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You never forget your first time putting on a superhero suit... particularly when it happens to be a Batsuit. In the Season 2 premiere of Batwoman, Javicia Leslie inherits the costume previously worn by Ruby Rose, who left The CW series after the first-season finale. “Once you put the suit on, you feel the immense responsibility of what it represents,” the actress tells Yahoo Entertainment. “You see that bat across your chest, and you know because you were raised seeing what that bat represents.”
The season premiere wastes little time with the hand-off from Rose’s Kate Kane to Leslie’s Ryan Wilder. In the episode’s opening moments, a passenger airplane supposedly carrying Kate crash-lands in front of Ryan, and she finds the Batsuit amidst the wreckage. As Kate’s friends and family — including Batwoman’s sidekicks Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) — mourn her apparent demise, Ryan embarks on her own crimefighting spree hoping to avenge the death of someone close to her.
It goes without saying that being Batwoman isn’t as easy as putting on the cape and cowl. As she learns more about her predecessor, Ryan starts to question whether she’s worthy of carrying on her legacy. “She doesn't look at herself as a hero,” Leslie says of her alter ego, who comes from a less privileged background than Kate. “But I look at her as a hero, because she’s always wanting to save the people she cares about by any means necessary. It makes sense why she gravitates towards the job of a superhero, but it also makes sense why she may not feel like she is worthy of it. I think it works, because you watch her become Batwoman.”
Leslie faced her own challenge joining a series during its second year when the rest of the cast had already bonded. But she says that her new co-stars — some of whom she’d worked with before — welcomed her with open... uh, wings. “We were able to get the ball rolling knowing each other and knowing each other’s energy. Everyone was so supportive. I felt like I was joining a family that had their arms open and ready to welcome me in. I felt like that with the crew as well. They’ve been so receptive and helpful in the transition for me.”
Although Rose offered congratulations on social media, Leslie says the two haven’t spoken offline, although she’d be open to the idea. “These are totally different characters, so at this point I really want to just focus and work on building Ryan. I think it would be completely different if I were taking over a role of the actual character, but even from that perspective the way I approach my work is all about sitting down and creating the world for my character.” Leslie also says that the writers haven’t given her any clues about whether Kate might resurface and pay a visit to Gotham. “I’m intrigued to find out how they’re writing the story, and what’s going to happen.”
A lot certainly happens over the course of the premiere: With Kate out of the picture, her sister and Gotham crime kingpin, Alice (Rachel Skarsten), sends Tommy Elliot (Gabriel Mann) undercover as Bruce Wayne in order to recover the last remaining Kryptonite fragment — the only weapon on Earth that can penetrate the Batsuit. After a wild fight with Tommy, that piece of Kryptonite ends up slicing into Ryan’s shoulder, setting up a storyline that will play out over the rest of the season.
“It's going to make a huge impact for Ryan and obviously her capability,” Leslie teases of that big reveal. “A lot of her journey is to prove that she’s her own Batwoman, and to stop being compared to Kate Kane. But that's going to be fast impacting her ability, so she’s going to hide it for awhile. She genuinely wants to show that she can stand on her own two feet and do this, but meanwhile she’s dealing with something that’s truly impacted her ability to perform.”
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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