What’s Behind the Batwoman Trailer Backlash?

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BY August 16, 2019

The trailer for The CW’s upcoming Batwoman series premiered in May to whatever is the opposite of fanfare. While the teaser trailer did fairly well, the full-length trailer has five times the number of dislikes as likes. On its face, the show looks no different from the rest of The CW’s block of superhero shows. Why then is there a backlash? To find that out, I had to go against all internet advice and read the comments. This is what I found.

All-Purpose Batwoman Trailer Backlash

The first category of objections is the most general. There is no real consensus here–rather, a collection of varied griefs. First, there are the folks who simply hate change. They are like (and maybe actually were) the people who decried casting Heath Ledger as the Joker. Five minutes ago, they were up in arms about Robert Pattinson being the new Batman. Likewise, they weren’t sure about Supergirl and they were aggro about Arrow. This is just another shock to their systems, but they’ll probably adjust in time.

Similarly, there are the people who don’t really care either way about Batwoman, but are using the show as a target for their real objection. For example, some of these people are fans of other properties. They wish their favorite characters were getting shows, instead. Or they’re miffed, for instance, that Swamp Thing’s grand opening became a grand closing so quickly. In any case, like the change-adverse, they’ll probably get over it.

Nothing But Respect for MY Batman

As we dig deeper into the comments, though, feelings start to become a little more heated. This is where we find the next category of anti-fans, the Batman devotees. These are people who claim that they were primed to be Batwoman fans, until the trailer besmirched the good name of the Dark Knight. There are a couple of key moments in the trailer that turned the tide for them.

First (and most glaringly), is Batman’s absence. Presumably, this is for practical reasons, as DC and Warner Bros have not yet granted The CW properties full access to Batman. So when the show begins, Gotham hasn’t seen him for 3 years. Some viewers don’t like this, particularly the implication that Batman would just abandon the city. The reasonable assumption, according to them, is that if Batman has gone, he has a good reason. The insinuation that he’s akin to a deadbeat dad leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

That bad feeling is compounded by the way Kate Kane seems eager to overshadow her cousin. Witness how she dismisses the Batsuit, for example. Camrus Johnson’s Luke Fox describes it as “perfection,” but for Kate, it won’t approach that until it fits her. In other words, when it no longer fits Batman. The fans in this category could go on to love the show, but they may never give it a chance.

The Political Taken Personally

That’s almost a certainty for the final and most vocal category. These are the people who object to the trailer and thus, the show on a deeper level. They are offended and they want everyone to know it.

In retrospect, it was easy to see this coming. From the moment The CW announced they had cast Ruby Rose, there was protest. A “RECAST BATWOMAN” hashtag was even created. According to the members of this mini-movement, Rose doesn’t fit. As Batwoman is canonically a Jewish lesbian, only a Jewish lesbian would do. The resulting furor drove Rose off Twitter and irritated the segment of the internet that sees a creeping “wokeness” infecting everything they love.

That’s why it’s almost hilarious that the latter is now the loudest opposition. Once they saw the full-length version, they took to the comment section in droves and that’s when the Batwoman trailer backlash began. In their view, fighting for justice is fine, but social justice is a bridge too far. And to them, the trailer is little more than SJW-posturing. Instead of the Bat Signal, they complain, Gotham now has virtue signals.

Like the Batman gatekeepers, they don’t like that Kane builds her persona on Batman’s. They really don’t like that she doesn’t want people to give a man credit for a woman’s work. In fact, don’t get them started on the inclusion of the word “woman.” It’s fine for her to be a woman or a lesbian, but actually saying it? Heaven forfend!

They were much more receptive to a fan-edited trailer that recently made the rounds. They especially liked that the fan edit excised nearly all of Kane’s lines. This was the trailer they wanted, the one without “identity politics” or a message or a viewpoint.

Looking Into the Bat Future

Despite all the fuss, though, it obviously remains to be seen whether any of this will have an effect on the show itself. After all, The CW is less cancel-happy than other networks and they’ve had a good track record with their superhero shows. In addition, internet noise does not always translate to the real world. For example, films that were pilloried online pre-release did just fine in actual movie theaters.

And the loudest opposition may even end up tuning in. Whether they’re hate-watching or not, The CW most assuredly does not care. It’s still eyeballs on their product, and perhaps more importantly, on their advertisers. So in the end, the Batwoman trailer backlash could just turn out to be a lot of sound and fury signifying not much at all.

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.

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