We already knew Ruby Rose decided to exit the CW’s Batwoman series after its debut season. That was surprising enough. Now there’s word that the network might not just recast the role of Batwoman, it’s possibly decided to do away with the character of Kate Kane entirely. In a universe of time travel, doppelgängers, and literal face-swapping, to this news I say, “Huh?”
A new report from TV Line states, “the CW series will create a brand new character to don Batwoman’s cape in Season 2 in the wake of Ruby Rose’s sudden departure.” While the network hasn’t given an official statement, the Hollywood Reporter also confirms the move.
The report comes after a casting breakdown began to surface online that showed Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, Berlanti Productions, and the CW searching for the role of “Ryan Wilder” for season two. She’s described as “female, mid-late 20s, any ethnicity,” and then the call simply adds: “Ryan Wilder is about to become Batwoman.”
It’s an odd sentence considering the news broke of Ruby Rose’s departure from the series, and network said they were looking to recast the lead role. But if you look closer at the initial statement, it was never explicitly stated that Kate Kane herself would be recast. The joint statement read: “The studio and network are firmly committed to Batwoman’s second season and long-term future, and we – along with the show’s talented creative team – look forward to sharing its new direction, including the casting of a new lead actress and member of the LGBTQ community, in the coming months.”
When the new first broke, myself and our resident Bat-handler Alex Cranz discussed the numerous possibilities on how Batwoman could move forward. First and foremost, on Legends of Tomorrow, the team is constantly rewriting history – whether from time travel shenanigans, magic, or... weaving. Then of course, you have the ripple effects from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, which left us with all sorts of wacky results including a version Kate Kane’s sister Beth from another world being stuck in the new “prime universe” (she eventually died, because what would a member of the Batfamily be without a little more tragedy in their lives?). Then, in Batwoman itself, we’ve already firmly established Kate’s regular sister, Beth, a.k.a. Red Alice (played by Rachel Skarsten) can literally give anyone a new face! She can even do it with limited supplies in a goddamn dirty sewer! Last but not least... comics! Anything is possible. Just pulling in a new character entirely to take on the Batwoman mantle almost seems a little tame in comparison.
Kate Kane telling the truth. Image: J.H. Williams III (DC Comics)
That brings us back to the character description of this potential new Batwoman lead. “She’s likeable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the batsuit before her. 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,” it states. “Today, reformed and sober, 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, Ryan is 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.” Wildly different except, oh yeah, she’s still a lesbian! That’s nice.
We can’t take the description at 100 percent face value – a lot of the time Hollywood obfuscates these things so as to not reveal too much of what they’re planning, so even the name “Ryan Wilder” might be a stand in for something else, be it a character from comics continuity we know or a new creation entirely. But if they are truly doing away with the Kate character it feels like a bizarre move. Fans could much easier come to terms with a simple replacement actress, than having to go through a convoluted story of why a random lesbian has taken up the cowl so soon after Kate did. Not to mention Batwoman’s Bruce Wayne has been “missing” for years...now Kate Kane will mysteriously go missing too? And some stranger with seemingly no connection to the Waynes/Kanes will take up the Bat-mantle? It seems like a lot of explaining to do when there’s a much easier option.
Kate is more than just a lesbian. She’s fairly unique in DC Comics’ mythos considering her sexual identity, military background, and Jewish heritage – all of which make her who she is. While the latter hasn’t really been delved into much in the series, now is a great chance to cast someone both LGBTQ and Jewish, and continue the great character work and relationships already established in season one.