If there is one thing that Batman is known for it is having some of greatest villains in all of comics. Looking at a list of the top Batman villains and partners/sidekicks, I was surprised at how many were strong female characters. Whether villains that hold a grudge against Batman for stopping their criminal activities or those who look to him to be the moral compass for a corrupt city, these Ladies of the Knight are more than just window dressing in a male dominated world.
For your viewing pleasure, Comic Booked brings you a list of the top 20 strong female characters from the Batman universes, both comic book and animated. This includes the great villains and the best of the female supporting characters, many of whom have even starred in their own series. All of our writers have come together to contribute their thoughts and the facts on these amazing Women of Gotham.
Talia al Ghul – The daughter of the Demon, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia has been many things to the Dark Knight. From an enemy of Batman, as the leader of the League of Assassins, to a lover who is the mother of Damian Wayne. Talia’s character has appeared in over 200 issues since her creation in 1971 by Dennis O’Neil and artist Bob Brown, first appearing in Detective Comics #411. Talia has also appeared in four different animated series and the 2012 film, The Dark Knight Rises. Of all of Batman’s villains, she is probably the one who has gotten the closest to his heart. If one was a perfect match for the grit and darkness of Batman, Talia was the one. – Aaron Clutter
Carrie Kelley – Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was an excellent comic and a really fresh take on a character that, at the time, may have been getting a little stagnant. The glimpse of this dark future for an elderly Batman had the bright spot of Carrie Kelley, a girl of 13 who was also a girl scout. She went out and bought a robin costume and was determined to fill the roll of the Boy Wonder. Batman, recently out of retirement, was not excited about the idea, because it was the death of Jason Todd that drove him to retirement in the first place. Through her skills and her determination, she wins her way into Batman’s heart, however much he says he can’t stand her. Carrie is a key player in defeating the Joker when he resurfaces, and she fights back the evil right alongside Batman which proves her strength and worth in this list. – Aaron Clutter
Sasha Bordeaux – Sasha entered the world of Batman as a bodyguard for Bruce Wayne, ended up framed for murder along side him, and finally ended up as a weapon for Checkmate as second in command to Maxwell Lord. Sasha is a strong character who has weathered many changes, both to her role and her body, throughout her life in comics. While she was in prison after being found guilty for the murder of Vesper Fairchild, Sasha was badly injured by the inmates and given medical treatment by Checkmate after they faked her death. Batman continued to search for her because he trusted her and had seen such potential in her. She rose through the ranks of Checkmate serving alongside Lord and, after his death, becoming the Black Queen of Checkmate. She had some issues with the leadership and, because of having been an OMAC, had a tumultuous tenure with the organization. During Darkseid’s invasion of Earth, she was touched by the Anti-Life Equation and still managed to survive although she was in a coma. Mr. Terrific finally succeeded in saving her using pilfered tech from another of Checkmate’s projects. – Aaron Clutter
Barbara Gordon – Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Jim Gordon, Commissioner of Gotham City’s police department. She debuted in both Detective Comics and the live-action Batman television series in 1967 as the super heroine Batgirl. Proving herself to be a hero in her own right, she fit right in with the rest of the Bat family. Fighting the good fight up until she was shot through the spine by the Joker in the now classic The Killing Joke in 1988. Confined to a wheel chair, but not willing to quit being a hero, she became Oracle, the computer whiz that traded in information. Post New 52, Barbara recovered from her paralysis and though she suffers from PTSD and survivor’s guilt after her run-in with the Joker, she fights crime as Batgirl once more. – Newell Turner
Poison Ivy – Pamela Isley was studying botanical biochemistry when her professor decided to inject her with plant toxins as an experiment. Nearly dying, the experience leaves her in an unstable mental state and moves to Gotham City after her boyfriend dies in a car accident. Under the guise of her new villainous identity Poison Ivy, she tried to take Gotham hostage, only to be stopped by Batman. Over the years, her motives and abilities have changed, but she is generally portrayed as a sultry seductress with plant-based powers who mostly wants to be left alone with her plants. She has shown that she is willing to do whatever it takes to meet her goals, letting no one stand in her way. In the New 52, Poison Ivy became a member of the Birds of Prey until she betrayed the team and went back to her nefarious ways. – Newell Turner
