On Monday, the CW unveiled two first-look images for its new Batwoman, played by Javicia Leslie, the first Black woman to portray the superhero in a live-action TV or film. While superhero costumes are ostensibly meant to disguise (skintight latex be damned), there’s no mistaking the new Batwoman is a Black woman, and that’s by design, says Leslie.
The redesigned costume will be featured in episode three of the new season. Leslie, playing crime-fighter Ryan Wilder, has taken over the role from Ruby Rose, and the revamped look symbolizes the new Batwoman coming into her own. The suit will be more form-fitting, but more importantly, will also showcase the character’s tight, curly hair.
The wig, designed by Janice Workman, is black and textured, with crimson red streaks matching the red accents on Batwoman’s costume. It’s a stunning departure from the straight, chest-length, candy-apple red wig Rose wore during her time as Batwoman.
“I love the fact that Ryan is becoming her own Batwoman—it’s her style, her swag, and her moment!” Leslie said in a statement. The actress added that she worked with costume designer Maya Mani and executive producer Caroline Dries on the new look.
“I felt it was important that viewers could tell by the silhouette that Batwoman was a Black girl,” she continued. “With the form-fitting suit and beautiful Afro, we definitely nailed it!”
In a tweet Monday sharing the photos, Leslie announced, “Blackwoman, I mean Batwoman is here.”
“The wig was something we never perfected in season one, and Janice Workman crushed it with this new take,” said Dries. “Javicia and I saw various prototypes of styles and red ombres, and at one point we were trading our own iPad-doodled versions. Janice translated that into what we are looking at now.”
Dries—like many Batwoman fans—is pleased with the results.
“When I see it, I smile. It makes me feel inspired,” she said.
Mastering superhero hair is not easy, and it’s a particularly loaded feature of Black superheroes and the women who play them. Storm, one of the most well-known characters in Marvel’s X-Men lineup, is typically depicted with long, bone-straight hair, despite being an African priestess.
In a chat with Charles Pulliam-Moore, our iO9 colleague, he pointed out that the wig is an essential part of the Batwoman costume. Remember, Ryan Wilder, like billionaire Bruce Wayne, doesn’t have actual superpowers, relying instead on superior fighting skills and some handy tricks. Among these is the wig, which can easily slip off if an opponent attempts to grab her hair during a fight. This means we’ll likely see a literal wig-snatching scene during the new season of Batwoman—but bet on Leslie’s character, a highly-skilled street fighter, to ultimately get the upper hand.
There were also minor but notable updates to the suit Leslie will rock in the new season. It features red gauntlets over the forearms, shorter boots, and laser etching “to create more visual depth and a stronger silhouette,” said the CW.
This is not the only exciting development within the Batman/DC Universe. Earlier this month, fans caught a first glimpse of Zoe Kravitz wrapped up in leather as the world’s most elusive, glamorous burglar, Catwoman. Filming in London, Kravitz was spotted dressed as an off-duty Selina Kyle sporting a black patent leather trench, knee-high lace-up boots, fishnets, and—the best part—a matching patent leather fascinator.
Alas, you’ll have to wait until 2022 to see Kravitz as Catwoman. But Javicia Leslie’s new Batwoman? You can check her out in January 2021.