Batwoman: First Impressions

Well, the Arrowverse has another show…

I’ve been watching these shows since the beginning and have always enjoyed them, especially the crossovers, so I was looking forward to seeing what they could do by adding a member of the Bat-Family to the mix. We got a taste of it last year, during the Elseworlds crossover event between Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl. In that arc, Batwoman seems to have established herself as a hero in Gotham, and we got a glimpse of Batman’s rogues gallery (probably the greatest rogues gallery of any single superhero in all of comics, though I would hear an argument for Spider-Man’s), when the heroes visited Arkham Asylum; we saw hints at Riddler, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and several others. I still wonder whether they’ll dip into that well, or if they’ll try to separate Batwoman’s story from Batman, but I was definitely interested after that initial glimpse. I have to say, the pilot did not deliver in the way I was hoping, while still setting up for a show that Arrowverse fans, including myself, will watch (not sure anyone else will watch though).

The series begins with Kate Kane somewhere in the world, being trained. For what? We don’t really know. She is called back to Gotham when her ex-girlfriend is kidnapped and she joins in the search for her. During that search, she discovers that her missing cousin, Bruce Wayne, was Batman (who has also, coincidentally, disappeared). From there, the story follows a pretty typical superhero origin arc, where she decides to don the cowl and go after the bad guys.

Nothing here should be a spoiler, given this is the first episode in a series that needs to establish its hero’s origin story. There are a few twists and turns along the way, however, I won’t spoil those here

If you’re looking at the Arroverse shows and expecting MCU quality CGI or fight scenes, you’re going to be disappointed. The CGI is passable and the fight scenes are pretty standard for these shows. The thing that allows these shows to stick around, despite their lower quality when compared to the movies, is because they tell human stories, through the lens of superheroes. And here, Batwoman fits the bill, while containing the cliché CW dramatic bits, like love interest tension and parent-child conflicts. The acting, however, leaves a bit to be desired but I don’t think that’s the fault of the actors in this instance.

The biggest problem with the Batwoman pilot was that you knew how the story would end once it starts. When Kate Kaine was introduced back in Elseworlds, she was already Batwoman. Therefore I spent a lot of time during the pilot wondering where this season fits in the overall Arrowverse timeline, and I think the show suffers from having to go back to the beginning.

I can’t help but think that having the show pick up after Elseworlds, with origin flashbacks mixed in (such as in Arrow), may have been a better choice than a true origin story, however, I understand the choice to create something inherently different than Arrow, rather than rehashing the same points.

Batwoman suffers, I think, from wanting to be in the middle of its story but needing to tell the beginning. It remains to be seen whether this was just the pilot trying to feel itself out and the rest of the series will stick the landing better. Compare that to Arrow which, even in its early stages, had a clear story it was trying to tell. Its aim was to use the stories of the main character’s past to mirror his present, and that was clear from the outset.

I am always a proponent of sticking with a show through its uncertain early days (case in point: Parks and Recreation, which had a lackluster first season still turned it around and became a beloved show), so I’ll continue watching. This pilot definitely benefits from being a part of the Arrowverse. Thanks to Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning, Batwoman probably didn’t have to deliver as much with the pilot as Arrow did back when it premiered in 2012. This is not to say they phoned it in, but it definitely wasn’t as good as I was hoping. All of that said, if you’re a fan of these other shows, you’ll probably enjoy Batwoman.

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