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Batwoman: The CW passes cape and cowl to new star Javicia Leslie

By Benjamin Bullard
Javicia Leslie

Kate Kane’s successor has arrived in Gotham. In the wake of the departure of Batwoman star Ruby Rose earlier this year, The CW and Berlanti Productions have just announced Javicia Leslie as the new series’ star as work begins on Batwoman's second season.

Leslie won’t be assuming Kate Kane’s mantle as a direct replacement for Rose’s character. Rather, she’ll step into the spotlight as a newly-created character named Ryan Wilder, a "likable, messy" hero who’s "a little goofy and untamed," "nothing like Kate Kane," and, according to the network’s press release, "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."

In an Instagram post linking to the casting news, Leslie wrote, "For all of the little black girls dreaming to be a superhero one day... it’s possible!"

Leslie’s casting marks the first black actor to portray Batwoman in a live-action television or film production, according to The CW. Her previous acting credits include two seasons as Ali Finer on CBS’ God Friended Me, Paris Duncan in BET’s The Family Business, as well as Corina James in the 2019 romantic comedy film Always a Bridesmaid.

Rose herself was among the first to extend support to Leslie at the news Batwoman had found its new star. "This is amazing!!" she wrote in an Instagram post. "I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman." 

“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 said in a statement, echoing The CW’s previous commitment, in the wake of Rose’s departure, to remain committed to its original goal of representation in casting the show’s lead character.

Like Kate Kane before her, Ryan Wilder definitely sounds like she’s got an interesting past of her own — though with a distinctively complicated twist. “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,” The CW teased. “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..."

Leslie fills the lead Batwoman role that Rose left behind in a surprise announcement back in May. Rose walked away from the series just after the final episode of its debut season hit the airwaves, a move later described to TVLine by one source as “a breakup” emanating from a mutual agreement to part ways. The network quickly moved to assure fans that Rose’s departure wouldn’t bring the series to a halt — an assurance The CW made good on today with its announcement that Leslie will be taking up Batwoman’s cape and cowl.