Batwoman Star Nicole Kang Talks Mary's Future, Being Part of the Bat Family, and More
Batwoman is gearing up for the end of its first season, and its ensemble of characters are being put to the test in some major ways. That has especially been the case for Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang), who had a major turning point in last week's episode, "A Narrow Escape". The episode saw Gotham City being targeted by a villain named The Detonator, who planted bombs in significant locations across the city -- including the building that hosts Mary's underground clinic. In an emotional and heart-wrenching moment, Mary fought to save the disabled patients still in her clinic, with the help of her stepsister, Kate Kane/Batwoman (Ruby Rose). When Kate began to have a panic attack about whether or not she was fit to still be Batwoman, Mary provided her with some poignant words of wisdom -- while confirming that yes, she does know her stepsister is Gotham's newest caped crusader.
The moment definitely changed Mary's role in the series going forward, as she is now one of the few people in on the secret of Kate's superheroics. (Something that is expected to be on full display in tonight's episode, "If You Believe in Me, I'll Believe in You".) In anticipation of that, ComicBook.com got a chance to chat with Kang about the turning point for Mary, and about what fans can expect for the future of the series as a whole. In the process, we talked about her profound love for Batman, if Mary will eventually suit up as Flamebird, and what it's like to move during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Life in Quarantine
ComicBook.com: How are you at the moment?
Nicole Kang: I'm good. I moved recently from New York to L.A., so I'm all settled in now. It was a few weeks ago, and so I'm excited to be here. I'm like settled in.
What has it been like to move during quarantine, especially that much of a move? That seems kind of crazy.
It was hard. It was a better idea six months ago, but all things considered, everyone was safe, as safe as they could be. Moving companies are an essential service, so they were really great, that kind of thing. It's definitely one of the harder things I've ever had to do, like barter for toilet paper to get more luggage, because the luggage store wasn't open. Wild, wild times.prevnext
The Big Reveal
I loved that we finally got to see Mary tell Kate that she knows she's Batwoman. I thought you both did such a good job in that scene. What was it like to play that?
First of all, I am always gushing about Paul Wesley. We're so lucky to have him, because he's so experienced on the action front, as well as being our director. But, you know, when you're doing those scenes, you're not thinking "Oh my God, how am I going to make this different than every other time, in every other superhero show, where this reveal happens?" You just think about the truth. And I think to me, and to Kate, to Mary and to Kate, what is true. That's the way it becomes different than anything else you've ever seen, because it's just their unique relationship. Especially during such a crazy circumstance with the bomb and everything going off, and Mary's whole world blowing up and her really having that huge call-to-action moment within herself. It was really amazing.
It was really emotional. I mean, I've got a few of those scenes, and I find I always thank the writers - like Daphne Miles in this episode - but the whole room in general, for giving me such rich material to work with. I think about it, and I inject it through the week, and then by the time I'm on set, I just make sure that I'm loose and ready for anything and just running out of that [situation], running out of putting people under mattresses, flipping over things, chasing after Kate, all of that swells under you. All of that energy swells under you, and you're really locked in. It just becomes so clear in those moments of havoc, when the sky is falling down. What's important? What's the most important thing in their lives? How can I empower this person to keep going?
It's something that really hit a bit differently [during this pandemic]. To all of our heroes, big and small, at home, or in the hospital. or on the front lines, or delivering packages, or our mail delivery people. Just to keep going, I think, is so honorable in that. That's how it affected me differently last night. It transformed into something else before my eyes, without me necessarily touching it.prevnext
Now that Mary knows Kate's secret and is in on the "Batfamily", how does that change things going forward?
Now, Mary's really come to the table with something, right? Now the secret's out. I think it's interesting, it's still that younger sister dynamic, that sister dynamic where your sister wants to be a part of the club so bad. Mary wants to be there -- she's here, she's ready, she's been preparing. She's a huge fangirl, and she's really, really intelligent, and able to help out on the team. But the question is, will Kate actually let her on? It's not instant. She doesn't give her her own section in Wayne Tower, by any means, or let her in on more secrets.
