Warner Bros. continued its annual tradition of showcasing some exciting new shows as the 50th anniversary of San Diego Comic Con got underway. Batwoman, Pennyworth and Prodigal Son were on the lineup, though I skipped out just before Prodigal Son.
Still, the two premieres I did see couldn’t have been more different – which is particularly interesting since they belong to the same fictional universe! This article will be covering Batwoman, with our Pennyworth review forthcoming.
Summary (Spoilers Ahead!)
After Batman disappeared 3 years ago, the city of Gotham was gripped with fear. Without “The Bat” to protect them, they were sitting ducks for the supervillains that plagued their city. Others, however, were glad to be rid of him, including Kate Kane.
Kate’ childhood was marred with tragedy after losing her sister and mother as a result of Batman’s perceived disinterest in their wellbeing. After firing a couple grappling hooks into the dangling vehicle, Batman took off, only for the car to plummet barely a moment later.
Kate has carried this memory through her entire adult life, sure that Batman was more interested in “catching the bad guy” than saving her mother and sister. For Kate, Batman’s absence is of little importance.
In this absence, however, a private security force known as The Crows emerges. Headed up by Kate Kane’s father, it’s comprised of former Navy SEALS, Green Berets, and other world-class soldiers in order to help keep Gotham safe. But at what cost?
After being kicked out of the military for being gay, her dream of becoming a Crow seems harder and harder to achieve. Kate pursues a regiment of intense training from survivalists and martial arts experts around the world, before being summoned back home after her former romantic interest and star Crow agent Sophie Moore is kidnapped by “Alice” – a deranged woman who likes to quote from Alice in Wonderland.
After the Crows fail to secure the information needed to find Kate’s missing friend, she takes it upon herself to scale Wayne Enterprises – a building that has been abandoned for some time now. Still, she’s able to retrieve what she needs from the Wayne Enterprises camera feeds, while also meeting Luke Fox, the steward in charge of keeping tabs on Bruce Wayne’s stuff while he’s away.
In her attempts to rescue her former girlfriend, Kate gets in over her head and knocked unconscious. After Alice plays therapist and basically tells Kate that her father doesn’t want her, she clocks her in the head with a cricket bat and Kate finds herself being cared for by her step-sister in an underground clinic.
In her continued search for Sophie, Kate happens upon Bruce Wayne’s most closely guarded secret – that he was, in fact, Batman. She finds a board filled with articles about her mother and sister’s death, diagrams…the remnants of a man roiled in grief and regret. “He never stopped thinking about it…” Luke says.
Kate proceeds to take on the mantle of Batman, having the suit re-worked and reviving the icon that Gotham needs to strike fear into the hearts of its enemies. Successfully saving Sophie, the situation is put right for the time being, but who knows what other shadows from Batman’s past will come screaming back now that The Bat has returned?
I will be the first to admit that I’m pretty removed from recent iterations of comic book properties that have been reimagined for TV. Arrow, The Flash, Agents of SHIELD…never really got into them. (Critical Role is a timesuck, man!)
That being said, is this what these shows are supposed to be like? Batwoman felt like I was watching an over-the-top adaptation with clunky dialogue, less than convincing performances and a rushed narrative.
There were scenes that, I imagine, were supposed to have emotional affect – such as Kate confronting her father that he doesn’t want her because he’d rather have her other sister or her mom instead. Unfortunately, the execution feels like dress rehearsal for a High School theater production.
About 5 minutes into the show, I felt like a psychic. I could see the future…! Only because the show was a wagon that fell into the well-tread storytelling that I and many others have seen before.
I mentioned the dialogue, but there’s also the matter of Batwoman making sure that everyone knows that this show is about a woman. When Kate is getting ready to take on the mantle, she asks Luke to alter the suit.
“It’s perfect.” He says simply.
Kate’s response? “It will be, when it fits a woman.”
Understand, Ballroom 20 is a very large room. It seats nearly 5000 people. I swear I could hear groaning from at least 200 feet away.
Later, when Kate is sporting the Batman gear and has successfully rescued Sophie, they’re laying a couple inches apart and Sophie says “You’re him.”
THE SUIT HAS BREASTS. YOU ARE STARING AT A WOMAN’S LIPS WITH PINK GLOSS.
*deep breaths* Ok – so one of two things happened – either this line was meant to imply that Sophie was contemplating the fact that a woman had taken on the mantle of Batman – that The Bat is a symbol more than a gender. If this was the intent – it failed spectacularly.
What it sounded like was “Wow, you’re Batman.”
I will say the part that was executed best was the twist at the end. I had my suspicions, but didn’t straight up know until the very end.
Overall, Batwoman was a disappointment. This was an opportunity to put a badass female heroine on the screen, but the combination of a rushed narrative, clunky dialogue, less than compelling fight choreography and predictable plotlines made it a dud.
These weaknesses were only exacerbated for those who stuck around for the Pennyworth premiere – a superb series that balanced heart, action, tremendous acting and a compelling world…but we’ll get to that later.