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It’s been a long time since we saw Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl/Oracle, in live-action, with Dina Meyer playing her in the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series (and let’s not forget that in 1997’s Batman & Robin, Batgirl was known as Barbara Wilson). But along with In the Height’s Leslie Grace being cast to lead HBO Max’s upcoming Batgirl movie, Babs will also feature prominently in Titans Season 3, with Boyhood and Six actress Savannah Welch bringing the character to life. But how closely will Titans adhere not just to Barbara’s history as Batgirl and Oracle from the comics, as well as her ties with Batman’s arch-nemesis The Joker?
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Savannah Welch ahead of Titans Season 3 premiering on HBO Max (which you can subscribe to with this link). As fans who’ve followed along with Season 3’s development and seen the trailers know, at this point in her life, Welch’s Barbara Gordon is in a wheelchair and is now serving Gotham City as commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, the position her father, James Gordon, once held. When I asked Welch how it felt playing a version of Barbara we haven’t seen in live-action before, as she’s no longer Batgirl, but hasn’t become Oracle yet, here’s how the actress responded:
There was quite a bit of discussions between myself, the showrunners, the writers and Brenton [Thwaites], who plays Dick Grayson on the show, about this woman and where she’s at in this stage of her life. We thought, most likely, [she’s] a couple years past this accident, so being in a wheelchair is still somewhat new to her. She’s certainly adapted. However, it’s new, and so is her taking on the role as commissioner. It’s tricky, as an actor I love being able to kind of discover who this person is and to have some freedom in collaborating with the showrunners and the writers and other actors to come up and flesh out this storyline of where is she in this stage of her life, but also really wanting to honor the pieces of her story we do know, specifically her history and relationship with Dick.
While the first two seasons of Titans certainly didn’t skimp on exploring the Batman mythos via Brenton Thwaites’ Dick Grayson, particularly with the inclusion of Curran Walters’ Jason Todd and Ian Glen’s Bruce Wayne, Titans Season 3 is delving deeper into this corner of the DC universe through Savannah Welch’s Barbara Gordon and Vincent Kartheiser’s Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. Scarecrow. As far as Barbara is concerned, Welch noted that not only is her character still getting used to be in a wheelchair, but she’s also getting the hang of being the GCPD commissioner. That said, Barbara definitely hasn’t wasted anytime establishing a unique platform in her new job, as showrunner Greg Walker told EW in June that she feels superheroes disempower people from "solving their own problems.”
Though that’s not to say that Savannah Welch’s Barbara Gordon is entirety anti-vigilante, as she’ll work closely alongside Dick Grayson, who’s now beating up criminals as Nightwing. And thanks to a stunt choreography video released earlier this year, we also know Barbara will mix it up in at least one fight scene, if not several. Regarding whether or not the character will break out her computer and other Oracle-y skills, Welch said the following when I inquired about how close we’ll come to seeing that version of Barbara in the new season of Titans:
It’s certainly a different interpretation of Oracle. Yes, you will see some signs of Oracle, you will see a different interpretation of that character. I would say in this season, you see the beginnings of the commissioner coming back around to taking on more of an Oracle role. She has had Oracle tendencies in the past, and she kind of recognized it as something is a very useful tool and a power that she has, but also sees that it’s a double-edged sword. Again, there’s a little touch of that and it’s a different interpretation, but I think that fans will be happy to see the sort of beginning stages of that transformation for her.
As for why Barbara Gordon is in a wheelchair on Titans, just like what was depicted in Batman: The Killing Joke, The Joker shot her, resulting in paralysis from the waist down. And she’s not the only Bat-Family member the Clown Prince of Crime has targeted in the Titans continuity, as much like what went down in the A Death in the Family storyline, we’ll also see him brutally beating Jason Todd, paving the way for him to become Red Hood. However, don’t expect to see a flashback of Joker shooting Barbara, as Savannah Welch told me this:
There’s some mention of that present day in this season. However, they didn’t really go back and explore flashbacks or exactly what happened. Some of that is implied, and it’s sort of something I think, in some ways, many viewers who are fans of the show, fans of Barbara Gordon, will know that history. But we try to give people clues where we can as well.
While Barbara Gordon being shot by The Joker certainly isn’t as ingrained in general pop culture as Thomas and Martha Wayne being murdered in front of young Bruce Wayne, longtime comic book fans/fans of Batman media know the moment well enough that it’s understandable why Titans Season 3 won’t show the horrific event. The goal is to show the character dealing with a new stage of her life, both personally and professionally, and while that won’t necessarily lead to Barbara outright becoming Oracle by the time the season’s over, there’s no question that big things are in store for her in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that along with Barbara, this new batch of Titans episodes will introduce Tim Drake, another longtime member of the Bat-Family who will be played here by The Batman actor Jay Lycurgo.
Titans Season 3 will premiere its first three episodes on Thursday, August 12 on HBO Max, with one episode per week to follow. Learn what other shows will premiere soon with our 2021 fall TV premiere guide.