Despite being a relatively new villain in Batman’s enviable rogue gallery, the Court of Owls quickly won the hearts of comic book readers and became a fan-favorite secret society. More recently, the Court of Owls reached new heights of success by flying into television to become major antagonists in the show. Gotham. But that’s not the end of the story, as the Owls keep flapping their wings and getting ready to invade several Batman-related productions in the upcoming months. The Court of Owls will show up in the CW’s Gotham Knights live-action series, are the main villains of the Batman: Arkham games spiritual successor also named Gotham Knightsand will also show up in Harley Quinn once Season 3 debuts on HBO Max. But who’s the Court of Owls? And how can comic books prepare us for what’s coming on TV and games?
What Is the Court of Owls?
In 2011, DC decided to reboot its entire superhero universe, giving every prominent member of the Justice League a new origin story. The controversial New 52 initiative gave writers a clean slate they used to re-imagine and reshape classic heroes, villains, and storylines, for good or for the bad. However, when DC decided to reboot their universe, they had one major issue: Batman was one of its longest-running comic book lines, with a continuity that hadn’t been touched since the Dark Knight’s first story, released in 1939’s Detective Comics # 27. DC did not want to erase every big Batman storyline, such as Alan Moore‘s The Killing Jokethe death of Jason Todd, and Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Talia al Ghul… So, they made the strange decision of keeping every significant event of seven decades of Batman comic books canon, reorganizing everything to have happened only three years before the New 52 reboot. .
By keeping Batman’s main history canon, DC ensured fans that all their favorite villains and supporting characters still existed in the DC universe. However, that created a series issue for the new line of Batman comics. While other heroes had new and exciting adventures that reinvented classic storylines, there was not much Batman could reuse since everything was already canon. So, it was up to the writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo to develop a brand new villain that would pay homage to Batman’s detective legacy, shake Gotham to its core, and act in a way that would not contradict canon. The result was the rise of the Court of Owls.
The first issues of Batman’s New 52 comics follow the Dark Knight fighting against an enemy he cannot beat with a punch. The Court of Owls is a secret society founded at the same time as Gotham City, in the 1600 ‘. The group is composed of descendants of wealthy families who controlled the city at its inception and who kept ruling Gotham from the shadows. By ensuring politicians and entrepreneurs always act in their favor, the Court of Owls ensures that wealthy families remain in power. However, from the very beginning, the group knew the public would eventually oppose their ruling. That’s why the Court of Owls’ primary weapon is secrecy.
The Court of Owls is a secret society so secret that even Batman believes they are nothing more than an urban legend. After his parents got killed, the young Bruce Wayne was convinced that the Court of Owls was behind the double murder. That’s why he went out searching for the truth, only to find dead ends. That’s right, folks, the man who’s internationally recognized as the Greatest Detective in the world couldn’t find any clue that would prove the Court of Owls’ existence, and in time Batman decided to let go of his crusade.
As it turns out, the secret society does exist. And, yes, they were involved in the Waynes’ murders. That means the group is responsible for creating a superhero, something only great comic book villains can claim. Also, the only reason Batman ever learns the truth about the Court of Owls is because Bruce Wayne becomes a target for the organization, which voted to take the philanthropist out of the scene. Unfortunately for Bruce, while the Court of Owls prefer to use money and influence to get what they want, they also count on a deadly order of assassins named Talons.
Who Are the Talons?
When their money is not enough to prevent Gotham from changing, the Court of Owls sends one of their Talons to do their dirty job. The Talons are also in charge of killing everyone who gets too close to the truth, ensuring the Court of Owls remains nothing more than an urban legend. Armed with special suits shaped like an owl, each Talon is a warrior raised from childhood to become a deadly master of assassination. Alone, a Talon is almost unbeatable, but the Court of Owls also has the gruesome habit of keeping every generation of Talon in hibernation and ready to be revived.
When a Talon reaches the peak of their physical form, they are often challenged by other Talons in training. Once a new pupil bests the main Talon, the old assassin gets replaced as the current assassin of the Court of Owls by the younger one. Then, the former Talon’s body is preserved using chemicals that keep them functional even after many centuries. So, when the Court of Owls feels one Talon is not enough to do the job, they can revive any number of warriors from their eternal sleep, sending an army of deadly warriors to destroy their enemies.
Each Talon warrior also gets a unique nest hidden in Gotham’s skyscrapers. Almost every significant building in Gotham has a secret space between two floors, built by the Court of Owls to serve as a headquarters for the Talons and keep their bodies once they enter their slumber. That allows the secret organization to send assassins to any target in the city as quickly as possible. And if they want to overtake Gotham by assault, their army of Talons will spawn from every direction, making it impossible for their enemy to prepare. Of course, Batman’s involvement with the Court of Owls led to the activation of every Talon, and the whole Bat-Family had to join forces to contain their invasion.
Due to their vast reach, ability to remain hidden, and an army of almost immortal assassins, the Court of Owls kept control over Gotham for centuries. That is what makes them such a formidable enemy. No wonder Batman fans quickly accepted the Court of Owls, and so many different productions want to use them to create new and exciting stories.