Is it possible for the Arrowverse to introduce Batwoman and avoid any mention of Batman? When it was announced that this year’s annual crossover event would introduce the character of Batwoman and kick off a solo series for the popular heroine, this looked to mark a big change. The Dark Knight Detective and his civilian alter ego of Bruce Wayne have both been mentioned in passing on all of The CW’s superhero shows, but WB’s tight embargo on allowing the various names and characters tied directly to the Batman mythos to be used on television outside of the series Gotham has largely prevented anything other than vague hints in the past.
This has prompted two questions from fans. First, is this status quo going to change for the sake of the new Batwoman series? Next, if that policy hasn’t changed, how can there possibly be a Batwoman show without referencing Batman?
Thankfully, this is not as daunting a task as it seems on the surface. While the character of Batwoman was inspired by Batman in the reality of the DC Comics Universe, the two characters have had little interaction with each other outside of crossover events until relatively recently in the monthly comic books. As such, it is entirely possible for the Batwoman series to take a similar approach and let Batwoman exist apart from Batman.
- This Page: Batman In The Arrowverse So Far
- Page 2: How Batwoman Can Exist Without Batman
The Arrowverse Has Referenced Batman Before
The question of whether or not Batman exists on Earth-One (the primary setting of most of The CW’s superhero shows) has been danced around since the early days of the Arrowverse. The pilot episode of The Flash made reference to the existence of Bruce Wayne, with a below-the-fold headline in a newspaper from the future mentioning a merger between Wayne Tech and Queen Incorporated. A season six episode of Arrow later saw Oliver Queen name-dropping Bruce Wayne directly while cracking-wise to the press about a fake photograph that seemed to show him dressed as Green Arrow, saying “They could have put Bruce Wayne’s head on that body!”
There haven’t been any direct references to Bruce’s alter ego on Earth-One, though there have been a number of nods to his impact. One episode of The Flash made reference to Blackgate Penitentiary – home to those criminals in Gotham City judged sane enough to avoid a stay at Arkham Asylum. Several episodes of Arrow have taken place in Bludhaven – the city just down the river from Gotham City and adopted hometown of Nightwing. Arrow has also made reference to both Harley Quinn and Oracle existing in some form on Earth-One.
Curiously, we know that a fictional version of Batman exists on Earth-One, thanks to film buff and scientist Cisco “Vibe” Ramon. In one chapter of The Chronicles of Cisco (an augmented reality Tumblr account, where Cisco wrote about his adventures with Flash) Cisco recalled his recent encounter with the villain Zoom and described him as “a maniacal speedster who makes Heath Ledger’s Joker look like Santa Clause [sic].” This suggests that some version of the movie The Dark Knight exists on Earth-One, though the question remains if it was entirely fictional or a historical docudrama based on Earth One’s versions of Batman and The Joker.
Read More: Batman Easter Eggs In The Arrowverse
Batman Exists On Supergirl’s Earth
While it is unclear if Batman exists as anything other than a fictional character on Earth-One, we know for a fact that he exists on Earth 38 – the setting of Supergirl. The show has made several direct references to The Dark Knight, albeit without once mentioning the name Batman or Bruce Wayne. James Olsen, for instance, said that his greatest fear in taking up the identity of the vigilante Guardian is being seen as a figure of fear, “just like Clark’s friend.” This confession elicits a knowing nod from DEO scientist Winn Schott, who says he always thought of them being more like frenemies while holding his upraised pointer-fingers to the side of his head in obvious imitation of Batman’s cowl.
Kara Danvers herself has made indirect reference to Batman several times over the course of the series. While fighting a villain called the Master Jailer, whose costume consisted of black armor with a face-concealing helmet, Supergirl quipped that she “thought masks were only big in that other city.” She also spoke disparagingly of a crime fighter with whom her cousin had worked in the past and masked vigilantes without superpowers in general: “Tons of gadgets. Lots of demons. I mean, vigilantes are nuts!”
Given that attitude, it’s no surprise that many fans are anticipating a tense working relationship between Supergirl and Batwoman. Actress Melissa Benoist has already hinted at this in interviews regarding the crossover. However, this may not amount to much given that Kara has been able to work with Green Arrow and his allies without complaint, and it’s unknown how often Supergirl may interact with Batwoman in the future.
