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'Batwoman' star Javicia Leslie wants Stacey Abrams to play a super-villain on the new season

Ethan Alter
·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·5 min read
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Stacey Abrams emerged as a real-life hero in 2020, both because of her tireless (and successful) efforts to expand access to the ballot box in Georgia, and her devotion to genre television. Social media lost its collective mind when Abrams disclosed that she was a fan of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, and the list doesn’t stop there. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, incoming Batwoman star Javicia Leslie reveals that Abrams is a big-time Bat-fan as well. “She’s been very supportive,” says the actress, who takes over the cape and cowl in Season 2 from Ruby Rose, after she famously exited the Batcave at the end of the show’s freshman year. “So shout out to Stacey Abrams! I think she’s going to love this season, and I hope we make her proud.” (Watch our video interview above.)

But why should Abrams just watch the show when she could be on the show? Leslie agrees that Abrams should visit Gotham City during the second season, which premieres on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. on The CW. “Let’s suit her up as a hero,” she says, before switching gears to another, even better pitch. “How about this? Let’s suit her up as an anti-hero! That would be fun. A super-villain: I think we should go through the comics and find one we want to bring to Gotham and go ahead and suit her up. And don’t even reveal it’s her! Go awhile before we take off the mask and see that it’s her.”

Javicia Leslie takes over the cape and cowl in Season 2 of 'Batwoman' (Photo: The CW)
Javicia Leslie takes over the cape and cowl in Season 2 of Batwoman. (Photo: The CW)

Casting a real-world political figure as a comic book super-villain would certainly make television history. But that’s just par for the course in a show that’s already making history. Not only is Leslie going to be television’s first Black Batwoman, but she’s also the first actor of color to wear the cape-and-cowl in any live action iteration of the franchise. In that way, she’s as much a trailblazer as Nichelle Nichols, who broke barriers as the only Black woman on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the original Star Trek. “It’s an honor,” Leslie says. “I grew up watching Batman — that was a huge part of my childhood. I never would have imagined a person of color wearing the suit, let alone me wearing the suit. I just hope it opens that door for so much more diversity in this amazing franchise.”

And the writers are definitely leaning into the specific identity of the new Batwoman. After Rose’s Kate Kane disappears, Leslie’s Ryan Wilder comes into possession of the Batsuit and all the baggage that comes with it — including a tenuous relationship with the Crows, Gotham’s elite law enforcement agency. The premise of a Black vigilante fighting an oppressive police force carries new dramatic weight in the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, and the ongoing controversy surrounding the death of Breonna Taylor. “Anytime where you’re looking at a police situation, there has to be a moment where the citizens check them, and they have to be held accountable,” Leslie says. “Part of Ryan’s journey is to show that the Crows have not been held accountable for a lot of their actions. I love that they’re addressing that this season.”

Leslie as Ryan Hunter in 'Batwoman' (Photo: The CW)
Leslie as Ryan Hunter in Batwoman. (Photo: The CW)

Just as Nichols’s presence in Star Trek inspired multiple generations of young women (including Whoopi Goldberg), Leslie is aware that a new generation will view Batwoman as a touchstone. “I want them to see themselves,” she says. “I think it’s very important to finally be able to look on a screen and see someone wearing something so iconic like the Batsuit: seeing your hair texture, your skin color, your body type. I wish that when I was younger I could have seen more women of color playing superhero roles.” For the record, Leslie does have one favorite female-led superhero movie from her younger years: Halle Berry’s much-maligned Catwoman. “I watched it when I was a teenager, and I loved it,” she raves. “I thought she was sexy, she was hot, she was beating behinds. I feel like she did an amazing job.”

Even as Abrams, and many others, are rooting for the new Batwoman to have a long and successful crimefighting career, there are those online trolls who would prefer to see her fail — the same crowd that previously targeted movies like the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot for taking steps to diversify existing franchises. “I think that’s something they have to work on within themselves, to have such negative energy towards something they haven’t even allowed to exist yet,” Leslie says. “I think that people are going through a lot of pain, and they don’t know how to express themselves. I would love for that to completely go away, but it won’t because we live in a society where pain management is a very difficult thing to process. Until we can really address it within our country, we can’t expect people to address it at home.” Spoken like a true hero.

Batwoman Season 2 premieres Sunday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by Luis Saenz

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