Batwoman returns for its third season tonight, taking the hit The CW series into some interesting and unexpected territory. The new batch of episodes are set to deal with the fallout of the Batman villain trophies being let loose on Gotham City in the Season 2 finale, an action that is expected to cause the emergence of new antagonists and threats. As the Season 3 trailer and the promo material surrounding the premiere confirmed, that includes some sort of incarnation of The Mad Hatter (Amitai Marmorstein), who will be wreaking havoc on the medical school graduation of Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang). So, who is exactly is The Mad Hatter, and why is his legacy sure to cause trouble for Batwoman? Here's what you need to know.
Created by Bill Finger, Lew Sayre Schwartz, and Bob Kane, The Mad Hatter first debuted in 1948's Batman #49. The Mad Hatter is really a man named Jervis Tetch who — as his superhero moniker would suggest — is obsessed with the lore of Alice in Wonderland. Later canon would reveal that Tetch's obsessions led to him building mind-control devices, and also extends to kidnapping young girls and forcing them to assume the role of "Alice" in his mad tea parties before selling them into slavery. Over the years, Tetch was sent to Arkham Asylum after committing various heinous crimes, and he regularly crossed paths with (and briefly became a member of) the Secret Six.
In the post-Flashpoint continuity, Tetch's lore was expanded upon, and it was revealed that he had an infatuation with a girl named Alice Dee, which led to him being exposed to experimental testosterone therapies in order to gain her affection. Alice rejected him, and the experiments began to give him significant side effects, leading to him assuming the murderous role of The Mad Hatter. His machinations included using his mind control hats to recreate his "perfect day" as a child with Alice, which led to him killing her and several other women. Tetch later almost died at the hands of Anarky, who was revealed to be the brother of The Mad Hatter's first victim, a girl named Alice Young. Tetch has appeared sporadically in the comics in the years since, and also appeared across Season 3 of Fox's Gotham, where he was portrayed by Benedict Samuel.
While it's unclear if Batwoman's incarnation of The Mad Hatter will be Jervis Tetch or a new character altogether (much less how his history will be established on the show, given the Alice in Wonderland gimmick of Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and her Wonderland Gang), there is some precedent for the mantle being held by other people. Notably, an imposter version of The Mad Hatter appeared in 1956's Detective Comics #230, as a thief who was obsessed with collecting hats, and wants the Batman cowl to add to his collection. This incarnation of the character was later dubbed "Hatman."
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New episodes of Batwoman air Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW.