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'Batwoman' casts Javicia Leslie to take over the superhero mantle

Tracy Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- A new Batwoman is headed to Gotham.

Warner Bros. Television, the CW and Berlanti Productions announced Wednesday that Javicia Leslie has been cast as the new series lead of "Batwoman."

Leslie will portray Ryan Wilder, described as "likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed," who in Season 2 of the superhero show will take over the Bat-mantle from Kate Kane.

Her casting makes her the first Black actress to portray Batwoman in a live-action production. Similarly, Ryan will be the first Black character to become the caped vigilante in any medium.

"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.

In May, just days after the first season finale of "Batwoman" aired, Ruby Rose announced she had "made the very difficult decision to not return to 'Batwoman' next season."

Rose made her debut as the vigilante hero in the Arrowverse's 2018 crossover event "Elseworlds." It was the first-ever live-action appearance of Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne's cousin who was revealed to have taken on the Batsuit in the billionaire's absence. When "Batwoman" premiered last fall, it became the first superhero series with a lesbian title character.

Ryan is also an out lesbian, but that's where her similarities with Kate appear to end. According to her official character description, Ryan has spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the Gotham police and masking her pain with bad habits. A highly skilled but undisciplined fighter, she now lives in a van with a plant.

 

Initially, Warner Bros. announced that the role would be recast. But in June it was reported that "Batwoman" had put out a casting call for a new character. Showrunner Caroline Dries later explained that after some reflection and out of respect for Rose and the show's audience, she chose to move forward with a new Batwoman.

In a June tweet, Dries further clarified that neither she nor the show had any plans to "erase" Kate.

"(Kate's) disappearance will be one of the mysteries of season two," said Dries. "I don't want to give away any of our surprises, but to all our devoted fans, please know that LGBTQ+ justice is at the very core of what Batwoman is and we have no intention of abandoning that."

"Batwoman" Season 2 is slated to premiere in January.

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