Barbara Gordon in other media
|Adaptations of Barbara Gordon in other media|
|Created by||Gardner Fox
|Original source||Comics published by DC Comics|
|First appearance||Detective Comics #359 (January 1967)|
|Films and television|
|Film(s)||Batman & Robin (1997) (renamed Barbara Wilson)|
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Birds of Prey (2002)
The Batman (2004)
Beware the Batman (2013)
|Video game(s)||Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003)
This article focuses on the adaptations of the fictional comic-book superheroine Barbara Gordon into popular media. Originally created in 1967, the character has since featured in live action television series such as Batman and Birds of Prey, as well as in animated television series such as Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and The Batman in her alter-egos as both Batgirl and Oracle.
- 1 Live action television
- 2 Animation
- 2.1 The Adventures of Batman
- 2.2 Super Friends
- 2.3 DC animated universe
- 2.4 The Batman
- 2.5 Batman: The Brave and The Bold
- 2.6 Batman: Under the Red Hood
- 2.7 Young Justice
- 2.8 Super Best Friends Forever
- 2.9 Beware the Batman
- 2.10 Teen Titans Go!
- 3 Film
- 4 Video games
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Live action television
Librarian Barbara Gordon and her alter ego Batgirl was portrayed by Yvonne Craig in the third season of the Batman television series (1967–1968), where she appeared in all 26 episodes. Her Batgirl costume incorporated a long red wig to hide her real avocado-style, black hair.
In a promotional short, librarian Barbara Gordon encounters millionaire Bruce Wayne and his "youthful ward" Dick Grayson at the Gotham City Public Library. As Gordon and Wayne become acquainted, Killer Moth and his henchmen (in full costume) discuss a plan of attack. One henchman suggests taking Bruce Wayne hostage, but Killer Moth shows reluctance, due to Wayne's alleged friendship with Batman. Moth directs the group to kidnap Wayne's business acquaintance instead, who also happens to be a billionaire. When Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson realize the presence of their adversaries, they quickly leave the library to change into Batman and Robin.
Meanwhile, Gordon is locked in the library's office by Killer Moth's henchmen, however, it is revealed there is a secret chamber within the office where she changes into Batgirl. When Batman and Robin arrive to apprehend Moth and his gang, all parties are shocked at the arrival of a Batgirl. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl defeat the villains with relative ease and Batgirl vanishes without revealing her secret identity. Batgirl's costume in the episode closely resembles that later seen in the series, though the design of her mask changes. The short also featured a unique version of the Batman theme, ending with the lyric "Batgirl!" rather than the usual "Batman!" (and accompanied by an appropriately modified Batman logo).
The promotional short was able to renew the series for a third season and add Batgirl to its regular cast. Batgirl's official debut was in the episode "Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin." The Penguin kidnaps Commissioner Gordon's daughter Barbara, binds her to a chair and gags her, and hides her in the next-door apartment which is being redecorated. The dynamic duo make it their mission to rescue her. The Penguin plans to marry her, thinking that becoming Commissioner Gordon's son-in-law would make him immune from arrest. He ungags her and forces her to agree to this by threatening to have Gordon killed. Pretending to be locked behind a secured door, Barbara makes her transformation into Batgirl and assists Batman and Robin in defeating the Penguin as they have been gassed and hung over a vat of acid. During the episode, Alfred Pennyworth discovers her secret identity - but he vows never to reveal it. He claims she left a few minutes ago when the fight has finished, by which time Barbara has changed back.
During the third season, Batgirl aided Batman and Robin in solving several mysteries and even saved them from near death by herself on several occasions. Unfortunately, Batgirl's addition to the cast was not enough to save the series from cancellation. Although the promotional short has been mistakenly thought of as a pilot for Batgirl's own spin-off, it is highly unlikely ABC would have agreed to give her own series since Batman had been in danger of cancellation since the end of its first season. According to the book DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes, Batgirl's addition to the cast "was a sign of desperation. Ratings were down and there was hope that a new character might give the show a shot in the arm."
