Viewers were shocked when, just days after the first season ended, CW’s Batwoman star Ruby Rose announced the release of the Arrowverse series. Although it was originally intended that her character, Kate Kane/Batman, would take over, the series eventually went the other way and created a new character, Ryan Wilder, to take over the cape and cowl. The series returned for a second season a few weeks ago, with Javicia Leslie in the role of Ryan, but it’s clear after just four episodes that this is a very different Batman, and not just in the sense that it’s a new season with new characters. In season two, Batwoman does something Batman stories don’t really do: It solves the real problems plaguing Gotham, which go far beyond corruption and colorful villains, and it’s long overdue.
Typically, Batman stories focus on a very specific point of view, that of billionaire Bruce Wayne, who becomes Batman to get revenge on criminals after killing his parents as a child. For decades, this idea of revenge was usually about larger than life or well-known villains – think Penguin, Joker, and many others – and there’s nothing wrong with that. These are interesting and engaging stories, full of action, drama and high stakes. But for the most part, none of Batman’s efforts make a difference in Gotham. While Batman is busy getting revenge, the city continues to crumble. Gotham may be a dystopian place, but you’d think Batman’s power alone would make things better on the streets.
In a way, the first season of Batman, with Kate Kane’s costume, followed a similar pattern. For Kate, promotion to heroine also involved a very specific idea – in this case, dealing with Alice and the Wonderland gang – but the series also occasionally dealt with issues of socio-economic inequality, which has a distinct difference between Gotham of the haves and Gotham of the have-nots. However, in the second season, this idea was taken up again.
Ryan’s story, on a more personal level, isn’t just about working with Alice, which remains a problem. It also addresses a variety of issues that address all of Gotham’s ills on a fundamental level. In the first episode of the second season, What Happens to Kate Kane, we find out that Ryan is homeless and struggling with life after his incarceration, as ex-convicts struggle incredibly to find work and housing, meaning Ryan has few options for survival despite his best efforts. We also learn that Ryan spent that time in prison for a crime she did not commit, a realization that the criminal justice system is not always fair.
The episode also shows how ordinary Gotham residents are often just collateral damage to the city’s more complex criminal problems – Ryan’s adoptive mother was murdered by Alice and her gang when they moved into a new apartment. The next few episodes will deal with this issue as well, but we’ll also begin to address other issues in Gotham, such as racial inequality. After stopping the robbery – as herself, not as Batman – Ryan is picked up and interrogated by Raven, presumably because she’s black. The issue of race plays a much more direct role in this week’s Pale Skin, Blue Eyes, in which Batman is approached by a boy desperate to find his brother Kevin.
And it’s not like Batman gives up more complex stories in the show, either. The gang the kidnapped children are sold to is the False Face Society, which in turn is connected to Alice and Safiya and the squadron’s largest meta-squadron. The other thing is that the way the series deals with the problems of the streets in Gotham shows how societal and systemic failures contribute to fueling these more dramatic problems, and that if a little more attention had been paid to issues of inequality and injustice at the street level, bad guys like Alice might never have had a chance to actually take up residence on the streets.
That’s not to say that Batman stories don’t sometimes happen on the street. There are such stories. But what makes season 2 of Batman so much better is that it approaches them from the perspective of someone who has lived on this street level, whose life is rooted in the struggles at the heart of Gotham’s problems, in a way that season 1 never could. It’s an interesting and refreshing approach that will be exciting to watch as the season progresses.
Batwoman airs on Sundays at 8pm. ET on CW.
frequently asked questions
What is the relationship between Batman and Bat?
Modern Bat is written as a Jew and a lesbian. During the New 52, it was revealed that Kate Kane is the niece of Batman Bruce Wayne, the niece of his mother Martha Wayne.
Is Batman better than Batman?
Almost every member of the Batman family, not just Batman, can beat Batman in a fight. Batman only has a military background, while the rest of the family was personally trained by Batman himself, who has traveled the world and learned from the best.
Will Batman ever appear in Batman?
Batwoman shocked Arrowverse fans in the season 1 finale by introducing Bruce Wayne – well, sort of. Warren Christie has joined the cast to embody the face of the Dark Knight. Coincidentally, his face was worn by Thomas Elliott, known as Tische.
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