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Batwoman's Nicole Kang On Poison Ivy Debut And Playing A 'Fully Fledged Asian Villain'

Nicole Kang as Mary Hamilton in Batwoman TV series
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

At the end of Batwoman Season 2, various Batman villain-related items found their way into the world, which has resulted in new versions of classic rogues like Mad Hatter and Killer Croc causing trouble in Gotham City during Batwoman Season 3. Now we can add a Poison Ivy 2.0 to this lineup, with Nicole Kang’s Mary Hamilton, one of the CW series’ lead characters, turning to the dark side following an unfortunate encounter with one of the original Poison Ivy’s plants. Now Kang has shared why it means so much to her getting to play this new version of Poison Ivy, particularly as an Asian woman.

Pamela Isley has been DC Comics’ main Poison Ivy for decades, and we’ll meet the Arrowverse version of her later down the road in Batwoman Season 3 (more on that later). But as far as Mary Hamilton’s transformation into Poison Ivy 2.0 goes, Nicole Kang explained to EW how she reacted the first time she put on her verdant costume for the first time as follows: 

I was really emotional. I burst into tears. It has given me purpose and drive, and ultimately, I'm really proud of how Poison Ivy came out. What I'm most proud of is that it is rooted in history, both comic and fashion history. And it is culturally conscious. And then I am what's inside of it, what's filling it. And as a Korean girl, that when it all came together.

For those who haven’t been following along with Batwoman Season 3, at the end of the episode “Freeze,” Mary Hamilton was infected by one of Poison Ivy’s vines, and it was revealed in this week’s “How Does Your Garden Grow?” that she was the on behind the plant-based attacks happening in Gotham City. It turns out that when the sun sets, Mary blacks out and her new Poison Ivy persona takes over, and this newly-emerged villain feeds off the anger Mary feels about being undervalued by Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder (Batwoman) and Camrus Johnson’s Luke Fox (Batwing). “How Does Your Garden Grow?” ended with Poison Ivy 2.0 attacking her teammates and fleeing Gotham with her antagonistic sister Alice, played by Rachel Skarsten. Now we have our first look at Nicole Kang suited up as the new Poison Ivy.

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Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries said in a statement that the reason Mary Hamilton was chosen to inherit the Poison Ivy mantle was because they wanted some of these Bat-“trophies” to be personal to Team Batwoman, and Mary was the perfect candidate to go through a “major photosynthesis.” Dries also said that Nicole Kang played an integral role in figuring out the look for Poison Ivy 2.0, and the actress shared how she’s pleased Mary went the villainous route rather than the heroic one, as it allows Batwoman to deliver an Asian villain who’s a fully-formed character rather than simply an enigmatic player. As Kang put it:

Everybody, I think, has been wanting Mary to [become a superhero because there's] the expectation that everybody suits up and for us to subvert that expectation — We have a Black Batwoman, we have Batwing, and an Asian Poison Ivy — it's so cool. It's really exciting for me to create a fully fledged Asian villain. I think sometimes Asian villains are not explained, right? Their humanity is sometimes lost when in telling a story about a hero. And I think it's super brilliant.

We’ll see Mary Hamilton make her official Poison Ivy 2.0 debut next week in Batwoman Season 3’s midseason finale, which is appropriately titled “Pick Your Poison.” While the corrupted Mary and Alice have hit the road as partners-in-crime, there’s still some bumps ahead for these two in this new stage of their relationship. But as mentioned earlier, Mary isn’t the only Poison Ivy who will be present this season of Batwoman. It turns out that Mary’s new powers have somehow allowed for Pamela Isley to be resurrected, and Agent Carter’s Bridget Regan will debut as the OG Poison Ivy when Batwoman Season 3’s eighth episode drops in early 2022. Kang acknowledged that there will be a “tug of war” between the Poison Ivys, but “mostly it'll be like this mother-sporeling relationship.”

New episodes of Batwoman premiere Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on The CW. Learn what other shows are currently airing with our fall 2021 TV premiere schedule.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.