Actress Savannah Welch says she wanted to portray Barbara Gordon on Titans season 3 less dolled up. The third season of Titans is currently rolling out on HBO Max with a 13-episode arc that concludes in October. The Max original series brings back the key players from seasons one and two, including Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters, Joshua Orpin, Minka Kelly, and Alan Ritchson as they deal with a number of conflicts, individually and as a team.
The third season of Titans finds Welch’s Barbara Gordon as the new commissioner of Gotham City and working with her old flame, Dick Grayson/Nightwing, to bring down the emerging threat of Red Hood. After the “death” of Jason Todd in the season opener, Nightwing and the rest of the Titans head to Gotham, while Starfire’s sister makes an appearance to fight for rule over their planet and Raven ventures to Themyscira to train with the Amazons. Welch, who lost her right leg in a car accident, uses her own experience to play Barbara Gordon, who is wheelchair bound in the series, just as she is in her comics origin post Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland.
Although honored to take on the role of Barbara Gordon, Welch felt that the character should be a bit more dressed down. In an interview with W Magazine, Welch says it was an uphill battle to fight the traditional comic book aesthetic. Her instinct was that Barbara Gordon would be more like Kate Winslet’s character in Mare of Easttown, rather than a dressed-up police commissioner. Read her comments below:
“…Of course, I immediately flashed to Titans, playing a commissioner who is dolled up. I was fighting an uphill battle, trying to play her down, but I don’t know. I don’t think [Barbara Gordon] would give a shit so much about what she looks like. It’s a different world, and it’s a totally different genre of show…And not to throw anybody from Titans under the bus at all, but I was going, “Less curls, less jewelry; she might be sloppy some days.” But it’s a comic book. I understand the need to portray a certain image, as well as in a different genre, but I think my intuition and instincts lend to something that’s a bit more in line with what Kate did with her character in [Mare of Easttown].”
Barbara Gordon has been portrayed in multiple incarnations since her creation in Detective Comics #359, which was tied to her first physical appearance in the 1960s Batman TV show and played by Yvonne Craig. After she’s wounded by The Joker, Barbara Gordon took on the role of Oracle, where she would later show up in the short-lived Birds of Prey series, played by actress Dina Meyer. When DC relaunched their comics line with the New 52, Barbara Gordon was shown as having been surgically cured and re-assuming her Batgirl role. The next actress to play Barbara Gordon will be Leslie Grace in the HBO Max original Batgirl film.
Obviously, Barbara Gordan has been portrayed in many different lights, so there’s certainly room to explore how she may appear on both page and screen. For Welch, it seems like a fair desire to want to dress Barbara down, especially given her own perspective as someone with a disability. That said, given the slick, stylized look of Titans, it simply may not be the right aesthetic choice to make her less “dolled up.” After all, she is a police commissioner in this incarnation, so a professional look is probably more apt. Either way, Welch is invested in the role for Titans and has continued to help keep the character of Barbara Gordon alive, regardless of how she’s dressed.
Source: W Magazine