From the very beginning, one of the biggest questions surrounding Arrow and its various spinoffs has been whether Batman exists in this version of the DC Universe. There’s been an increasing amount of evidence over the years, but confirmation finally arrived with the news that the next Arrowverse crossover will introduce both Gotham City and Batwoman. We still may not actually see Batman on these shows, but at this point there’s little doubt he exists in the Arrowverse.
That’s great news, but it also has some disadvantages. Openly acknowledging the existence of Batman will force Arrow and the other “Arrowverse” shows to answer some difficult questions. Here are just a few problem areas:
Oliver Queen’s Origin Story
The five-year flashback story in Arrow provided a detailed account of how Oliver Queen survived the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit and slowly evolved from pampered rich kid to battle-hardened hero. When Ollie first returned to Star City and donned his hood in 2012, there was no indication that any other character had made that transformation. Unfortunately, this news implies that Bruce Wayne already beat him to it.
Having Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen exist in the same world is problematic. It makes Ollie’s origin story seem less special if we come to learn that he was just following in Batman’s footsteps (knowingly or unknowingly).
Unfortunately, there’s only so much to be done here. The writers could establish that Batman didn’t appear until after the Hood, but that seems like an even worse solution. He’s Batman, after all. The simple truth is that Green Arrow started his comic book career as a pretty blatant ripoff of Batman. The best the writers can do is acknowledge as much and work to differentiate the two characters and their respective missions as much as possible going forward. There’s also the potential to resurrect the flashbacks and establish that Ollie encountered Batman at some point during his five-year odyssey. Maybe Batman influenced him in ways we’ll come to learn.
The Ra’s al Ghul Dilemma
Arrow: Season 3 marked the first time the Arrowverse shows truly started to dabble in Batman’s world. Ra’s al Ghul served as the main antagonist of the season, attempting to recruit Ollie to be his heir and targeting Star City for destruction when that failed (basically, the same conflict Bruce and Ra’s have shared in many incarnations of the Batman mythos).
In hindsight, it seems pretty strange that neither Ra’s nor his daughters ever mentioned Bruce. It’s a shame, too, as the writers could have established that Ra’s saw recruiting Ollie as a way of making up for his failure with Bruce. Now the choice will come whether to retroactively explore the Batman/Ra’s connection or simply remove that link between the characters and have Green Arrow take Batman’s place in this universe.
Given that the League of Assassins is all but dead in the Arrowverse (along with Ra’s and Malcolm Merlyn), it may not even be worth the trouble of getting into the Batman family’s back-story with Ra’s. On the other hand, a resurgent League of Assassins could make for the perfect catalyst for a Green Arrow/Batwoman team-up.
Why Is Batman MIA?
Perhaps the biggest problem with suddenly acknowledging the existence of the Batman family after six years is that it highlights their absence during that time. Where has Batman been all this time? Given all the times the planet has been endangered by alien invasions and doomsday weapons, why haven’t Batman, Batwoman or their colleagues bothered to intervene? The Caped Crusader is an antisocial loner, sure, but the idea that he wouldn’t have shown up to help fight the Dominators or Damien Darhk strains credulity.
Again, the writers could simply reveal Batman and Batwoman as latecomers to the superhero scene, but that seems like a poor solution. The best option may be to create a story-based reason for Batman’s absence. Perhaps the Arrowverse Batman is like the Batman of the DCEU in that he’s an older, disillusioned hero who was languishing in quiet retirement until a recent tragedy pulled him back into the game. Another interesting possibility would be to reveal that Batman was wiped from the timeline entirely by a vengeful enemy, and the Legends manage to rewrite history to bring him back. Whatever the case, there will need to be some explanation for why Gotham’s heroes are only just now stepping out of the shadows.
The Batman of Another Earth?
The Arrowverse has dealt quite a bit with the multiverse concept. Not all of these heroes exist on the same world as Oliver Queen and Barry Allen. Perhaps the most elegant solution for introducing Batman and side-stepping these continuity problems is to make Batman and Batwoman residents of an alternate Earth. Maybe the Batman family lives on Earth-39 or Earth-27 instead of Earth-1.
Another option is to introduce Batwoman as a resident of Supergirl’s Earth-38. Supergirl already has a habit of emphasizing female characters over their male counterparts (Supergirl instead of Superman, Lena and Lillian Luthor over Lex), so making Batwoman a recurring character would be par for the course. Not to mention that Batwoman’s history with Maggie Sawyer in the comics could result in some strong material on the show.
Still, neither of these options would explain why Arrow has featured characters like Ra’s al Ghul and Harley Quinn or name-dropped Bruce Wayne. At the end of the day, there’s no point in trying to dance around these Batman-related problems. All the Arrowverse crew can do is acknowledge these issues, move forward, and start taking advantage of the new storytelling potential that comes from having Batman and Batwoman bump elbows with Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and the Legends.