‘TELL me, Bruce, what’s the difference between being hopeful and being crazy?’ asks Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, in the voiceover to this latest entry into the Arrowverse. Way to go Kate/Bat for putting your finger/bat-claw right on the zeitgeist.
The Bruce in question is, of course, Bruce Wayne. But Gotham’s caped hero has been missing in action for three years — the aforementioned question is directed quiveringly into the dark night air — so his cousin, Kate, desperate to uncover the fate of her missing presumed dead twin Beth, is the woman for the job.
That’s the deftly handled set-up for a brisk spin on the superhero genre that, while it’s hardly a game-changer, brings some fresh ingredients to the table. As played with feisty spirit by Ruby Rose, Batwoman is an out and proud — if beset by personal demons — lesbian although the point is never laboured. Our heroine’s matter-of-fact sexuality feels like a long overdue step forward for the superhero universe.
And it gives a shot of pep to Batwoman’s face-offs with arch-rival Alice (a mysterious leader of the Wonderland gang), who may or may not be a reincarnation of the late Beth. Rachel Skarsten rips up the screen as Alice, giving the role the full Joker it needs.
That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the script rarely matches the zip of the performances, labouring to be more than mere exposition. So it will take a few more episodes for Batwoman to truly take flight — and she’s yet to find the definitive look promised in the promo shots — but for now she’s just fine to hang out with.