Javicia Leslie as ‘Batwoman’ is officially the Black superhero every Black girl needs. The actress made her historical debut as the first Black caped crusader on the CW’s Batwoman. The second season premiered on Jan. 17.
It’s all about the timing and at 33, Leslie received her opportunity after Australian actress Ruby Rose resigned her role as Kate Kane, the series’ first Batwoman. With the lack of representation of POC characters that we continue to see on the big screen, Leslie’s role is a win #ForTheCulture.
Black Superheroes Getting Their Kudos…
If one were to sit down and ponder, they would realize many of the Black superheroes that we know and love such as Marvel’s Miles Morales or Captain America’s Falcon, do not solely shine on their own. It took years before the legendary Black Panther character received its own comic after debuting in 1966 in the Fantastic Four comic.
Now, this is just speaking of the Black male characters. Besides X Men’s Storm and Marvel’s Shuri (who has just recently been getting the recognition she deserves), there is not a strong presence of female Black superheroes in the comics or on the screen.
During her interview with Collider, Leslie discussed the importance of her presence as Batwoman comparing her newfound role to Obama’s presidency.
“ In my lifetime, I’ve seen several different presidents,” she said, “but there are certain people in their lifetime where the first president they saw was Obama”.
This statement is absolutely true! News of Leslie playing Batwoman is reaching beyond the CW series. Memes and tweets have been made about the actress stepping in the infamous black and red suit.
— Michael Patterson (@michaelp93) January 25, 2021
Have never, I mean NEVER seen a show have to recast it’s lead and have the incoming actor pick up the reins that quick and get the audience onside so well before. Ryan Wilder is Batwoman, that’s it. Love her. #Batwoman
— Grant Menmuir (@GrantMenmuir) January 19, 2021
@JaviciaLeslie Hi Javicia. This week’s @CWBatwoman was phenomonal ❤️❤️. I just want to say, I love you so much as Ryan Wilder (the new #Batwoman). You were the perfect choice for Ryan and if the season goes as great as it has been, this will be so much better than season 1 😊😊😊 pic.twitter.com/ZN7ZdUE7Px
— Mark dorsi (@dkramMark) January 25, 2021
While some may believe she has big boots to fill, Leslie explains her big goal is to maintain a sense of herself as Batwoman.
“More than anything, I wanted to be my version of a superhero,” she told Collider. “I wanted to be what I brought to the table.”
Black Women Superheros Rule!
Leslie’s character, Ryan Wilder, is entirely based on Leslie’s existence! Unlike Rose’s Kate Kane, an actual character in the original DC Comics, Wilder was created just for a woman like Leslie. She is fearless and caring; compassionate but unapologetic and does not care what anyone thinks!
Leslie’s presence, whether critics receive her role well or not, is inspiring and surreal for young Black girls. She uses her “art as activism“, while informing little Black girls that anything is possible. Her role conveys to our Royaltee Girls that one does not have to silence or conform themselves behind the systematic racial structure placed on the black community. Leslie’s presence as Batwoman is teaching young girls to be fearless.
She is teaching young girls that Black women superheroes rule. Most importantly, she is teaching young girls that it’s “their right to exist in the entertainment industry”.
“I always just remind myself that my purpose isn’t for me, my purpose is to empower other people,” Leslie told AP News. “And God brought me here for a reason and He put me in this position for a reason. With that, it’s nothing to fear because I know this will empower someone to see a Black female superhero.”
She went on, “You don’t get to see it often. It’s so epic. I grew up on Batman and Catwoman and the Joker and Penguin. Now, to see blackness in that, I think it’s very inclusive. Very empowering.”
Thank you, Javicia Leslie!
Batwoman airs on CW every Sunday night at 8/7 p.m. central.
Deanna Kenner is an Atlanta native. She is a recent college graduate from Georgia State University receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English. Her favorite is blue as you may tell by her funky hair color and she has a passion for writing and reading.