Warner Bros. Montreal has altered Batgirl’s biography in Gotham Knights following backlash about the game’s explanation for her paralysis recovery.
Batgirl AKA Barbara Gordon is one of Gotham Knights’ four playable characters alongside Nightwing, Robin, and Red Hood in a story that sees the Bat family defending Gotham after Bruce Wayne’s death. In the 1988 comic story The Killing Joke, Barbara is famously shot through the spine by the Joker, paralyzing and confining her to a wheelchair for many years in which she lent tech and information support to Batman as Oracle. In DC’s 2011 New 52 comic reboot, Barbara regains her mobility due to an experimental surgery followed by physical therapy/training.
Per Eurogamer, Gotham Knights’ original website biography for Batgirl vaguely references these events. It doesn’t mention the Joker or a specific culprit, but the offending bit was the implication that Barbara overcame her disability just by training hard. You can read the relevant section of the bio below:
After a face-off that put Barbara in a wheelchair, she became Oracle, a powerful information and communications expert. But her father’s death spurred her to train and recover from her wounds so that she could return to active duty as Batgirl.
Some fans criticized Warner Bros. Montreal for misusing this kind of heroic training trope, feeling it undermined her disability. The studio addressed these complaints in a recent Discord Q&A where creative director Patrick Redding elaborated on Barbara’s recovery by saying:
“As with many of our characters and plot elements, the circumstances around Barbara’s injuries differ in some important ways from how it’s been portrayed in the comics. Barbara has been through multiple surgeries followed by a lot of physical therapy and pain management [in Gotham Knights].”
Redding states that the biography has been rewritten. It now reads:
With extensive training and rehabilitation, she recovered from her wounds, and returned to active duty as Batgirl.
Warner Bros. Montreal is also working with disability charity organization AbleGamers “to learn about different types of spinal injuries and the potential for someone to regain mobility.” To that end, the team says players will see Barbara doing rehab exercises in the Belfry hideout and her Batsuit and civilian clothing include back bracing.
Gotham Knights launches October 25 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. You can watch the most recent gameplay demo here.