While Marvel have made huge strides to increase LGBT representation in the comics, little has been done to diversify the studio's output onscreen. In contrast, their nearest rival DC have embraced gay characters with open arms within their TV schedule.
Not only has the openly bisexual Sara Lance played a prominent role in CW's superhero line-up, starring in both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, she's since been joined by a number of other LGBT characters, including police captain David Singh on The Flash and Arrow regular Curtis Holt.
After CW announced that Supergirl would be joining the network, the show runners confirmed that five new characters will be added to the show, including another LGBT character called Maggie Sawyer. That's not all though. If SDCC rumors are to be believed, DC may be adding a few more prominent heroes to the Flarrowverse in the very near future, including Batman, Oracle and Maggie's longterm girlfriend, Batwoman.
Batman is clearly the biggest name here and if the rumors are true, his inclusion in the Flarrowverse will certainly be a game changer, but if handled right, Batwoman could be the most important character of them all.
Who Is Batwoman?
The imaginatively named Batwoman first appeared in 1956 to dispel rumours that the Dark Knight was gay. Unfortunately, the character proved to be unpopular and faded into comic book obscurity soon after. Over fifty years later, DC decided to bring the heroine back during one of their numerous retcons, reimagining Kate Kane as a relative of the first Batwoman who fought crime with the aid of her army training.
From the outset, DC made it clear that this new Batwoman is gay, integrating her sexuality into the heroine's daily crime-fighting exploits. LGBT issues such as gay relationships and the 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy were handled with sensitivity for the most part, appealing to a wide range of comic book readers, regardless of their own sexuality.
Kate's romantic relationship with detective Maggie Sawyer was particularly progressive for the most part — that is, until DC decided to veto their marriage in 2013, suddenly throwing the publisher into the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons. The cancellation of the couple's wedding led to a huge fallout, where two members of the creative team subsequently left in defiance of the publisher's questionable judgement.
What Role Could Batwoman Play on Supergirl?
We already know that detective Maggie Sawyer will play a recurring role on Supergirl, one which will probably exploit the pair's shared connection with Superman that also provides Kara a vital link to National City's police force — but what about Maggie's girlfriend?
The rumours suggest that Batwoman will also feature regularly on the show as Sawyer's ex-girlfriend, whose crime fighting escapades will occasionally bring her to National City with Oracle in tow. Whether we will see Kate suit up vigilante-style and join Kara in the good fight remains to be seen, but it would surprising if the show runners didn't have that in mind.
Why is Batwoman Important?
For too long, the limited diversity in Marvel and DC comics has had a harmful impact on people struggling to see an important part of themselves reflected in their heroes. Visibility is certainly improving, but stereotypes still abound.
What's so impressive about Batwoman though is how starred in one of the publisher's most popular comics without ever resorting to LGBT stereotypes, all while stepping out of the Dark Knight's considerable shadow.
It may seem like a missed opportunity to portray Sawyer and Kane onscreen without actually showing them together, but in reality, this could be a far more progressive approach to LGBT representation, one that ultimately does more good than a typically functional lesbian relationship ever could.
People break up. Whether they're gay, straight or something else entirely, couples regularly drift apart; It's a fact of life. Keeping Maggie and Kate apart could actually be an ingenious way to explore the complexities of modern day relationships, treating their love as something entirely normal and commonplace.
The idea that CW could be willing to explore a LGBT relationship without resorting either to stereotypes or pandering to tokenism is one that is all too rare on TV these days. The closest that the CW has come to this is through the character of Sara Lance, whose bisexual portrayal was a landmark moment for LGBT representation in live action comic book properties. Portraying a lesbian superhero associated with a brand as famous as Batman's could elevate this to a whole new level.
Whether we see any more LGBT characters join the CW network or the DCEU is currently up for debate, but if Supergirl does decide to showcase Batwoman in this light, then she could end up having a far more important impact on the Flarrowverse and TV at large than Batman ever could.
Do you think Batwoman will ever appear in the Flarrowverse? Which LGBT superheroes would you like to see onscreen? Let us know in the comments section below.
Source: Bleeding Cool