Gotham Knights: How Is Former Oracle Barbara Gordon Back as Batgirl?

Barbara Gordon will return to the role of Batgirl in Gotham Knights. But how is she Batgirl again after being paralyzed in the Batman: Arkham games?

Gotham Knights Batgirl
Photo: WB Games

Barbara Gordon is one of Gotham’s most iconic heroes, and in the newly announced Gotham Knights, she’ll be taking to the streets under her most famous mantle, Batgirl. Alongside her other Bat-Family super-siblings, she’ll be protecting the city from the mysterious organization known as the Court of Owls, but if you’ve played the Arkham games, you might be wondering why she is no longer in a wheelchair and using the mantle of Oracle. 

The official press release from WB Games gives a brief indication of how Babs becomes Batgirl again: “Barbara Gordon is a determined fighter and a skilled hacker. As the daughter of deceased Gotham commissioner, Jim Gordon, she had helped Batman as Oracle in the past. Now, after years of recovery and preparation, she is ready to step into her new role, wielding her melee tonfa, and harnessing her training in kickboxing, capoeira, and jiu-jitsu.”

As some of you may know, there’s precedence for Babs recovering from her paralysis and return to the Batgirl role, but fans who haven’t read the New 52 Batgirl comics might be slightly confused, so let’s break down how Barbara is back in the suit:

After being paralyzed by the Joker during the events of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s controversial never-meant-to-be-canon Batman comic, The Killing Joke, Babs took on the mantle of Oracle, providing tactical support and intel to DC’s most beloved heroes. Intelligent, dynamic, and powerful, Oracle became a mainstay in both DC’s comics and animated universes. But during 2011’s New 52 comic book reboot, DC decided that it wanted her to be Batgirl again, leaning into the trope of magically curing disabilities for narrative reasons. 

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While a wheelchair-using Batgirl would have been super cool, that didn’t fit with DC’s vision for a young, hip hero who apparently had to use her legs to save the cool Burnside neighborhood of Gotham. It was later revealed in the pages of Batgirl that Babs had undergone an experimental “neural surgery” which allowed her to walk again. Though the WB Games press release doesn’t mention that specifically, instead only alluding to her recovery, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the surgery woven into the game, especially as it offers up a chance to introduce the memory loss and the potential glitches with the neural implant to Babs’ story. This plot point from the comics would be a good way for WB Games to add a bit of personal conflict to the character as she moves into the shadowy world of the Court of Owls. 

It seems especially likely that the studio will draw on the New 52 Batgirl of Burnside era of the character since the suit the hero wears in the game seems to be based on the beloved purple and yellow costume that was created by Babs Tarr, Brendan Fletcher, and Cameron Stewart. Note those badass yellow combat boots… no high heels here. Maybe we’ll even see Batgirl rock that rad leather jacket that became so synonymous with her time in Burnside?

Although it’s a shame to see Oracle left behind in the games for now, it’s pretty cool that the WB Games team is leaning into this younger, cooler, and more realistic version of Batgirl and away from the over-sexualized and badly designed costumes of the past! 

Gotham Knights hits the proverbial streets in 2021 and will be available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.