Batwoman's Showrunner Considered a 'Soap Opera'-Style Recast, But Ultimately Decided Against It

Ruby Rose as Batwoman.
Ruby Rose as Batwoman.
Image: CW

With the surprising news that Ruby Rose was leaving Batwoman came the equally surprising news that, in response, the showrunners would not simply be recasting the role of Kate Kane, but would instead be entirely rebooting the show, starring a new character, who casting calls refer to as “Ryan Wilder”, who will come to take on the mantle of Batwoman in a second season of the show that won’t look very much like the first at all.

According to TV Line, showrunner Caroline Dries did, briefly, consider the more conservative and traditional TV route of just re-casting the role and letting audiences deal with it. But it ultimately didn’t seem satisfactory.

“To be honest with you, I did consider the ‘soap opera version’ [of recasting] for a hot minute, because selfishly we already had a couple episodes written, and transition-wise it would be seamless,” showrunner Caroline Dries said, while in conversation with Julie Plec, the showrunner of CW’s Legacies. “But upon further reflection — and I think [Arrowverse EP] Greg [Berlanti] helped me make this call — he’s like, ‘I think we should just reboot Batwoman as a different character.’”


Dries went on to explain that this decision allows the show to pay “respect to everything Ruby [Rose] put into the Kate Kane character” while also helping “the audience, because we’re not asking them to address ‘the elephant in the room’” of a mysteriously recast heroine.

No, instead we’re only having to face the elephant in the room of, wait, where the hell is Kate Kane, and who’s this lady? It’s all in the execution, basically, and either route can go very wrong. We’ll see how this one turns out when Batwoman returns for a very, very different second season on the CW.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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Yeah, this... this feels like a bad idea. Really bad.

It’d be awkward to replace Ruby Rose, sure, absolutely, but it isn’t like this is a show where she’s the lead in an ensemble.

Like, if Patrick Stewart had decided to leave the clearly stricken “Star Trek: The Next Generation” at the end of the first season, obviously the right move would be to have him leave and have Jonathan Frakes become the Captain, rather than recasting the role.

But the entire show revolves around Kate Kane. The primary antagonist is her sister, her father is the chief-of-the-closest-thing-this-show-has-to-police, her ex-girlfriends are major characters...

Removing that character from the show out of nowhere... really, there’s only two reasons I can think why they would do this:

1: Some writers got together and put together a freaking killer pitch for how they could make a new character as Batwoman work, given everything about where they left off. It’s possible, but feels unlikely.

2: The powers that be got together and figured that trying to find an actor that:

  • Has physical combat training allowing her to do some aspects of the fight scenes
  • Is physically capable of doing those fight scenes and looking like she can, in fact, kick ass
  • Is white and looks natural with red hair (...since we’re trying to just swap a new actor into the role, and the red hair is a kinda important part of the iconography)
  • Is either a lesbian or bisexual (not just optics, Kate Kane’s history of being oppressed for her sexuality is a critical part of the character, someone who’s lived that can just bring so much more to the role....... and there’s also the optics on top of that)
  • Can act
  • Can play the role of a woman
  • Is affordable for a 3rd tier network (and 3rd tier might be generous...)
  • Isn’t so dissimilar from Ruby Rose that it feels odd for her to be there (accents, size, build, stuff like that).

...might be a bit difficult to find.

Of course, probably would be a combination of the two: The writers came up with a good pitch on how to do it, and the business side realized the difficulty of replacing Ruby Rose for this specific role would be too high.

But still, comparing “thing that’s been done on shows countless times, like, one of the most famous sci-fi shows of all time does it fairly frequently” to “Soap-Opera” feels disingenuous...