After airing its first season on CBS, Supergirl's sophomore run is off to a good start on its new network, The CW. Despite picking up right where season 1 left off, Supergirl has experienced a bit of a soft reboot on The CW. While season 1 included only passing references to Kara's famous cousin, this year Supergirl has embraced the idea that Superman exists and features Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent in a guest starring role. Supergirl features additional characters from Superman lore, like Maggie Sawyer, Mon-El, Lena Luthor, and Jimmy Olsen, but the series' second season has not shied away from references to DC characters outside of those traditionally associated with Superman's family.
In the first episode of the second season DC's most famous city (well, one of them) is mentioned by a family after National City's recent tussle with danger. The unmistakable line? "We're moving back to Gotham." Well, with Gotham's existence in Supergirl's universe established, speculation immediately turned to whether the city's most notorious resident does as well. Fuel was added to the fire in this week's episode, 'The Darkest Place,' when Kara mentions that her cousin had once worked with a vigilante, one with "tons of gadgets, lots of demons." While not mentioning Bruce Wayne by name, Kara might as well have shined a big Bat-Signal in the sky.
With two references now to the Dark Knight, is it time fans start preparing for Batman's appearance on Supergirl? In short, no. It is highly unlikely that the higher ups at Warner Bros. would green light a Bruce Wayne appearance on The CW any time soon. Still, the references present an interesting question: should Batman exist in Supergirl's universe?
The More The Merrier
DC's various TV shows exist in a canonically separate universe from the movies, which allows for multiple iterations of the same character. Considering this, it only makes sense that Bruce Wayne would have a place in Supergirl's world, which currently exists within the greater "Arrowverse" (the collection of DC-based shows on The CW). This multiverse - which we know includes at least Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-3, Earth-19, and Earth-CBS - already features several characters that exist in the DCEU. The most notable of these characters is Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), but the Man of Steel is not the only character to have roles in both media concurrently.
The Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a role which has been assumed by Ezra Miller in the DCEU. Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot was played by Michael Rowe in Arrow and The Flash, while he is portrayed by Will Smith in Suicide Squad. Of course, Manu Bennett played Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke in the first three seasons of Arrow (and is teased to appear in the series' 100th episode), while Joe Manganiello is set to play the character in Justice League and Ben Affleck's The Batman. The Flash movie will also include another iteration of Iris West, and it has been rumored that Captain Cold will be a featured villain.
So, despite the common sentiment that DC won't allow many of its characters to appear in both the movies and TV shows, the evidence just does not back that up. Fans understand that Henry Cavill's Superman is not the same as Tyler Hoechlin's, and that Ezra Miller is not Grant Gustin. There is no reason to believe the audience would have trouble separating Ben Affleck and whoever would portray Batman on The CW. But hold on...
Over on Fox...
Bruce Wayne does already exist on television in Fox's Batman prequel series, Gotham, which is currently airing its third season. It likely will be several years before Bruce becomes Batman on Gotham, if it happens at all, but the seeds have been planted for that eventuality. While fans likely would have no trouble accepting separate television and film versions of the character, having three Batmans (Batmen) in circulation at once might start to get confusing.
Gotham presents another challenge with regards to Batman existing within Supergirl's universe: Many of the Dark Knight's most famous villains have already appeared the Fox series. While Bruce Wayne is still young, and thus could be differentiated from a matured version, several core members of Batman's Rogues Gallery have appeared on the show as adults, including Penguin, Hugo Strange, The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Clayface, Azrael, Mad-Hatter, Harvey Dent, and Mr. Freeze.
If Batman were to ever appear in Supergirl, who would he face? Starting to recast some of the above villains could confuse (or annoy) audiences. There are some who would argue, "Gotham sucks, who cares what they have done?" But while Gotham surely has its share of detractors, the series' ratings exceed (or equal, in the case of The Flash) those of the The CW series. But wait...
Think of the Crossovers
One of the best parts of the growing Arrowverse is the potential for massive crossovers. We are now just one week away from the four-show crossover, titled "Invasion!" Even if Batman were not to get his own Arrowverse show (and let's face it, he won't), he could make an appearance in one of the season's big crossover events. The possibilities are endless: Just imagine how awesome it would be to see Batman, Superman, and J'onn J'onzz uniting to face a common threat. Throw in Supergirl and grab The Flash from Earth-1, for good measure, and you pretty much have the Justice League (we're getting greedy if we expect Wonder Woman too).