The 2003 made-for-TV film Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt included scenes recreating the filming of the 1960s TV series. Erin Carufel plays Yvonne Craig/Batgirl in that film.
Birds of Prey
In the 70 minute pilot episode, Alfred Pennyworth narrates the events which have led to the formation of the Birds of Prey. Years ago, when Batman defended the streets of Gotham City, he fathered a daughter to Catwoman which he never knew about. After the birth of her daughter Helena, Selena Kyle gave up her life as Catwoman and raised her child as a single mother. Bruce Wayne, apparently oblivious to the fact that he has a child, continues to fight crime in Gotham as Batman. Alfred tells that he "had trained many protégés over the years and one of them was Barbara Gordon, who called herself Batgirl." As Batman and Batgirl continued to fight the Joker for control of the city, the battle came to an end with Joker's loss. However, the Joker swore revenge not on Batman himself, but on those he loved. While a hit-man was sent to murder Catwoman, the Joker, in a scene adapted directly from The Killing Joke, guns down Barbara at her apartment. With Gordon paralyzed and Kyle dead, Batman abandons Gotham never to be seen again.
Seven years later, in the present day, Barbara Gordon has now become "Oracle" and has adopted and trained Helena Kyle; the vigilante known as The Huntress. They soon adopt Dinah Redmond and the three vow to protect the city of New Gotham. During the series, Oracle is briefly reunited with Black Canary, described as her original partner in Birds of Prey (and the mother of Dinah Redmond), and in one episode dons the Batgirl costume once more in order to face off with Lady Shiva (while using an electronic device that allows her to temporarily walk again). In the final episode, she is able to improve her spine replacement device enough to engage in combat for several minutes though she collapses at the end of the battle. The series would last a total of thirteen episodes, leaving the mystery of Batman's whereabouts unresolved. However, a phone conversation with Alfred in Wayne Manor implies that the Dark Knight has monitored Birds of Prey activities in the city and knows of his daughter's existence.
Laeta Kalogridis planned several series highlights for the second season, including Dick Grayson's reintroduction (prompting a Barbara/Helena argument), as well as Koriand'r possibly appearing. Ollie Queen/Green Arrow would have joined Dinah, and thus the series would have progressed with a Cassandra Cain episode as well.
The Adventures of Batman
The Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl made her first animated appearance in the 1968 series The Adventures of Batman. Jane Webb provided her voice. Barbara Gordon, this time working in the District Attorney's office instead of being a librarian, made several appearances in both her civilian persona and as her alter ego in the 1977 Saturday morning animated series The New Adventures of Batman. Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles to provide the voices for Batman and Robin, but Melendy Britt voiced Batgirl.
Although not appearing in the television show, Batgirl does appear in some of the merchandise produced for the show.
DC animated universe
Barbara Gordon has appeared in Bruce Timm's DC animated universe, with Batgirl voiced by Melissa Gilbert in Batman: The Animated Series, by Mary Kay Bergman in the animated movie Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, by Tara Strong for The New Batman Adventures and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, by Stockard Channing during Batman Beyond and by Angie Harmon during Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
Batman: The Animated Series
In Batman: The Animated Series, Barbara Gordon is introduced in the two-part episode "Heart of Steel", where she assists Batman in saving her father James Gordon from the evil A.I. supercomputer HARDAC (although Fox Kids' original broadcast order has her first appearance in the episode "I Am the Night"). She makes her first appearance as Batgirl in the two-part episode "Shadow of the Bat" in which Commissioner Gordon is framed for corruption. Barbara asks Batman to appear at a public rally to support Gordon but the Dark Knight declines, citing more important things to do in investigating who framed Gordon. Barbara then decides to impersonate Batman at the rally, intending only to be seen in the shadows. But when there is a drive-by shooting, she leaps into action to assist. Robin appears as well and attempts to grab her, accidentally ripping the back of her mask which causes her hair to spill out. When media articles the next day ask the question "Who is Batgirl?", Barbara decides she can accomplish her goal with greater ease as Batgirl than as a civilian and redesigns her costume as a more contrast from Batman's. She discovers that Gill Mason of the GCPD (under Two-Face's orders) is behind the frame-up and goes to rescue her father, only to complicate the rescue already underway by Batman and Robin. In the end, Batgirl is the one who captures Mason. Although Batman had been critical of her at first, he changes his mind after witnessing her capabilities. Barbara's final appearance is in the episode "Batgirl Returns" in which she is seen having a flirting relationship with her classmate Dick Grayson at Gotham State University. In the movie Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Barbara Gordon appears a central character and her age is revealed to be 20. She is first seen wearing her Batgirl costume while fighting a thug. She is then kidnapped by an associate of Mr. Freeze because she is an exact match for a transplant needed to save Nora Fries. The bulk of the film showcases Barbara using her skills to evade Mr. Freeze while trying to escape his hideout. Despite being against Mr. Freeze, Barbara admits that she feels sorry for Nora and is willing to do the transfusion but only in a hospital. Eventually, Batman and Robin locate her, and the three of them manage to destroy Mr. Freeze's hideout and escape. It is also shown in this film that Barbara is in a relationship with Dick Grayson.
