Not surprisingly at today’s CW panels at TCA, journalists in the audience took note of the fact that the new Batwoman series breaks ground by introducing TV’s first “out and proud” gay superhero, Kate Kane’s Batwoman, portrayed by Australian Ruby Rose, an out and proud lesbian in real life.
Despite the CW’s touted commitment to diversity, however, the network can’t take credit for the original breakthrough.
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After today’s panel, Executive Producer Caroline Dries offered a capsule version of the history of the DC Comics character. Batwoman was introduced as a love interest for Batman in 1956, largely as an answer to a publication that accused Batman and sidekick Robin of promoting a gay lifestyle (Robin got a gal pal too in the form of Batwoman’s niece, Batgirl).
Batwoman was eventually dropped from the story, to be reincarnated as a lesbian character in 2006. The character was also presented as Jewish. The pilot episode makes it abundantly clear that Batwoman is lesbian, but producers said they regretted the fact that direct references to a bat mitzvah and her Jewish background ended up being cut from the dialogue in the debut.
“Kate Kane is a Jewish woman,” asserted Dries. She said that while the series presents the character’s religious background as “not a huge thing” in the story, producers are looking for ways to make sure her Jewishness is evident on screen.
Rose joked a bit when she was asked if she would become CW’s next dark and brooding superhero, given the fact that the CW is losing brooding superhero Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) when Arrow goes off the air after the show’s 8th season. “I brood a little,” Rose said.
However, she’s more concerned with presenting a positive role model for CW’s young audience. She has spoken publicly about being bullied in her youth and said she did not believe the situation is much better for today’s gay young people.
She is particularly proud of scenes in which Kate Kane is ousted from her military training because of her relationship with another woman. “Don’t ask, don’t tell, that was an experience I’ve had in my life…I was immediately like, there’s a lot of weight on this scene,” she said.
On a lighter note, Rose said audiences may see more interaction between Batwoman and Supergirl on the CW’s signature DC crossover episodes. Of the upcoming episode, she added: “It’s going to be a really big crossover.”
The panel also included Executive Producer Sarah Schechter and cast members Dougray Scott, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson and Elizabeth Anweis.