The Huntress (Helena Wayne) – Huntress was a creation of DC comics, first appearing on Earth Two in 1977. She was created by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton. Helena Wayne was the daughter of Bruce and Selina Wayne and became Huntress after Selina’s death, the result of blackmail and a heist that went bad. Helena took her mother’s death hard and vowed to get revenge and restore Selina’s honor. She donned a costume and hunted down the person responsible for blackmailing her mother. Raised by Batman and Catwoman, Helena grew up a strong woman. Being groomed to become Batman’s successor, she fought alongside Batman and Catwoman as Robin. Once she became the Huntress she worked hard as a lawyer by day and the Huntress by night. Once her mother’s honor was restored, Helena Wayne continued as the Huntress, and eventually joined Dick Grayson as his junior partner. She later became a member of the Justice Society of America. – RaeBabie Bairden
The Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) – In 1989 DC put out the Huntress series with Helena Rosa Bertinelli. She was part of a mafia family and the product of an affair. At age 8 she witnessed the murder of her family although her being spared was a mistake. Afterwards she was put into the care of her uncle’s nephew, Salvatore Asaro, and sent off to old country Sicily. She grew up watching her cousin and uncle train with weapons and hand-to-hand combat. At age 15 she came to realize she had been raised to believe a lie and that the mafia was a corrupt organization. At age 16 she returned to Gotham City to visit her uncle but hated every one there and found something her family feared; Batman. She also realized she could fight alongside him. Helena trained hard and perused her vengeance hard. She ended her nightmares with the death of those who took her family from her. Helena Bertinelli made a brief appearance as Batgirl and was also briefly a part of the Justice League. Her harsh and murderous style got her band and on Batman’s bad list. Bertinelli did what she deemed necessary and ultimately became the product of her harsh upbringing. – RaeBabie Bairden
Harley Quinn – Dr. Harleen Quinzelle an intelligent and successful criminal psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum. During her first encounter with The Joker, she was fed a dishonest story by the joker playing with her female emotions and her own mental state. Dr. Harleen Quinzelle became plagued with emotion for The Joker, so much so that she helped him escape Arkham Asylum, only to become Harley Quinn. She was used by The Joker, deliberately telling her exactly what she wanted to hear, and this happens all throughout their relationship. Harley has always played a submissive role, in the DC universe. She is abused to critical life threatening conditions, multiple times by the joker. Astonishingly only to keep coming back to him again and again, but there relationship so complexed and twisted it is almost meant to be that way. Don’t get me wrong here, there are good parts throughout her history with The Joker. There has been many scenes of camaraderie, playfulness, and affection to her. Harley has been in multiple comics and has appeared in a variety of DC animated series’ she has proven to be a driving force in the female characters of the DC universe and her popularity has grown immensely since her first appearance in Batman: The Animated Series.
1st Appearance: Batman: The Animated Series Episode 22 Joker’s Favor.
1st Appearance in Comics: The Batman Adventures #12 – Batgirl: Day One – Tom Whitman
Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) – What can be said about Stephanie Brown? Well for starters she’s the daughter of the criminal Cluemaster and in her first appearance she showed up as the young crime fighter, Spoiler. She has even spent time as the third Batgirl. Yet when I brought up her name to a friend the other day, she asked ‘wasn’t that the female Robin?” Yes. Yes she was. Though whether or not she should be a canon Robin is still up for debate, many fans do acknowledge her as such.
Like a lot of female characters in Gotham, Stephanie Brown wound up being a love interest for the bat family. Hers came in the form of Tim Drake- Robin. Those two had an on and off again relationship. The first time it ended was due to Stephanie’s lack of knowledge of Robin’s true identity and Batman breaking Tim’s trust and telling her his real name. Another occurrence was after Batman had gone missing, Tim has launched an investigation to find him, which Batman told Stephanie to hinder. Batman also explained to Stephanie that she was to help train Robin to become an independent hero. After Batman’s return, Tim once again felt betrayed even though he knew those were Batman’s orders.
Later in the series, after Tim’s father makes him hang up his cape and live a normal live. Stephanie payed him a visit a his school and assumed he was cheating on her, thus ending the relationship again. To get her mind off of this, she went to Batman and demanded that he train her as the new Robin. Throughout her time as Robin, Batman thought she was too unskilled to be a proper replacement for Tim, and fired her for disobeying him after two missions. This leads Stephanie to try to prove her worth to Batman, which resulted in her death. On her deathbed Stephanie asked if she was ever truly Robin. To which Batman replies she was.
