Meet Your New Batwoman — Bisexual Actress Javicia Leslie!

Holy Black bisexual bulletins, Batman — Lesley Goldberg over at The Hollywood Reporter just broke the news that The CW has found its new Batwoman: Bisexual actress Javicia Leslie, who you might remember as the lesbian sister Ali on God Friended Me. She is the first Black actress to play Batwoman, ever, and will become the second Black lesbian superhero in the Arrowverse, after our beloved Anissa Pierce on Black Lightning.

According to THR:

Leslie’s character, Ryan Wilder, is described as “likable, 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. Today 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.”

It’s honestly impossible to overstate what a huge fucking deal this is and I’m not going to disguise my absolute and overwhelming joy to see a queer Black woman don the cape and cowl at this moment in our history. I texted Autostraddle Deputy Editor Carmen Phillips as soon as I saw the news and she said, “Here’s your official quote: LET’S FUCKING GOOOOO!!!!!!”

Here’s Javicia Leslie’s Instagram; you’re welcome.

Update: Ruby Rose has posted on Instagram to congratulate Javicia: “OMG!! This is amazing!! I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman. ❤️ I want to congratulate Javicia Leslie on taking over the bat cape. You are walking into an amazing cast and crew. I can’t wait to watch season 2 you are going to be amazing !! ❤️”

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1004 articles for us.

36 Comments

  1. Ok, put me down as intrigued here. I’m still not convinced that someone other than Kate Kane should be Batwoman, but with this announcement … well, I’m willing to be convinced.

    I do STILL feel they should have gone for the recast with no explanation for Kate Kane (because for me, Kate Kane IS Batwoman) … however, this is a really interesting (and great) choice, and I’m open to having my mind changed.

    They’re also, from the character description, going with a REALLY different character from Kate. Mind you, one of my friends pointed out that they could have done better than “reformed drug dealer” as a backstory for a Black woman.

    By all accounts she was amazing in God Friended Me, so this decision has given me faith back. I’ll be watching, definitely.

    • I will admit, I did love having a visibly soft-butch/tomboy lesbian character on a mainstream TV show that I could identify with (do love my femme lesbians, trust me, but I just would like to see more of me too a bit), but as a white woman I get enough whiteness reflected back at me, so I shouldn’t presume to put my representation ahead of queer women of colour here.

      • I’m right there with you. It was nice to see a soft butch/tomboy, for once, but considering everything, I can afford to wait for the next one. Getting QPOC on television is something that needs to happen NOW, because it should’ve happened years ago.

  2. I dreamed for years about having Kate Kane on a TV show and I got one (shortened) season full of trolls and abuse before the Greg Berlanti, yet another white cis gay man who treats queer women like interchangeable tokens to swap around, threw her in the garbage.

    In any other circumstance I’d be incredibly excited about this news. If this was her own show I’d be there day one. But right now I’m really hurt.

  3. From what I’ve seen, Javicia is a great actress and a lovely person and I’m thrilled to see them cast a QWOC in this role. I was against the new replacement character from the beginning, but this casting has made me slightly more optimistic.

    Selfishly though, and I feel bad even saying this because I don’t want to take away from the importance of casting a Black actress as Batwoman… I’m bummed to lose the Jewish lesbian rep. (Yes, they could also make this new character Jewish, but I’m not optimistic. We got very little of Jewish Kate last season, and that was comic canon. I don’t see them making her replacement also a Jewish lesbian.) There’s so little representation of Jewish lesbians on TV. It’s basically Jenny Schecter and Kate Kane, and then Nomi from grown-ish is bi. One of the reasons I was excited for Batwoman is because she’s famous for being both a Jewish superhero and a lesbian superhero. The Arrowverse hasn’t been great on Jewish rep historically (remember when they had a literal Nazi put Felicity in a gas chamber??? During their Christmas/Hanukkah episode???) and I was excited to get to experience better representation with Batwoman. I don’t want to take away from how groundbreaking it is for a Black queer woman to be the lead of a superhero show — I know it’s huge, and I’m thrilled to see that kind of representation. I really, really am. I’m just torn, I guess.

    In an ideal world, this new character would be Jewish too, and I know there are plenty of Black Jews out there (and even less queer Black Jewish rep!) but… I don’t think they’re gonna do it. (Also, now the only Jewish characters left on the show are Alice, who’s a villain, and Jacob, who might as well be. Not the best look.)

    I’m sorry for ranting! I just wanted to get that off my chest! Fingers crossed for a Black, queer, Jewish lady superhero!

  4. All they had to do was cast Lesley as Kate Kane. Batwoman isn’t a legacy title and there is no Batwoman without Kate Kane.

    Their leaked casting call is a slap in the face to queer comics fans who’ve been waiting years to see Kate Kane onscreen: “She’s likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. SHE’S ALSO NOTHING LIKE KATE KANE, the woman who wore the batsuit before her.” I’m done with this show.

