Batwoman Showrunner Explains Why the Show's Julia Pennyworth Differs From Comics

Sunday night's episode of Batwoman introduced not one, but two new characters into the Arrowverse. On the villain front, The Rifle (Garfield Wilson) made his debut in "Tell Me the Truth" and potentially set up for the arrival of Many Arms of Death but there was a "good guy" introduced as well with Julia Pennyworth, daughter of Batman's iconic beloved butler Alfred. However Batwoman's Julia, played by Christina Wolfe, may have looked a bit different from what fans of the comics may have expected. Now, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries explains why they went the direction they did with the character.

In Sunday night's episode, Julia pays Gotham a visit in pursuit of The Rifle but ends up donning the Batwoman suit to help trick Sophie (Meagan Tandy) into believing that Kate (Ruby Rose) isn't actually Batwoman. That element of things -- the deception regarding Kate's secret identity -- is the reason ultimately the reason why Julia Pennyworth ended up being played by a Caucasian actress, rather than a mixed race one more in keeping with how the character is presented in comics.

"Yeah, we stressed about that a lot," Dries told Entertainment Weekly. "And the reason is we knew we wanted a character to come in and put on the Batwoman suit so we could fool Sophie, and we also fell in love with the idea of using Julia Pennyworth. Then when we realized that Sophie would not be fooled by a mixed race Batwoman, we were like, 'Oh, s**t,' you know, but we decided just to own it and go with it anyway."

While Dries is correct in that a mixed race woman under the cowl probably wouldn't have worked in terms of the ruse, couldn't they have just created a new character to fit the space instead? While it sounds like something that the show could have done, Dries said that it made more sense to them to weave part of the world of Batman into Batwoman's story as they planted seeds for future stories -- meaning a canonical character was the way to go.

"We were really excited about Julia because she exists in the cannon and because we wanted to introduce this idea of: Alice gets that serum from this woman named Safiyah, and that’s what Julia is in Gotham dealing with. We kind of just wanted to plant the seeds of that, so it made perfect sense for us that it would be Julie Pennyworth. We wanted also just to enhance Kate’s backstory a little bit and being so early on in the season [and] series still, just kind of adding to the depths of the Bruce Wayne connection to Kate and stuff like that," Dries said. "So it made sense it was someone sort of in both the Batman and Batwoman lore."


Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.

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