In the new 52, Stephanie returns at the Spoiler once again. – Zenitadee
The Phantasm (Andrea Beaumont) – One of if not the most tragic character in Bruce Wayne’s life. Andrea Beaumont was Bruce’s first true love, his light in the dark world of Batman. After a chance meeting, they took off like any couple would in most fictional stories. Their relationship bloomed so quickly, and Bruce started to doubt himself and the “destiny “he had prepared for his entire life up to this point. Bruce never thought after the tragic event with his parents he would ever be able to feel happy again, but Andrea was doing just that. She essentially thwarted his plans and after a long pondering by Bruce he decided to go off course and propose to Andrea.
Andrea was an only child to rich Gotham executive Carl Beaumont, who had ties with the mob. After a deal with the mob had gone bad he was cornered into leaving the country and in fear for his daughter’s life he forced her to break the engagement and take her with him into exile. This drove Bruce back into the world of despair which he once knew. The mob later found Carl and Andrea Beaumont, which ended in a brutal murder of Carl Beaumont.
Many years later, Andrea would return to Gotham to “clean up loose ends”, as the vigilante assassin known as “The Phantasm”. She sought vengeance for the death of her father and the destruction of her relationship with Bruce Wayne. This would lead to a bloody battle with a known Batman villain; I do not want to spoil who it is because it is an interesting and unique take on this villain. This battle end with Andrea assumed dead, but is not. She leaves Gotham to start a new life, but she will always carry the burden of her old life and first true love. Bruce Wayne.
1st Appearance: Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm
1st Appearance in Comics: Batman & Robin Adventures Annual #1 (1996) – Tom Whitman
Batwoman (Kathy/Kate Kane) – There are many females throughout the Gotham universe and on the heroes side none are as iconic as Batwoman. Kathy Kane exists as the female counterpart to Batman. Though the reason for her introduction was to play a love interest to Batman to squash rumors that Batman was gay, people grew to love her as her own character. She was even given her own sidekicks. She first began appearing in the 1956 comics, though was removed in 1964. Then in 1985 it was established that Batwoman character never existed even though her alias was still mentioned.
In 2006, with the 52 comic series a modern day Batwoman under the alias Kate Kane, began to track Gotham’s crime. The new Batwoman was no longer there to act as Batman’s loves interest; In fact DC has written her to be a lesbian of Jewish descent, thus flipping the original reason for her existing. That decision garnered mixed reviews. Although fans at first weren’t sure how to react to the new Batwoman, many fans became invested in her story; even expressing an outrage that DC does not allow her to marry. The reason stated was that no one in the bat family is allowed to be happy. Some fans still think it’s for other reasons.
Kathy Kane transformed from a lovers trope to a beloved hero in her own right, making her one of Gotham’s best introduced characters. – Zenitadee
Vicki Vale – Characters that are reporters don’t come by often. When they do, it’s usually some cliché, hackneyed version of what a reporter should be. That was the character of Vicki Vale for essentially decades. Not even the Tim Burton movie, where she became a prominent character, helped much because Vale was still (unfortunately) weak and helpless around Batman. Recently that’s changed. In Batman Eternal, Vale’s role has increased significantly to what a reporter should feel like: a take no-shit, hard-hitting investigator. Her involvement in the plot also has significant weight. It’s not a side problem she’s dealing with, it’s a big one involving nano-viruses. It is a very significant turnaround for the Vicki Vale character in the Batman universe. – Julien Loeper
Harper Row – Harper Row had a father that would break things and then vanish. From an early age, she learned to fix the things that he would break. Unfortunately, those things sometimes included Harper and her younger brother, Cullen. Harper filed for and was granted emancipation. She then moved out with her brother and got a job doing maintenance on Gotham City’s electrical grid. When Harper and Cullen are attacked by a gang of bullies, they are saved by Batman. She begins to research Batman and soon discovers enhancements that he has made to the city’s network of cameras. She attempts to improve them as a way to pay back Batman and eventually helps him when the grid goes down. Later, when Batman is left for dead by the Court of Owls, Harper once more finds herself in a position to help him. Based on glimpses to the future of Gotham, we know that Harper will eventually become the costumed hero, Bluebird. Harper Row is strong because she is a survivor and willing to put herself in danger to protect her brother or help Batman. – Newell Turner
