Like Robin, many women have taken up the identity of Batgirl.Bold
indicates current identity.
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Batgirl I / Oracle (Barbara "Babs" Gordon)
"A little over a year has passed since my old life ended, since I died and was reborn. The shadows remain, but only to give contrast to the light. I am no longer a distaff impersonation of someone else — I’m me, more me than I have ever been. I embrace it, and the light, with a deep, continuing joy."
Click here to see Barbara as Batgirl:
The most popular and recognizable of the Batgirls, mainly due to originating in the 1960s television series
and then appearing on the animated series
before being the only Batgirl to appear in a feature film. Barbara Gordon was the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon, who debuted by foiling a kidnapping attempt made by Killer Moth. Unlike Batman and Robin, who were possessed of pasts filled with angst, Barbara was a relatively lighthearted and cheerful crimefighter whose motivation was completely altruistic.
and Bat-Girl (characters introduced during the Silver Age
), who were merely female counterparts to the Dynamic Duo, Barbara was completely independent of male superheroes, being a representation of the feminist movements of the 1960s (she even had a PhD; however, she was only allowed to be a brown belt in judo).
Anyone who pays sufficient attention to the comics nowadays, however, knows that she has passed on the mantle of Batgirl and taken up the motif of the computer expert Oracle. Why? It all started in The Killing Joke
, which had the Joker shoot her, paralyzing her from the waist down. Alan Moore
intended for it to be a non-canon one-shot, but the story proved to be so influential that DC decided to adapt it into the mainstream continuity. John Ostrander's lauded Suicide Squad
series then set her up with the Oracle role, with Ostrander's wife Kim Yale being instrumental in her progression.
Incidentally, Barbara's identity as Oracle is arguably more important in the DC universe than her role as Batgirl ever was. Of course, despite being primarily the brains of the Bat-family, she can still fight off anyone who's not a world-class martial arts expert, thanks to tutelage under Richard Dragon. She later became the de facto leader of the Birds of Prey team.
She has returned to her role as Batgirl in the New 52
, having regained the use of her legs thanks to years of physical therapy. However, the events of The Killing Joke
- Action Girl: Even in a wheelchair, she can still kick ass.
- Ascended Fangirl: Originally, her Batgirl costume was home-made, and was apparently made out of sheer admiration for the Dynamic Duo.
- In Batgirl: Year One, she made the costume to piss her dad off at a policeman's costume party and ended up saving the day. In this version, she's a fangirl of Black Canary, instead of Batman and Robin.
- Badass Boast: "You've escaped, and you think the world is a huge place, and you can hide anywhere, right? I'm here to tell you... That world? I own it. Your world is getting smaller by the second, and you can't hide anywhere from me."
- Badass Bookworm: Even as Batgirl, she is a bookworm, physically unimposing and underestimated. As Oracle, she's in a wheelchair and still capable of kicking the ass of various muggers, five Men In Black and the elite secret agent Spysmasher on different occasions, in addition to being a master strategist with a photographic memory, unmatched computer skills and genius-level intellect.
- Berserk Button: Harming her father.
- Beta Couple: With Nightwing.
- Cain and Abel: The Abel to James Gordon Jr.'s Cain.
- The Chessmaster
- Combat Stilettos
- Daddy's Girl: Is extremely close with her father.
- Disabled Love Interest: To Nightwing, while she was Oracle.
- Dual Wielding: Like Nightwing, she likes to use Escrima Sticks while fighting as Oracle.
- Everything Is Online
- Fiery Redhead
- Genius Cripple: Poster girl for this trope.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Sometimes written this way, given Nightwing's tendency to attract women, even unintentionally.
- Handicapped Badass: She's kept her upper-body muscles from atrophying in case she has to fight, which she actually does should the situation require it.
- Happily Adopted: Post-Crisis-but-Pre-Flashpoint, she was the niece of Jim Gordon who was adopted after her parents died in a car accident. The New 52 has taken this out of her history, as she is now Jim's biological daughter with his first wife.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Black Canary.
- Hollywood Hacking: She's so good at it, she allows many to mistake her for a super advanced AI of some kind, which helps protect her identity.
- Hot Librarian: Back in the day. Still fits the trope perfectly.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Thankfully one of the less heavy-handed versions.
- Knowledge Broker: Especially in her debut in the Suicide Squad books, when her identity had still not been decided.
- The Leader: Of the Birds of Prey.
