Showrunner Caroline Dries explains how they came to the decision to introduce a new character rather than pull the “soap opera version” of recasting Kate Kane with a new actress for Season 2.
Producers and fans alike were shell-shocked when it was revealed that Ruby Rose would no longer don the cape and cowl as Batwoman for The CW’s popular series — and those inevitable Arrowverse crossovers.
While fans were scratching their heads wondering what this means, the team behind “Batwoman” was … well largely doing the same thing while at the same time trying to answer that question by figuring out what to do next.
“To be honest with you, I did consider the ‘soap opera version’ [of simply recasting the same character] for a hot minute,” admitted showrunner Caroline Dries at a ATX Festival At Home Q&A with “Legacies” showrunner Julie Plec, as covered by TVLine.
On their end, it was the easiest solution, but easiest isn’t always best. Dries admitted that a large part of her considering that angle was “because selfishly we already had a couple episodes written, and transition-wise it would be seamless.”
It was only after stepping back, taking a beat and chatting with overall Arrowverse executive producer Greg Berlanti that Dries realized the best solution would be to not just recast Ruby Rose, but cast a whole new character.
When that news broke, fandom exploded almost as much as when they found out Rose was leaving the role of Kate Kane. After all, Kate is related to the absent Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse.
The new casting call was for a character (maybe) named Ryan Wilder, who shares similar traits to Kate, including being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and they were looking for a member of that community for the role, but there was no indication of how she might relate to Batman … if at all.
Dries describes Ryan as a young woman “who in her past was inspired by Batwoman, so she is going to take on the mantle.” Well, Batwoman has only been operational for a little while, so it’s not too far in the past.
Also a dramatic departure from the Kate character, and different from almost any other television lead, Dries said Ryan is effectively homeless when we meet her, living in a van. She’s “maybe not the right person at the time to be doing it, so that’s what makes it fun.”
According to Dries the decision to go in such a dramatically different direction with their lead was in part to honor “everything that Ruby put into the Kate Kane character,” but also for fans of the series.
“It also helps the audience, because we’re not asking them to address ‘the elephant in the room,'” she said.
It’s one thing to recast a supporting character — and even that can be jarring for fans as when “Game of Thrones” recast Daario with a vastly different actor — but to change the lead might be too much, especially for “peak tv” audiences who sometimes seem to be looking for any excuse to tune out.
But it is also a huge risk. “Batwoman” was a breakout success for The CW this past season, in part because of her legacy connection to Bruce Wayne and established rapport with Supergirl and other Arrowverse heroes in the previous year’s crossover.
Now it’s all new again. Not only do they have to try and convince “Batwoman” fans — and Ruby Rose fans — to give this new iteration a try, and hope that new viewers will see a great jumping on point. Who they cast may be a big help in that department.
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