Yvonne Craig, Adam West, Burt Ward, Neil Hamilton, William Dozier, Tim Herbert
Batgirl – “You’re no longer alone Caped Crusader!”
The character of Batgirl has always been seen as the superhero equivalent of Marmite, in that you either love her or hate her.The reason she has acquired this status is because her introduction into a Batman story is a usual sign the ideas are starting to dry up and she can hopefully snap some action back into proceedings.This isn’t because as a character she lacks any real depth, but because she is derivative of the material she has been spun from, in an attempt to attract a fresh and often female audience, into the situation. Unlike Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon didn’t suffer a childhood trauma causing her to swear an oath to avenge her fallen parents, but instead she just choose to put on a cape and cowl.Over the years through the pages of DC Comics she has taken on new character facets and even the new name of Oracle to provide her with more substance.For the comics this has helped create new dimensions to her persona, but as she stands on paper when first introduced, it is always a way to extend the Bat-family to include a female.
When the producers of the hit 60s series Batman were looking to extend their Bat-family they did so by creating an 8 minute pilot called Batgirl.The pilot let Batgirl hold her own next to the Dynamic Duo and show to any would-be naysayers that she was truly a force to be reckoned with.Yvonne Craig was cast in the role and in just under ten minutes she managed to transform Batgirl from a marketing excuse to draw young girls to the world of Gotham, into a veritable pop icon.
In the pilot mild-mannered librarian Barbara Gordon was about to lock-up the Gotham library when Killer Moth and three of his henchmen attempted to kidnap a millionaire checking-out a book in the building.The villainous gang locked Barbara in a back room, but before they could make their escape Batman & Robin arrived to foil their plan.Killer Moth managed to get the drop on the Dynamic Duo and covered them in a confining cocoon, leaving no one to stand in his way.What he didn’t realise was there was a new hero in Gotham and before he had chance to escape, Batgirl arrived to save the day. As Killer Moth locked Barbara away in a room to keep her from being privy to his current kidnapping caper, the gutsy gal showed she was more than happy to go along with how his plan had played out.Barbara turned the tables somewhat and locked the door from the inside to stop them coming in and revealed she had a secret of her own.She removed her skirt, reversing it so that it became a cape, a hat unfolded into her mask and in moments the former librarian was transformed into an action hero.The scene was a welcome moment and it fired up the senses that Batgirl was a heroine to keep an eye on.As the remainder of the pilot unfolded, Batgirl freed Batman and Robin and then put in a playful performance worthy of Catwoman as she made it clear she was there to stay.
The pilot worked and Batgirl was introduced into the third season of Batman, but the formulaic nature of the show had set in and the introduction of the heroine just seemed to signal the series had run out of steam.The character of Batgirl never could shake off the idea within the audience that she was introduced just to save the show and sadly she didn’t bring much more to the series.Her pilot however stood proudly as a testament to how likeable the character could be when given her own chance to shine and like Marmite it is often the idea that it isn’t appealing which puts people off, but when tried it isn’t all that bad.
BAT-FACTS: *The villain of the pilot, Killer Moth, never appeared in the Batman television series.
*Yvonne Craig played Batgirl in 26 episodes of the third and final series of Batman, where the format of the show was altered so to remove the two-part story formula from the previous seasons.
*As well as Yvonne Craig, Batgirl has been played by numerous actresses throughout cartoons and film including Melissa Gilbert, Tara Strong, Danielle Judovits and Alicia Silverstone.