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Why Barbara Gordon From Titans Looks So Familiar

When the DC superhero series "Titans" returns for Season 3 next month, it will introduce a new character on the show who will be familiar to Batman fans as one of the franchise's most important characters: Barbara Gordon.

Gordon is traditionally depicted as the daughter of the Gotham City police commissioner, Jim Gordon, and has been a superhero under two aliases: Batgirl, a counterpart to Batman often paired with Dick Grayson, and Oracle, an all-knowing information broker. On "Titans," she will herself be the commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, according to Variety. She used to be Batgirl until she was shot by the Joker and left paralyzed, which is Barbara Gordon canon ever since "Batman: The Killing Joke." She uses a wheelchair. She has a disagreeable relationship with Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) and is trying to be her own person while living with the weight of her father's legacy, which means she and Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) are kindred spirits. They rekindle their dormant romance and crime-fighting partnership.

The "Titans" take on Barbara Gordon will be portrayed by Savannah Welch, a Texan actress, musician, disability community advocate, and all-around inspiring person who's been around for awhile and is getting her biggest role to date on the HBO Max superhero series. Here's where you may have seen her before.

Savannah Welch is ethereal in The Tree of Life

Welch has had small roles in two films that are both considered by the BBC to be among the best of the 21st century so far. The first of these is "The Tree of Life," director Terrence Malick's experimental, existential epic about the origin of the universe as seen through the life of an ordinary man from Texas. Welch has a nonspeaking role as Mrs. Kimball, a neighbor who sparks young Jack O'Brien's (Hunter McCracken) sexual awakening. She gives him a drink from her garden house while she hangs laundry on her clothesline in bare feet. Later, he spies on through her window and sneaks into her house to steal a nightgown. He feels shame and regret for what he's done, and throws the nightgown into a river.

Mrs. Kimball is only seen in glimpses, as if she's a long ago memory being recalled by Jack as a much older man, which she is. But she leaves an impression on the viewer, because she left a lasting impression on Jack.

Savannah Welch wishes you were here in Boyhood

Another Best Picture-nominated film which Savannah Welch appeared in is 2014's "Boyhood," from director Richard Linklater, which follows a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane Jr.) over the course of a decade of his life (both in the film and in real life, as the principal actors filmed the movie, on and off, over that span of time, as explained by NPR). 

Welch has a small role as a college student taught by Mason's mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) who Mason meets during a party at their house. She plays guitar and leads a singalong to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and has an awkward conversation with high school-aged Mason in his room about his interest in graffiti (he doesn't yet realize it's corny for him to go to an "urban art" camp). But she does tell him that his mother is her favorite teacher and great at her job, which helps him see her as a complete person and not just his fun-policing mother, which is an important step on the road of growing up.

She got a new type of role on Six

In 2016, Savannah Welch suffered a terrible accident. She was hit by a car at a farmer's market in Texas and lost her right leg above the knee, according to Lone Star Music. It was a very difficult and painful turn of events in Welch's life, but she remained positive and determined throughout her recovery as she learned to live with her prosthetic leg. Losing her leg changed Welch's career, and since then, she has used her own experiences, perspective, and advocacy to inform her acting choices. 

Her first role after her accident was on the Navy SEAL drama series "Six," on History. In the interview with Lone Star, she discussed how, following the accident, she never considered the idea of ending her acting career. "In the hospital, I remember I had a conversation with [my agent] a couple of days in, and she asked me, "Is this [acting] something that you'd still like to pursue?" And I was like, "I don't know how to not want to do that. That part wasn't cut off of me."

For Welch's appearance on Season 2 of "Six" — some of which was filmed on the first anniversary of her accident, she noted — she played Dawn, a former Marine who lost her leg in an IED explosion. She helps SEAL Alex Caulder (Kyle Schmid) recover psychologically from his own injury when they meet in physical therapy.