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Warning: SPOILERS for Batwoman Season 1 are ahead!
Last month, just two days after the Batwoman Season 1 finale aired, it was announced that Ruby Rose was departing the CW show, which had already been renewed for a second season. As such, it was assumed that the role of Kate Kane would be recast for Season 2, but yesterday brought word that the Batwoman team is going in a different direction. Rather than hire a new actress to put her own stamp on Kate, said actress will instead play a brand-new character.
That’s right, someone else will be donning the cape, cowl and red wig in Batwoman Season 2. This new character is identified as Ryan Wilder (possibly a placeholder name), and personality-wise, she sounds a lot different than Kate Kane. While any kind of Bat-mantle being passed onto another person is nothing new in the DC Comics mythology, the fact that Batwoman would rather have a new character in the lead role instead of simply recasting Kate makes things unnecessarily complicated, particularly when looking at the show through the lens of Kate’s personal relationships.
Kate Kane’s Relationships Are Integral To Batwoman
Obviously supporting characters in any TV show will have ties to the main character in some form or fashion, but for Batwoman, Kate Kane especially serves as the central beacon. The show’s lead villain, Alice, is Kate’s twin sister Beth, who was presumed dead for years and driven to insanity after years of being abused while held in captivity. Kate’s father, Jacob Kane, runs the Crows private security firm in Gotham City and hates Batwoman. Kate’s ex, Sophie Moore, serves on the Crows, and Kate’s step-sister, Mary Hamilton, is now part of Team Batwoman. Oh, and let’s not forget that Kate’s cousin is Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman!
While these characters can still exist on Batwoman and go through their own personal journeys without Kate Kane being involved, their respective relationships with Kate are among the main reasons why fans tune into the show. Even Luke Fox, who didn’t know Kate Kane before the pilot, established an interesting dynamic with her as Season 1 progressed. It’s understandable that a new actress playing Kate wouldn’t simply replicate Ruby Rose’s performance and put her own spin on the character, but at least recasting Kate would allow for her relationships with her allies and enemies to keep evolving.
Having A New Character Be Batwoman Throws A Wrench In The Works
By bringing in a new character to suit up as Batwoman, the show has wiped a lot of the proverbial board clean. Sure, character pairings like Luke Fox and Mary Hamilton, or Jacob Kane and Sophie Moore, can keep progressing business as usual, but with a new woman serving as Batwoman, brand-new rapports need to be established with her. Okay, maybe Jacob will be just as determined to eliminate Batwoman regardless of who’s wearing the mask, but nevertheless, the show will have to dedicate a lot of time to ensuring that its starring characters building a relationship with this Ryan Wilder, something that had already been done with Kate in Season 1. When jumping into the second season of a show, all steps should be going forward, not a little bit backwards.
This particularly becomes a problem when looking at Alice and her mission of vengeance. During all of Season 1, Alice tried desperately to recruit Kate to her cause, and while there were times that Kate and Alice had to call a truce, it eventually got to a point where Kate lost all hope in Alice redeeming herself, so she decided to lock her twin sister up in Arkham Asylum. Naturally Alice didn’t stay there long, and feeling betrayed, she’s dead-set on punishing Kate, to the point that she poisoned her adoptive brother, Mouse, when he tried to convince her to stop. With Kate out of the picture, Alice can certainly still wreak havoc in Gotham City and focus on make her father suffer, but her machinations will ultimately be less personal, and thus less compelling to watch. Speaking of Alice’s plan…
This Move Slightly Tarnishes The Batwoman Season 1 Finale
On Earth-Prime, i.e. the Arrowverse’s main universe, Bruce Wayne has been missing for years, and there’s been no indication of where he is or why he left Gotham City (though it might have something to do with killing The Joker). It’s hard to say if/when we’ll see Bruce on Batwoman, but his face will prominently featured in Season 2. Alice and Tommy Elliot, a.k.a. Hush, are now working together, with Alice promising Tommy that she’d make him a worthy new face. She finally delivered on that promise in the Batwoman Season 1 finale, as in the episode’s final minutes, we saw that Tommy is now the spitting image of Bruce, and he’s all too willing to use his new visage to aid Alice with whatever she’s cooked up next.
Obviously the sudden reemergence of Bruce Wayne in Gotham City is going to cause quite a stir among the general populace, and there’s still room through the personal ramifications of Tommy Elliot looking like Bruce through Jacob Kane (Bruce’s uncle), Luke Fox (Bruce’s friend) and Julia Pennyworth (the daughter of his trusty butler/father figure). However, missing out on seeing Kate briefly think her cousin has returned, and then learning that it’s actually Tommy wearing Bruce’s face, is a wasted opportunity. Even if this Ryan Wilder ends up actually being someone familiar from the Batman mythos, like Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain, it just won’t be as engaging to watch her wrestle with a faux Bruce Wayne running around than it would have been with Kate.
None of this is to say that Batwoman Season 2 will be necessarily be terrible to watch. With so many details about Season 2 still being kept close to the chest, it’s impossible to predict its quality. And hey, maybe the writers have come up with a seamless way to bring Ryan Wilder into the fold, and maybe she’ll become a fan-favorite.
Still, it wasn’t necessary to bring in a brand-new character to take on the Batwoman mantle when Kate Kane could could have easily been played by a new actress. The MCU successfully handled recasting War Machine and Hulk, and there’s no reason to think that going this route would have been problematic.