The New Batman Adventures
During The New Batman Adventures, Barbara Gordon appears as Batgirl as a recurring character. Batgirl is eventually allowed into the Batcave and becomes a main character and is Batman's main partner. Batgirl was made an addition to the cast with producer Bruce Timm stating, "The consumer products division and the people at the WB wanted to make sure kids would watch the show, so they strongly suggested we include Batgirl and Tim Drake (as Robin) as a way of courting young girl audiences as well as young boys...We liked the Batgirl character and I certainly didn't mind putting her in the show." It is also shown in the series that her previous relationship with Dick Grayson did not last. The episode "You Scratch My Back" emphasized this, portraying her relationship with Nightwing as strenuous. The episode "Over the Edge" also implies this as Nightwing states that he "can't believe it ended like this for us or Barbara". The episode "Girls' Night Out" establishes Batgirl and Supergirl (Kara Kent) as close friends. Along with all other characters in the series, Barbara's civilian and superhero identity were redesigned. Her Batgirl costume was changed to a black body suit with yellow gloves and boots to match her original comic book design. In the movie Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, Barbara Gordon appears briefly when she calls Bruce Wayne to find out who Batwoman is. She expresses jealousy and Bruce dodges the issue by faking cellular phone problems. This is the only scene in which Gordon appears and hints a crush on Bruce which she expresses with hinting that she misses him.
Barbara Gordon appears in Batman Beyond. No longer the dashing beautiful vigilante she was in her youth, this version is a grim, bitter old woman that is the Police Commissioner. Her history is also a little revised: she and Bruce Wayne developed a romantic relationship at one point, even leaving Dick Grayson, stating that "on the streets it was like ballet" but that "eventually it gets old" and gave Bruce an ultimatum where either Batman goes or she does to which she left him, later thinking "[she doesn't] hate him. [She hates] what he's become. Such a great man - so alone.". Despite that she and Bruce are no longer together, she does care about him and wishes for him to be happy. She resents Wayne dragging Terry McGinnis as she believes he did with all his partners. Unlike her father, she states that vigilante justice "went out with the tommy gun" and insists Terry to give up. However, she develops respect for the new Batman when he assists her in defending her husband Gotham District Attorney Sam Young from assassin Curaré. While she never officially endorses or helps him (as she never uses a Bat-Signal), she no longer threatens to turn him in and continually looks the other way, acknowledging his assistance in some cases even if she never asks for it. On one occasion, she was prepared to arrest Terry when she apparently witnessed the second Batman murder criminal bomber Mad Stan despite the fact that his arrest would compromise her and Bruce's secret. However, Bruce and Terry succeeded in revealing that Spellbinder had simply created an illusion of Mad Stan's death; she subsequently awarded Terry with a civic service award as an apology. The precise future of her and Dick's relationship remains unknown but the Barbara tells Terry to "try looking up for Nightwing sometime" about how Bruce treated his partners. In the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Barbara Gordon appears as a supporting character. When the Joker returns from the dead, Terry McGinnis goes to her when Bruce Wayne refuses to talk about how this cannot be the Clown Price of Crime. When Bruce is recovering from Joker's toxin, she reluctantly tells Terry the details: the Joker kidnaps, tortures and brainwashes Tim Drake into a miniature version of the Clown Prince of Crime. During the chaos, Batgirl faces off against Harley Quinn and watches as Harley plummets to a supposed death. Tim kills Joker, Batman and Batgirl bury Joker under Arkham Asylum and covers up the events with the aid of her father. Barbara also temporarily taking Bruce's place in advising Terry while tracking a couple of suspects as possible candidates for Joker's true identity. At the conclusion of the film, she and Bruce visit Tim recovering in the hospital after Joker's final defeat by Terry.
