Review: Top 10 Ways to Fix Batwoman
After the departure of original Batwoman star Ruby Rose, the CW show chose to reinvent the identify of the show in Season Two with Javicia Leslie donning the cowl as the troubled Ryan Wilder. With the challenge of establishing a new identity for the characters on screen, the production was one of the first shows to film during the COVID era. (Kudos to all the actors and crew who made sure the show went on to bring us our favorite series and movies)
The season started off in an unexpected way--the death of Kate Kane! While it seemed that they writers had decided to address the change in actresses head on, by mid-season they had thrown us a loop and revealed Kate was alive and coming back! This is where Batwoman shines--Gotham City suspense, hints of the old villains, and playing around in Batman's old stomping grounds. I'd even say there was brilliance in some of these episodes. But, for every beat they nailed, the writers seemed to take two steps backward with forced social justice storylines. Now, don't misunderstand, relevance is a good thing. Modern plots are a good thing. I just don't thing it was always done well in Batwoman. At times, it felt like two different series in the same episode. Too often it felt like the writers only had a small portion of screen time to fill and the choice between actual Batwoman being the caped crusader or Ryan's SJW crusade was always going to be the latter to ensure the quotient was filled. That said, the show is getting a deserved third season, so here are my top 10 ways that I would retool the show.
#1 - Fix the Bat suit. The dark-haired version of the suit doesn't work on screen. Bring back the one Ryan used in the earlier episodes that mirrored Kate's red wig. Javicia Leslie looks good in the cowl and she clearly has the ability to move in the suit, but the look takes you out of the moment.
#2 Bring back Gotham City. There needs to be more nods to Gotham itself as a character. If we're not going to get the classic villains--Joker, Scarecrow, etc., then embrace the legacy of the Batman and move the series forward literally. It's completely believable if this Gotham City were what happens AFTER the years of Batman, Joker, Gordon, etc. Not quite New Gotham, but somewhere in between.
#3 Where is Commissioner Gordon? After it was clear the Crows were on their way out, I thought the writers were positioning Dougray Scott's Commander Kane to become, perhaps literally, the Commissioner. While it wouldn't be Jim Gordon, it would be an acceptable tie to the old guard. However, it seems that Scott is not returning for Season Three leaving a vacuum in the ties between the authorities and the vigilantes.
#4 Bring on Robin. I'm of two minds on this one. The Arrowverse version of Batman lore has taken a different path than the comics. That's fine, but there needs to be some connection to the past (see #2). The show dances around topics that intentionally tie to the Batman mythos, but ultimately pull back at the last second. So, why not introduce a Robin? Which one, you ask? None of them. Create a whole new character in the same vein of 'Dark Knight Rises'. Then, you have your tie to the past, but viewers won't know what to expect. It's the old and the new. My second thought is introduce Duke Thomas as a former Robin. It ties into the comics, but can go it's own way by actually having him be Robin instead of The Signal. BTW, in one possible future, Duke was Robin.
#5 Keep your best asset. And in this case, it's scene stealer Rachel Skarsten. The character of Alice continues to evolve and with each episode Skarsten proves her acting chops in award worthy performances. With Alice's tie to Kate and now Commander Kane gone from a storyline perspective, it's up to the writers come up with something new for Alice to do.
#6 What the hell is wrong with DC Comics? While DC has been proverbially bad at supporting its TV shows by way of the comics, it didn't even make an attempt with Batwoman. A mention in one issue of Batgirl that Ryan Wilder exists in the DCU and a costumed appearance on a catalog's cover--were the only nods to the new Batwoman. While we don't get a lot of Batwoman in the comics nowadays, when we do it's Kate. Why not bring in Ryan in to something like Urban Legends or a mini? Imagine some J.H. Williams III art with updated versions of Batwoman and Alice. That's worth an $8 cover price, right?
#7 Bat Gadgets. This one is easy--bring in the Batcave and all the Bat things. Heck, show the old Bat and Robin suits. Here I go again with linking things to the past.
#8 Alfred. I'm not sure who gets to use Alfred and who doesn't when it comes to DC TV, but this show is lacking that Alfred-esque figure. Maybe that means someone like Leslie Thompkins or Dr. Shondra Kinsolving.
#9 Batwing: Good. Jace: Bad. Now that Batwing is a thing, spend some money on refining the special effects of the suit. Actually give Luke something to do that doesn't involve reliving Lucius' golden years. But don't bring in "The Next Batman" unless you're prepared to make this series be just that. The minute Batman surfaces (even if it's just Jace Fox pre-Bats), there's going to be an aura of "when do we get Batman?" and Batwoman herself is going to be marginalized in her own series. Batwing is great, Batman is bad (when your title is Batwoman). Now, that said, the show does have a guy problem--as in Luke is the only one now. It wouldn't hurt if they introduced a few gentlemen vigilantes into the mix. If we can't have Robin (see #4) how about something wild like Midnighter?
#10 Keep Vesper Fairchild. Why? The narration helps the story and it's Rachel Maddow. That's reason enough.
Those are my ways to improve Batwoman--what would you do?