Bisexual actress Javicia Leslie (God Friended Me) is joining the hit CW show as Ryan Wilder, who will be the first Black Batwoman. As exciting as this first look is, the cast and crew have been teasing that her real look is still to come.
It was big news when queer actress and model Ruby Rose was cast as the lesbian superhero Kate Kane in Batwoman last year. She was the first queer superhero to headline her own TV show. But grueling hours and lingering injuries after an emergency surgery to repair herniated disks proved too much for Rose and she left the show after just one season. She later said that time in quarantine had given her more of a chance to evaluate her life and career goals, and Batwoman didn't fit into those.
Instead of recasting the character of Kate Kane, the CW decided that season 2 will open with Kane mysteriously missing and an all new woman wearing the mantle of Batwoman. Leslie will be playing Ryan Wilder, a new lesbian character created specially for the show.
While this first image shows Leslie in Rose's old costume, showrunner Carole Dries has been assuring fans that she'll get a look that's all her own soon. "How can we be sure that Ryan isn't hiding what makes her awesome, with this suit? So it's going to be a bit of an evolution," Dries said at the DC FanDome Batwoman panel earlier this month. "We'll see the suit evolve early on in the season."
Leslie further emphasized the necessity of the character getting her own look. She and Dries "were talking about how important it is that if we're going to have a Black Batwoman, that she needs to be, like, a sista when she becomes Batwoman," the new lead chuckled at the panel. "It's important for her to feel like the silhouette of her could still look like that, with natural textured hair and things like that."
Leslie has some big shoes to step into, but she seems ready to face the challenge. And she certainly seems aware of the huge impact playing an iconic character brings with it. She comes into the show with Muay Thai training and a deep passion for the character, even sending showrunner Dries fanart of her new character to show how excited she is for the hero's new look.
Most of the original cast is returning, including the Kane family, who will have some interesting reactions to Wilder. "Ryan, will ironically, ultimately, unite the Kane family," Dries said. "There are all of these strands of connection that she brings to them." As for Luke Fox, the Wayne Enterprises employee who's been helping Batwoman behind the scenes, Dries says there will be "a bit of pushback" as he has to hand the cowl over to someone without the military school training Kane had. There's also a lot to be seen with how Alice, the show's Big Bad will deal with the disappearance of the first Batwoman, her sister and main motivation as a villain.
Batwoman Season 2 production has been delayed because of the ongoing pandemic, but is scheduled to premiere on the CW in early 2021.