Barbara Gordon is also a featured character in the Flash animated web series Gotham Girls (2002). A joint production of Warner Bros. and Noodle Soup Productions, the series stars Batgirl protecting Gotham City from the criminal activities of Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Although not restricted to the animated continuity, the main characters were adapted from The New Batman Adventures.
The character also made several brief cameo appearances in the Justice League animated series. While the Bat Embargo forbade the use of her character for the majority of the time, she appears in the episode "The Savage Time" (Part I) in the alternate timeline where she can be seen kissing the Dick Grayson of the timeline (as confirmed by the producers of the show) and mentioned briefly in the episode "Comfort and Joy".
Justice League Unlimited
Barbara Gordon was originally planned to appear in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Double Date" scripted by Birds of Prey author Gail Simone. The episode would have also featured Oracle's animated debut. But due to the restrictions on Batman-related characters, she was replaced with Green Arrow and the Question.
She was first mentioned on the episode "Night and the City" and made her first appearance on the two-part episode "Batgirl Begins". This version is the teenage daughter of Gotham Police Commissioner Gordon and a student of Gotham High. Though an excellent gymnast, she has lost interest in gymnastics; however, her father wants her to continue in the hope she might attend an Olympic Games. Although not as interested in gymnastics, she finds police detective work fascinating - which worries her father. In addition to that, Barbara associates with her close friend Pamela Isley, a fellow student with a juvenile-detention record - something James does not like. During a battle with Temblor in the Chlorogene lab, Barbara sees Batman in action; after this, the seed to use her Batgirl persona is planted. The battle also causes Pamela to become the villainess Poison Ivy after an experimental plant mutagen fell upon her former friend. Batgirl arrives at Poison Ivy's lair to help Batman save Gordon (though she originally wanted to save her friend from getting into more trouble) only to find Batman under Poison Ivy's mind control. Batgirl is then forced to fight Batman. During the battle, she beat Batman in hand-to-hand combat by kicking the Dark Knight into a pond which freed him of Poison Ivy's control. After she defeated Poison Ivy and saved her father, Batman decides not to tell Gordon that his daughter is Batgirl. That first adventure, Batgirl says is 'only the beginning'. During her initial introduction, she demands to be called “Batwoman” until Commissioner Gordon calls her by the Batgirl name.
She aids the Dark Knight with numerous cases, proving herself as a trusted ally. Batman himself, despite never asking to have a partner, becomes fond of working with her - though would not admit it. At one point, in the episode "A Dark Knight to Remember", she has figured out that Batman is secretly Bruce Wayne as the billionaire is physically fit and can afford to purchase equipment that Batman would require. However, Wayne suffered partial amnesia during that time which made Bruce lose the memory as the Dark Knight Detective which threw Barbara off. After she and Batman saved Gotham from Maxie Zeus's siege in the episode "Thunder", the Dark Knight gave her some spare gadgets and accepted her as a partner, marking the only time Batgirl is Batman's first sidekick instead of Robin, which different from the comics.