The Arrowverse has already made a passing mention of what could unite these heroes: a Thanagarian invasion. This concept was mentioned in season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow as the reason the Time Masters were aligned with Vandal Savage, and the alien race was teased in the most recent Supergirl as well - Mon-El tells Kara that the bars holding them are made of Nth metal from Thanagar. The series have essentially put in place all the ingredients necessary to adapt the animated Justice League episode, 'Starcrossed,' which features the invaders from Thanagar.
Of course, this is just one idea, and complete conjecture. Still, adding Batman to a universe that already includes so many classic Justice League members would seem to be a no-brainer. Except...
The Dark Knight Casts a Large Shadow
One risk Greg Berlanti and team faced by introducing Clark Kent was the possibility of overshadowing Supergirl in her own show. Let's face it, Superman is an American classic and one of the greatest comic book heroes in history. So, whenever the Man of Steel appears in anything the spotlight immediately shines on him. To be fair, Supergirl did a great job introducing Superman without overshadowing the star of the series, Supergirl. In fact, it was quite the remarkable feat. The two episodes in which Tyler Hoechlin's Superman appeared still felt like they were about Supergirl. The question is: can this be replicated with Batman?
If Superman is not the greatest comic book hero, it is because the title belongs to Batman. If Bruce Wayne were ever to appear on Supergirl, it would be an arduous task preventing the show from becoming all about the Dark Knight. And this could be a problem, especially if it is just a one time thing. There is already that lingering question regarding Superman's whereabouts when Kara is in trouble. Why doesn't she call him - or chat him - now that Cadmus has resurfaced? That question would undoubtedly extend to Batman as well.
Further, it would be difficult not to speculate on what Batman is doing when he is not appearing on Supergirl. This, of course, is not much of an issue if he were to receive his own show within the Arrowverse, but that is astronomically unlikely. Regardless...
He Already Exists, Right?
What Supergirl has done with their nods to Gotham City and Batman is pretty much confirm that the Dark Knight exists within its universe. Let's be honest, if Gotham exists, which it does, so does Bruce Wayne. One cannot be without the other. Further, as Supergirl takes place in a world where Superman has been active for quite some time, it would make sense that Batman would have some history. Now, with this week's reference to a masked vigilante with "tons of gadgets" and "lots of demons" it is all but certain that the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight have collaborated in this universe.
So, given that Bruce Wayne undoubtedly exists in some form on Earth-CBS, Supergirl might as well embrace this reality - especially after the decision to include Superman. After all, any world that has a Superman needs its own Bruce Wayne. The logistics of including Batman in the Arrowverse may be complicated, but that does not mean it cannot be done.
Perhaps Bruce Wayne is aged, much like in the DCEU, and operates less as Batman but more as a mentor to a successor - maybe Nightwing? We know that Bludhaven exists on Earth-1 (as mentioned on Arrow in connection to Tobias Church), so it could theoretically also exist on Earth-CBS. Regardless, there are ways to include Bruce Wayne without encroaching on the other properties.
Do we have a verdict?
While it is almost certain that Batman will not be appearing any time soon, the seeds have certainly been planted. Bruce Wayne almost undoubtedly exists on Supergirl's Earth, but whether he will appear in the flesh at some point in the future is less certain.
If there is one comic book character, however, that could appear in three iterations concurrently, it would be Batman. Bruce Wayne and his alter ego are beloved by so many fans, it is hard to imagine many actively rooting against his appearance in DC's most cohesive universe to date. The important thing becomes doing it right: If Greg Berlanti and company ever decided (and were allowed) to introduce Bruce Wayne in a substantial role, care would have to be taken. But if done right, his inclusion creates endless opportunities for the future of DC's television universe.
What do you think? Should Batman exist in Supergirl's universe? Is there room for more than just passing references to him? Let us know in the comments!
Supergirl continues Monday November 28 with ‘Medusa’ at 8pm on The CW.