The CW’s newest hero makes her debut this weekend, as Javicia Leslie steps into the Batwoman cowl as new character Ryan Wilder. Her introduction came after the abrupt departure of Ruby Rose as the series’ star last season. But why not just recast Rose and keep the story focused on her character Kate Kane?
Showrunner Caroline Dries told Entertainment Weekly she’s not inherently opposed to having a different actress portray the original Batwoman in the wake of Rose’s exit, she just didn’t feel it would make sense to suddenly recast the role with no in-story explanation for viewers.
Put simply, it just felt “weird.”
"It didn't feel like the right move for me because honestly, it just felt weird and awkward, and unearned. I'm not opposed to recasting the character of Kate Kane at all. But doing a swap out without any story motivation behind it felt really weird to me. To me, it was asking too much of the audience,” she explained. “And in a way — I don't know if the audience would agree with this — it was almost negating Season 1 and saying, 'Okay, you just need to start watching Season 2 to really get the show because…' But not even that. If we were to have all seasons of the series, it would almost feel like Season 1 was the anomaly, which I don't want it to feel like. I want it to feel all like one piece of a continuing story … [B]ut in the heat of the moment, just to do a swap and act like nothing happened within our story is a lot for me to digest as the creative lead of the show.”
It’s hard to argue with Dries logic, and as Arrowverse fans know, there’s not very much precedent for characters being recast along the way (especially flagship heroes). Sure, it’s happened plenty of times in television history for various reasons, but it’s still… well, weird. Dries made it clear that Kate is still alive in the show’s narrative, just missing — and since she’s not opposed to Kate Kane returning with a different actress playing the role — the character could return And considering the fact that she's missing aims to be a key story element, likely will at some point.
It would just have to make creative sense within the story for why she no longer looks like Rose. So maybe an older, future version of Kate is found down the line? Or she’s had to change her appearance for [Insert Story Reason Here]. This is a comic book show, after all, so there are plenty of ways to explain it once they get to that point.
Batwoman Season 2 premieres Sunday on The CW.