It becomes more explosive, right? It becomes more of Mary on the front lines, doing her thing, trying to help with her knowledge of all things Gotham. Anyone who comes to Gotham, especially our villains of the week who wreak havoc on Gotham and people who I know on social media and famous people, Mary knows all about them. She knows their family, who they're dating, where they might be, why, what happened, what drove them to this. She's got the plug. I find it so funny where Mary is. She's so ready to help in any way, in medical, social, and beyond. She has good opinions as it is. It gets interesting.prevnext
Mary & Luke
I've really loved Mary and Luke's relationship across the season, and I feel like they have such an interesting partnership. What can you tease about that, now that they both are kind of in on Kate's secret together?
I think Luke is very wary, which is what we saw last [week]. He's getting his mind blown, still trying to cover it like, "What a mistake, you know, to let Mary in on the fold." I think he's really, really hesitant. I think he doubts her at every turn, and rightfully so. He's been the rule of the roost and knows all things Batman and Bruce.
Mary, to my delight, continues to upset him and adds something actually useful, and comes around doing her best Nancy Drew investigative work, and proves herself time and time again. It's just a lot of fun. I quite enjoy that part. I love that Luke is just sort of the nervous stickler to the rules, often sullen. He's got his whole storyline that's finally starting to reveal itself, with who killed Lucius Fox and things like that. He's got all of these dark things going on, and Mary is just adding to the noise in a totally different way.
I think they balance each other really in a fun, fun way. I love the way they bicker. I love that Mary takes full charge and is like "You're coming with me", and the way that they find their groove, and they actually start to care for one another and need each other. That's always really interesting.prevnext
Mary & Alice
Another thing I've really loved throughout this season has been Mary's relationship with Alice. Obviously, the mid-season finale was kind of a huge turning point with that, but I love how it's kind of built from there. Even as Alice is in Arkham at the moment, what can you say about their relationship and possibly where it could go from here?
Well, based on their track record, I'm a little nervous for the next time they meet. Alice always seems to have a plan. And she's cooking up something with, it seems, some support in Arkham, which seems to be like her happy place, unbeknownst to Mary, who thinks she's away forever, finally.
At the heart of the show, it's about sisters, and that's one really important leg of this triangle between the three of them. It's the road between Alice and Mary, and that's the road less traveled in this season, but it's a really, really interesting one. It seems like they come from such opposites, and now Mary has so much reason to hate her, and was still ready to let her die in the clinic.
I don't know. I think some of those undertones, those deeply dark undertones are going to definitely come to the surface between the two of them. It'll be really exciting, but it's going to be really dangerous for Mary. She has her wits about her, and she is scrappy as hell. I still bet on her, I do, but Alice does make me nervous. I have no idea what's in store for them. I'm really excited.prevnext
What has it been like to see the response to the show, and particularly to Mary, as the season has gone along?
I'm absolutely overwhelmed by the support, especially in Instagram, on Twitter. Those are mainly the two places that I try and interact with as many people as I can. If there are tweets, I try to like all of them and see what they're all saying. It's really amazing to me, because oftentimes, I think something is really layered in Mary's journey. It's amazing what they pick up on, they pick up on so much nuance in her that I really take to heart. It makes it worth it. It's so great to see how invested people are in her and her journey, and it's just such a cool show to be on.
I mean, I still fangirl about it. Famously, in our cast, I am like on eBay to find vintage Batman stuff, always repping it on set. I've got a great '90s Batman jean jacket that Warner Brothers made, which I wear constantly to set before I get into costume and stuff. Everyone is always like "Another one?" It feels like I'm on this sports team. It's like my sports team or my alma mater. I am still a fan after 17 episodes have aired, 20 episodes shot. I continue to be a fan. It's really cool to talk to people who think this world is as cool as I think it is, who think about Gotham, who think about Mary Hamilton as much as I do, and who make beautiful art because of it, and videos. I don't know. It's overwhelming.
