Batwoman is back, and she’s black! Shortly after the first season of Batwoman ended, news came out saying that Ruby Rose who played Kate Kane was leaving the show. The show already had a difficult year, trying to gain enough views in its freshman season to being cut short due to COVID-19 and now has to juggle with finding a new lead. About a month later, Javicia Leslie was announced to take over the mantle of Batwoman through a brand-new character, Ryan Wilder. Leslie, 33, known for work on God Friended Me and The Family Business will be the first person of color to portray a member of the Batfamily, which I have been extremely excited about. In 2018, when the CW announced they would be bringing in Kate Kane, I thought it would be the best opportunity to add a person of color to the role. Batwoman, cousin to Batman, is a wealthy heiress who takes up the mantle in a Batless Gotham. Also, she’s a lesbian! It wouldn’t be the first time the CW has changed the color of its comic counter parts, and this would have been a great chance to do it again. Unfortunately for me at least, the role went to Ruby Rose, known for Orange is the New Black, The Meg, John Wick: Chapter 2, and Australia’s Next Top Model.
Enough about Ruby, this is Javicia’s time to shine. The first episode back aired on Sunday January 17, 2021, kicking off this new chapter in the Arrowverse. I didn’t watch too much of the first season, but I made sure to tune in. Since the lead departed, the episode has to spend introducing a brand-new character while also continuing the overall story from where the previous episode ended. Since the majority of the CW superhero shows never fully finished their previous season, they are making it up at the beginning. It’s a lot to juggle with but one thing Batwoman has going for it is that it’s essentially a whole new show. Leslie shines the entire time she is on screen. She commands the attention, without taking too much focus away from the secondary characters.
The show opens with a giant plane crash happening, right where Ryan Wilder is living. She quickly discovers the Batsuit and grabbing it before the police arrive on scene. We spend the next part on Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy), and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) as they try to figure out what happened to Kate Kane, and her suit. The actors do a great job dealing and trying to process the loss of a friend and lover, before Luke and Mary realize the Batsuit’s GPS has been activated. We learn more about who Ryan is and what the suit means to her. For her, the suit is power. Her story is one that is often done with many black characters. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, she thinks of herself as a number, a statistic that she is trying to overcome in a world that doesn’t want her to succeed. She has two powerful speeches, one to her parole office the other to Luke and Mary. She talks about systemic racism with how she went to jail for 18 months for drugs with the intent to sell, despite not being innocent. She feels powerless because no one will give her a job for that mark on her record and it’s hard for people of color to bounce back. With Black Lives Matter gaining more prominence back in June 2020, and the unfair treatment between those protests and the one on the capital, her story is one that many people can relate to, it becomes personal. becomes very real very quick. She believes that the bat symbol means that she can do more, that she can get justice for all the bad things that have happened to her.
Later, in a wonderful shot and written scene, we get a juxtaposition between Mary is reading an article about Ryan while the latter is learning more about Kate Kane. Mary understands Ryan’s pain as she learns that when Ryan and her adoptive mom were moving into a new place, they were attacked by Alice and the Wonderland gang, which lead to the death of her adopted mother. Something that Mary can relate to. Ryan on the other hand mocks Kate for being just another bored millionaire who needs to flex their muscles before learning who Kate really was. Kate was dishonorably discharged from the police because they did not agree with her sexual orientation and did not want to be associated with them. Mary begins to understand Ryan more and Ryan realizes that the Bat symbol is more than what she thought.
Alice (Rachel Skarsten) is still wreaking havoc on Gotham. She turns Gabriel Mann’s Tommy Elliot into Bruce Wayne in order to steal Kryptonite, that Kate received during Crisis on Infinite Earths, as it is the only thing that can penetrate the Batsuit. Ryan puts her skills to the test again, even bouncing back from being shot with the bullet. In the end, she returns the suit to Luke and Mary because she knows it’s the right thing to do, tho as we all know we will see her in it again.
Javicia does everything she needed to do during this episode. She sells it. Whether it’s her talking to her parole officer about being powerless to putting the suit on for the first time and comedically trying to fight two gang members for information. She balances the toughness and softness of this character. Ryan Wilder is created for the show but has made appearances in the comics back in October, so her job is a little easier because her and the writers can do whatever they want, and her choice will always be correct. The difficult part is trying to get people to want to watch this show. Whether they loved Ruby Rose or not, Javicia is here to stay. For me, I think this version is more relatable on a wider scale than the original. I think there’s more to root for here. Also, we love our plant gays!!
I am so delighted in seeing and hearing all the praise she has been receiving. It’s not always common, especially in comic book projects, for people to love every casting choice. Back when The Flash was being put together, Candice Patton was casted for the role of Iris West, and she received a ton of backlash because she was black, and the original character is not. The whole West family was changed to a black family, but more people targeted her than anyone else. She felt alone and didn’t know who she could turn to. Hearing her stories about what it was like filming the first season is heartbreaking. It sucks that people will go out of their way to target and bully people on social media. In 2018, Eric Wallace became an executive producer for The Flash, and Candice said that was the best decision that show made, having a black producer to help tell her story. It goes to show why representation matters in front and behind the camera.
Hopefully that is not the case here, but what is unfortunate is the pandemic. Supergirl and Black Lighting are ending their shows this season, and due to COVID-19 and their filming procedures, crossovers on a big scale won’t be happening too often. So we won’t be seeing Kara Danvers’s Supergirl team up with this Batwoman any time soon. Javicia really wants to do a crossover with just the black characters from every show, and while that would be amazing to see, it probably won’t be happening this season unless the spread has drastically decreased. Batwoman and Superman & Lois were supposed to do a crossover this season, but sources make it seem unlikely. However, it appears David Ramsey’s John Diggle will still be doing his crossover over, I believe, every CW show to set up his arc of becoming a Green Lantern, so that might be the big event happening this year. Either way, we will just wait and see when the rest of the shows start up again. I’m excited to see the new suit come into play, I’m assuming probably the end of episode 2 or 3 she will have it.
Like I said, I didn’t really watch the first season, but I am now! So give it a shot for a few episodes and we’ll go from there. I wonder how many people will be dressing up as Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder/Batwoman this Halloween.