Javicia Leslie CW's New Batwoman

The list of things we couldn’t have predicted about 2020 is far too long for any one list to encompass, but here in our little corner of the world, one of the biggest surprises was the departure of Ruby Rose as Batwoman’s Kate Kane after just one season. The studio promised to recast Batwoman and announced today that it has selected actress Javicia Leslie to step into the cape and cowl for the show’s second season.

The CW network and Rose parted ways in what sources called a “mutual breakup.” It marked the first time that the Arrowverse has seen a star step away from a role rather. The network announced immediately that it would be seeking an actress within in the LGBTQ+ community to play Batwoman for the second season, and we all wondered who would play the new Kate Kane.

Goodbye Kate Kane

Well, it turned out that it would be no one, because the network decided to recast the character, too. Kate Kane is no longer in Gotham; Batwoman is now Ryan Wilder.

The CW describes Wilder as “likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the Batsuit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits. Today Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical all-American hero.”

Who is Javicia Leslie?

About the role, Javicia Leslie said that she is “extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television.” Leslie adds that  “as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.” Leslie previously played a supporting cast member on the CBS show God Friended Me, also produced by Arrowerse boss Greg Berlanti. According to her IMDb profile, Leslie has trained in Muay Thai, boxing, weapons, and dance. If nothing else, she may be particularly well-suited to the action scenes for the role, something Rose struggled with after a severe injury.

This is an unprecedented change for an Arrowverse show, and even for a TV show in general. It’s not often that a show loses its main character, and it’s rare enough that each show that deals with it handles it differently. Recasting not just the actor but the character is an interesting move, but it’s also alienated much of the Batwoman fanbase coming from the comics and animated movies. Kane has worn the cowl for a long time, and simply changing the character is a bold, risky move for a show whose future is already in question. We’re still not sure how we feel about the idea of recasting the character, even though we’re excited to see what Leslie can do for the role.

Leslie will make her debut when Batwoman returns to the CW in January 2021. The show is currently set to air on Sundays at 8 PM EST.