Which superhero's real name is Barbara Gordon?

And the answer: Batgirl.    

Photo credit: Phantom Stranger via batman.fandom

In the DC Comics universe, Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Gotham City's Police Commissioner James Gordon, and adopts the alter-ego of Batgirl.

Facing backlash after the release of American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent – a release which warned the world of the delinquent horrors of comic books – DC Comics needed to regain a more family friendly appearance. This meant introducing Batwoman, the love interest for Batman, as well as one for Robin, which became Batgirl.

Batgirl, whose original alter-ego was Betty Kane, first appeared as Batwoman's sidekick and niece in 1961 in Batman issue #139. Her introduction led to the eventual creation of the "Batman Family," an anthology series that later ran from 1975 to 1978, primarily featuring stories starring supporting characters to Batman. However, Batgirl was left behind in 1964, when new Batman editor Julius Schwartz deemed her and Batwoman silly, and inappropriate characters. The character of Betty Kane was later adapted into superhero Hawk Fire.

Next up was the iconic Barbara Gordon. Schwartz worked with television producers to create an all-new female character for the 1960s Batman television series starring Adam West. Linking her in as the daughter of previously-established police commissioner James Gordon, the new iteration of Batgirl was renamed and initiated into both the comic book and the television series in 1967. She went on to become so popular that she almost won her own spinoff show.

Once written into the comics, Barbara Gordon worked as a librarian – a now iconic role for a female superhero who defies society's rules. Today, Gordon is considered in part responsible for the redefinition of the librarian profession, as she represents it as a valuable and honorable career. However, in 1988, following the editorial retirement of the character's Batgirl persona in Batgirl Special #1, the graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke depicts the Joker shooting her in her civilian identity, resulting in her loss of mobility. In subsequent stories, Batgirl was reestablished as a technical advisor, computer expert and information broker known as Oracle.

There has been much academic, feminist and other important discourse surrounding Batgirl since her inception in the 1960s. Read more about her role and character here.  


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