When the Arrowverse was first created, it was generally accepted that there wasn’t going to be certain characters in it. Key among them was the Batman franchise, and for much of its life they kept to that outside of some references and a really odd Firefly appearance. Then, during Elseworlds, the veil was broken and Batwoman appeared in the form of Ruby Rose as Kate Kane. A series was eventually picked up and despite a shortened first season, Batwoman wowed many and it got a second season, as well as one heck of a season cliffhanger.
But then, everything changed, because Ruby Rose said she was leaving the role of Kate Kane. Shocking for sure. Then, to add to the problem even more, a report came out saying that instead of just recasting Ruby Rose as Batwoman, they were going to bring in an entirely new character called “Ryan Wilder” and the character description literally says “she’s not Kate Kane.”
Many fans, including myself, are very confused about this, and as such are worried about season 2 of Batwoman. So though my voice might be small, I want to list out all the ways that having a new character don the batsuit is a bad idea, and why recasting Kate Kane is infinitely better.
WARNING: Spoilers for Batwoman Season 1 Ahead!
1. Kate Kane IS Batwoman
Anyone who knows DC Comics lore understands why that statement is both important, yet false. Because technically speaking, Kate Kane is not the only Batwoman in history. The first one came in the Silver Age via Kathy Kane. In fact, that version was used in various media in various ways, including in Batman Brave and the Bold. This version of Batwoman was honestly created more of a plot device and love interest to Batman, which is why she never as fleshed out as other characters.
However, everything changed when 52 happened. 52 (for those who didn’t read comics) was an event that came after the mega-event Infinite Crisis, and was there to chronicle what all happened in the year that passed since Infinite Crisis. It was here that KATE Kane was introduced, and was wildly different from Kathy.
She was Bruce Wayne’s cousin (via his mother Martha’s side of the family) as well as a lesbian, something that was very big for comics at the time, and still sets a precedent to this day (including being the first true lead character in a superhero TV series or movie that’s LGBTQ+).
Regardless, Batwoman endured, Kate Kane endured, and as such, her fanbase grew and grew. She’s been part of of the recently ended DC Animated Movie Universe which faithfully recreated her style and orientation in many ways in Batman: Bad Blood.
In the comics, she had a major run that went from 2010-2015, and was featured in many comics along the Bat-Family, including key events in the main Batman comic.
In short, NO ONE other than Kate (that I know of and outside of certain Elseworld stories and such like that) has donned the role of Batwoman. She IS that character. So while it may be difficult to recast Ruby (who honestly did a good job as Kate in my opinion), it would be a betrayal of the character to bring in this “Ryan Wilder” to wear the suit.
And not just for “nerdy comic lore” reasons as I’m sure some of you will gripe, but because of what happened in Season 1 of the show as well.
2. The Alice Problem
Remember how earlier I mentioned that Batwoman season 1 had an amazing cliffhanger? Well there was actually two. And I’ll get to both of them back to back.
The first one I want to mention is Alice. Alice is Kate’s twin sister who was tortured and psychologically broken until she became Alice, based of the only book she could read: Alice in Wonderland. Throughout the first season, Alice’s goals are to reunite with her beloved Mouse, get vengeance on her father, and help Kate see “the truth” about herself as well as Alice. And over the course of 20 episodes, she did just that.
But then Kate “betrays” her again by locking her up in Gotham, and Alice becomes driven to kill her to get her ultimate revenge. In the season finale, Mouse threatens to leave if she doesn’t give up her desire to kill Kate. In response, Alice kills Mouse and doubles down on her desire for revenge.
Which brings us to the problem I’m sure you’re all seeing. If Kate is gone, and she’s not coming back, then what does that do with Alice? Exactly. Now sure, they could try and tailor it to saying that Alice just “wants to kill Batwoman no matter who’s wearing the suit,” but obviously that’s thin, and basically turns her into a “Villain-Of-The-Week” versus a true arch-nemesis.
Plus, part of the reason that Batwoman worked was because of the unique connection between Kate and Alice. With “Ryan Wilder”, that’s gone, and trying to replant that would be foolish and wrong to all that was done in Season 1.
Which brings us to the OTHER twist…
3. The Tommy/Bruce Problem
Another long-term story thread that was built up in the first season was the rise of Tommy Elliot. Tommy was the former best friend of Bruce Wayne but got jealous because Bruce had his family’s fortune and so he tried to kill his parents. Bruce stopped him, and a bloodlust was born.
