Luke Fox is going to be spending less time in the Batcave on Batwoman.
As revealed Tuesday, Camrus Johnson's sharp-dressed genius will finally suit up as the DC Comics superhero Batwing at the end of season 2 and become a major part of season 3. This transformation will be the culmination of an arc that began in earnest with Luke's near-death experience after being shot by a corrupt cop, though Johnson believes you can trace the journey back to "way before the show even started."
"The passing of his dad [Lucius Fox] was the seed that was planted," Johnson tells EW. "It was the beginning of it all. Him missing his mentor and favorite person in the world, there's this big gap in his life. Also, Batman leaving. The hero has been gone, and we haven't had a hero until Batwoman 1 and 2. So I think there was always this need for a hero and Luke was always there helping the hero, but he was never the one in the field."
Below, Johnson tells us more about Batwing's long-awaited introduction, wearing the super-suit for the first time, and writing a Batwing story in Batman: Urban Legends #4.
Justina Mintz/The CW 'Batwoman' star Camrus Johnson reveals that he pitched giving Batwing an 'Iron Man-esque' helmet that opened up so fans could see his face and know he was the one in fight scenes
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How early on did you find out that Batwing was coming in season 2?
CAMRUS JOHNSON: Dog, I've known Batwing was coming - and the fans are going to get so mad at me when I say this - since day one, since the beginning of the show. Because I asked. When we had our table read during the pilot, a couple of us stayed behind just asking questions and hanging out. It was me, Dougray [Scott], Nicole [Kang], [showrunner Caroline Dries], and I can't remember who else. I asked straight up, "Caroline, Batwing, what's up? That's why I wanted this job." And she's like, "Oh, he's definitely coming."
I think the middle of season 2 was the [original] plan. I think maybe around like episode 13 it would've happened, but since we changed Batwomen, we had to give more time to introduce this new character and get her comfortable in this world, and get the fans to fall in love with her. So Batwing would've come too early and ruined that journey for her. It being the end of the season was something I think was confirmed to me maybe at the beginning of this season. So I've been itching. The fans ask me for Batwing literally at least every other day, but for the most part every single day. So it's been getting me more excited since the beginning.
Once you found out it was happening in season 2, did you do anything to start preparing? Did you start working out more or doing combat training?
I talked to Caroline about that awhile ago. She wanted Luke to grow as he got angrier. As things were changing, as he was changing as a person, he could also start changing physically. So that's why I haven't worked out in so long, because I've been waiting for the moments for Luke to need to get bigger, because it's his own way of healing; that's when I would start working out in real life, so that it would make sense. But then turns out in season 2, the super-suit is made for my body. So [costume designer] Maya Mani, who made it, basically said not to work out because the suit would just be tighter [on me] and would be a little bit more uncomfortable, which is too bad because I love to box. During the season, even though I didn't want to work out too much, I was training with our stunt team. I was training because I was hoping for a big fight scene this season. I don't know if that's going to happen, but at least next season when Batwing is fighting, I was just preparing early for it.
How important is anger as drive for him to become Batwing?
Caroline warned me early about Tavaroff shooting me, so I knew that was going to be a thing for a while. I was like, "Oh perfect, my villain from the comics." She said I was going to get shot, I was going to survive, and that I would suddenly be like, "I don't want to be a little punk anymore," and that's kind of what makes him start going on this journey of bettering himself. That's not exactly what happens at the end of the season. He doesn't necessarily say, "I'm going to start bulking up and doing push-ups because I don't want to be the weakling anymore," but I think there's more of that next season as [he's] going through PTSD from this moment and going back and realizing what happened, who he has been, and who he wants to be.
The CW David Ramsey as John Diggle and Camrus Johnson as Luke Fox on 'Batwoman'
John Diggle plays a role in Luke's journey to Batwing.
