Javicia Leslie takes over on CW’s ‘Batwoman’

Rick's Reviews

Javicia Leslie takes over the starring role on “Batwoman.” (Photo courtesy of CW Network)

(KGET) — The departure of Ruby Rose from the CW Network series “Batwoman” left a void in the cowl that will be filled by Javicia Leslie. She slips into the Batwoman suit when the second season of the series based on the DC Comics character debuts at 8 p.m. Jan. 17.

Leslie comes to the job as a comic book fan because of her older brother. Couple that with her being a lover of action-oriented entertainment when she was young – from “Xena” to professional wrestling – and Leslie sees this job as more than just another acting role.

“When I saw that bat across my chest, it felt surreal and at the same time like a dream come true,” Leslie says.

Executive producer Caroline Dries (“Smallville”) and her team were tasked with how to go from Rose playing the character to another actor taking on the part. They didn’t just recast the character but created a whole new person to put on the suit.

Ryan Wilder (Leslie) discovers Kate Kane’s Batsuit at the scene of a major tragedy. Finding the suit gives her the opportunity to longer be at the mercy of the forces around her as she survives on the mean streets of Gotham City.

Gotham is having its own problems because of fear that Batwoman has fled the city after a public stand-off with Commander Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) and the Crows. Kate Kane’s disappearance hits hardest at home where Jacob, Sophie (Meagan Tandy), Luke (Camrus Johnson), Mary (Nicole Kang) and even Alice (Rachel Skarsten) each struggle with the devastating news in their own way.

The ability to pass on the Bat legacy appears to be as simple as passing on the Batsuit. Dries stresses that’s not the case but goes deeper.

Leslie adds, “Yes it is the suit but the person also has to be worthy. It’s like when I first got the job and wondered if I am worthy. You’ll find out if I’m worthy.”

To be absolutely correct, Leslie inherited two suits. There is one suit that she wears most of the time that features all of the trappings a caped crime fighter should wear. There’s a second suit that she gets to put on for all of the action sequences that is designed for better movement.

Being able to move is critical as Batwoman does a lot of fighting. Leslie was introduced to martial arts two years ago by the same brother who brought her to the comic book world. That training helps her do many of her own stunts.

Dries describes having an actor who can handle multiple fight moves rather than having to stop and start to fake the scene as a blessing. It helps make the action parts of the show come across more realistic.

Although Leslie will be handling a lot of her own stunts, you won’t see her doing too much driving of the Batmobile. Her work with the vehicle is limited to driving the car in and out of a scene.

She laughs and says that has not been a problem because it is a very expensive vehicle that she would not want to damage.

Dealing with Batsuits and Batmobiles is a new world for Leslie. Before taking over on “Batwoman,” Leslie played Ali Finer on “God Friended Me” and Paris Duncan on “The Family Business.” Her feature film work includes “Always a Bridesmaid.” Leslie – who was born in Germany but raised in Maryland –  graduated from Hampton University where she appeared in such productions as “Seven Guitars,” “For Colored Girls” and “Chicago.”

Leslie stresses it has nothing to do with being cast in “Batwoman” but her favorite comic book super heroes have always been Batman and Storm. She was drawn when she was younger to Storm because she was one of the rare black female superheroes. Her love of Batman comes from his background.

“He has no magic powers,” Leslie says. “I was like Sabrina, the teen-age witch, when I was younger and thought my special powers would come to me when I turned 16.”

When that didn’t happen, Leslie could appreciate the reality of what Batman faced.

Her very human Batwoman will be facing some major challenges this season including the False Face Society tightening its grip on Gotham through the distribution of a new drug known as Snakebite. There will also be an appearance by DC Comics villain Victor Zsasz starting in episode three.

Dries was given a list of DC Comics characters who she could bring into the show and she opted for Zsasz because it felt like a natural fit. Zsasz is known for carving his own body to commemorate his victims.

The confrontation between him and Batwoman will lead to a discussion of feeling comfortable in your own skin. That will lead to a new Batsuit for Wilder so she can become her own Batwoman.

As for what happened to Kane, Dries promises that will be addressed but will remain a mystery for the entire season.

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