Batwoman’s Luke Fox is a fan-favorite character but the audience knows little about him, beyond his neurotic tendencies and famous father, whose disappearance has loomed over the series since its premiere. With episode 6, “I’ll be Judge, I’ll be the Jury,” we finally know what happened to Lucius Fox and have more insight into who Luke Fox is as a person.
Batwoman star Camrus Johnson, who plays the younger Fox, spoke with Den of Geek by phone about the heavy-hitting episode, his character’s relationship to his father, and using the guise of superheroes to discuss serious issues.
The episode revealed that Lucius was killed while out running an errand the day Luke graduated from high school. Johnson describes Luke’s relationship to that event as someone who sounds emotionally closed off in what sounds like a very lonely attempt at self-preservation: “He doesn’t have a lot of friends or people to talk to. I think it’s been something that’s been quietly weighing heavily on him quite some time. He doesn’t talk about it, he sort of tries to ignore it.”
Fast-forward a decade or so and it turns out the man that put Lucius’s killer away is corrupt, resurfacing the old wound and making it fresh because the conviction could be reversed. For someone who’s been trying to leave the past in the past, it has made for a very difficult time, especially for a character that’s often the comic relief.
Batwoman has focused on gentrification and class issues consistently, but this episode more specifically delved into corruption of the legal system and racial injustice, with villain The Executioner realizing there was a problem when only people of color who interacted with the same cop, assistant district attorney, and judge were sent to death row.
Luke has a unique angle on the issue, as someone who thought he had justice for his father’s death but could see that conviction overturned due to the ADA’s corruption. The “very smart” writing allowed a space for him in the narrative to hold these multiple complex feelings at the same time, while also pushing back on Kate for trying to tell a Black man in America about racial profiling in law enforcement.
While this might sound unusual for comic book fare, Johnson enjoys being able use the “superhero guise,” to talk about real issues, and recalls the rich history of doing so. “It really reminded me of some of the old DC animated shows, because what I love about animation is that you get the high social issues and darker subject matter under the guise of color and fun and animation…We’re getting to talk about racial profiling and all these other real issues.”
Luke was initially skeptical of Kate, which might not be unique to her. He hasn’t had much of a personal life on the show, and Johnson says he doesn’t trust many people. Making matters worse, one of the few people he really trusted, ADA Stanton, ruined that trust by being corrupt. At this point, Luke might even be thinking that he’s the common denominator.
“I don’t think he wants to be around a whole lot of people, and he may even feel guilt about being close to people, because it seems like you know, it’s not like he’s a bad luck charm or anything but bad things have happened to different people close to him so I think he tends to just stick to himself.”
While Luke was suspicious of Kate early on, their partnership has grown, and his confiding in her about his father’s death felt like a big step. Johnson agreed, saying, “I think that him confiding in Kate for a moment and actually bringing it up and letting his emotions pile up for just a second is a lot for him. And it’s sort of awkward because he doesn’t do it very often and there’s no telling when was the last time was that he did.”
But don’t think that this means Luke is about to start texting Kate all his innermost thoughts – he’s still someone who’s default mode is to keep his emotions under wraps for as long as possible, which is going to be tough with his father’s case coming back up,
As Johnson pointed out, “although he opened the wound a little bit, he was very quick to put a Band-Aid on it and he hopes to keep that Band-Aid on it for as long as he can.”
A day that was meant to be a forward-looking celebration forever changed Luke’s life in many ways, probably more than the private character has shown so far. As we learned in this episode, it stopped his path to MIT, where he was accepted but never attended. Johnson mused, “I’m sure the emotions took over and it made him not want to go to school anymore.”
While this episode illuminated some of Luke’s path, there’s much more to see. “I think that’s important to know exactly where his mindset is, to hear what happened from point A to point B, I think it’s going to be vital to Luke’s overall arch.”
Even beyond that the immediate aftermath of his father’s death, there are so many questions about this version of Luke Fox – was he eager to follow in his father’s footsteps? “I think we definitely have to talk more about what happened not just with his father’s death but also what Luke has been doing, like where he’s been, what’s been going on, how long he’s been working with Bruce and how long he’s been in the Batcave.”
Looking toward the future, there’s obviously much more to the father-son dynamic between the Fox men that has yet to come, but Johnson can’t divulge too much. What he can share is that he “can’t wait” until he gets to, “talk more about Lucius within Luke’s voice.” Since Luke’s feelings are so complicated and conflicting, seeing the lines and playing it on the day will be part of processing that complexity.
It’s a potent mixture of love, regret, anger, and sadness, the kind of emotional depth that actors live for and that readers have come to associate with some of their favorite comics, though lately it seems not everyone thinks they have a place on screen with superheroes. For Luke, Johnson says, “There’s so much compassion within him that it’s really hard to say exactly how he’s feeling because he’s feeling everything. He’s feeling every version of remorse that he can and guilt and depression and sadness about his father passing that exist. I’m really excited that I’m going to get to dive into that.”