Batwoman is Back — And She’s a Lesbian

DC Comics is reviving the Batwoman character. As a lesbian.

In this illustration released by DC Comics, a revived 'Batwoman' is shown as a 5-foot-10 superhero with flowing red hair, knee-high red boots with spiked heels, and a form-fitting black outfit. DC Comics is resurrecting the classic comic book character as a lesbian, unveiling the new Batwoman in July as part of an ongoing weekly series that launched this year. (AP Photo/DC Comics) Years after she first emerged from the Batcave, Batwoman is coming out of the closet. DC Comics is resurrecting the classic comic book character as a lesbian, unveiling the new Batwoman in July as part of an ongoing weekly series that began this year. The 5-foot-10 superhero comes with flowing red hair, knee-high red boots with spiked heels, and a form-fitting black outfit.

“We decided to give her a different point of view,” explained Dan DiDio, vice president and executive editor at DC. “We wanted to make her a more unique personality than others in the Bat-family. That’s one of the reasons we went in this direction.”

The original Batwoman was started in 1956, and killed off in 1979. The new character will share the same name as her original alter ego, Kathy Kane. And the new Batwoman arrives with ties to others in the Gotham City world. “She’s a socialite from Gotham high society,” DiDio said. “She has some past connection with Bruce Wayne. And she’s also had a past love affair with one of our lead characters, Renee Montoya.”

Montoya, in the “52” comic book series, is a former police detective. Wayne, of course, is Batman’s true identity — but he has disappeared, along with Superman and Wonder Woman, leaving Gotham a more dangerous place. The “52” series is a collaboration of four acclaimed writers, with one episode per week for one year. The comics will introduce other diverse characters as the story plays out. “This is not just about having a gay character,” DiDio said. “We’re trying for overall diversity in the DC universe. We have strong African-American, Hispanic and Asian characters. We’re trying to get a better cross-section of our readership and the world.”

I haven’t been a regular comic book reader in a decade and stopped collecting seriously almost twenty years ago. Still, I find this kind of thing annoying.

I enjoyed the post-Crisis revamping of the D.C. universe in the late 1980s, where Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, and other characters who had been around since the late 1930s/early 1940s were updated. In that case, though, they all remained true to their original conception.

Conversely, I hate radical redesigns of established characters. For example, I almost invariably dislike movie adaptations of television series because they tend to tarnish the originals. While it was a good action flick, “Mission Impossible’s” turning Jim Phelps into a villain for shock effect was an insult to fans of the series. They even do it with comedies. The “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Dukes of Hazzard” movies turned the Clampetts and Dukes into caricatures.

If DC thinks they need more gay superheroes, then invent some. Don’t take a 60-year-old character and reinvent her as something she wasn’t.

Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. And the batdog is really a cat.

  2. Jon Henke says:

    I don’t know, James. I think this could be the exception. Imagine the movie: “Batwoman: the Seduction of Catwoman”, starring, say, Charlize Theron and Halle Berry.

    That’s way better. And besides, whatever purist notions comic book fans may have, I’d guess the hot girl on girl action would overwhelm their objections.

  3. Moe Lane says:

    Gotta agree with Jon: their target audience is probably going to be just fine with this.

  4. Richard Gardner says:

    Maybe they were influenced by the 1995 drag queen movie, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” one of the more strange movie titles. Julie Newmar was the original Catwoman in the Batman TV series. It stars Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze in drag. I hate to think where this train of thought is leading.

  5. Anderson says:

    Not so sure, JJ. One, she’s not exactly a major character, so I mind their tampering with her less.

    Two, being gay can be a latent quality. The claim could be that she was a lesbian all along & just didn’t know/admit it.

    In that sense, it’s not any more of a change than Luke’s finding out that Darth Vader was his father.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: That Luke didn’t know the guy under the mask was his dad doesn’t change the fact that he was.

    Granting that comic book characters don’t age, the idea that a character who’s been around 60 years suddenly “discovers” that she’s sexually attracted to other women strikes me unlikely. And most gays, even those closeted for decades, admit that they essentially always knew. Indeed, the concept that they “became” gay or “learned” to be gay is anathema to most.

  7. Tony says:

    I wonder who’s going to play Batwoman when they eventually make the movie…

  8. Anderson says:

    And most gays, even those closeted for decades, admit that they essentially always knew.

    Well, it’s not like she’s actually 60 years old. And I’m sure they can construct backstory to explain how she always had those feelings, just kept them to herself.

    Considering the typically egregious twistings of plot and character in the comics, to get one’s Batsuit in a wad over this particular one seems mysterious.

  9. I disagree with your complaint about the first Mission Impossible movie. One thing that made Mission Impossible Mission Impossible was that seemingly good guy secondary characters often turned out to be bad guys and vice versa, and that there was usally a big twist near the end. These made the show exciting because you could never be sure if you really knew what was going on until that very last momment.

    Having Jim Phelps, literally that last person any fan would expect, turn out to be the bad guy was a brilliant idea.

  10. Doug says:

    Can you imagine the flannel that would be at the opening? Women dressed as lumberjacks and their lipstick feminist lovers. I’d pay good money just to watch the audience show up for the opening of the movie. Besides, I always thought that if we were going to have a gay super hero coming out of Batman, it would have been Robin. He’s been a not so closeted, flaming boy toy for years. No wonder Batman makes him ride bi*** in the bat mobile.
    I wonder if DC is going adult with this. Iâ??m so two faced. I canâ??t imagine a male gay â??thuper heroâ??, but Iâ??d line up to see bat woman and cat girl wrapped in a â??cat fightâ?? that led to unbridled lusty sex. I just hope the writers at DC are thinking about doing a XXX version!!!

  11. dizzy spin says:

    >”The �Beverly Hillbillies� and �Dukes of Hazzard� >movies turned the Clampetts and Dukes into >caricatures.”

    Right–because the original TV shows were so subtle and nuanced! JeezUS!

    Besides, this character is hardly a redesign. Batwoman hasnt really existed for 40 years–and she was a VERY minor character at that. For all intents and purposes, this is a totally new character.

    Not to mention the fact that the original Batwoman was just another man-hungry dame who got into the superhero biz to land Batman by hook or by crook. So is being a lesbian worse than being some misognyist punchline?