This raises one interesting question few seem to have considered in all the speculation regarding the new Batwoman series – which Earth will it be set on? Details on this year’s crossover event are few and far between, but nothing has been said regarding on which specific Earth our heroes will encounter Batwoman. While the previous crossovers Invasion! and Crisis on Earth-X had Supergirl traveling to Earth-One, it is entirely possible that the Earth-One heroes could travel to Earth 38 thanks to Vibe’s power to travel between dimensions. It is also possible that all of the heroes could be transported to another Earth entirely, thanks to the interference of a being like the Music Meister, and Batwoman could be set in its own Earth or another reality entirely like Black Lightning. All of this makes fitting Batwoman and Batman together rather tricky.
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Batman is Important For Batwoman’s Origins, But Not Essential
The simplest solution would be for Batwoman to be based on Earth 38, with Warner Bros. making no objection to The Arrowverse using Batman this one time for the purposes of establishing the character of Kate Kane. Unfortunately, what is simple is not always easy, particularly when legalities are involved. This begs the question of how vital it is that Batman appears to establish the character of Batwoman at all.
Despite Kathy Kane being a cousin of Bruce Wayne and her name and costume clearly being modeled on Batman, there is surprisingly little connection between the two characters in the comics. The two are far from close kin, with Bruce largely avoiding extended family gatherings. Bruce only makes token appearances on the social scene in Gotham City, whereas Kate was enough of a party girl and press darling in her youth to make it difficult for her girlfriend Rene Montoya to avoid the limelight and keep her own status as a lesbian secret from her family and her supervisors at the Gotham City Police Department.
The two also approached vigilantism from different angles, with Kate’s training as a fighter coming from her desire to follow in her father’s footsteps as a career soldier. This dream was denied to her after her relationship with another female cadet was revealed while she was enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point and Kate resigned rather than violate the honor code by lying about her sexual orientation. Kate was later inspired to vigilantism after a brief encounter with Batman, where The Dark Knight followed the sounds of a struggle to find an undistressed damsel, following Kate’s using her combat training to turn the tables on an attempted mugger.
Kate began fighting crime on her own after that, using military gear taken from her father. When Colonel Jacob Kane discovered what she was doing, he stunned Kate not only by voicing his approval but by arranging for her to train with some of his old army buddies. When Kate came home to Gotham City, she found that her father had commissioned an armored Batwoman costume for her, along with a host of other special tactical weapons combining the finest in military hardware and prototypes based on gear it was believed Batman used. The two would not learn that Bruce Wayne was Batman until long after Kate had taken up the Batwoman mantle.
Can Batwoman Exist in Gotham Without Explaining Batman/Bruce Wayne?
So the only requirement of Batman’s existence in relation to Kate Kane’s becoming a superhero is an acknowledgment that Batman exists. Batwoman’s costume and name were entirely derived from Batman, but beyond that the presence of Batman and Bruce Wayne is inessential. It would be simple enough to acknowledge Batman’s existence with a quick description of Kate Kate’s inspirational encounter with The Dark Knight before moving on and never mentioning him again.
Related: Why The CW Needs To Cancel Arrow
However, it may be possible to try and introduce Batwoman into a reality without Batman, painting Kate as the original hero in the reality of The Arrowverse. One method of accomplishing this might be altering Kate’s background so that her defining moment in deciding to be a vigilante is the violent deaths of her mother and twin sister during a hostage crisis when she was twelve, rather than a chance encounter with Batman after an attempted mugging. Unfortunately (and ironically), such a bid to make Kate stand apart from her famous cousin would only serve to make her origin seem more derivative of Batman and eliminate much of what makes Kate Kane unique as a character.
One fan theory has suggested that Bruce Wayne may be paralyzed from his encounter with the villain Bane in the Arrowverse. If that’s the case, then Batwoman could be presented as a legacy character, taking up her cousin’s battle in his name and image. It’s a unique idea and would be an interesting twist on the classic story Knightfall. Unfortunately, we again run into the problem that such a story would only serve to make Kate Kane into less of a unique character and everything Batwoman‘s producers have said so far suggests that they will be staying true to the spirit of the comics where Kate is very much her own hero.
The simple solution of mentioning Batman and how he inspired Batwoman without showing him seems to be the best option. It would also fit with previous statements by The CW president Mark Pedowitz, who confirmed that Batman does exist in the Arrowverse but that there are no plans for him to make an appearance in any capacity.; that does not outright eliminate the possibility of dropping his name in the same fashion as earlier episodes.