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Arrowverse fans were shocked this summer when Batwoman star Ruby Rose announced that she was leaving the series and iconic role as Kate Kane behind after only one season. The surprises continued when news broke that, rather than recast Kate for Season 2, Batwoman would replace the lead character altogether. Now, the new superhero who will step into the cape and cowl has been announced. Javicia Leslie will portray the new Batwoman.
Likely best known for roles on CBS' God Friended Me (which was cancelled in the spring), CBS' MacGyver, and BET's The Family Business, Javicia Leslie will become the first black actress to play Batwoman in a live-action TV or movie production. She plays a character by the name of Ryan Wilder, who is likable and goofy but also messy and untamed. The character is nothing like Kate Kane, so only time will tell how she comes to wear the Batsuit after whatever results in Kate leaving Gotham.
Ryan spent years as a drug-runner and dodging the police, having nobody to keep her on the straight and narrow while she hid her pain by indulging bad habits. When Batwoman Season 2 picks up, Ryan is living with her plant in a van. She is a dangerous fighter, capable of stealing to provide for others as well as killing with her bare hands due to her skills and lack of discipline.
Like Kate, Ryan is an out lesbian, but described as athletic, raw, passionate, and fallible. Basically, Ryan won't be like any other superhero the Arrowverse on The CW has to offer in the 2020-2021 season. Unlike Ruby Rose, Javicia Leslie won't be able to debut in the Arrowverse before taking up the cape and the cowl at the center of her own series, since Rose technically premiered in The CW's superhero universe in a crossover before Batwoman itself launched. Leslie weighed in on her casting as Batwoman, saying:
I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.
Batwoman made history as the first superhero series centered on an out lesbian crime-fighter, so there were definitely questions about how Batwoman would handle replacing the iconic and history-making character played by Ruby Rose. The casting of Javicia Leslie proves that The CW isn't backtracking and continues to honor Batwoman's legacy as a gay superhero, even if Kate Kane isn't the woman behind the mask.
Interestingly, while Kate Kane's Batwoman came with plenty of history and stories from the pages of DC Comics, Ryan Wilder is seemingly an original character created for the Arrowverse, unless "Ryan Wilder" is an alias that Batwoman is using to avoid spoiling a big reveal. I'm inclined to believe that the new Batwoman really is an original character by the name of Ryan, though, and I'm interested to see how Batwoman works out as the first Arrowverse superhero show centered on one hero (unlike Legends of Tomorrow) to be taken over by a wholly original character.
The bad news is that Arrowverse viewers can't expect to see the new Batwoman hit the airwaves in the fall, as usual for most of The CW's superhero shows. Almost the entire CW lineup has been pushed back to midseason, with Batwoman returning to the Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET time slot in January 2021. For now, you can find some viewing options on our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule. The first season of Batwoman is currently available streaming on HBO Max.