This year marks the 50th anniversary of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, one of DC’s most popular heroines. But Batgirl’s history extends even further back to 1961, when Bat-Girl a.k.a. Betty Kane made her debut. While Gordon is easily the best known Batgirl, she spent nearly half of her existence outside of her signature role, which was later filled by three other heroines who took up the mantle of the Bat. Now, a new infographic is taking a look back at the history of all of the Batgirls and the Batwomen who have protected Gotham City for the last several decades.
Fun.com debuted the Evolution of Batgirl infographic, which charts its beginning in 1956 with the debut of Batwoman, the superheroine identity of Kathy Kane. Neither Batwoman nor Bat-Girl fully captured the imaginations of the readers in the way that Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl did. While Gordon’s Batgirl gained fame on the Batman TV series from the ’60s, she did make her debut in the comics before actress Yvonne Craig took on the role.
Looking back, one of the biggest surprises is how Batgirl’s costume from the Batman animated series by Filmation was more influential than we previously realized. The infographic also shared a few lesser known Batgirl stories, including the fact that DC actually considered turning Misfit into the fourth Batgirl, before wisely deciding to pass the role on to Stephanie Brown instead. Fans of the third Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, may be a bit upset about the way that this infographic glosses over her tenure in the role because she was the first Batgirl to star in her own self-titled ongoing series. By comparison, Helena Bertinelli was only the second Batgirl for a few months before Cassandra, but she got the bulk of that costume’s description.
In 2011, DC Comics decided to make Barbara Gordon resume the role of Batgirl as part of the New 52 reboot. But that had the unintended consequence of taking away the DC Universe’s most prominent disabled heroine. After the controversy of Batman: The Killing Joke, which left Barbara Gordon paralyzed, Suicide Squad editor Kim Yale and writer John Ostrander re-envisioned her as the ultimate hacker: Oracle. Barbara Gordon spent 23 years as Oracle, and she arguably made a bigger impact in that role than she ever did as Batgirl. At one point, Oracle was even a member of the Justice League, which was an honor that had eluded Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. She was also an inspiration to disabled comic fans, and the void left by Barbara Gordon’s restoration has never really been filled.
This infographic also served as a reminder that the modern Batwoman, Kate Kane, debuted ten years ago in the pages of 52, and she has easily bested the original Batwoman in terms of popularity. According to the infographic, Alex Ross actually designed that Batwoman outfit with Barbara Gordon in mind, before it was given to Kate Kane and revised by other artists.
Which Batgirl is your favorite? And who had the best costume? Light up the Bat-signal, and share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Image: Fun.com/Kate Willaert