- May-December Romance: Depending on the Author: In the 60s, she was at least seven years older than Dick Grayson. However, it wasn't until the 90s (after Batman: The Animated Series) when DC began to seriously push the Grayson-Gordon relationship, where her age is implied to be much closer to that of Dick's, due to them being Childhood Friends. In Batgirl: Year One, she seems to be 2-3 years older, at most.
- Mission Control: Plays this role for Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and the Birds of Prey.
- Photographic Memory: Unfortunate in this case, since she remembers every detail of getting shot by the Joker.
- Relationship Revolving Door: Her relationship with Dick Grayson. Since the 90s, they've been an Official Couple, have broken up, and then later engaged. Said engagement was retconned when plans to kill off Dick were shelved. Since then, they've been Amicable Exes, up until the New 52, which has them as Childhood Friends with a heavy dose of Will They or Won't They? that occasionally ventures into Belligerent Sexual Tension territory.
- The Smart Girl: Oracle is arguably one for the entire DCU, considering how much heroes rely on her information and hacking skills.
- Team Mom: Before her leaving Gotham during the 'War Games' arc, she fulfilled this role to the Bat-Family. Which made things slightly odd given that Batman is one of her father figures. And that for a long while she was dating Nightwing.
- Technopath: Just... read the entry there. You may want to prepare a barf bag, though.
- They Do: With Nightwing, at least for a time.
- Throwing Off the Disability: For the New 52, she's only been disabled for 3 years of Comic-Book Time. As a subversion, she still carries the psychological scars.
- Vague Age: Prior to Flashpoint, her age in relation to other characters often fluctuates. See entry under May-December Romance.
Batgirl II (Helena Bertinelli)
- For Batgirl II, Helena Bertinelli, see Huntress in the Extended Bat-Family
Batgirl III / Black Bat (Cassandra Cain)
"I'll never take another life. Not even hers. So I'll pretend to go all out... and then I'll die. I don't have to do this. I can still study Batman's method. I can be good enough for the costume. I can be... mediocre. For a lifetime. Or perfect. For a year."
First introduced during the No Man's Land
arc, Cassandra quickly gained the approval of both Batman and Oracle (who was the original Batgirl) to become Batgirl after saving Commissioner Gordon's life. Come the turn of the century, much of her past was explored, and it was revealed that she had assassin roots, was mute, and killed a man at the age of eight. Oh, and she was an expert body-reader as well.
Miraculously, mainly due to good writing, the character managed to avoid earning the ridicule of the fans, and ended up pretty well-liked by the fandom (well, most of them). She eventually gave up the mantle of Batgirl after a long storyline in which she tries to discover if the infamous assassin Lady Shiva really is her mother.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. When she resurfaces in the One Year Later
continuity jump, she has, for some reason, joined Deathstroke's "Titans East" as a villain and re-donned her Batgirl costume. What's more, her personality was twisted into that of a stereotypical Dragon Lady
, all due to Executive Meddling
. Attempts to explain this away with Deathstroke's brainwashing drugs generally proved fruitless.
Eventually, she regained the mantle of Batgirl. As of the latest "Batgirl" series, Cass has relinquished the mantle to the Spoiler following Bruce Wayne's "death". Upon his return, Wayne has founded Batman Incorporated, and he and Tim have approached her to become the Black Bat, a member of the team operating in Hong Kong.
She hasn't appeared since the New52 reboot, with Scott Snyder going so far as to create Harper Row because he was denied permission to use Cassandra in his Batman run.
- Action Girl
- Another Man's Terror: Turned her good and inspired her Thou Shalt Not Kill attitude because of her body-reading ability. Death was just scary.
- Anti-Hero Substitute: Subverted. Despite her upbringing in comparison to Barbara, she is The Cape.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: subversion.
- The Atoner: More or less her motivation is to make up for her first kill.
- Badass: Incarnate. Quite possibly more badass than Batman, if you are prepared to believe it. At the very least, she is more than capable of kicking his ass, and on one or two occasions actually has kicked his ass!
- A lot of people are in agreement that she is quite possibly the greatest martial artist on the planet. At least, when the writers treat her well.
- Book Dumb: Originally, she barely was able to speak and couldn't read at all (she had trouble reading the words it was). Now, she knows Navajo Code!
- The Cape: Espoused the virtues of not killing while bleeding to death from a knife in the chest.
- Cass Toons: Created because of the Fan Outrage.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: The girl can punch through solid walls.