It was really funny when we spoke the other day because when you brought that up, I didn't know the pictures and promos were up. All the fans were like, "Guys, we know! You can stop talking in code." [Laughs] I'm so glad David Ramsey is in the show. I freaking love him. Working with him was so great. Not to give too many spoilers away: We meet each other at this bar and it's kind of just a random connection, but in the following scenes he basically [becomes] the big brother. It's the big-brother moment where he says, "Be happy that you're alive. Not many people would've survived this. The fact that you did means something [and] must have a huge purpose. Instead of sulking and being angry about what happened, you should channel that anger into something that will add good into the world." It's a very beautiful moment that Luke and Diggle share in this scene. And I am in casual clothing, which is a big deal. [Laughs]
I really hope Diggle can come back one day because the connection that we make in this episode together is really simple and soft and quick, but it's very meaningful. Now that we know Luke is going to be Batwing, I hope Diggle can see him in the Batwing costume one day.
How does the Bat-team feel about Luke suiting up?
They love it, man! I think Luke putting on the Batwing suit surprises everybody. I love the way that it's written at the end of the season because they're so supportive and like, "Ohhh, wow! Where did this new suit come from?" Because out of all the characters, in a funny way and in this version of Gotham, Luke may be the last person you'd expect to put on a super-suit because he seems very comfortable sitting behind the computer in the Batcave and running the ship from the inside. So when his co-heroes see that he is one of the new heroes of the world, it just excites them. I can't wait to see what the dynamic between the Bat-team is next season!
Costume designer Maya Mani said that the suit represents the love between Luke and his father. How does Luke's relationship with Lucius figure into the suit?
Yeah, it was a surprise. In the comic books, the Batwing suit belonged to someone else first, David Zavimbe, and Luke ended up getting it without his father knowing. Without giving it away, instead of this being a beautiful thing to Luke that his father is unaware of, here it's more so the secret connection between the two of them. In the comics it was Luke's secret, but on the show it was Lucius' secret. I won't go any further than that. The suit in the show is the symbol that the love between him and his father is so deep that it's everywhere. There's parts of their connection that Luke didn't even know about.
How did you feel when you put the suit on for the first time?
What I want to say is that it's a dream come true. The kid in me was freaking out and losing his mind. Although that's all true, honestly there's no real way to put it in words how it felt. [Sighs] When people say it's a dream come true, I don't think they really see it how I see it. Imagine having a really colorful, amazing, unrealistic dream, and then seeing it in the real world actually. I was wearing the super-suit for the first time, looking at myself in the mirror, and was like, "Wow, I'm actually a superhero!" It's so hard to explain what that feeling is because it doesn't feel real. The only people that can relate to it are other superheroes, which is a crazy concept.
From that moment, I was just automatically thinking about all of the little kids of color around the world that are going to dress up as me for Halloween, that are going to see me in the streets and call me Batwing; they're not going to call me Camrus. My publicist showed her son pictures of the super-suit before it was released. As I was waiting for my car to leave her house, he ran out of the house and yelled, "Bye, Batwing!" That feeling is just something I can't really explain. I feel like I did it. When you put on a super-suit, there's like this feeling, "I've officially made history. I've officially put my stamp on some form of history," where I'm a Black superhero, I'm the first live-action person to play this specific superhero.
What's your favorite aspect or detail of the suit?
I have to say the lights. The fact that the Bat symbol lights up is just crazy. I can only imagine the fun we're going to have with that next season. I also love that I kind of got to have a say in [the design of] the helmet. There was a big conversation way earlier in the season where we were wondering if we wanted to go with the original Batwing's cowl or if we wanted to go with [the Luke Fox version of Batwing's] helmet. I was saying that the fans would love to see a helmet, [but] part of me was like, "I want to do a cowl so that they can see I'm doing my own fight scenes." So I pitched an Iron Man-esque helmet where it can come down. I thought the helmet was the move for our first iteration of Batwing on camera, so the fact that they made something I can pull up and you could still see my face like Iron Man instead of having to take the helmet off is pretty cool.
How comic-book-accurate is the suit?
We'll see. I feel like we have so much room to add and play with things. I pitched a couple things that were actually some of Luke's weapons in the comics, and some of the animated projects too. I pitched one really cool idea where you have two Bat-daggers put together and it makes a Batarang, but then you could break them in half and throw them at two different bad guys at once.
