Ruby Rose stars in a drab Batwoman series that is more frustrating that foreshadowing, says Hank Stuever. "While I’d love to offer Batwoman as the ideal antidote to the macho psychosis of Hollywood’s new Joker movie, I’m sorry to report that, despite her big talk, Batwoman is pretty much a nobody on the TV screen, a dud as both a vigilante crime-fighter and a ticked-off relative with unresolved grief issues," he says. "Mostly, she’s just another paint-by-numbers CW superhero, joining a collection of other, steadfastly rote shows (Supergirl, The Flash the soon-departing Arrow) from executive producer Greg Berlanti (and, in Batwoman’s case, writer Caroline Dries). We all know there’s a deficit of female superheroes. Supergirl, launched with such satisfying vim four years ago on CBS, migrated to CW, where it has fluttered and flattened out to almost nothing. Batwoman is a missed opportunity to take a character who is unfamiliar to pop-culture passersby (she’s only been around in comic-book form since 2006, a relative newborn to the genre) and push her past whatever comic-book gender boundaries remain. Yet, when it comes to both expectation and example, this Batwoman feels disappointingly curtailed, as if she’s holding something back."
Batwoman doesn’t seem so sure of its own existence: "Going into Batwoman I wondered if the show would fall victim to Arrow’s problem of making Green Arrow into a Walmart-issued Batman, but the problem with Kate Kane isn’t that she’s been flattened into a watered-down version of Bruce Wayne," says Angelica Jade Bastién. "Rather, it’s that she exists too much in his shadow, with the leaden voice-over that drowns out the series taking its cues from the letters Kate writes Bruce. The show doesn’t seem to know how to handle Bruce’s absence, so he’s mentioned at every turn, making Kate feel less like a person with her own story than someone grafted onto his."
Batwoman cannot escape Bruce Wayne: "The Batman plotline works as a setup for Kane’s eventual transformation into Batwoman, of course, but this was already established in last year’s 'Elseworlds' crossover," says Andrew Husband. "And while the pilot should perform due diligence by referencing this fact, both it and the second episode, 'The Rabbit Hole,' spend a lot of time unpacking Bruce’s sudden disappearance, Kate’s misgivings about his mysterious bachelor life and the apparent apathy of his masked alter ego. A few simple flashbacks or expositional scenes would have done the trick. Which is a shame, because whenever Batwoman veers away from the Batman story and focuses entirely on Kane’s, it shines like the best of the Arrowverse."