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‘Elseworlds': DC Vault Opens Wider Than Ever to ‘Arrowverse,’ But Batman Remains Off-Limits

CW finally got to visit Gotham City, but don’t expect the Caped Crusader to show up anytime soon

(Warning: The following story includes spoilers for Monday night’s “Arrow” episode)

The CW’s “Arrowverse” finally got to pay a visit to the most famous city in the DC Comics universe this side of Metropolis: Gotham City.

This makes Monday’s “Arrow” episode a landmark event in The CW’s “Arrowverse,” because — despite Fox airing “Gotham,” which is set years before Batman shows up — anything to do with the Caped Crusader or his city was always considered a no-fly zone by Warner Bros. and DC brass. Until now.

“DC doesn’t let you say ‘Batman,’ [or] have anything about Gotham City,” Caroline Dries, who co-wrote Monday’s “Arrow” episode and is spearheading the solo “Batwoman” project, told reporters. “Now, all of a sudden, you can do stuff. For a bunch of geeks like us, you’re in heaven.”

“Arrow” showrunner Beth Schwartz added that for years they had tried to weave in at least a reference to Gotham City, but outside of a brief Bruce Wayne namedrop, DC and Warner Bros. rebuffed them at every turn. “We tried, so many times,” she said. “It was kind of shocking.”

But now, DC and Warner Bros. are prying open their massive comics vault wider to The CW, allowing for The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl to spend an entire episode in Gotham’s city limits, where they (and viewers) are treated to the first look of Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane, better known as Batwoman.

And in doing so, Monday’s episode also includes the first mention of any kind in the “Arrowverse” of Batman himself. Yes, he does — or at least, he did at one point — exist in the CW universe, even though Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell, who is playing a body-swapped version of The Flash in this episode) argues that he’s just a myth to scare criminals. But when they go to the top of a decrepit Wayne Tower, the Bat-signal is there, even if it’s no longer in use.

Schwartz explained that Oliver’s disbelief of the Batman was a meta-joke because when they first debuted “Arrow” in 2012, any hint of Batman was off limits. “We introduce him as being the first vigilante so it was kind poking fun at that a little bit, and him being very defensive,” she said.

And the Batman references don’t stop there. Arkham Asylum, where the back half of the episode takes place, is gushing with Batman lore. This is most notable with the names on the cell doors, which include the likes of “Cobblepot,” “Nygma” and “Isley.” Other references include a shot of a freeze-ray gun that is labeled the property of one “V. Fries” and both Oliver and Barry get drugged with a vile of fear toxin that falls from the shelves during a fight. And if you weren’t sure whose toxin that was, the name “J. Crane” is on the label.

“There’s so much Batman mythology out there available to people,” Dries said, though she added that they tried to remix some of it, if only because there have been so many different versions of Batman and Gotham City. For example, Nora Fries (Cassandra Jean) — the wife of Victor Fries (better known as Mr. Freeze) — picks up the freeze-ray gun and fights Killer Frost (“Flash’s” Danielle Panabaker), much like her husband would have. “Our thought was, let’s do something different, but also familiar.”

So now that the “Arrowverse” has not only visited Gotham City but confirmed Batman’s existence, does that mean the Caped Crusader could eventually find his way to The CW? Not so fast.

“That’s the one where they cut you off,” says Dries, but she’s not fully giving up hope that Kate Kane’s more famous cousin could show up some day. “Slowly but surely, we’ll just keep picking away at it.”