A mother and daughter relationship is meant to be one of the strongest bonds in the world, especially when it’s built around unconditional love. But, often a connection between a mother and daughter is complex, swinging between devotion and frustration, the same as any familial bond. A compelling example of a mother and daughter relationship is the one shared by Cassandra Cain and Lady Shiva. Both women are connected by a desire to fight, yet their different methods stop them from having a traditional relationship. Read on to find out more about the connection between the world’s deadliest assassin and her heroic offspring.
Understanding the circumstances of Cassandra’s birth is crucial to understanding the relationship she has with her mum. Shiva’s decision to have a child was based on a deal she made with David Cain, a member of the League of Assassins. Cain spared her life in exchange for bearing him a daughter, who would be raised to be the perfect bodyguard for Ra’s Al Ghul. Shiva left Cassandra in Cain’s care and she was moulded into the perfect weapon.
Cassandra inherited Shiva’s gift of being able to ‘read’ the tiny changes in an opponent’s body functions. It allowed her to predict fighting patterns, though she was unable to communicate through physical speech. Despite being raised to kill, Cassandra renounced her heritage, joining Batman and following his teachings.
Years later, Cassandra found out Shiva was her mother and their relationship became fueled by antagonism. Shiva saw her daughter as a disappointment, demanding that she use her gifts to kill. Viewing all life as sacred, Cassandra believed Shiva’s perspective to be flawed. At the same time, Cassandra respected Shiva for her fighting prowess, wanting to understand why her mother was motivated by killing.
After Cassandra learned how to speak, she lost the ability to read body language and she asked Shiva to reteach her. Shiva agreed on the condition that they would fight to the death a year later. During their first fight, Shiva killed her daughter in minutes. Realising Cassandra had a death wish, Shiva restarted her heart so they could have a real fight. In the second battle, Cassandra defeated her mother, but chose not to kill her.
Like mother, like daughter
For all their differences, Shiva and Cassandra have a lot in common. Both are driven by a warrior instinct that pushes them to test themselves against stronger opponents. Cassandra’s decision to have Shiva teach her reflects mutual stubbornness. She wanted to be ‘perfect for a year’ instead of ‘mediocre for a lifetime,’ an attitude Shiva approved of. Fearlessness is another shared trait. Cassandra and Shiva have never hesitated to follow what they believe in.
The complexity of Cassandra and Shiva’s relationship has been captured beautifully in a recent Detective Comics arc by James Tynion IV. Frustrated with Ra’s leadership, Shiva broke away from the League of Assassins to form her own group called The League of Shadows. Cassandra fought against Shiva to stop her from destroying Gotham.
In the story, Shiva constantly belittled her daughter and saw her as a broken weapon. Cassandra retaliated by saying she chose life over death. By embracing her emotion, Cassandra was able to overcome Shiva.
They might be on opposite sides of the law, but Cassandra and Shiva will always be connected by the blood they share. Their tragic relationship is a reminder that some families are luckier than others. Some relationships can be healed through therapy and a family counselor provides a safe space to work through different issues.
What are some of your favourite fictional mother-daughter relationships?