|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)
Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)
Originally created in 1967, the fictional comic book character Barbara Gordon has been adapted into various other forms of media. The character has appeared in both live action and animated television series and films, as well as in video games in her alter-egos as both Batgirl and Oracle.
Librarian Barbara Gordon and her alter ego Batgirl were 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 color was purple and it also 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.
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 Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl made her first animated appearance in the 1968 series The Adventures of Batman. Jane Webb provided her voice. Her Batgirl costume is now a gray bodysuit (similar to Batman's) along with yellow gloves and boots while her blue cape and cowl from the comics is retained. 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 Jane Webb was replaced by Melendy Britt for the voice of Batgirl.
Although not appearing in the television show, Batgirl does appear in some of the merchandise produced for the show.
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, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, and Gotham Girls and by Stockard Channing during the first two seasons of Batman Beyond and by Angie Harmon during the last season and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
In Batman: The Animated Series, Barbara Gordon is introduced in the two-part episode "Heart of Steel" voiced by Melissa Gilbert, 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. Her voice actress, Melissa Gilbert is replaced by Mary Kay Bergman. 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.
During The New Batman Adventures, Barbara Gordon appears as Batgirl as a recurring character. Her original voice actress, Melissa Gilbert, is replaced by Tara Strong. 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 seen in Detective Comics #359. 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, after Dick Grayson had left, stating that "on the streets it was like ballet" but that "eventually it gets old" and 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 kidnapped, tortured and brainwashed Tim Drake into a miniature version of the Clown Prince of Crime. During the chaos, Batgirl faced off against Harley Quinn and watched as Harley fell to her apparent death. Tim killed Joker, Batman and Batgirl buried Joker under Arkham Asylum and covered up the events with the aid of her father. Barbara also temporarily takes 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. Tara Strong reprised her role.
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".
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.
Barbara Gordon appears on The Batman animated series, with Batgirl voiced by Danielle Judovits, and Oracle voiced by Kellie Martin. She replaced Ellen-Yin for Season 3 onward. Her Batgirl costume color is purple and black with dark purple highlights (which is an homage to the Batgirl costume from the 60's TV series) and has white eye lenses for the first time.
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 as she was in the loop, marking the only time Batgirl is Batman's first sidekick instead of Robin, which was different from the comics, due to having the character in another DC animated television series, Teen Titans.
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 teamwork 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-part 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.
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.
Barbara Gordon is directly alluded to in Batman: Under the Red Hood when Jason Todd mentions "friends [the Joker] has crippled" to Batman, most likely referencing to the night the Joker shot her to drive Commissioner Gordon insane.
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.
Barbara Gordon appears in Beware the Batman, with Tara Strong reprising her role. 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 to 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.
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.
Batgirl appears in the web series DC Super Hero Girls, with Mae Whitman reprising her role from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and is a student at Super Hero High.
Barbara Gordon made a brief cameo in her Batgirl of Burnside costume at end of the animated film Batman: Bad Blood.
Batgirl appears in Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Gotham City Breakout voiced by Sarah Hyland.
Tara Strong reprised her role as Barbara Gordon for the animated film adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. Batgirl's role in the film was expanded from the source material, including depicting her decision to retire as Batgirl just before the Joker's attack after a tense case with a ruthless gang leader, as well as an encounter with Batman that ended with them having sex. There is also a post-credit scene where Barbara, sometime after recovering in the hospital, now operates as Oracle. Barbara's role and portrayal in the film (which differs heavily from most other portrayals) has been heavily criticized as "cheap, misogynistic writing".
Rosario Dawson voices Barbara Gordon in The Lego Batman Movie. This incarnation is the new Police Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department after her father retires. But when the Joker causes chaos around the city and releases a few major non-DC comics villains from the Phantom Zone, Barbara helps Batman, Robin, and Alfred recapture the villains, and later on after she and the gang team up with the original Joker Gang, Barbara becomes Batgirl.
Throughout the Batman Arkham series, Barbara Gordon is voiced Kimberly Brooks in Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, where in Arkham Knight she is voiced by Ashley Greene. Kelsey Lansdowne had voiced the teenage Barbara in Arkham Origins.