Gilda Dent – Harvey Dent was Gotham City’s district attorney and batman’s ally until he is disfigured by acid. He chooses the name Two-Face for a coin he carries that is two-headed. It is explained in Batman Annual #14 (1990), a story called “Eye of the Beholder, that the coin was given to him by his abusive father. His father would play a game with him when he was younger; if he flipped the coin and it was heads he would beat him, if it was tails he wouldn’t. After his father’s death Dent found out that the coin was two headed. Through all of his torments Dent had one stronghold, one lifeline; Gilda Dent. Sometimes referred to as Grace, Gilda Gold, as was her maiden name, has been in and out of comics since her first appearance in 1942 issue #66 of Detective Comics. She was first fiancé and later wife of Harvey Dent (originally Kent). Gilda Dent was no super hero. Who was she? In all issues she is Harvey Dents better half. His soul mate as it were. Gilda Dent shows her strength in every issue she appears in, whether she is stepping in front of Dent’s hail of bullets lodged at Batman or tearfully pleading Dent’s case to the caped crusader or pleading with Dent himself to come back to sanity. She is his port in a storm of madness. She makes him want to be a better man. – RaeBabie Bairden
Catwoman – Selina Kyle is an enigma. She is always reinventing herself, whether she is a spurned orphan of Gotham’s most powerful crime boss, the world’s premiere cat burglar, protecting the streets of her home city alongside the Dark Knight himself, or playing hero at the behest of the United States government. One of the deadliest and most unpredictable of Batman’s rogues gallery, she also frequently fights for her own cause, often times aligning herself with Batman and his allies. There is a reason she has been so beloved since her first appearance in Batman #1 nearly 75 years ago… She is quite possibly the most interesting and believable female character in all of comics. – Jeff Hill
Black Canary – Dinah Lance is a former Team 7, Justice Society, and Justice League member, current Bird of Prey, and quite possibly Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon’s best friend and closest confidant. With her canary cry and expert hand-to-hand combat skills, she has been linked romantically to Green Arrow, ex-husbands Kurt Lance and Craig Windrow, and even the immortal Ra’s al Ghul. But Dinah has never been very lucky with men or romance. After tragically losing her mother (the original Black Canary), she vowed to never be alone again. Enter: her friendship with Batgirl and lifelong back-and-forth companionship with Oliver Queen, the vigilante and Justice League member Green Arrow. An “unofficial” Batman beauty, she is always there when Babs or Bats needs her, and though her tough-as-nails attitude may be a bit off-putting to some, it keeps the streets safe. – Jeff Hill
The Joker’s Daughter – There have been a couple of different versions of the Joker’s Daughter, the first being a quite psychotic acrobatic villain who called herelf Duela Dent. This character turned out to be the daughter of the hero The Jokester from Earth 3 and Evelyn Dent. In the New 52 Universe, the Joker’s Daughter has quite literally become a new face of evil as she has taken the Joker’s face, which he cut off, and had it surgically sewn onto her own, courtesy of the Dollmaker. This transaction also involved some vials of the Joker’s blood that she injected herself with, trying become a blood daughter of the Joker in the hopes that he would return for her. In the end, she was about to give up hope, but a note from a mysterious source claiming to be the Joker, who is supposedly dead in the current universe, says “Hello, Beautiful” and her hope is renewed. Does she try too hard to be over the top crazy or is this just the desperate efforts of a daughter trying to win her distant father’s approval with a heavy dose of psychosis thrown in? Either way, she has a place as one of the stron female characters in Batman’s world. – Aaron Clutter
Leslie Thompkins – The first compassionate female to encounter a young and devastated Bruce Wayne after his parents’ brutal murder in Crime Alley, Leslie has been a surrogate mother to the Batman ever since. Often times romantically linked to faithful Wayne Manor butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Thompkins has also been unfortunate enough to have to deal with villainous threats of her own, such as the Crime Doctor, crime boss Rupert Thorne, a young Jason Todd, and even her own psychotic brother. Placing her free clinic right on the corner of Crime Alley itself, she vowed the night Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered to do her best to ensure that the night that created Batman never happen again. Always there to patch up the Batman, scold him, and give guidance to his young proteges as they lunge into the streets to prevent the endless cycle of violence she has sworn to outlive. – Jeff Hill
We hope that you have enjoyed this list of many of the strong female characters in the Batman universe. Maybe we missed some? Be sure to leave a comment below and tell us who your favorite one is. Be sure to check back every Saturday or Baturday as we like to call it, for more Bat-stuff. Also, be sure to click over to our lists of the top 75 characters, top 75 writers, and top 75 artists of Batman as Comic Booked continues to celebrate 75 years of Batman.