First reviews are optimistic Batwoman can breathe fresh life into the 'Arrowverse.'
Batwoman begins tonight with Ruby Rose in the title role.
First reviews are mixed but optimistic, with Rose described as being at her best when she is allowed to be fun and snarky.
If you love origin stories, then you’re probably going to love the series premiere of Batwoman. It is filled with origin story calling cards: a training sequence; flashbacks that tell a story but not the whole story; our main character providing a voiceover; and plenty of exposition to explain everything that’s happening. It’s a lot to take in, but hey, that just seems to be how series premieres work these days.
It’s hard to read too much into a pilot, but so far so good. I am getting a little tired of the CW’s brand of PG-13 superheroes these days with so much other good stuff out there from the now-dead Netflix shows to Titans and Doom Patrol to non-traditional Marvel and DC stuff like The Boys and the upcoming Watchmen series. The Arrowverse as a whole is starting to feel its age, but perhaps Batwoman can breathe fresh life into it as Arrow leaves. More to come.
Rose, a once controversial choice for the role, does her best to reveal the flickers of pain underneath Kate’s steadfast stoicism, particularly in flashbacks to a time when she was far less jaded than she is by the time we meet her. She’s at her best when Kate gets to be a little fun and snarky, a dynamic the first “Batwoman” episode only has time to let her do with her chipper step-sister Mary (Nicole Kang) and Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), Lucius Fox’s more neurotic son who can only watch in horror as Kate keeps uncovering more of Bruce’s secrets. There are a few plot twists, none very surprising, but satisfying nonetheless. The pilot is otherwise jam-packed with plot, standard Gotham mythology, and some unfortunately flat acting that hopefully will all become more multi-faceted in future episodes.
Batwoman is very much an Arrowverse series under the Berlanti umbrella and comes with all the highs and lows that distinction brings. The action is inconsistent and sometimes edited and shrouded in atmospheric smoke to incomprehensible levels. But occasionally it’s top-notch, like a premiere episode brawl between Kate and Alice’s mask-wearing thugs that gives off Daredevil-lite vibes in the way it moves from area to area and level to level of a warehouse. The show also very clearly works to gather the ensemble that’ll likely become Team Batwoman for future crossover potential, most notably Camrus Johnson‘s techy Luke Fox, son of Wayne Enterprise’s gadget maestro Lucius Fox, and Kate’s step-sister Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), who runs an off-the-books medical facility with stolen Gotham University supplies
Even if they only cross over once per calendar year, The CW’s DC Comics adaptations, all produced by Greg Berlanti, are designed to function almost as nesting dolls. Whatever minor differences they might have in terms of tone or voice or scale or acknowledgment of superpowers, it’s much easier to point to fundamental similarities in storytelling, style and and aesthetics. The true outlier in this group is the loopy anarchy of Legends of Tomorrow, which not coincidentally has emerged as easily the creative leader of the pack. They can’t all be outliers, and for all of the pre-premiere emphasis on the things that make its heroine different — She’s gay! She might be Jewish! — what’s most immediately apparent about The CW’s new action drama Batwoman is how limitedly distinctive it is. There are advantages to this, namely how few growing pains Batwoman experiences from the character’s debut in last fall’s multi-show crossover. Legends of Tomorrow, in contrast, went from crossover to excruciatingly uneven first season before finding itself. Still, it’s hard not to feel like at one point, Batwoman was aspiring to be something more radical and adventurous than a by-the-numbers origin story leading to a female-centric Arrow. Thus far, it is not.
The show falls under the aegis of mega-producer Greg Berlanti, whose deft touch overseeing the DC-CW-Warner Bros. portfolio has been impressive in its scope, and notable for its ambitious, tender-loving approach to the material. (DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. are, like CNN, units of WarnerMedia.) Yet while there are nice touches and considerable technical polish in the first two episodes, Batwoman brings with her the baggage and expectations associated with decades of the Dark Knight. The character’s brooding nature also works against the drama, unlike something like “Supergirl,” which is defined in part by star Melissa Benoist’s vulnerability despite all those powers. That doesn’t mean “Batwoman” is beyond hope, only that the series doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, and appears short on arrows in its quiver, to borrow from another DC-CW staple. If that dynamic doesn’t improve, other than the most loyal acolytes of the DC universe, it’s a poor candidate for committing many more nights to it, dark or otherwise.