Badass Lesbian Latina Detective Renee Montoya is Coming to Your TV This Fall on “Gotham”

Detective Renee Montoya, along with the probably queer villain Harley Quinn, is one of the few characters created for Batman: The Animated Series that was popular and well-written enough to make the jump to the comics. Now she’s making another jump, this time back to TV, as she’ll be playing a prominent role in this fall’s new show Gotham, where she’ll be played by actress Victoria Cartegena.

Victoria Cartagena as Det. Renee Montoya via Fox

Victoria Cartagena as Det. Renee Montoya via Fox

Cartagena was listed as a guest star in the pilot, but has been bumped up to a series regular now that the series has been picked up. If you know her from the comics, you know that she’s a total badass. She’s not only a detective in probably the most dangerous and crime-plagued city, but she’s also a lesbian of color who has done everything from being the superhero The Question to dating Kate Kane, also known as Batwoman. The inclusion of Montoya in Gotham is very exciting news for comic lovers, television lovers and lovers of positive media representation for queer women of color.

Montoya, with Kate Kane, in the comics. Art by JH Williams III

Montoya, with Kate Kane, in the comics. Art by JH Williams III

Gotham is one of this fall’s most highly anticipated new shows, even being called the most promising new show by the Television Critics Association. It stars Ben McKenzie as a young Detective Jim Gordon in the Gotham City Police Department back when Bruce Wayne was still a child and not yet Batman. Joining Gordon and Montoya in the Gotham PD are Harvey Bullock, played by Donal Logue, Crispus Allen (who was Montoya’s partner on the force in the comics) played by Anthony Stewart-Jones, and Captain Sarah Essen, another woman of color, played by Zabryna Guevara. Several classic Batman villains make appearances as younger pre-big-name-villain versions of themselves, including The Riddler, Poison Ivy, Catwoman and The Penguin. Jada Pinkett Smith rounds out the cast as the crimelord Fish Mooney who was created for the show and will be a major villain.

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Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney via Fox

Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney via Fox

It’s nice to know that Montoya will be openly lesbian on the show, and hopefully, she’ll even be shown in relationships with other women. Pinkett Smith told the Advocate, “It’s a new day when we can have a show on television that is not afraid to explore various sexual orientations of women… Let us hope that this is a path toward even more change in regard to the perceptions of female sexuality, as well as our bodies in relation to sex.” This is a very high profile show, and Montoya has a chance to reach countless queer women of color. Cartegena knows this.

Growing up, I rarely saw people of color or gay people depicted in a positive light, and I know when you don’t see yourself reflected in the world around you, it does things to your self-esteem. I know if I had seen a character like Renee on TV when I was younger — a Latina who is smart, powerful, and strong — it would’ve encouraged me to dream bigger. So I know what she means to people, and if watching me means that I can help someone else feel included, than that makes me very happy.

This is especially welcoming news, as another show based on a DC comic this fall, Constantine, announced that their canonically bisexual lead character will be straight in the TV show because “…within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.” Because that’s obviously how being bisexual works. Even though having a lesbian character doesn’t make up for this bisexual erasure, it’s good to see Gotham isn’t making the same bad decisions Constantine did.

Montoya with Jim Gordon via dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com

Montoya with Jim Gordon via dcwomenkickingass.tumblr.com

Cartegena’s Montoya joins Caity Lotz, who plays Sarah Lance,  Arrow’s version of the superhero Black Canary as an openly queer woman on a DC Comics-based TV show. On the Marvel side, the queer-in-the-comics character Victoria Hand appeared on a few episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but was (SPOILER ALERT) never said to be queer on the show and was unceremoniously killed off.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d1zpt6k5OI

Montoya doesn’t seem to appear much in the previews, but that could be because she was only a guest star at first. I think it’s her back that is to the camera when Harvey Bullock is talking at 0:43 seconds in this extended trailer. You can check out Gotham when it premieres on Fox on September 22.

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. I’m looking forward to seeing the show – Renee Montoya alone is reason enough for me to watch it. She is hands down my favourite character in the Gotham Central comics. I’m thrilled to hear she’ll be queer in the show too. I hope they fully represent her awesomeness.

  2. What great news this is! I was very disappointed Renee wasn’t in the new 52 so I’m really happy that this character was not abandoned forever. Gotham Central, 52, and The Question:Five Books of Blood are all some of my favorites reads. I can’t wait to be watching this, esp after that last issues of Batwoman. :(

  3. After seeing my icon I doubt it would surprise anyone to know I’m super excited by this! LOL I’ve been eagerly searching for any news about her since this show was announced. I don’t even care that it screws with canon to make her this much older than Batman. I just want to see her on TV! By the way, Victoria Cartagena is on twitter and very friendly and awesome to fans. :)

  4. I’m excited about this show. I saw the pilot at SDCC and I really liked it, also *SPOILERS* they hint that Renee and Barbara Gordon dated in the past. Actually, they make it pretty obvious, but some straight folks may not get it. And I think that’s a good thing, because that outs Montoya from the beginning, BUT also kind of a bad thing, because Barbara is dating (or married to? I don’t remember) the lead character, Jim Gordon, so that’s not gonna end well, for Renee and Barbara at least. *END OF SPOILERS*

    So yeah, I hope the whole season is as good as the pilot.

  5. Because I’m a hilariously nitpicky megafan, Renee was actually in the comics first even though she was created for the show, due to timing that resulted in her appearance a few months before BtAS aired. Because of this she’s also a character older than Harley and Bane! Which is mega cool.

    (GOTHAM spoilers follow)

    She appears much more in the extended look at GOTHAM, which is probably around 22 minutes long? It’s on YouTube in segments on GOTHAM’s official channel thing. She gets a brief profile where we see her interacting with Barbara and confirmation that there was something between them. We also see an extended look at the diner scene (where Harvey Bullock totally has a bottle of Mylanta hanging out next to his flask in front of him) where Renee and Cris interact with Harvey and Gordon–so that is indeed Renee’s back.

    We see another scene with her later, too, so it does seem she has a presence. I didn’t get to see the pilot at SDCC since I didn’t feel like camping out, but those I talked to told me that it’s a different Renee than in the comics, but not too different, and that they liked her a lot either way.

    I echo Erin’s comment about her actress, too. She ‘gets’ Renee, and is very open to researching her character. She asked fans what to read next after she read Gotham Central and seems to understand that flying blind in this situation wouldn’t benefit as much as reading Renee’s backstory, since she’s been blessed with some of the best writers in the industry (Dixon, Grayson, Brubaker, Dini, and of course Greg Rucka. I’m sure I forgot a few too.)

    To make a long rambling comment short, this is incredibly exciting news for LGBT media. It could mean more exposure to her in the comics as well, which is a vastly underrated presence, since her coming out story in Gotham Central: Half a Life is one of the most powerful, emotional things I’ve ever read.

    Hoping you guys can recap this show. If you need a writer…. Well, mine would just be five pages of Renee Montoya word vomit and screen caps of how perf her hair looks so maybe I shouldn’t volunteer as tribute.

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