Batman finally let Barbara in on his own secret in the episode "Team Penguin" after getting Dick Grayson as a second partner. Deciding they needed team work training and to learn to trust one another more, the trio shares their secret identities (but Batgirl is reluctant to give up hers so Batman does it for her) and begins training. She and Robin develop a sibling-like relationship throughout the show, and gets annoyed when Robin calls her "Babs". In the two parter episode "The Joining", she participated in the battle to save Earth with Robin from the alien technological entity known as The Joining.
The episode "Artifacts" features her adult incarnation using a wheelchair (under unknown circumstances) using her Oracle identity. Oracle manages the cyber realms and has a joking yet more adult-like relationship to Nightwing. The distant future shows Batgirl, Batman and Robin are now legends similar to Robin Hood and his Merry Men and she's also known in these stories as "Batwoman".
In the episode "Joker Express", Batgirl was under the Joker's control and Batman and Robin have perforce to fight her. While Robin was almost killed, Batman fought Batgirl briefly. He defeated her by making Barbara inhale an incapacitating gas which eventually restores her to normal after her body and mind begin to relax.[clarification needed] In the episode "Attack of the Terrible Trio", it is revealed that Barbara has graduated from Gotham High School at an early age and enrolled in Gotham University.
In the two-parter series finale "Lost Heroes", Barbara and Robin once again join the battle against The Joining with the Justice League after they lost their powers.[clarification needed] After The Joining is once again defeated, she and Robin discuss the idea of forming their own junior Justice League.
Batman: The Brave and The Bold
The Barbara Gordon incarnation of Batgirl appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Mae Whitman. In the teaser of the episode "The Last Patrol!", she saves Batman from Killer Moth in a flashback. In a present-day scene of the teaser, she and Batman end up in one of the Penguin's death traps. She returns in the episode "The Criss Cross Conspiracy!" in which she and Nightwing have to work alongside Batman (in Batwoman's body) and Felix Faust to save Batwoman (in Batman's body) at the mercy of the Riddler. Additionally, the fourth wall-breaking series finale "Mitefall!" sees Bat-Mite altering reality in order to make Batman: The Brave and the Bold "jump the shark" so that it will be cancelled and replaced with a more serious Batman series. In the end, he succeeds, and an in-universe commercial for the (fictional) replacement series reveals that the new show will focus on Batgirl instead, with Batman as a supporting character. Ambush Bug then compounds Bat-Mite's initial disappointment by pointing out that a darker, more serious series like the Batgirl show he has just instigated would not use a character as silly as Bat-Mite, leading the anti-hero to disappear into nothingness just before the end of the episode.
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Barbara Gordon appears in Young Justice, voiced by Alyson Stoner. In the episode "Homefront", she is portrayed as a student at the Gotham Academy alongside Dick Grayson and Artemis Crock. She also had a cameo appearance in the episode "Failsafe" of standing in the crowd with Alfred Pennyworth. In Young Justice: Invasion, Batgirl has joined the Team during the five-year gap. She helps Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) rescue U.N. Secretary General Tseng from Lobo. In the episode "Alienated", she had a cameo with the rest of the Bat-Family invading a Krolotean facility. Batgirl returns in the episode "Beneath" as part of a team sent to investigate The Light's activities in Bialya.
Super Best Friends Forever
Beware the Batman
Barbara Gordon appears in Beware the Batman, with Tara Strong reprising her role. This version is a teenager good with computers and idolizes Katana, Batman's partner in the show. Her kidnapping and rescue in "Allies" plays a role in cementing the beginning of Batman and Commissioner Gordon's partnership. In "Darkness", Barbara overhears a conversation between Katana and Gordon in how to disable the Ion Cortex's AI. She attempts to try and help out by stealing a police van and attempting to use the computers in it. Her father catches her, but eventually agrees to help her. Batman gives her the password to the Cortex ("Oracle") so she can hack it and take it down. The following episode, "Reckoning", forces her and her dad to infiltrate the lair of Ra's al Ghul to take down the Cortex, saving Gotham City in the process. After the black-out, she continues to assist Katana and Batman, taking the codename of Oracle. In "Alone", she joins other Outsiders such as Metamorpho and Man-Bat in assisting in the final battle against Deathstroke.
