CW’s adaptation of Batwoman misses the mark

2.5 stars

 

Following the success of the Batwoman comics, many DC fans had high hopes for the new Batwoman show. With the comic book’s interesting premise, the CW could make this show one of the strongest in the Arrowverse, joining Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning. The Batwoman comics were filled with astounding visuals, intriguing villains, thought-provoking plots, and a strong and realistic lead. Despite these precedents, Batwoman failed to meet any of its previous adaptations’ grandeur or creativity.

The show follows the story of ex-military cadet Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), cousin of Bruce Wayne. She discovers Bruce Wayne’s secret second life as the vigilante Batman. She decides to take his place as the protector of Gotham. In her way, though, is a military police force run by her father, Commander Jacob Kane (Dougary Scott), and the season’s main antagonist, Alice (Rachel Skarsten). Kate has help from her step-sister Mary (Nicole Kang), and Batman’s former assistant Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson). She embarks on various adventures to save lives and to cope with the loss of her twin sister, Beth Kane.

Although clearly going for a grittier take on the classic CW superhero show, the tone and acting reflect a light emphasis. The lighter attitude battles with the efforts to darken the visuals and plot points, placing the tone at an impasse and confusing viewers. 

Batwoman makes an effort to distance itself from the other shows, yet it fails, hanging on to the few differences it does have. Although giving the impression of a mystery, the show does all of its audience’s thinking and the few things it does leave to be thought out are explained shortly thereafter.

Ruby Rose has received some backlash for her allegedly “poor” acting as Batwoman, but Rose did the best with what she was given. The fault in her character lies in the writing. Instead of being a strong, ex-military woman driven by a moral code to protect, her character is written as a needy, grieving, heartbroken, tough guy. The show portrays her as a character whose morals are unclear, and whose motivations are contradictory. 

Rachel Skarsten portrays the main villain, Alice, a character that is constantly on the edge of sanity. She isn’t convincingly insane enough to portray an evil character, but is also not sane enough to have clear motivations. Some of the character flaws come from the writing, but in Skarsten’s case, the majority of her character’s flaws lie in her portrayal.

The music, although fitting and entertaining, seems to be repetitive, like many other shows in the CW universe. It is clear that it seldom changes from episode to episode. The flow of Batwoman also follows the same repetitive pattern of the Arrowverse, giving it the impression of a show that didn’t want to take many risks. 

The costumes and special effects were acceptable, definitely not exceptional. Batwoman’s suit brings a higher expectation to the rest of the suits in the Arrowverse. The other costumes featured on the show, specifically those of the villains, appear drab. The henchmen’s costumes fall into the trope of a face-less disposable army, which are commonly used as an adversary to help even the scales of often overpowered superheroes to give off the impression of conflict. The additional locations appear just as uninspired, having much potential to stand out, but ultimately ending up just as a background. The main locations are obscured by unimaginative lighting and little creativity in their design. Even the classic Batcave seems small and unimportant, making the characters inside seem inept.

One of the show’s few advantages is its LGBTQ+ inclusion. Kate identifies as a lesbian. Though the writers managed to meld her sexuality well within the storyline without it stealing the spotlight, they crafted Batwoman’s character as a stereotype. Instead of showcasing a strong leading character, it showcases a strong lesbian stereotype, following the themes of short hair, leather outfits, and riding a motorcycle. 

Although entertaining and a perfectly fine way to pass the time, Batwoman brings very little to the Arrowverse. The central themes are inconsistent and confusing. However, if you don’t look for any deeper meaning, it serves its purpose as entertainment.

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