There won't just be a new face under the cowl when Batwoman returns next year — there will be an entirely new character.

EW has learned that Batwoman isn't simply going to recast Kate Kane, the role Ruby Rose left at the end of season 1. Instead, the CW drama is introducing a new character named Ryan Wilder to take up Batwoman's mantle.

According to a casting notice reposted on Reddit — which encourages LGBTQ performers to audition — Ryan Wilder is a female in her mid-late 20s and the complete opposite of Kate Kane. "She's likable, messy, a little goofy, and untamed," reads the document. "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. Today, reformed and sober, Ryan lives in van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk from an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly disciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical All-American hero."

Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

While the show's decision to move on to a new character instead of recasting Kate Kane is surprising (though not as shocking Rose's departure), it's far from the worst-case scenario, especially because it reflects one of the fundamental aspects of DC Comics mythology: legacy. In the pages of DC Comics, heroic mantles are often passed between multiple people because what the Bat symbol or Superman's logo symbolizes is usually more important than the actual people underneath the mask. You see this in the Bat family, the Flash family, and even with Wonder Woman. For example, Dick Grayson became Batman when Bruce Wayne disappeared after Final Crisis, and Wally West graduated from Kid Flash to the Flash after Barry Allen's apparent death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In fact, Batwoman already tapped into this in season 1 when Kate returned to Gotham and threw on Batman's suit in Bruce Wayne's absence.

That being said, Ryan’s introduction does raise a big question: What does this mean for Alice (Rachel Skarsten)? Batwoman entire first season was built around Kate’s sometimes adversarial relationship with her villainous twin sister Alice (Rachel Skarsten), so it’ll be interesting to see how the show not only moves past that but also deals with Ryan’s dynamic with Alice. It’s worth noting that Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries did say she was looking forward to exploring Alice's relationship (or lack thereof) with Kate's stepsister Mary (Nicole Kang).

“I would say the thing that we have not done this season is — we definitely set up this triangle of sisters with Alice, Kate, and Mary, and I think there’s a journey to be had between Alice and Mary,” Dries told EW during an interview conducted before Rose’s exit was made public. “There’s the huge elephant in the room that she killed her mom, and Mary, in my opinion, has never had proper closure around that. Hopefully, there’s somewhere to go with that that doesn’t necessarily end in forgiveness, but it creates really juicy tension when they’re together in a room.”

This news arrives almost exactly two weeks after Rose's exit from Batwoman was announced. A specific reason for Rose's departure wasn't given.

"I have made the very difficult decision to not return to Batwoman next season," Rose said in her statement. "This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew and everyone involved with the show in both Vancouver and in Los Angeles. I am beyond appreciative to Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Caroline Dries for not only giving me this incredible opportunity, but for welcoming me into the DC universe they have so beautifully created. Thank you Peter Roth and Mark Pedowitz and the teams at Warner Bros. and The CW who put so much into the show and always believed in me. Thank you to everyone who made season one a success — I am truly grateful."

In a joint statement at the time of the announcement, the CW, Warner Bros. TV, and Berlanti Productions reaffirmed their commitment to casting an actress who identifies as LGBTQ in the part: "Warner Bros. Television, The CW and Berlanti Productions thank Ruby for her contributions to the success of our first season and wish her all the best. The studio and network are firmly committed to Batwoman's second season and long-term future, and we — along with the show's talented creative team — look forward to sharing its new direction, including the casting of a new lead actress and member of the LGBTQ community, in the coming months."

A week later, Rose followed up her initial statement with a cryptic post on Instagram. "Thank you everyone for coming on this journey," she wrote. "It wasn't an easy decision but those who know, know.. I didn't want to not acknowledge everyone involved and how big this was for TV and for our community. I have stayed silent because that's my choice for now but know I adore you all. I'm sure next season will be amazing also. Xxx *hangs up cowl and cape."

Batwoman is expected to return in January on the CW. Season 1 is available to stream on HBO Max now.

This post has been updated.

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