- Combat Stilettos: Lampshaded, when she steals Barbara's costume, she trips on the heels and it disrupts her Waif-Fu.
- Cute Bruiser: She's a 5'5", 115 pound, pretty, rather quiet Asian girl. She has the remarkable skill of reading body language, but what makes her a cute bruiser is her ability to tank bullets without flinching and punch through inches of quartz.
- Cute Mute
- Defusing the Tyke Bomb: She defused herself.
- Depending on the Artist: The most common interpretation is heavily scarred, skinny, and (comparatively) small-breasted, but that doesn't stop some artists.
- Dodge the Bullet
- Dragon Lady: Not only does she Monologue in Navajo, she starts to flirts with Robin.
- Exiled from Continuity: The apparent reason as to why she hasn't appeared in the New 52. Harper Row is her "replacement".
- Face-Heel Turn: She becomes the leader of the League of Assassins in the One Year Later event and later becomes a member of Titans East. Retcon revealed that this was caused by Deathstroke's drugs.
- Good Old Fisticuffs: Somehow, Robin fought her to a stalemate by randomly punching and kicking. To summarize, he's just not that great of a Martial Arts fighter, and she dodges bullets.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: when the artists remember.
- Made of Iron: For a tiny girl, she's survived some truly staggering trauma.
- Missing Mom: Lady Shiva. They do reunite... it's not happy.
- Name of Cain
- No Social Skills: She didn't even learn to speak before her pre-teens!
- One-Man Army
- Parental Substitute: Bruce and Barbara.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: Through a horrifyingly abusive system of child-rearing, her father created her to be one of the best (if not the best) martial artists in the world. Given that she became Batgirl and it took mind controlling drugs to execute her Face-Heel Turn, and it was temporary, his idea of creating the perfect assassin clearly didn't take.
- Platonic Life Partners: With Tim
- Put on a Bus
- The Quiet One: She speaks little and mostly with short words. This is the result of her father raising her without talking to her or letting her hear people talk, so that body language would be her language. Even after magic fixed this, she was never comfortable with words.
- Retcon: The Author's Saving Throw is obvious, so let's discuss her origins. Even though her upbringing was a neverending training from hell, she did love her father, and yet she ran away from him. The reason was that her first kill was the very first time she had witnessed death up close and due to her body-reading abilities, she thought it to be very, very, scary. Thus she found out her upbringing was evil. Now enter the last issue of Adam Beechen's miniseries about her where it is revealed that she hated her dad all along, and that she had actually witnessed her father committing murder up close many times before her first kill.
- The Spartan Way: She was trained to read human movement as her only language and become an unparalleled assassin in a classical Spartan way, up to and including being shot in non-vital areas as punishment--with the threat of being shot again for crying out from the pain.
- Technical Pacifist: Just because she won't kill doesn't mean she won't stop your heart with pressure strikes so you understand what death will be like. She'll restart it afterwards, but...
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Originally, her urge to not kill was even stronger than Bruce's.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Her and Steph had this dynamic, with Steph being the Girly-Girl to Cass' Tomboy.
- Twofer Token Minority - Half-Vietnamese woman who was formerly illiterate and mute.
- Tyke Bomb: She was trained from a young age to be an assassin. She was horrified by her first kill, and ran away. She subsisted on the streets, until encountering Batman and his allies.
Spoiler / Robin IV / Batgirl IV (Stephanie Brown)
"It's only the end if you want it to be."
Click here to see Stephanie as Batgirl:
Click here to see Stephanie as Robin:
Daughter of the Cluemaster (a second-rate Riddler copycat), Stephanie was enraged when her father, who claimed to have gone straight, returned to committing crimes (only without his compulsion to leave clues). Donning a costume of her own, Stephanie became the Spoiler, at first only showing up whenever Cluemaster did and spoiling his plans, hence the codename. She eventually became a full-fledged vigilante, partly because of her attraction to Tim Drake, the third Robin.
Of course, she then found herself the target of every female misfortune that DC could think up. Her relationship with Robin became strained (mainly due to Bats not letting her know their secret identities), she was revealed to be the victim of an Attempted Rape
by her babysitter, she went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge
after her father was killed while working with the Suicide Squad, she got captured and tortured by Black Mask, and infamously, she was withheld medical treatment for said torture by Dr. Leslie Thompkins. This was, of course, later retconned to having her smuggled out of the country for her safety. Has a page for when she assumed the identity of Batgirl
from Cassandra Cain until Executive Meddling
gave Barbara Gordon back the identity.
