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She is Vengeance! She is the Night! She is Batwoman!

The city of Gotham is getting a new cape crusader to patrol the night and become the nightmare of villains.


Ruby Rose’s departure from season 1 of Batwoman had the writer staff and executives scrambling to find a solution to avoid getting canceled. That allowed for a different version of Batwoman to take form. Ryan Wilder, played by God Friended Me star Javica Leslie, will take over the mantle as the next Batwoman.


The CW released a rather lengthy synopsis on what’s to come in season 2. Here is a snippet regarding our new hero :

“In season two of BATWOMAN, when Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) first discovers Kate Kane’s Batsuit, she has no idea how drastically her life is about to change. A sassy, smart lesbian with a difficult past,

Nino Muñoz/The CW


Ryan sees the suit as her chance to finally be powerful and no longer a victim as she survives in the tough streets of the city.


It’s not long before Ryan realizes how much the symbol on the suit means to Gotham, launching her on a personal journey that takes her from fledgling substitute to confident caped crusader, from living in her van with her plant to chasing villains in the Batmobile. Ryan Wilder becomes a very different Batwoman than Kate Kane — her own Batwoman — but with the same understanding of what it means to be a hero.

It appears that Leslie will have a lot to handle in this upcoming season, which aired its first episode in mid-January. Additionally, she has to take on the heavy burden of being the first black woman to be cast as the beloved character. While ready and thankful for the opportunity, she references the usual frustrations that people of color endured in Hollywood for decades.


“You can’t just hire one person and say you’ve done the representation,” Leslie stated in an interview with The New York Times, “You have to make sure that one person is supported by a diverse writer’s room, diverse stunt doubles, diverse stand-ins — it’s a trickle-down effect.”


Leslie’s casting has already made an impact in exposing the lack of representation in Hollywood’s hiring process. She explained how it took longer than necessary for the stunt coordinator to locate a black female stunt double and a black female stunt driver (although Leslie performed several stunts on her own) (Bahr, 2020). It is a small example of the deeper problem that persists in Hollywood when it comes to an inclusive production crew. In the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report 2020, studies show that even with progress from 2018–2019 when it comes to TV leads and casting, minorities and women are still unrepresented in the creative and decision making roles:

  • Women make up 28.1% of creators in broadcast scripted, 22.4% cable scripted, and 28.6 for digital programs.

  • On average, 24.0% of credited writers were minorities; 28.1% of episodes from 2018–2019 were directed by minorities.

  • Non-people of color and men take an enormous percentage of CEO, senior executive, and head of unit roles: CEO/Chairmen (92% white, 68% men); Senior Executives (84% white, 60% men); Unit heads (i.e., Unit Production Managers) (87.0% white, 54.0% male).

The influence of Leslie as Batman is also a cultural one as well. What mega-hits Black and Crazy Rich Asians did for filmmaking, Leslie can provide for TV (assuming that her character is welcome with open arms from the viewers). We shall see as it takes a bite out of crime (and a few broken bones along the way).


Resources:

Bahr, Sarah. “Javicia Leslie on Becoming TV’s First Black Batwoman.” The New York Times. 20, Jan. 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/arts/television/javicia-leslie-batwoman.html


Hunt, Darnell, and Ana-Christina Ramon. UCLA College of Social Sciences, 2020, pp. 14–46, UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report 2020. https://socialsciences.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/UCLA-Hollywood-Diversity-Report-2020-Television-10-22-2020.pdf



Wolf, Jessica. “Diversity improves among TV actors, but executives still overwhelmingly white and male.” Newsroom: UCLA. 22, Oct. 2020. https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/hollywood-diversity-report-2020-television

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