For the first time in Arrowverse history, a Black bisexual woman will lead a superhero series. Javicia Leslie dons the cape and cowl for Batwoman Season 2. Leslie, known for her work in God Friended Me and The Family Business, will take over as the superhero role following Ruby Rose’s departure from Batwoman after just one season.
Two months after Rose’s exit, The CW announced Leslie would play a brand new character named Ryan Wilder in Batwoman Season 2. Described as being “likable, messy, a little goofy, and untamed,” Ryan is the opposite of Kate Kane in personality and backstory. In a statement, Leslie expressed her excitement about joining the series.
“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.”
Leslie’s casting is a big deal. Besides Black Lightning, which remained separate from the Arrowverse until the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover in late 2019, the Arrowverse has been dominated by white faces. Leslie is the first Black woman to spearhead a superhero show on The CW, as well as across TV in general. (Representation still has a long way to go.)
While Batwoman was a step up in LGBTQ+ representation in Season 1, Leslie’s casting is a welcome step forward for diverse representation on TV. It’s rare that Black women who identify as LGBTQ+ are cast in leading roles at all. Leslie’s casting comes as a rare bright point in an otherwise remarkably depressing year.
When Rose exited Batwoman, it seemed plausible that Kate Kane would be recast. Instead, showrunner Caroline Dries decided to introduce a new character to take up the mantle of Batwoman. With a clean slate and no concrete connections to the comics, Leslie can carve out her own space, without being beholden to fan expectations. Leslie has the potential to take this new character in an exciting direction, one free of the burdens carried had she been cast as Kate.
What’s more, viewers who weren’t very interested in watching Batwoman in Season 1 may be reinvigorated for Season 2. The debut season took a while to find its stride, but a fascinating new character will likely attract new fans who understand not only how trailblazing Leslie’s casting truly is for representation, but might be interested in watching how Ryan will interact with all of the already established characters. It’s a win-win.
Leslie’s casting gives the writers the chance to explore topics they may have avoided before. Currently, Black Lightning is the only Arrowverse show that tackles the intersection of race and superheroes. Of course, Batwoman needs to actually hire Black writers if it wants to get this right.
Either way, Leslie as the new Batwoman is incredible and there’s no doubt that The CW made the perfect choice in what initially seemed like a tough situation the Arrowverse show.
Batwoman Season 2 premieres in January 2021 on The CW.