In the world of DC live-action characters, casting Bruce Wayne is a big deal. It’s proof Batman exists. It’s the possibility that we could see live-action Batman. And the CW’s Batwoman capped off its first season with a huge moment despite the shortened episode count by showing us what the Bruce Wayne of the Arrowverse looks like.
We’re dropping in a screenshot later, so stop now if you want to avoid spoilers.
Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse
In the Arrowverse, Bruce Wayne and Batman have been missing for three years. Kate Kane donned the cape and cowl in his absence. We only learned that Wayne even existed when Oliver Queen name-dropped him in Arrow season 6. And it wasn’t until Elseworlds in 2018 that Batwoman confirmed for the other heroes that Batman was, in fact, a real guy.
Batwoman has lived in her cousin’s shadow since episode 1, much more so than Kara Zor-El has that of her cousin over on Supergirl.
So what happened?
Enter Thomas Elliot
The last few episodes of Batwoman‘s inaugural season brought to life the comic-book villain Hush. While we weren’t thrilled with him, he marks the first appearance of a major Batman villain in Batwoman. Tommy Elliot appeared early in the show’s run and then disappeared until Alice ended up in Arkham Asylum. Alice offered Tommy a new face in exchange for his help, and that forced him to run around in a cozy-looking trenchcoat and slightly-too-rubbery face bandages shooting and kidnapping people.
In the finale, The Man Without a Face pushed Alice to make good on her promise, and she did. When Tommy woke up, he found himself, indeed, with a new face. The one Alice said he’d always wanted: Bruce Wayne’s face.
There’s precedent for this in the comics. In the “Heart of Hush” storyline, Thomas Elliot–a genius-level plastic surgeon in the books–gave himself Bruce’s face and used it to try to wreck Bruce’s life. Batman: Arkham Knight also saw Hush wearing Bruce’s face for part of the storyline. Here, Alice does it because Bruce’s face can get her access to the Kryptonite Lucius has hidden in Wayne Tower.
The Man with the Getaway Face
Gabriel Mann played Elliot for most of this season, but now actor Warren Christie will be playing the character as he tries to infiltrate his old friend’s life. It’s sure to result in all kinds of tense moments, and I imagine that the storyline will take up much of season 2.
But there’s more to it than that.
Giving someone Bruce Wayne’s face means you’ve also cast Bruce Wayne.
What it means for the Arrowverse
This opens the door for the Arrowverse to bring in Bruce himself or Batman at any point. It also means the creators have opened themselves up to the same criticism leveled at Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Robert Pattinson and Iain Glenn‘s Bruce Waynes. Bruces Wayne? Is he tall enough? Christie is taller than Christian Bale, shorter than Ben Affleck. Can he do an American accent? Christie was born in Belfast–partway between Haverfordwest, where Christian Bale was born, and Edinburgh, where Iain Glenn was born. Is he jacked enough? You’ll have to ask Reddit. I’m going to get in big trouble for that one.
Much like Supergirl, Batwoman spent a lot of time talking around Batman. Calling him her cousin, referencing him obliquely, and avoiding showing his face. Supergirl cast its Superman in season 2 and despite some criticism he’s been well-enough received to get his own show. Could Christie’s Bruce Wayne follow a similar arc?
Casting Bruce Wayne had to have been a scary move for Berlanti, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries, and CW execs, just because of everything it opens them up to. Will a Batman show happen? Could it ever meet fan demand? We’ll see more of Christie for sure in Batwoman season 2, hopefully both as Thomas Elliot and as actual Bruce Wayne.