Roush Review: 'Batwoman' Is Slow to Take Flight

Matt Roush
Review

Holy diversity, Bat-fans!

Breaking new ground for superhero adventure on a network overrun with costumed icons, The CW’s Batwoman introduces Ruby Rose (Orange Is the New Black) as reluctant vigilante Kate Kane, who’s a proudly out lesbian—though this being the CW Arrowverse, she’s also tormented and unhappy and dour.

Kate also happens to be Bruce Wayne’s cousin, only slowly realizing that this makes her kin to a Batman who’s been missing from Gotham for three years when this latest DC Comics adaptation begins.

Rose certainly looks the part. Spiky and prickly, gorgeous eyes flashing in defiance, at ease on a motorcycle like a rebel with more causes than she can count, Kate blows into Gotham after years of mystical survival training. Unfortunately, a little dramatic coaching might have been helpful as well, because she delivers every line with the same monotonous flatness. Moody is one thing, but numb isn’t a particularly engaging vibe.

Dougray Scott as Jacob Kane and Ruby Rose as Kate Kane (Kimberley French/The CW)

Although who can blame her, because we’ve all been down this stylishly violent road to mayhem so many times before. Besides, Kate has enough chips on her shoulder to weigh an Atlas down. She was drummed out of the military after being outed for kissing her girlfriend and fellow cadet, Sophie (an appealing Meagan Tandy). She is still haunted by a childhood tragedy in which she escaped a car accident that claimed her sister and mom, for which she blames Batman. She’s estranged from her father, Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott), who leads a private army known as Crows, to protect Gothamites when the local police aren’t enough. He won’t let Kate play with the boys, though Sophie is one of his most trusted soldiers.

'Batwoman's Showrunner Teases a 'Different and Refreshing' Female Hero

'Batwoman's Showrunner Teases a 'Different and Refreshing' Female Hero

Gotham's next savior is all about girl power.

The action begins when Sophie is kidnapped by the joker in this muddled deck: a psycho madwoman (Rachel Skarsten) fashioned after a twisted Alice in Wonderland, who’s terrorizing the town in Batman’s absence. Sophie’s dilemma captures Kate’s attention, and before long, she has stumbled into absent cousin Bruce’s underground lair, instantly fancying that legendary bat-suit and accompanying gadgets. “The suit is literally perfection,” marvels second-generation tech guru Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson.) To which Kate quips, “It will be — when it fits a woman.”

'Batwoman's Ruby Rose Describes Her Batsuit as 'Like a Second Skin'

'Batwoman's Ruby Rose Describes Her Batsuit as 'Like a Second Skin'

The actress plays Bruce Wayne's cousin, Kate Kane, in the new CW series.

Never doubt it. This is Batwoman, watch her soar. If only the show would let her. Even after several bruising battles that should come with their own “oofs!” and “kapows!”, Kate isn’t ready to let the rest of the world in on the bat’s gender switch, and a general malaise hangs over the proceedings as Alice continues to target the Kanes for reasons that become way too obvious way too soon.

Ruby Rose as Kate Kane (Elizabeth Morris/The CW)

Riddle me this: Is there a limit to the number of superhero shows The CW is willing to juggle? I know I’ve already reached mine.

Batwoman, Series Premiere, Sunday, Oct. 6, 8/7c, The CW