I'm kind of devastated that Comic-Con in San Diego, for example, got canceled. I haven't had an opportunity yet to go to a Comic-Con, and I'd really like to meet some people. I'm really looking forward to that, and I know the next one, where we all can go and participate and meet the fans one-on-one and as a group will be so monumental. I'm trying to look at it like I'm going to be really, really glad that that's my first experience at Comic-Con ever.prevnext
Oh god, I know what you mean. I'm in the Chicago area, and our big con was at the end of February, and it was really weird afterward to realize "Oh, I basically just went to the last con of the year," because everything since then has gotten canceled.
Wild. You never think about it. You're like "Oh, there's another one in the books," and you just don't know how things can change. I know. I sort of counted on it. I was signed up for Dragon-Con in Atlanta. I was really going to get going on them. Comic-Cons are such a good way for me to see the world. For me to go to Chicago, go to San Diego, go to Atlanta, Georgia, go to all these places, and then abroad and in Europe and beyond. That is such a gateway for me. These fans quite literally provide my dreams, the travel dreams of my life, by providing me a place to go and continue on. I don't know. Their influence is bigger than they know. It really does matter.prevnext
Now that Mary knows that Kate is Batwoman, and now that Kate is part of the Justice League, and there's this whole world of superheroes and villains as an extension of that. Are there characters that you really want Mary to crossover with or hang out with?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. The problem is, I'm always looking up villains and like "Oh, this happened!" I sort of wig out every time we mention the Joker. I freak out usually, like when Hush (Gabriel Mann) came on and joining us. He's so dope, and I was like "I can't believe it." Or even Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), sort of referencing Alfred, who is a household name. Things like that, little details, I find really delicious to me.
I love seeing how people come on, and their interpretation and our show's interpretation of these villains. I'm really excited to go back and see who is Mary's family, build that out a little bit, like where she came from. I'm really, really excited to see who Alice is scared of, and what's coming down the line.
Another villain I really loved, as well, is Duella Dent. In the comics, she coins herself as like the Joker's daughter, and then it all turns... I mean, this is comics, not necessarily our show, she claims that she's the Joker's daughter, she claims that she's always been Harvey Dent's daughter, and then it sort of turns out that she's none of their daughters.
That was really cool, too. I just like how we tie in these really big, bad people, especially while those big DC movies are rolling out and stuff like that. It makes us feel like we're a part of the family, if you will.prevnext
Do you hope that Mary gets to suit up at some point? Because I feel like we have to see her as Flamebird.
You are not alone. I do. I also think, though, that so much has to happen. I mean, we're at episode 17, and Mary's just telling Kate that she knows that she's Batwoman. love the time that we're taking, that it's sort of more realistic. I just want to make sure it's done with care and earned and that we're not suiting up for suiting up's sake. And what superhero that is, and if that's in our story, I don't really know if that's included. A lot of our story tells people who have crazy backgrounds who've made them this way, and then something's happened. I don't know how our show is going to expand to allow other people in, At this point in Gotham, I think Mary, her mind would be blown. I don't think she's necessarily ready for that.
But, oh yeah. The possibilities are endless. I think the montage of her getting a super-suit would just be hilarious.
She's hanging on in Gotham, and doing pretty damn good with her skills. And I like the parts of her that are side-kicky and relatable and using the skill set that we all have and inviting our audience into Gotham in that way with such levity. Her slice of pie is awesome. I sort of like that she sits with the audience and learns as they learn most of the time. That's been a really great joy of Mary, which I want to make sure I don't lose, too.
We have long seasons, so we get into story. We have time to get into story. Each episode is a pressure cooker. We only have 42 minutes to tell a standalone episode, as well as deepening character episodes. We pack a lot in there. But at the same time, if things happen too quickly in a show before you build the world out... Sometimes you make decisions, but you're like "Oh, we could have explored this whole other part of her that I don't know yet." Be careful what you wish for, that kind of thing. I definitely do err on that side of things a little bit, too.
I read sort of fan theories all the time. Some of it is Flamebird. A lot of it is Flamebird, a lot of it is Batgirl and then Flamebird. It's just so different. And then theories about who my dad is and stuff like that. But you know, when it's time, when you can't tell any other story, that's when it's time to tell that story.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.prev