  5. Okay, this is amazing and I’ll definitely still be here for the show, but like, I’m not even a fan of the comics and I’M sad to see Kate Kane go. Why couldn’t Leslie just like real casually slip into the role? There’s a whole other CW tv show where the hero’s ‘mask’ is glasses and everyone just stares her in the face and never notices(Looking at you Supergirl). I’m pretty sure fans could overlook a recasting easily enough considering they casually side-step that gaping plot-hole for every episode of that show, especially when you’re getting an equally talented and even more diverse woman for the role.

    I’m gonna miss my brash and unapologetic soft butch Kate Kane who totally took her lumps for seeming like ‘an aggressive lesbian’, when really she just wasn’t the immediately approachable type (not all of us can be open and stellar at social interaction, doesn’t make us aggressive, and it’s your problem if your intimidated, *cough*boys). But I guess, to the paper bin of the writer’s room for her.

    And you know what we have even less of? Butch, queer women of color! Total missed opportunity.

    But hey, the juries still out, and I’ll definitely be there to meet Ryan Wilder. Congrats and Thanks to Leslie for picking up the torch!

  6. Here’s an idea. Let them introduce Ryan Wilder with a black butch girlfriend. Alice kills said girlfriend, abducts Kate and gives her said girlfriend’s face. Lust, hatred, guilt, attraction follows. We get to keep our Kate Kane and get a brand new QWOC storyline.

    • I don’t think the solution is killing a queer Black character to advance a plot of a white character coming back in a gruesome version of blackface. As a devoted (and obsessed) fan of the comic series who admittedly just started watching the show, I’m upset about loosing the Kate Kane character after one season too. But I’m starting to worry that toxic fan culture, now more overtly tinged with racism (intentional or not) is going to ruin season 2 as well.

  7. Thank you for the Instagram, I have to do … research.
    I wanted to love the show so much, because lesbian superhero main character! But, and I’m eating my own words here, I lost interest after a few episodes because, unfortunately the main character wasn’t as strong and compelling as I would have wanted her to be but the other characters were. I’m sad that there was so much drama and that the actress and the team had a hard time. But something was not working and I hope that everything will turn out to be OK for everyone. This new development looks good, aside from the aforementioned negative back story. I hope they do this right!!

  8. Hi, y’all. As our TV Team editor and Batwoman writer and also the longest running Batwoman fan I have ever met — I used to recap the individual comic books! I have original art in my home from 52 #7! Greg Rucka and JH Williams gave me a group hug one time! — I want to pop in here and say I’m super uncomfortable with these comments about “I’d love to support this Black woman who has been cast in this revolutionary role, but…” Listen, I loved seeing Kate Kane on my TV, both as a forever fan and as a butch lesbian. We all know there’s a dearth of good butch rep on TV and so many of us never dreamed of the day we’d get to see her on TV. But we did! And it was brilliant beyond anything I had imagined! For 20+ episodes!

    Think about this, though: How many Black comic book fans have ever gotten to see themselves reflected in an A-list comic book superhero headlining her own series? Zero. Obviously we all love Anissa Pierce on Black Lightning, but her storylines and especially love life, over many seasons have had about as much screentime as five total episodes of Batwoman. And Black Lightning always gets left out of the Arrowverse. You simply cannot leave Batwoman out of the Arrowverse! And also think about this: With the exception of Anissa, where are the queer Black superheroes on-screen, full stop? We know Okoye and Ayo were meant to be queer in Black Panther, but that it was edited out. And as for the other Black superhero movies in the DCU and MCU — ah, right, they don’t exist.

    All of our best superheroes come to us, in fiction, when we need them the most in real life. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman to fight fascism and anti-semitism during World War II, right? William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman because, after living through two world wars, he thought maybe matriarchy was the way forward. Kate Kane landed with her solo title, Batwoman: Elegy, when the fights against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality were at their most heated. And now, here we are, in a time of revolution against the anti-Black racism that has defined this country and inflicted compounded trauma across generations. Have we ever needed a queer Black superhero more? This is her time! Let’s honor her and what she will mean to all of us, and most especially queer Black nerds who have never, ever, ever been able to see themselves represented in this way before. (Also, she could still be Jewish! Being Black doesn’t preclude her from being Jewish!)

  9. i can’t help but remember how much crap Ruby Rose took when her casting was announced. Javicia Leslie has to be among the bravest actors in the business to pick this role up.

    as she is a person affected by a 3-way intersection of bigotry, hoping folks on this site will go forward with love and support – she’s got a hard enough task and her own community should stan.

  10. Wow, I’d almost forgotten good news existed. This is awesome! Can’t wait to see how they weave everything into the storyline. ❤️

    (Much less awesome is seeing white women commenting on AS sounding like white men commenting on Ghostbusters 🙄. Let’s be the soft-butch lesbian heroes we’d like to (and got to!) see instead of another set of white feminists trying to hold back Black queer women.

    • Yesssss: “Let’s be the soft-butch lesbian heroes we’d like to (and got to!) see instead of another set of white feminists trying to hold back Black queer women.”

      You’re allowed to be disappointed, but maybe rethink dominating the comments on the FIRST! ARTICLE! About! This! Black! Queer! Woman! Batwoman! (omg!) with your disappointment. No one is asking us butch white women to type out our complete set of feelings on every article. Just share the ones that are relevant and center Black women, especially on this article, yes??

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!