Batwoman leaps into the crowded world of Dark Knight TV offshoots

Batwoman leaps into the crowded world of Dark Knight TV offshoots
The CW
Ruby Rose as Batwoman

The Batman movies are at a bit of a crossroads, but the Dark Knight is casting a long shadow in television.

Batwoman is the latest character to join the parade of peripheral players making an appearance — as a teaser for a proposed series — in this week’s episode of “Arrow” on the CW network. It’s part of the CW’s three-night crossover event, which combines its DC series “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Supergirl.”

Batwoman is played by actress Ruby Rose, and the proposed show would be the first to star a LGBTQ superhero if it becomes its own stand-alone series.

The character is just the latest masked vigilante within an increasingly crowded universe, as DC Comics and Warner Brothers (like CNN, both units of WarnerMedia) look to leverage a signature franchise across television.

“Gotham,” the Batman prequel, begins its final season on Fox in January, building toward a finish that will incorporate the character’s origin. And a spinoff from that show, “Pennyworth,” built around Batman’s loyal butler Alfred in his earlier years, is being produced as a 10-episode series for the pay channel Epix. Jack Bannon will play the title role.

Warner Bros. also is using the franchise as the cornerstone for DC Universe, a streaming subscription network designed to reach hardcore comics fans. The first live-action series, “Titans,” is a dark, gritty premium-TV show, featuring Robin and other members of the Teen Titans. Notably, the grown-up Boy Wonder’s first reference to Batman was a not-suitable-for-primetime expletive.

The studio has clearly realized there are plenty of possibilities surrounding its Bat brand, especially when producers have the latitude to target shows more narrowly to passionate niche audiences.

The expansion comes as DC has relaxed its self-imposed restrictions — adopted to avoid diluting the Batman movies — about expanding the Batman universe on television.

At a screening of the crossover episodes last week, producer Caroline Dries — who is developing a Batwoman pilot — said that given past concerns, the writers were shocked by their newfound freedom to weave Gotham City, the crime-ridden metropolis that Bruce Wayne calls home, into its storylines.

On the theatrical front, another Batman movie is in the works from “War for the Planet of the Apes” director Matt Reeves, although details have largely been kept under wraps. Ben Affleck apparently won’t be involved.

Despite the early fanfare, it remains to be seen whether Batwoman/Kate Kane — the moonlighting billionaire’s cousin, introduced in the comics in 2006 — will earn an order for a full series. But if she does make that leap — joining others heroes with a connection to DC’s “bat” mythology — she’ll have a fair amount of company.