Earlier this year, WB Montreal came under fire for what fans described as an ableist description of Batgirl’s backstory. In the comics, a gunshot to the spine left Batgirl wheelchair bound, leading her to become the tech expert Oracle. Only after futuristic medical procedures was she able to don Batgirl’s cape for a second time.
In Gotham Knights, Batgirl’s initial description said she simply overcame her injuries through training, a superhero trope that even has a specific name. Backlash from the disabled community eventually lead creative director Patrick Redding to reach out to AbleGamers to update Batgirl’s backstory with "extensive rehabilitation."
That rehabilitation is still ongoing in Gotham Knights. In a new interview with GameSpot, lead writer Ceri Young revealed how Batgirl’s character model and even her idle animations reflect her medical condition.
"Batgirl's injury and rehab, her time as Oracle, is part of her story and part of who she is," explained Young. "So, of course, we recognize it in Gotham Knights, and there are a lot of moments that will reflect that. Physically, you'll see that she wears a back brace. If she's idling in the Belfry, you'll see her doing exercises that are specifically geared to her injuries. Story-wise, she will talk about her time as Oracle. There's some friction at first with her and the team because they're operating out of the Belfry, which she's used to thinking of as her space. We know that it's very important to a lot of people so we worked with consultants at AbleGamers to make sure that we were handling it with the care and respect that it deserves."
Thanks to the 16 minutes of gameplay footage released today, we know that Batgirl’s crime-fighting abilities aren’t hindered by her injury. In fact, her in-game description now says she’s "tough as nails"–a nod both to her injury and the emotional trauma after losing both her father and Bruce Wayne.
"Batgirl's physical abilities are a reflection of her grit and determination," noted game director Geoff Ellenor. "She's fought her way back, rebuilt her strength, and she keeps getting back up where others falter."
Gotham Knights arrives on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on October 25.
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