'Batwoman's Showrunner Teases a 'Different and Refreshing' Female Hero
If the future is female, then the future of Gotham is in good hands! After making a knockout first impression when she appeared in the Arrowverse's "Elseworlds" crossover last December, Batwoman (Ruby Rose) is ready to take things to the next level in her own eponymous series.
"Having such a strong female lead, a character who happens to be a lesbian, surrounded by all of these other really interesting female characters feels like a bit of an evolution," says showrunner Caroline Dries (The Vampire Diaries). "Ruby is a brutal hero. She doesn't pull any punches and doesn't apologize for who she is. And seeing this character on TV feels different and refreshing."
Fans got their first taste of Rose's Batwoman — and her alter ego, Kate Kane — last year when the central characters of Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl hit Gotham City in search of Arkham Asylum baddie John Deegan (Jeremy Davies). It was revealed that the dynamic and strong-willed Kane was Bruce Wayne's cousin and had recently taken over protecting the town following Batman's disappearance three years earlier.
Batwoman will back up in time just a little to fill in some of the blanks about the Kane family and Kate’s painful pre-vigilante experiences in the armed services. (Dries sees "Elseworlds" as happening between the third and fourth episodes of Batwoman's Season 1.)
In the premiere, Kate learns that Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy), her girlfriend while in the military, has been kidnapped by a maniacal woman named Alice (Rachel Skarsten). Alice has a vendetta against the Crows, a Blackwater-esque security firm led by Kate's father, Jacob (Dougray Scott). "After having been away [at survival] training for five years to become a member of the Crows, Kate comes home early to help save Sophie," Dries explains.
It doesn't take long for Kate to figure out that daddy will never fully approve of his daughter or give her a spot on his team. Stung but still determined to flex her skills, she realizes after stumbling upon a key piece of the Dark Knight's abandoned wardrobe that another winged creature holds the key to her future.
"She comes to discover that [inhabiting] the Batsuit is where her calling lies," says Dries. Soon, Kate is retrofitting the outfit with Wayne Enterprises tech — courtesy of Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), son of Batman's business manager (and gadgets designer), Lucius — and fighting crime like a boss, with Alice as her main nemesis à la Batman's Joker. As Kate finds her footing as Batwoman, she also starts a real estate firm headquartered in Wayne Tower to establish a civilian life.
Kate Kane was originally introduced in DC Comics' weekly 52 series back in 2006, and there have been multiple iterations of her since, including one as a wealthy heiress. The CW's version borrows heavily from writer Greg Rucka's 2011 story "Elegy," which Dries saw as the perfect starting point. "That was the first time I ever read a comic where I really got a great sense of [her] backstory."
Alternating between Kate's present-day Batwoman life and flashbacks to her recent past, "you keep going deeper and deeper and realize, 'Oh, this is a very complicated woman who had a lot of life-changing, milestone moments,'" Dries adds. The only problem? "There's so much good stuff, we had to figure out what to use!"
Another challenge Dries and her team faced was giving Batwoman a visual identity of its own that still fits within executive producer Greg Berlanti’s expansive Arrowverse. "We wanted our show to look unique in some way; that's why we filmed it with a really desaturated color palette," she notes. And since their main villain is very colorful — she thinks she's Alice from Alice in Wonderland — Dries adds, "That's enough crazy, so [we decided to] keep [the other characters] grounded in humanity as best as we can."
Additionally, Dries was mindful that memories of Fox's just-ended Gotham would still be fresh for fans. "Obviously, we're trying to keep the shows separate, because they're truly different worlds," she says. Still, given that both are part of the Warner Bros. family, there is at least one common thread. "We ended up acquiring their Gotham City Police Department uniforms," she admits with a laugh.
Other than that, this hero stands as a symbol all her own. "Besides being able to be kick ass and do awesome stunts and have fun gadgets, the emotional stakes of the show are really high," enthuses Dries. "And then being able to have a lesbian playing a lesbian in lesbian love stories, it's like, 'Thank you, yes!'"
Batwoman, Premieres Sunday, October 6, 8/7c, The CW
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