When Batwoman returns to The CW in Jan. 2021, it’ll be a new hero defending Gotham City from behind a mask. And now we know what she’ll look like.
Javicia Leslie is set to step into the leading role after Ruby Rose left the series entirely in an unexpected May 2020 twist. While Rose played the character of Kate Kane, who has her origins in the comics, Leslie’s is an all-new take on Batwoman’s secret identity, in Ryan Wilder.
On Saturday, the actor shared a first look at how she’ll look behind the mask as a defender of Gotham City. It’s just a headshot, though; no full costume yet.
“Look out, Gotham, I’m suited up and ready to go,” she wrote in the caption for an Instagram post revealing Batwoman’s cowl and flowing red locks. “But just wait until Ryan Wilder puts her own spin on the Batsuit.”
Being that Ryan Wilder is a new creation for the TV series, we don’t know much at this point about how she’ll fit into the ongoing story that was established in Season 1. Even though Rose isn’t returning, it’s already been confirmed that Kane won’t be killed off and her disappearance will factor into the plot of Season 2.
The decision to keep Kane alive inside the series fiction is motivated in large part by the fact that the show’s version of Kane is openly lesbian. In popular fiction, there’s a long history surrounding the “Bury Your Gays” trope, which holds that LGBTQ+ characters are traditionally more likely to be killed off than straight characters.
Batwoman creator Caroline Dries addressed this concern directly not long after Rose’s exit from the series.
While little has been revealed about who Ryan Wilder is as a character, Leslie is bisexual. Rose’s lesbian identity in real life also intentionally informed her work on Kate Kane. Given the show’s embrace of LGBTQ+ issues and its status as the first TV series to star an openly gay superhero, it’s likely that Leslie’s real-life sexual identity will also inform the way Wilder is played on screen.
She suggested as much herself in a statement released after the casting news became official.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television,” Leslie said in July 2020. “[A]nd as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show, which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.”
The CW hasn’t set an airdate yet for Batwoman‘s Season 2 premiere, but there’s been no word at this point on the Jan. 2021 plan having changed.