First Black Batwoman set to lead CW superhero series

Javicia Leslie will star as 'Batwoman.'
Courtesy of WarnerBros.
Javicia Leslie will star as 'Batwoman.'
Courtesy of WarnerBros.

Actress Javicia Leslie’s newest role is history in the making. Cast as the new lead for The CW’s “Batwoman,” she will be the first Black actress to be Batwoman in a live-action TV show or film. 

“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.

The announcement comes after Ruby Rose’s exit from the show in May. Leslie will not simply step into Rose’s shoes, but be the Batsuit’s next successor. As Ryan Wilder, Leslie will be the superhero foil to Rose’s Kate Kane: undisciplined, passionate, highly skilled. Wilder comes from a dark past—someone who masked her pain with bad habits. 

The second season of “Batwoman” will return to the silver screen in January 2021, hoping that there are no production delays. 

On Instagram, Leslie captured the importance of this moment in television history: “For all of the little black girls dreaming to be a superhero one day… it’s possible!”

Hollywood is changing, but not quickly

Looking at the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (Batwoman is a DC Comic character), racial diversity is a problem. Over half the characters are white (60 percent), according to Forbes. The second most represented group is Black characters at just 20 percent. Not a single major Marvel film character is Pacific Islander or Native American. 

The #OscarsSoWhite and Black Lives Matter movements have pushed the conversation around on-screen diversity into the limelight. Over the last month, several white actors stepped down from their voiceover roles as POC characters in animated TV shows

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The 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report affirmed that overall cast diversity in Hollywood productions has been slow, but steady. Still, the report found women and people of color remained underrepresented among all acting roles in 2017 movies and TV’s 2016 to 2017 season. 

As entertainment learns to be a more inclusive space, we look forward to watching Leslie’s adventures as Batwoman.