When Tommy met Alice, she got him to work for her in return for a “new face.” The last scene of the season revealed quite a shock, the “new face” that Alice gave him…was the face of Bruce Wayne. So now, “Bruce” is back, and there’s no telling what Tommy will do in his stead.
That’s a problem for anyone in the Bat-family, but this “Ryan Wilder” doesn’t know who Bruce Wayne really is, and even if she found out via Luke Fox or the others (more on them in a bit), it wouldn’t have the same impact as Kate finding out. Think about it — Season 2 (at least in part) could be a true family feud of sorts as Kate is trying to prove that it’s Tommy underneath that skin mask and not Bruce.
This happened in the comics, believe it or not. When it did happen, the Bat-Family rose up to make sure that Tommy didn’t bankrupt Bruce (even though they couldn’t expose him because of how it looked). A random new character in the batsuit won’t make this new storyline as impactful.
Not to mention, when the REAL Bruce arrives, what is going to do with Ryan? It was one thing that Kate was in the suit (and if we’re being honest we’re sure he knows it’s Kate under that suit), but what will he think of Wilder? It won’t have the same impact, or emotions, or feelings. In fact, Kate wrote to Bruce in a journal all season, helping build up their relationship in a loose way.
This storyline NEEDS Kate Kane, and no one else.
4. The Supporting Cast Won’t Work Without Kate
Any show, regardless of genre, is only as strong as its lead…and its supporting cast. A lead only goes so far, and without a good supporting cast, there’s no way a show carries on. Batwoman is the same way. And though it took some time in my opinion, the series now has a great supporting cast that has developed. But it’s developed BECAUSE of Kate Kane being the lead.
Let’s start with the obvious, Jacob Kane and Kate’s stepsister Mary. Jacob is the head of the Crows, who “protect” Gotham, if you pay them. He HATES Batwoman because he feels that her presence only brings more pain than it brings help. At the end of the season, Jacob gets more driven to not just stop Batwoman, but kill her. Including realizing he needs more powerful bullets to pierce the batsuit.
A key scene in the season finale was Kate breaking down in tears and saying, “My dad hates me” because she feels that him not accepting Batwoman is an indictment on her. Her revealing her true identity to Jacob is a piece of story we NEED. Ryan Wilder becoming Batwoman destroys a key storyline.
Then there’s Mary, who started off as a very annoying character in my opinion, but slowly got more mature and became a key part of Kate’s posse, even comforting her during that breakdown I just mentioned. She confronted Kate about being a part of not just her bat-life, but her real life, as she didn’t want to lose her sister.
Without Kate there…what is Mary’s purpose? Sure, they kind of hinted at her and Luke getting together, but she needs to be more than that. She can’t be that with Wilder.
This brings us to Luke. Luke trusts Kate, and Kate alone, to be in the suit (and Julia Pennyworth technically but that was an exigent circumstance). How is Wilder even going to get into the Batcave in the first place when she’s (according to her profile from the casting) a “criminal who has been running from the GCPD”? Luke wouldn’t trust someone like that to wear the suit, especially when she’s not even related to Bruce or Kate.
Finally, there’s Sophie and Julia. Sophie was Kate’s ex, and Sophie denied her true orientation to have a safe career and life. But because of the return of Kate and the rise of Batwoman, she embraced who she truly is, and is now teased with hooking up with Julia, who is also an ex of Kate’s. The love triangle between them is strong in many ways. And even though Ryan is stated to be a lesbian, it won’t matter with Julia and Sophie because the history between the three won’t be there, at all.
Julia and Kate have one kind of history, and Kate and Sophie have another, and now they’re all in Gotham together and sparks are flying!!! Why ruin that?
This show was built around Kate Kane. It’s special because of Kate Kane. With her gone, many of these pieces fall to the wayside, and that won’t be easily recovered, if recovered at all.
5. “Worlds Finest”
Thought I was just sticking to the one franchise, did you? But let’s not forget, Batwoman is part of a greater tapestry in the Arrowverse, and part of the relationships she’s built is with these heroes that now all reside on Earth-Prime.
The biggest of the lot being with Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. The two met in Elseworlds and quickly hit it off in terms of being friends, even giving a nod to them teaming up and being the “World’s Finest”, which in many ways they are. Then, in “Crisis On Infinite Earths”, they went and furthered their friendship, even going so far as to show Kara giddy that Kate was on the same Earth as her.
