What Is the Difference Between Batgirl and Batwoman?

There’s a lot of Bat-people in DC Comics. But rest assured, Batwoman and Batgirl are very different.

In the world of comics, the biggest goal is to constantly keep the stories fresh. Over the course of many decades, characters evolve and are reinvented. But it still falls to the creative teams to expand the world in new and interesting ways. Of course, some ideas start to sound similar after a while.

For those unfamiliar with comics, this can lead to some confusion. One key example comes directly from DC Comics. With Batman one of its most popular characters, the company has attempted to spin the Dark Knight’s world out into other heroes, most notably Robin.

But Gotham City has also been home to several other characters whose names sound a bit too close to Batman’s. For instance, both Batgirl and Batwoman have prowled the rooftops of Gotham City at various points. Yet, how are these two figures different? Well, for starters, they’re completely different characters.

Ruby Rose, the star of 'Batwoman'
Ruby Rose, the star of ‘Batwoman’ | Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

The CW features the first live-action ‘Batwoman’

Nowadays, Batwoman is making headlines thanks to The CW show starring Ruby Rose. This interpretation sees Rose star as Kate Kane. And she is the first live-action version of the character. Introduced to DC Comics in 2006, Batwoman was actually introduced at first as a hero inspired by Batman. She even protected Gotham City in his absence at one point.

Yet, she ultimately shifted into being Bruce Wayne’s cousin and has gained notoriety for her representation of both the Jewish and LGBT communities. Also, unlike other Batman-related heroes, she doesn’t typically work alongside the Caped Crusader. Rather, as she does on The CW’s Batwoman, the hero fights crime independent of her famous cousin.

Warner Bros. is developing a ‘Batgirl’ movie

Batgirl, on the other hand, has a much longer history with Batman. Although several different characters have carried the name Batgirl, she is most often depicted as Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon. Batgirl joined DC Comics in 1961 and has since become an essential ally to Batman on numerous occasions.

Her only big-screen appearance so far though was Batman & Robin, in which Alicia Silverstone played Batgirl. However, unlike Batwoman, Batgirl — much like Robin — is best known as a sidekick of sorts to Batman. The character didn’t get her own comic until 2000. Her depiction in the comics has also been the subject of controversy too, most notably in regards to her treatment in 1988’s iconic one-shot The Killing Joke.

The ‘Bat Family’ has expanded a ton over the years

Although Batman is still the best-known protector of Gotham City, DC Comics has given the Caped Crusader many more allies over the years. In fact, his closest ones have become known as the “Batman family.” The Lego Batman Movie leaned heavily on this evolution, centering on Alfred Pennyworth, Robin, and Batgirl.

But Batman’s entourage also extends to Nightwing — the current alter ego of Dick Grayson, the first Robin — and Oracle, a title taken on by Barbara Gordon years after she stopped being Batgirl. Batwoman has also worked with Batman from time to time, though she’s not a full-time team member.

In some comics, Bruce Wayne even acknowledged he had been funding Batman for years. He eventually sets up a company called Batman Incorporated to take the Dark Knight’s mission global. Accordingly, he has established many allies both at home and among the larger DC universe.

Of course, Batman remains a key member of the Justice League, in addition to his own operations. So the “Bat Family” offers just a small glimpse of the extensive list of allies he has turned to over the years. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Zatanna are all individuals with whom he’s established a close bond.