So, What's the Difference Between Batgirl and Batwoman?
It seems there's more Batman-adjacent content than ever this year. There's "The Batman," starring Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader and Zöe Kravitz as Catwoman; The CW's "Batwoman," starring Javicia Leslie in the title role; and HBO Max is releasing a Batgirl movie, starring Leslie Grace of "In The Heights" later this winter.
Casual fans might have a hard time keeping all the different heroes straight. Are Batwoman and Batgirl two different identities for the same person? Will Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne be spotted with his bat brethren any time soon? Will former Batman actors, like Michael Keaton, Alicia Silverstone, and Ben Affleck make appearances in new bat content? Let's break down just what's going on in the DC Extended Universe.
Who Is Batwoman in the Comics?
The original Batwoman was introduced in the comics in the 1950s as a love interest for Batman. Her real name was Kathy Kane and her utility belt featured weapons disguised as makeup and jewelry because . . . 1950s, y'all. The original Batwoman stopped making appearances in the 1960s because Batgirl, who was introduced in 1961, quickly stole the spotlight.
Batwoman finally returned to the comics in 2006, reimagined as Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne's cousin. Like Bruce, Kate is a wealthy heiress who puts her funds toward fighting crime in Gotham City. Batwoman is also Jewish and a lesbian, making her the highest-profile gay superhero in the DC Comics universe.
Who Is Batwoman on The CW?
When The CW launched its "Batwoman" series in October 2019, it starred Ruby Rose as Kate Kane. Rose was particularly proud that her Batwoman was a lesbian on the TV show, too. The CW's Kane was the cousin of Bruce Wayne and stepped into his crime-fighting shoes after he mysteriously disappeared.
But Rose left the show at the end of the first season, alleging that the work conditions on set were too dangerous. The show replaced Rose with Javicia Leslie, who plays a completely new character, Ryan Wilder. Ryan is recently released from incarceration and living out of her van when she finds the Batwoman suit in the wreckage of an airplane crash that killed Kate. She takes on the mantle of Batwoman in order to keep Gotham City safe.
Leslie is the first Black person to play Batwoman. She told POPSUGAR, "Seeing Ryan on screen reminds me that everything about me is perfectly fine. Same with every other kid growing up. I think that's what this representation means. It's a reminder that you're fine, you're good. Of course, we go through things and there's battles that we fight, but you're not in this alone. There are other people that are in your shoes. To me, that's what Ryan is." Like Kate, Ryan is also queer. The show also featured Nick Kreegan as the first Black person to play the Joker.
Who Is Batgirl in the Comics?
The original Batgirl was named Betty Kane and was Batman's niece. A few years later, the team at DC Comics revamped the character, and gave the superhero alias to Barbara Gordon, the daughter of beloved Gotham police commissioner James Gordon. Batgirl graced the comics for over 20 years, but everything changed with the 1988 storyline "The Killing Joke". In the story arc, Barbara was shot by the Joker, and photos of her naked, injured body were used to torment her father. The incident left Barbara paraplegic and she disappeared from the comics. Three other women have worn the title of Batgirl: Helena Bertinelli, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown. But in 2011, DC Comics did a major reboot and brought back Gordon as Batgirl.
Who Has Played Batgirl on Screen?
In the classic 1960s "Batman" TV show starring Adam West, Batgirl was played by actress Yvonne Craig. She joined the show in the third season and was meant to draw in young girls as viewers.
Batgirl also appeared in the 1997 film "Batman & Robin," portrayed by Alicia Silverstone. Silverstone's Batgirl is the only time the character has appeared in a live action film so far.
Who Will Be in the HBO Max Batgirl Movie?
Leslie Grace was cast as Batgirl in 2020 and shared photos of herself in the iconic costume on Instagram in early 2022. The Batgirl movie will be a part of the DC Extended Universe, which means actors from the Justice League franchise are expected to appear. J.K. Simmons will reprise his role as Commissioner Gordon (and thus Batgirl's dad). Ivory Aquino will play Alysia Yeoh, Barbara's best friend, making her the first transgender character in a DC Comics film. Brendan Fraser will play the villain Firefly, a pyromaniac. Jacob Scipio, Rebecca Front, Corey Johnson, and Ethan Kai have also all been cast in roles, but those character's identities are unknown.
The movie's Bruce Wayne will be played by Michael Keaton, which is where things start to get complicated. Keaton played Batman in Tim Burton's two Batman films: "Batman" (1989) and "Batman Returns" (1992). He left the franchise, and more movies were made without him. Keaton will reprise his role as Bruce Wayne in the new "The Flash" movie, set to be released in November 2022. In that movie, Keaton will play a Batman from an alternate universe — not the one previously established in the "Justice League" movies. "The Flash" will also contain Ben Affleck's last appearance as his Batman character. It seems that in the course of events of "The Flash" movie, Keaton's Batman gets stuck in the DCEU and sticks around to help out Barbara Gordon in the "Batgirl" film.
There were originally rumors that the "Batgirl" movie would connect to Robert Pattinson's "The Batman," but director Matt Reeves has said that the new movie is not part of the DCEU, but rather its own thing.
Will The CW’s Batwoman Appear in the Batgirl HBO Max Movie?
Probably not! The CW has had eight DC Comics-based series: "Arrow," "The Flash," "Supergirl," "Legends of Tomorrow," "Black Lightning," "Batwoman," "Superman & Lois," and the brand new show "Naomi". So far, those series have all been contained into one universe together, known as the Arrowverse, since "Arrow" was the first show from the network. None of these characters or plotlines have crossed over into the DCEU, and there don't seem to be any plans to do so. Of course, as Keaton's entry into the DCEU shows, anything could happen in the future. The heads at DC might also decide to bring their own version of Batwoman into the DCEU and cast a completely new person in the role.