Last week fans of The CW's Batwoman were hit with surprising news. While it had previously been announced that series star Ruby Rose would not be returning for the Arrowverse show's second season and there were plans to recast the role of Kate Kane, a new casting call surfaced that suggested the show would instead be looking for someone to play a character that replaces Kate altogether. Initially, many thought that it was possible the casting call could be a misdirect, much of the hope for that disappeared with showrunner Caroline Dries offering up a bit of explanation as to why the show was going for the "reboot" option, as it were, rather than a recast. Even with the general reasoning behind the shift from Kate Kane as Batwoman to a brand-new character now known, it hasn't done much to comfort fans and for good reason: replacing the Kate Kane character is just a bad idea.
Per the casting call, the show is looking for someone to play a character called Ryan Wilder who is described as "about to become Batwoman. She's likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She's also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the bat suit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical All-American hero."
While on the surface there's nothing to that description that would signal a character who can't serve as Batwoman -- some of the elements make it sound like the series is seeking to draw from various other female members of the DC Comics Bat Family to create this new character -- the description also makes it clear that this Ryan is nothing like Kate Kane and therein lies the problem. One of the hallmarks of Batwoman is that it is Kate Kane's story. From the moment viewers are introduced to the character, Batwoman is a personal story. Her first outing as the hero in the series pilot is to save her ex-girlfriend (who she is still in love with) from the villainous Alice and the Wonderland Gang. From there, every other aspect of the show is tied to Kate's story. Alice turns out to be her long-believed-dead twin, Beth, who has plans to not only punish the family that she feels forgot about her and left her to rot but also make Kate like her. There's also the familial element in that Kate's father is leader of the private security firm protecting Gotham, The Crows, something that puts Kate in a difficult position as Jacob Kane hates Batwoman.
There are also the personal connections to allies and villains alike. Kate is able to be Batwoman because she's Bruce Wayne's cousin and has access to not only his resources, but his secrets as well. Her stepsister Mary is an ally for Batwoman in part because of their familial connection. Julia Pennyworth? She's got a romantic history with Kate. As for villains, Tommy Elliot is a problem for Batwoman because of his obsession with her cousin Bruce Wayne who he knows is Batman. When you strip out the Kate Kane of it all, the carefully woven and intricate story and connections established in Season 1 just disappear. Alice's determination to kill Batwoman no longer matters if Batwoman is no longer her sister. The tension between the Crows and Batwoman loses its punch if there aren't personal stakes at play. Sophie and Julia as a couple become uninteresting since Kate's no longer around to be a source of tension. And the teases of Safiyah Sohail lose their punch if there's no longer an established Batwoman but, rather, a newcomer.
There's also the matter of Batwoman's connection to the Arrowverse on a larger scale that is negatively impacted by a replacement of Kate Kane. Batwoman's connection to the Arrowverse is one that has been forged by her interactions with the other heroes over two crossovers. Batwoman was introduced to the heroes during Elseworlds where she began a friendship with Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist). That friendship ended up being a part of what brought Batwoman into the fold for "Crisis on Infinite Earths" as Kara reminded Kate that she could trust here even if the rest of the heroes were virtual strangers to her. In fact, the Kara/Kate friendship was poised to be a major element of Season 2 since the only existing piece of Kryptonite (at least on Batwoman) is the one that Kara asked Kate to hold onto for her -- with Kryptonite being revealed in the season finale as being the only thing that can kill someone in a Batsuit. If Kate's not Batwoman, none of that makes any sense anymore and, furthermore, means that next crossover when Batwoman shows up, she'll be a stranger who will have to earn her place on the larger heroic team.
And speaking of crossovers, replacing Kate Kane kind of calls into question the smaller scale crossover between Batwoman and the new Superman & Lois series that The CW president Mark Pedowitz spoke of during the network's upfronts last month. The crossover, while not the "World's Finest" event that Batwoman and Supergirl fans were hoping for, at least made sense because Clark Kent/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) at least have a connection to Batwoman via "Crisis" and Kara. Not so much some random new hero.
Ultimately, at this point there doesn't feel like there are any upsides to replacing Kate Kane with another, unknown and potentially entirely original character when it comes to who is carrying the Batwoman mantle. Instead, the downsides are many -- and largely undermine the work the series had done already, thus leaving fans with not so much a second season of a beloved show but a new season one of a show they didn't really ask for. A big part of Batwoman is the significance of Kate Kane the character, her personal story, the connections she has to the legacy of Batman and her reason for fighting for Gotham itself. You take that away, you take away everything that makes the show special -- and everything that makes it Batwoman in the first place.
What do you think? Is replacing Kate Kane as Batwoman a bad idea for The CW series or are you on board with this new direction the show is taking? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @lifeinpolaroid.3comments