As of the New 52
, she is back in her Spoiler identity, and reappears in "Batman #28" as such, in a prelude to her story in the 2014-2015 weekly Batman Eternal
storyline beginning in April 2014. Within said series, her history has been Retgone'd
, and she is just starting out.
(Don't let her attire fool you; she's not Raven
- EightiesHair: While wearing her Robin costume, her hair inexplicably becomes much longer, thicker, and spikier than it actually should be
- Action Girl
- Affirmative Action Legacy: Subverted. It looked like she was going to be the standard continuity's first female Robin, but more recent interviews reveal that her run as Robin was mainly a publicity stunt: DC did it fully intending to bring back Tim's Robin and kill her. Both DC and some fan contingencies claim that she 'doesn't count' as a Robin, she was never given a memorial in the Batcave like the other dead Robin, and according to the new reboot, there's only been four Robins... guess which one they left out?
- It's acknowledged in story as well. Tim Drake quit the job after Batman tricked him into some convoluted training exercise involving a false future. Alfred thinks Batman just took Stephanie in to make Tim jealous (not helped by the fact that he compares everything she does by how Tim would do it). Its also notable that Bruce withheld a lot of the same respects and trusts he'd given his other Robins; she wasn't informed of the secret identities of characters such as Catwoman, she was never told Bruce's real name, and most notably, was never informed of his other aliases, specifically Matches Malone. It was this lack of trust that lead to the events of War Games. Catwoman actually comments on the fact that Bruce seriously failed Stephanie by not giving her the same trust he'd given Tim, Jason, and Dick.
- Audience Surrogate: Similar to Tim, a big part of Steph's popularity is how easily readers can relate to her as a character, especially teenaged girls.
- Black Sheep: Batman alternated between accepting and training her to treating her like one of these so often that it's a wonder the poor girl's head didn't explode.
- Butt Monkey
- Cool Big Sis: Towards Damian.
- Cool Mask: A full-faced black one as Spoiler.
- Determinator: Batman or his subordinates have told her to stop being a hero a LOT, and she ignores them every time. You'd think they'd learn after a while...
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In her "The Road Home" one shot, while meeting Bruce for the first time since his "death", she breaks down and slaps him for putting her through another one of his 'tests' to see whether she is competent enough.
- Then she runs off, saying "I'm glad you're not dead!" thinking "OhGodOhGodOhGodOhGodOhGodOhGod!"
- Fun Personified: Arguably the most upbeat member of Batman's "family".
- Genki Girl
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: She's against abortion from the very beginning (the arc was written by conservative Chuck Dixon). At first it looks like it's also going to be Good Girls Avoid Adoption, but she changes her mind after realizing her life is not a suitable place for a child.
- Groin Attack: She's pretty fond of it - she's done it at least three times.
- In the Hood: As Spoiler.
- Kid Sidekick: And sometimes, she's the Kid Sidekick to the Kid Sidekick.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Cass.
- Legacy Character: Fourth Robin and Fourth Batgirl.
- Nice Girl
- Plucky Girl: She is referred to by Batman as the most hopeful of his organization, and a What Could Have Been scene shows her as a Blue Lantern.
- The Pollyanna: She experiences just as much dark and violent crimes as any of the other members of the bat team, but unlike them, she still manages to keep a sunny attitude.
- Retcon: She did die, and then she didn't.
- Teen Pregnancy: She became pregnant by one of her ex-boyfriends, and this resulted in Give Him a Normal Life after the child was born and she gave it up for adoption, and she didn't even want to know what gender the kid was so she wouldn't get attached and back out.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Simultaneously the Girly-Girl to Cass and the Tomboy to Kara; Steph's a fairly tomboyish girl, but Cass is far less feminine.
- Took a Level in Badass: She becomes a far more capable vigilante as Batgirl.
- Spanner in the Works: She did start out as The Spoiler.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: She's fond of this move, and has even successfully used it on Batman.
- Stuffed In To The Fridge: Since she first gained a larger role in comics, this has been happening to her constantly. The Teen Pregnancy storyline, while it served as a character arc for her, was largely about how Tim deals with the situation rather than her, and following this, as mentioned above she's had to deal with every cliché about female superheroes, including Attempted Rape as Backstory, before eventually being tortured and killed off to give Batman and Robin something to angst about for bit. When she came back, this was avoided at all costs.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Her dynamics with Tim Drake/Robin III.