At the time this is written, we are only one day away from the series premiere of Batwoman Sunday, October 6 at 8PM ET/PT on The CW. Several weeks ago we were able to sit down with Executive Producer/Showrunner Caroline Dries who developed the series for some ideas on what we can expect from the show. Photos, trailers and more content related to the series can be found on our homepage.
Caroline Dries is no stranger to The CW or even superhero drama. Before guiding The Vampire Diaries for a time, Caroline wrote for Smallville, penning such fan-favorite episodes as “Cyborg,” “Nemesis,” and “Action.” Now she’s in charge of bringing the popular Kate Kane character to television with Ruby Rose taking on the part of the DC icon. You can find our interview below.
BATWOMANTV.COM’S CRAIG BYRNE: What was your first exposure to Kate Kane as a character?
CAROLINE DRIES: It was a long time ago. Our mutual friend Dan Thomsen [at Smallville] was like “you might like Batwoman.” And then, obviously on Smallville, we had tons of, you know, comics accessible. So I picked some up, and I was like “oh, yeah!” And it was when she was having scenes with Wonder Woman, and I was like, “yeah, this is pretty good!” So that was that.
How different is it to write for a superhero show in 2019, versus what you were doing on Smallville?
The main difference, I would say, is that it feels a lot edgier, and that we can talk about real issues without trying to make a huge metaphor around them, and they’re just talking about day to day issues.
The other thing is that the idea that costumes are so digestible for the audience now, whereas back in the Smallville days, we would never really put the characters in costume, minus maybe Oliver, the Green Arrow. We would dress them in sort of their “origin story” civilian clothing, and now it’s just like, Caped Crusader, Masked Bandit… I remember when they created The Flash. I was like, “I’m sure they’re not gonna put him in the Flash costume,” and then I see the picture, and then I’m like, “oh, that’s The Flash!”
Speaking of costumes, you guys were talking on the panel about the wig not being that conducive to fighting; is that something that might change as the series goes on?
What’s important to me is that she looks like the comic book character. I just wanted to be like, here’s the comic book image. Here’s what we’re doing. It’s the same. In the series, she may discover that her hair is a little unwieldy, and it might need a little haircut. But for the beginning part of the season, we just want to be true to what is cannon.
Do Jim or Barbara Gordon exist in this world?
Definitely Jim Gordon. We don’t have any storylines about him or anything, but just in my mind, Jim Gordon was a former Commissioner, because he was the Commissioner when Batman was Batman. And Barbara Gordon? If Jim was there, then Barbara was actually there too.
Do you, as a writer, know here Bruce Wayne disappeared to?
I have some theories where he disappeared to, but I haven’t fully committed one way or the other.
Do you think it’s more fun to write it that way?
Yeah. I pretty much have strong convictions about every detail of this show, but that’s one where I want the audience to feel like it’s a mystery, because it is genuinely a mystery.
There are certain characters in the comics that Kate was involved with, like Maggie Sawyer or Renee Montoya. could we possibly be seeing them at some point in the series?
Well, they did Maggie Sawyer on Supergirl, so I don’t think we’ll be doing her.
Renee, I would love to. I don’t think she’s available until the movies go away, but we are bringing some of Batwoman’s love interests from the comics into the show. Those are the two biggies, I know, but I don’t think we have plans for them at the moment.
It has been revealed that Magpie is coming in. How is her brand of crazy different from Alice’s?
She has a much different agenda than Alice, and her M.O. is much less, you know, forks in her hair. While she’s crazy, he’s very sophisticated in what she’s doing, and she just goes in and does it. She’s more of like a cat burglar type of character, whereas Alice is all about the drama and the theatrics of it.
And what can you tell me about Tommy Elliot?
Tommy Elliot the perfect villain for Episode Three, because if you saw on the pilot, Kate puts on the bat suit. She’s going to put it on to scare the sh*t out off Alice. Once Gotham is like “Batman’s back,” there are consequences to that. And one of the consequences to having Batman back in Gotham is that all of the Batman villains are going to come back and try to kill him, and Tommy Elliot has a chip on his shoulder, as we’ll learn for Bruce Wayne and for Batman, so he comes back with a very heightened agenda.
Can you talk about the technology that Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) is bringing to the show?
We wanted to make the Batcave super cool, obviously, and our production designer Lisa Soper is a huge, huge, huge Batman fan. So she was like, “I’m making the Batcave,” but the bat-console and stuff is like, it looks almost like if you saw the show Chernobyl, it’s almost like old school like Russian technology, and it has a very much Adam West Batman TV show, it has like that vibe, or almost like the animated series vibe to it. I love that. That is contrasted with like a ton of high tech technology, and it creates this really unique playground for Luke.
Obviously, his dad created all the Bat-tech for Batman, and Luke is now in charge of all of that, but he’s not the maker of it. So one of his journeys over the course of the season is taking on the mantle that his dad had for Batman and actually designing this stuff, as opposed to just saying like, “here it is, and here’s how to use it.” It’s like “I’m actually going to start making stuff for you.”
What do you hope a young viewer watching Batwoman will get out of the show?
My hope is that they’re drawn in by the spectacle, but that they glob on to one of these relationship stories, and they’re just dying to know the soap twists and turns. So the actual human drama, that they’re rooting for these characters, and then they get mad at me when they don’t kiss, and they love it when there’s eye contact. That’s what I hope.
What made Ruby Rose so perfect for Kate, and also, what made Rachel Skarsten so perfect for Alice?
Ruby is just, like, dream casting. She already has the demeanor of a really powerful female superhero, who’s powerful as a superhero and then total a badass as her civilian [ID]. That was like a no-brainer about casting her. What she surprisingly brought to the role was this vulnerability and warmth that Kate is known for having. Kate is actually a really sweet, genuine, good hearted, big hearted person, and wears her heart on her sleeve. I didn’t want somebody who couldn’t do that, and she has a character charisma to her that’s awesome, and kind of checks all the boxes.
With Rachel, she is really, really smart, and understands the nuances of a character that’s this complex. It’s one of those roles that could get you batsh*t crazy, and then it could get boring if you don’t do a little of that. She’s so willing to be vulnerable as an actor to play into the theatrics of Alice, and then she’s so smart that she knows exactly when to narrow the the performance into a really pointed, sort of “verbal bullet” to just get her point across and becomes terrifying. You’re just you’re drawn to her and she’s really popping on screen.
What do you think comic book fans will enjoy about watching Batwoman?
I think they’ll like seeing a version of Gotham, and what Gotham looks like after Batman has been gone for a while. And then, there’s enough comic lore that were lacing into the show. Batman’s rogues’ gallery… and she has her own villains from her canon… there’s enough peppered in there that fans will feel very satisfied. And I think at the end of the day, comic book fans are the same as any fans. They just want rich drama and this is what we’re giving them. Really rich character dynamics.
Batwoman premieres Sunday night, October 6 on The CW.