Many storylines on Gotham have proved divisive for longtime Batman fans, but perhaps none more so than the arc of Barbara Kean. In other Batman iterations, Barbara was not only Jim Gordon’s wife, but also became Batgirl. Fans expected the character in the early days of Gotham and its origin building to move towards Barbara developing into Batgirl. However, all were left underwhelmed by Barbara’s role as the bland love interest until the Season 1 finale. Barbara’s psychopathic nature—influencing the murder of her parents and near-death of Dr. Lee Thompkins—provided a shocking reveal and development for her character. Despite Barbara-centered Harley Quinn rumors drowning before ever reaching a chemical vat, since the Season 1 finale Barbara has emerged as one of the most cunning and ruthless characters. Penguin may currently have the title “King of Gotham,” but check out these three times Barbara proved she’s the city’s real queen.
3. Barbara Claims Her Territory
Just like Fish Mooney and Penguin, Barbara needed her own club to rise through the ranks of the criminal underworld. This began with the Sirens Club in the Season 3 premiere, run by Barbara and Tabitha Galavan. The club was built on the territory of high-level criminals. They tried to intimidate Barbara into surrendering the territory back to them, even slapping her in the face. After a brief look of helpless terror, Barbara erupted into maniacal laughter. With a little help from Tabitha, Barbara gleefully retaliated by slaughtering the men and torturing their boss. Barbara’s ability to swiftly descend into ruthless madness consistently aided her rise through the criminal underworld, causing many to fear and follow her.
2. Barbara Discovers Who Was Behind The Wayne Murders
Like most Batman stories, Gotham began with a masked gunman murdering Thomas and Martha Wayne in an ally. The show chose a completely different direction for the story behind their murders, though. Knowing a shadowy figure called “the Lady” contracted Matches Malone to do the dirty deed, Jim Gordon intended to go in guns blazing to find out who hired her in the first place. Barbara finds the answer in a cleverer way. First, she charms the Lady with stories of her boldest, most twisted moments before suggesting an assassin partnership. Barbara then takes Gordon captive, brings him to the Lady, and convinces her new partner to share who hired her to contract the Wayne killer to rub it in Gordon’s face. The Lady reveals her employer called himself the Philosopher, soon revealed to be Hugo Strange in service to the Court of Owls. Having manipulated the Lady into revealing the answer, Barbara tases the Lady and her associate and sets Gordon free.
What took Gordon and Bruce a season and a half to try and figure out, Barbara discovered in a matter of a couple scenes. She knows how to play both sides in any situation in order to get what she wants. Barbara is far from just a psychopath as she has the charm, intelligence, and fighting skills in order to manipulate and come out on top.
1. Barbara Turns Penguin and Nygma Against Each Other
Not only have the criminal masterminds Penguin and Edward Nygma terrorized and controlled Gotham at various points, but for a while they shared a close partnership and friendship. As owner of the Sirens club in Season 3, Barbara continued to rise as a prominent figure in Gotham’s criminal underworld. Penguin still held far more power than her, though, and it was likely to remain that way with the brilliant Nygma by his side. All that changed when Barbara realized Penguin killed Nygma’s love Isabella out of romantic jealousy. She used the knowledge to turn Nygma against Penguin as she formed an alliance with the Riddler himself. Together, they destroyed Penguin’s position as Mayor of Gotham and stripped away all his control and influence of the criminal underworld and nearly killed him.
As a result, not only did Barbara dethrone Penguin and become the Queen of Gotham. She destroyed the most dangerous partnership in Gotham, forever turning the two brilliant men against each other. The vengeful feud continues into Season 4, the two characters struggling to fulfill their goals, constantly restrained by their obsessive hate of each other. They can never be as powerful and cunning as they were together. With GCPD cops answering to her and all criminals kneeling before her, for the latter half of Season 3, Barbara sat on top of the criminal underworld. Her death in the Season 3 finale provided a setback, but resurrection via the Lazarus Pit and funding from Ra’s Al Ghul now has her leading a version of Gotham City Sirens, ready to take control of Gotham.
Given Barbara’s decision to continue working with Tabitha and Selina in the latest episode of Gotham, she will continue to be a major threat. The likes of Penguin and Sofia Falcone need to watch out because Barbara is and always will be the true Queen of Gotham.
What other moments show Barbara is Queen of Gotham? Sound off in the comments below!
Top Photo Credit: ‘Gotham’ [Credit: Fox]