Javicia Leslie Is Beyond Thrilled to Step into the Role of the CW's New Batwoman

Javicia Leslie in February 2020.
Javicia Leslie in February 2020.
Photo: Steven Ferdman (Getty Images)

Ruby Rose’s shock exit from the DC/CW Universe after just one season of Batwoman is still a mystery for both the audience and the show to process. But just as easily as one Batwoman swung out of the picture, a new one has swung in, and Javicia Leslie, the new Batwoman, could not be more excited.

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At DC Fandome’s Batwoman panel today, the CW offered a chance to get to know its new incarnation of Batwoman, letting the actress behind the character talk about her casting and her character’s quest to keep Gotham safe and, possibly, uncover the mystery of just what really happened make Kate Kane give up the mantle.

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Leslie will not be playing another version of Kate Kane, but instead an entirely new character: Ryan Wilder. Unlike Kate, with years of professional training and a legacy of her own to help fuel her activities as Batwoman, Ryan is a street-smart survivor who’s past is littered with grim circumstances as she learned to navigate the dark streets of Gotham alone, doing whatever it took to make it through the day. It’s definitely an interesting lens Batwoman could use to examine the world of Gotham in ways it couldn’t with Kate as the hero. And Leslie is excited to occupy the role—according to her, it’s a perfect fit.

“You know, when I read the character description, it was definitely me. I love the idea that it’s goofy meets badass meets a person that doesn’t like to be told what to do,” Leslie said. “I love the fact that Ryan was just who I am. Just a hot mess.”

For Leslie, the character provides a bevy of opportunities—to emerge into an action role, something the actress has always wanted, as well as an opportunity to play a character that feels truly representative of herself and her community as a bisexual Black woman.

“It feels like an honor,” she said. “It’s funny because I was looking on Instagram and scrolling through new followers, and I saw all these rainbows in the bios and it felt like representation. I felt like exactly what I always wanted to be, which is a role model. I feel like there’s so many little Javicias who don’t have voices, little black girls, bicurious, lesbian, gay, who didn’t have voices, and I feel honored to be able to be a voice for my community and the entirety of my community. And to be able to play a character that represents my community, that’s not all that common for an actress.”

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The panel revealed that the show is still very early in production for season two, with costume tests not yet happening. So no look at Batwoman’s new duds this time, though it was promised that they would be distinct, and that Ryan Wilder’s Bat-suit would have a flavor that is particularly hers, one that reflects her background, personality, and body, instead of just aping what Kate Kane wore. I’m thrilled to see it.

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Batwoman is set to return to the CW for a second season in 2021.


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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

I don’t mind the choice of a black woman, butI think they should’ve just gone the Cassandra Cain route. Here you have a canonical, established character who is also a woman of color instead of creating a brand new character from whole cloth. And while I don’t recall CC being queer in the comics, I think all but the trolliest of fans would be ok with them making her queer for the show.

But I think the biggest thing with this character --not the actress--that is going to turn people off is the idea that someone with zero training is going to be able to step and do what Bruce and Kate did. That just completely nullifies all of their training.  Why did Bruce spend all those years learning from all those masters when apparently just wearing the suit is all it requires to be an elite vigilante.