written such that her involvement with the bat-team (you know…as a violent vigilante and all that jazz) is the thought-provoking part of the character. Her sexual orientation, her love for her wife, and her practice of Judaism are normalized parts of her life that are written as normal. That’s what makes the Batwoman character dope – she’s accepted as part of the bat-team with no question as to who she is but rather how she defines herself in deed and deed alone.
The Batwoman preview betrays that. I hope it was edited improperly; otherwise, the show is off to a really bad start before the pilot has even aired.
I liked her look in her Arrowverse cameo but I’m concerned about the messaging the CW is going for here. I’ll reserve judgment for now.