Yvonne Craig, who passed August 17, paved way for other actresses and girls who ever dreamed to be a hero.
Making her debut as Batgirl in September 1967 during the final season of Batman, she would often come in to help save the Caped Crusader, Batman (Adam West) and the Boy Wonder, Robin (Burt Ward). Batgirl, like her hero, also kept a secret identity as Barbara Gordon, who also is police commissioner James Gordon’s daughter.
The show threw in as much of the Bat family as possible that was adapted from the DC comic books. Despite female superheroes already being introduced decades earlier, it wasn’t until Craig made her debut, did one have such a prominent role, even if it was a brief time. The impact she had on the show even got the cast with Ward and William Dozier sans West to record a PSA about equal pay for women.
Without Batgirl, we wouldn’t have seen Wonder Woman, Buffy, or Xena on TV. Even today, there’s been hesitation of featuring a strong female to lead on the big screen in the superhero genre given the lack of success of films like Supergirl, Sucker Punch, Elektra and Catwoman. As successful as Marvel’s The Avengers and its sequel The Age of Ultron has been the publicity surrounding the lack of promotion of Black Widow.
The next two female-led films, one by Marvel and the other by DC will feature Captain Marvel (2018)and Wonder Woman (2017). As someone who’s well aware of the positive influence women need, MMA champion Ronda Rousey has been personally vying for the role of Captain Marvel. Rousey showed her action chops outside of the ring in The Expendables 3.
As much of contemporary TV and some films, there has been numerous strong women portrayed in both mediums. Perhaps when Netflix’s Jessica Jones and CBS’ Supergirl debut, we’ll see more female-led oriented superhero projects and better representation.
Let’s remember Craig not just as an actress and a ballet dancer, but also for the way she opened the door. Suddenly seeing her as Batgirl made the thinly veiled sexist comments almost fade away because she was doing what the men were.
From the Washington Post:
Batman: “She does make a colorful reinforcement, all right, but I don’t want her to think we can’t fight our own battles.”
Robin: “Gosh no, Batman!”
She made a generation of millions believe that women CAN save the day.