Warning! SPOILERS for Batwoman's series premiere ahead.
Batwoman's series premiere reveals the Arrowverse's origins for Kate Kane's vigilantism, and in doing so, introduces audiences to Batwoman's very own arch nemesis - Alice. The premiere episode also includes the bombshell revelation that Alice isn't just another themed Gotham villain out to cause chaos, but is actually the sister Kate believes died when they where children. Fans of DC Comics' Batwoman will already be aware of this familial connection between the two, but how else does the Arrowverse's Alice compare to her comic book counterpart?
This year brings many changes to The CW's line-up of Arrowverse shows. For one, the series that started it all, Arrow, is ending with season 8. There's also the upcoming crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which will see many different versions of DC Comics characters from across not just The CW's multiverse of shows, but former shows based on DC Comics properties, like Smallville, join forces to stop the Anti-Monitor from wiping out all of existence. Amid all of this upheaval, Kate Kane aka Batwoman is finally debuting in her own solo series following her introduction in the previous crossover, Elseworlds. And of course, joining Batwoman is her most iconic villain - Alice.
The Batwoman pilot introduces quite a bit of backstory for its heroine in just a single episode, but the setup for the twist that Alice is Kate's sister, Beth is one of the most important details. And now that The CW has properly introduced their Batwoman and her Joker-like arch enemy, how does this Alice compare with the villainess in the comics?
Alice's DC Comics Origin
First and foremost, Beth Kane is Kate's twin sister. The pair are the daughters of Jacob and Gabrielle Kane (née Wayne, the sister of Thomas Wayne, Bruce's father), military intelligence officers whose work would often see their family frequently on the move. Because of this, Kate and Beth are especially close as children, even for twins, and the sisters are nearly inseparable. Sadly, tragedy strikes when Gabrielle and her daughters are kidnapped by terrorists, an event that results in both Gabrielle and Beth being killed, leaving Kate to be discovered by Jacob as the sole survivor.
From that point on, Kate truly believed her sister to be dead, and is regularly haunted by memories of the incident - including the sight of her sister's dead (though somewhat obscured) body. Years later, however, once Kate begins operating under the guise of Batwoman, she meets a deranged and dangerous villain - Alice, a leader in the cult known as the Religion of Crime. Alice dresses in Victorian garb, paints her face white, and speaks almost exclusively in lines from Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland. As a leader within the Religion of Crime, Alice works to fulfill a prophecy from the cult's Crime Bible that calls for the death of the "twice named daughter of Kane", believed to be Batwoman.
Alice and Batwoman repeatedly clash, eventually meeting in a climactic battle high above Gotham City in a stolen military plane. During their fight, they both almost fall to their deaths through the open hanger doors, but Batwoman holds on, grasping Alice's hand as well. At this moment, Alice looks up at Batwoman and speaks not in Carrol's riddles but a normal speech pattern and tone, saying simply: ''You have our father's eyes," before brandishing a hidden knife and stabbing Batwoman's arm, forcing her to let go of Alice's hand. Alice appears to plummet to her death, but her body is never found. Kate later checks a sample of Alice's DNA against her own and confirms that Alice is, indeed, her sister Beth.
Exactly how Beth's death as child was faked and how she came to work for the Religion of Crime is a mystery the comics have yet to fully reveal, but she has since turned up again in other Batwoman stories. In some appearances, she seems to recall her true self as Beth, and has even sought out psychiatric help for her trauma and resulting mental illness. In fact, her Alice persona is likely a coping mechanism Beth clung to as a young child, finding solace in a favorite storybook character after being stolen from her family and brainwashed by a cult.
Alice's Arrowverse Origin
When it comes to adapting DC Comics' Alice for The CW Batwoman series, a few of the details in her origin have been changed. For starters, judging by the casting of actresses Ruby Rose and Rachel Skarsten as Kate and Beth Kane, respectively, it doesn't appear the two are intended to be twin sisters. (If so, they are fraternal and not identical as they are in the comics.) The Arrowverse's Alice also does not appear to be affiliated with an organization like the Religion of Crime and is instead the leader of her own group, The Wonderland Gang. This isn't to say an overarching enemy like the Religion of Crime won't be introduced later on, but as of Batwoman's pilot episode, Alice seems to be her own boss with her own mysterious motives.
The biggest difference with The CW's Alice, however, is the means by which she appears to die as child. Unlike in the comics, Kate's mother and sister die in an accident when their car falls off a bridge. Kate is again the only survivor, but in another interesting twist, Batman is also present and shown being unable to save Gabrielle and Beth - something which Kate blames him for. By the end of the Batwoman pilot, Kate begins to realize that this Alice may be her sister Beth, but instead of the reveal coming after several encounters, she pieces it together from learning that Batwoman never found Beth's body and recognizing the jewel in the hilt of Alice's knife as the one from the necklace her sister was wearing the day of the accident. The episode then later seemingly confirms Kate's hunch by showing Alice with an old photograph of Kate and Beth as children.
Just how Alice's somewhat altered origin will affect her characterization on Batwoman is unclear, if it even does at all. Her familial connection with Kate remains the most important component of her character, and surely, Batwoman will continue to mine this relationship for drama as the series continues. Just what will happen as more people - especially Kate and Beth's father, Jacob - learn the truth of Gotham's latest villain remains to be seen, but it's almost certain Alice will be the thorn in Batwoman's side that the Joker is in her cousin's.
Batwoman season 1 continues next Sunday, October 13 with "The Rabbit Hole" at 8pm/9c on The CW.