Cast: Ruby Rose (“Orange is the New Black”), Dougray Scott (“Ever After: A Cinderella Story,” “Mission: Impossible 2”), Meagan Tandy (“Teen Wolf”), Rachel Skarsten (“Reign,” “Lost Girl), Camrus Johnson (“The Sun is Also a Star”)
Airs: The series premieres Sunday on The CW.
The premise: Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) yearns to be part of her father’s life, but he keeps her at a distance. She wants to join his highly regarded security firm, The Crows. But after being kicked out of the military academy she was attending, Kate has been ostracized. Sent abroad and shunned by her father, she channels her anger into years of rigorous physical training. Kate eventually returns home after the Alice in Wonderland gang attacks her father’s company and kidnaps her former training partner and ex-girlfriend, Sophie (Meagan Tandy).
“Batwoman” is produced by Greg Berlanti and is the latest show in the Arrowverse. It joins “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Highs: Batman’s backstory is famously tragic and spurs his motivation to become a vigilante. The same can be said for Kate Kane. Like her cousin, Bruce Wayne, she first dealt with tragedy as a child.
Young Kate was riding in a car with her mother and sister when a school bus, hijacked by goons of The Joker, rammed into their car. The violent collision left their car teetering over the edge of a bridge. Batman was on the scene and secured the car before going after the runaway bus. But the tethers anchoring the car didn’t hold, and it plunged over the edge. Kate managed to escape, but her mother and sister perished.
Kate’s life changed. Determined to never have to rely on Batman again, she poured herself into training with the goal of working for her father’s company. Her plan would be derailed by love, however. While enrolled at a military academy, she fell for a fellow student, Sophie. Their relationship was against academy rules. When it was exposed, Sophie denied it and Kate was expelled.
Unlike her younger self, seen often in the premiere with liberal use of flashbacks, today’s Kate is fully formed. Bright, fierce and street smart, this woman knows who she is and how to get things done. So when it comes to finding Sophie, it doesn’t take long.
Kate is also quick to realize her cousin’s alter ego. Although he hasn’t been around for almost three years, she finds solace and information in Bruce’s office at Wayne Enterprises. Bruce treated her like a little sister, so it’s like a second home for Kate. But she notices things as an adult that she didn’t as a child. And when she stumbles upon the Batcave, she decides to put it to good use.
Lows: Everything in the “Batwoman” premiere occurs at a breakneck pace. This is great for quickly filling in a new character’s backstory but not for developing a superhero. In the pilot, Kate Kane goes from being an extreme fitness fanatic to donning the Batwoman cowl in just 45 minutes.
The hero’s journey is essential to making him or her relatable to an audience. Told over time, it can bond a viewer/reader to a superhero as they’ve traveled that path along with the protagonist. To gloss over what drives Kate Kane is detrimental to the character and, therefore, the audience.
Grade: (B): With “Gotham” wrapping up this year, the TV landscape was in desperate need of stories to tell from the Batman universe. It’s a world that should consistently be explored. “Batwoman” appears ready to do just that.
Gazette TV critic Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.