April 29, 2022 was a rough day for the Arrowverse, because along with Legends of Tomorrow being cancelled after seven seasons, The CW also decided to bring Batwoman to an end after just three seasons. But just because the adventures led by Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder are over doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of Leslie in this corner of DC media. Quite the contrary, as The Flash Season 9, a.k.a. its final season, has brought Leslie back to the Arrowverse in an intriguing capacity.
It’s been confirmed that Javicia Leslie will appear in The Flash Season 9, although it wasn’t disclosed how many of the season’s 13 episodes we’ll see her in. This will be Leslie’s second time on The Flash, as she previously appeared in the third and fourth parts of the “Armageddon” arc at the top of Season 8 as a future version of Ryan. While the natural inclination would be to think that Leslie will simply pop up on The Flash as Earth-Prime’s Batwoman, official details about her role were kept secret to EW. Unofficially, however, there’s a different story, though I will now issue a SPOILER WARNING in case you’d rather learn this information when Season 9 unfolds.
Leaked set photos from Canadagraphs (opens in new tab) showed Javicia Leslie in downtown Vancouver shooting a scene with Grant Gustin, a.k.a. The Flash’s Barry Allen, and someone who appeared to be Paul Anthony, who played Rainbow Raider in Season 1. But here’s the twist: rather than being suited up as Batwoman, Leslie was playing Red Death. I won’t share what was going on in the scene, nor a later one involving just Leslie, but it was abundantly clear that this alternate version of Ryan was an enemy to Barry rather than an ally.
If you’re unfamiliar with Red Death, the original version from DC Comics was among the antagonistic versions of Bruce Wayne from the Dark Multiverse featured in the Dark Knights: Metal event. Hailing from Earth -52, this version of Bruce, who’d grown tired of losing so many allies in his war against crime, decided that he could put The Flash’s super speed to better use protecting people. After taking the weapons belonging to Flash’s Rogues, Bruce took the fight to Earth -52’s Barry Allen and managed to not only defeat his former ally, but drive both of them into the Speed Force thanks to merging the Batmobile with the Cosmic Treadmill. From there, Bruce absorbed both Barry’s powers and consciousness, and now calling himself Red Death, he started killing his own lineup of enemies and later allied himself with The Batman Who Laughs in order to save his world.
Longtime The Flash fans will recall that Red Death was referenced in the Season 5 episode “Memorabilia” as an adversary Barry Allen faced at some point in the future who left a high body count in Central City. Although Warren Christie appeared in Batwoman a few times as both Tommy Elliot, a.k.a. Hush, disguised as Bruce Wayne and a subconscious manifestation of Bruce that Luke Fox saw while he was unconscious, evidently The Flash decided to go a different route with its Red Death, which makes sense. Even though Barry hasn’t been seen interacting with the present-day version of Ryan Wilder, he at least knows who she is, and maybe they crossed paths following the events of “Armageddon.” Throw in how Batwoman is Gotham City’s protector these days, and it makes sense for the Arrowverse to pull in an alternate version of Ryan as its Red Death instead.
The return of Javicia Leslie is one of a handful of things to look forward to in The Flash Season 9, with others including Bloodwork causing more trouble and a new Captain Boomerang hitting the scene. This final batch of episodes will begin airing on The CW sometime in early 2023, but for now, look through our 2022 TV schedule to see what programming is left to premiere this year.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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