Teen Titans Go!
Batgirl makes appearances in Teen Titans Go!, voiced by Tara Strong once again. She makes a cameo appearance at Titans East's party in the episode "Starliar" when seen dancing next to Aqualad before Robin obnoxiously cuts in. She is later seen in the episode "Staring at the Future" shown to be the future wife of Nightwing and the mother of their three babies.
Batman & Robin
Batgirl appears in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin, portrayed by actress Alicia Silverstone. The film version is Barbara Wilson, Alfred Pennyworth's niece rather than Commissioner Gordon's daughter in the comics. Her costume varies significantly from traditional versions, with no yellow coloring and a domino mask, also like Robin's instead of a cowl. She also has blonde hair instead of red hair. However, during the film's climax, she, Batman and Robin wear silver riding costumes to protect them from Mr. Freeze's ice. This costume features a full skull cap that more closely resembles her traditional mask though she tosses it away a few seconds later and reverts to the domino mask. She mainly appears as Barbara until the latter half of the film, saving Batman and Robin from Poison Ivy and helps Robin defeat Bane while Batman stops Mr. Freeze's plan.
Christopher Nolan trilogy
In Christopher Nolan's Batman films, James Gordon's wife is named Barbara as in the comics but also has a daughter in early childhood. Batman Begins shows Barbara nursing the infant within Detective Gordon's apartment. In The Dark Knight, Barbara is portrayed by Melinda McGraw and the somewhat older daughter (listed simply as "Gordon's daughter" in the credits) is portrayed by Hannah Gunn. Commissioner Gordon's family is later held hostage by Harvey Dent but are saved by Batman. Both Gordon's wife and daughter sport the character's familiar red hair. In The Dark Knight Rises, it is mentioned that Gordon's family now lives in Cleveland, with Barbara having custody of the children.
Barbara Gordon has also been adapted into several video games as both payable and non-playable characters. She appears as Oracle in the video game Batman: Dark Tomorrow and as Batgirl in the video games Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu and Batman Vengeance with Tara Strong reprising her role in the latter. In Batman Vengeance, Batgirl is not playable; her role is comparable to Oracle's. These games are available on Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox.
Oracle appears in Batman: Arkham Asylum, voiced by Kimberly Brooks. She communicates with Batman over the radio during his time in the Asylum to help him deduce the Joker's latest plan. She never appears in person but an artist's drawing of her is seen in her bio.
Oracle appears in Batman: Arkham City, voiced once again by Kimberly Brooks. For the first part of the game, Alfred Pennyworth serves as Batman's guide over the radio, and Oracle first appears in the Museum over the radio. No reason is given as to her absence up to that point. Digital concept art for the character was created, though her face is not seen. She and Riddler are the only bios for their face not to appear. She and Alfred talk to Batman over the radio helping him stop Hugo Strange, track other inmates and villains like Deadshot as well as intercepting radio broadcasts and aiding him in various side missions.
Batgirl is the second DLC character to be released in Injustice: Gods Among Us, with Kimberly Brooks reprising the role. From the Regime universe, Oracle originally supplied information to the Insurgency using her superior knowledge of technology to avoid detection by the Regime. But after her father Jim Gordon was killed by Regime forces, she took up the Batgirl mantle and set out to stop Superman and the Regime.
A teenage version of Barbara Gordon appears in Batman: Arkham Origins. While her father is initially hostile to Batman, Barbara immediately expresses admiration of him, helping him access the National Criminal Database in the GCPD and asking for his help in searching for and destroying stolen weapons.
Oracle will appear in Batman: Arkham Knight.
Batgirl appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
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- "Updated: Official image of Batgirl from Warner Bros, confirmed as second DLC character in Injustice: Gods Among Us, gameplay coming next week". Retrieved 1 October 2014.
- Barbara Gordon at the Internet Movie Database
- Batgirl at the Internet Movie Database
- Oracle at the Internet Movie Database