Batwoman has had a long, hard flight to the small screen since first appearing in DC Comics as a beard for Batman in 1956. Last August, Australian actress Ruby Rose, who identifies as lesbian and genderfluid, was announced as the masked heroine in The CW’s latest comic book adaptation, Batwoman, premiering this fall. And, well, the internet immediately felt some kind of way about it.
Some thought Rose wasn’t gay enough to portray a lesbian superhero, while others took issue with her not being Jewish—Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman, was neither of these things in her original incarnation, but upon her reintroduction to the DC universe in 2006, after a four-decade absence, she got a makeover to reflect the changing times.
“It’s just narcissistic and weird,” Rose said of the possibility of returning to the social media platform to promote Batwoman. “I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t think we’re going to get the response we want. I can’t.”
As for the backlash against her, Rose insists she’s not losing any sleep over it. Aside from her “controversial perspective” that actors don’t “always need to be gay to play gay” and that she doesn’t always want to play gay because she is—Rose is just happy to be breaking new ground. She’s also fully aware how hallowed that ground is for queer comic book fans.
“I can’t please everybody and some people will love it, some people will like it, some people will have thought I wouldn’t be good and might be impressed,” Rose told The Times. “Some people might be like, ’I still hate her!’ And that’s fine. That’s life. I’m not going to be on my deathbed one day like, ’I wish strangers on the internet that I never met liked me more.'”
“I’m going to be thinking, This is so awesome I got to play Batwoman for the first time, and no one else had played her,” Rose continued. “That’s my legacy and I’m going to own that.”
We’ve already seen the pilot and can say that Rose, Kane, and Batwoman are plenty queer. Kane was drummed out of her military academy for having an affair with a fellow female student who now works for her distant and disapproving father. But there’s clearly still something between them, despite the fact that Kane’s former paramour is now married to a man. But while the series doesn’t shy away from Kane’s sexuality, it isn’t the driving force behind her character either. It’s simply part of who she is, and Rose seeks to rise to the challenge of portraying the first openly gay superhero to headline a live-action show or movie. Given the chance, she just might prove all the haters wrong.
Batwoman premieres October 6 on The CW.