With Ryan Wilder coming into play, not only does she not have any relationships with the other Arrowverse characters, but she doesn’t have ANY knowledge of what happened in the Crisis event. Could it be explained to her? Yeah, sure, but like many things I’ve explained, that’s not the same. That’s like telling a non-Arrowverse person about all the events of the show and expecting it to resonate with them. It won’t because they didn’t watch it themselves.
Batwoman is part of the “Justice League” of the Arrowverse (she has her own chair in the Hall of Justice, dang it!), you can’t just replace that by putting someone else in the costume. Especially one who is a bit “shadier” than Kate based on descriptions.
6. Hulk and War Machine
What? You thought I couldn’t bring Marvel into this argument? Oh, ye of little faith.
But trust me when I say this does make sense. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the original actors for War Machine and Hulk were Terrance Howard and Edward Norton respectively. Norton even led his own film via The Incredible Hulk, while Howard was a key player in the first Iron Man movie.
But then, things happened behind the scenes, and Howard and Norton either left or were fired from their roles (the stories change on who got what release). So when Iron Man 2 came out and Don Cheadle was recast as the role, and when Avengers released and suddenly Mark Ruffalo was Hulk, do you know what they did to acknowledge the recast?
In fact, they acted like the change didn’t happen. Even having Ruffalo’s Banner note that he “broke Harlem” the last time he was there, and the actor behind Thunderbolt Ross showed up to further show that The Incredible Hulk was still canon.
So if Marvel can do it, why not DC Comics? Which brings us to the final point:
7. The Fans Aren’t Stupid, We’ll Understand The Recast
I hate to be blunt on this one, but in truth, replacing Kate Kane as a whole and ignoring all that she basically did in season 1 is honestly insulting. Not just to the lore, not just to season 1, but to the fans who truly love Kate Kane, both in comics and on the show.
This is the age of the internet when Ruby Rose revealed she was leaving, it was a shock, to be sure. But while the fans mostly mourned the loss of Rose, they immediately started wondering who should be the next Kate, and some interesting choices were thrown out, and some of the fandom has already gotten in support of some of them.
Much like the Hulk recast, all we want to do is see how this new person will be in the role. People love Ruffalo as Hulk, and whoever is the next Kate Kane they’ll likely love them too. Fans don’t need a new character, because they know the score. They know it’s not the end of the world that Ruby Rose is gone, it just means that we’re going to see a new face under the cowl. But that new face can still be Kate Kane without ruining anything!
We’re not fools, we understand that sometimes things happen behind the scenes and you have to pivot. Heck, the COVID-19 situation taught us that in spades! So why just throw out the script when you can just keep things going with one single change? It’s a new actress, it’s a new voice, it’s a new look in a way…
…but it doesn’t have to be a “new start,” because we don’t need one. We have Kate Kane, that’s all we need, someone to play her to the best of their abilities.
To any of the Batwoman actors, writers, cast or fans who are reading this, I hope you know that I really do love this show, and I love the Arrowverse as a whole. I wouldn’t have written this 2500+ word opinion piece if I didn’t love it.
When I heard Ruby Rose was gone, I was sad, cause I liked her as Kate Kate, but when I saw the story about Ryan Wilder (and the report that this was true in terms of a total recast) I was kind of angry. Because this feels like a change that doesn’t need to happen.
Kate Kane is Batwoman, that’s true in the comics, that’s true in the minds of fans. While I’m sure the Batwoman team could find a way to make Ryan Wilder work, I truly believe (as a writer of comics and lover of all kinds of storytelling) that it would take a gargantuan effort to make season 2 feel as good as season 1 with all the course-correcting and trying to make Ryan feel important and connected to everyone when clearly she’s not.
I know I’m not alone on this. I even talked to a friend online before writing this piece and she’s crushed by the fact that Kate Kane might be gone forever because of this recast.
I know there are times to NEVER listen to the fans. When they’re trolling, when they’re being mean, when they’re being hateful for hateful’s sake. But 2020 has proven that the fans have a voice, have a passion, and a desire to see things done right and fair.
Look at Sonic The Hedgehog, the original model for the movie was AWFUL. The fans cried fowl, and the look was changed. The result? The movie became the highest-grossing video game movie of all time. And do I need to mention the Snyder Cut? That’s what I thought, you know what happened there.
This isn’t a case of “angry fanboys” not getting their wish. This is a cry for justice for a character that we all love. Kate Kane is amazing as a character, no matter who is playing her.
So please Batwoman team, don’t throw her away — just give her new life via a new actress. We know you’ll cast a good “New Kate.” There are many who have already offered to be that! So listen to them, listen to the fans, hear our voices, and keep Kate Kane as Batwoman.