I have a backpack, and the backpack is kind of like what the wings are going to be coming out of. I don't think that's exactly comic-book-accurate. I think the wings come out of the suit itself. What I love about this is my favorite superhero growing up was Static Shock, and his best friend was Gear, and Gear had his super backpack that did everything. The fact that Batwing on Batwoman is basically straight-up Static Shock and Gear put together is like the coolest thing to me ever.
We know Batwing's introduction is tied to the finale, which introduces a big problem for season 3. What can you tease about the season 2 finale?
You will see a lot of familiar toys. That's my clue. I'm Cluemaster now. You'll see a lot of familiar toys, and that will get everyone really excited. One of those toys is used, and that toy is going to be a really big problem next season. It's great that Batwing is coming because I don't even know how big things are going to get, but if it is as big as it can get, Batwoman is definitely going to need to Batwing's help.
Art by Loyiso Mkize; Inked by Trevor Scott/DC Comics
Art by Loyiso Mkize; Inked by Trevor Scott/DC Comics
Art by Loyiso Mkize; Inked by Trevor Scott/DC Comics
Not so much, because the Batwing I wrote in [the story] "Superman Punch" was the Batwing I was used to seeing in the comic books. The Luke Fox on Batwoman so far is not the Luke Fox that we've seen in the comics. It's sort of a slightly different iteration. Funny enough, I wrote Luke in this comic how I saw him in the comic books mixed with who I am as a person. So there are certain things that remind me of me and my brothers.
There's a moment in this comic where I have a flashback of him and Tim Fox, his brother. I wanted that because I felt like it would be so important and so cool to see a moment of Luke just being a normal kid. I was trying to think of a way to have him and his brother have a lot of fun, but also help him solve this riddle. It really just reminded me of me and my older brother. My older brother was more of the crazy one and I was more of the smart kid, and that's kind of what Luke and Tim are. Luke is the little brother, but he's a genius, and Tim is the more gruffy older brother. There were moments of it where I wanted it to feel real, like my normal life. Although Luke and I are very different - Luke grew up in a rich household with a very rich father, and I didn't - there are still pieces of him that are one Black boy that's just like every other Black boy.
Even though the show and the comic aren't connected, it's pretty cool you wrote a Riddler story when Luke just went up against Cluemaster on the show.
Whenever I saw Cluemaster in the comics I freaked out, because the Riddler was one of my favorite villains of all time. I think he's so funny, smart, and interesting. It's basically a scavenger hunt all the time, but dangerous. Riddler is such a big name and I don't think we'd be able to get him in the show anytime soon, but Cluemaster is the next best thing. For my comic they basically said since this is an urban legend, I could choose any villain I wanted, except for the Joker. So I decided to go with the Riddler and Killer Croc. I was like, "Since I can do whatever I want, I want two of the coolest villains at the same time." I found a way to implement Killer Croc, which is a nice little surprise.
You also wrote an issue of their digital-first series Represent! What can you share about that project?
I was really happy when they reached out to me about Represent! Represent! is basically 14 different comic books, and they're all from different Black writers. So it gives a bunch of different Black people a chance to tell [grounded] stories, but I think most of them are based on truth. I was excited about it because they just wanted me to tell a story from a Black perspective about being Black in some way to represent Black community. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to write. The idea of when I took my little brother to his first protest was big in my head because it was never something I planned to make a story about, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought this could be really interesting to see on the page. I'm really happy with how it turned out. The fact that they asked me to write the last issue of this run, it's No. 14 of the 14, I thought was the coolest thing ever. So I wanted to write something that felt like it could end with hope and make this 14-issue run feel complete. I hope that I accomplished that.
DC Comics The cover of 'Represent!' #14
This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW. Batman: Urban Legends #4 is available on stands now. Represent #14 - penciled by Tony Akins, inked by Moritat, and colored by Dee Cunifee - launches digitally June 14.