Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries previews Ryan Wilder's "vendetta" against Black Mask and the False Face Society.
Batwoman; Black Mask
Credit: The CW; DC Comics

Safiyah isn't the only big bad in Batwoman season 2.

EW has learned that Black Mask — the notoriously ruthless Gotham City crime boss who recently appeared in Birds of Prey — will be a major villain in season 2. His menacing presence was first teased in the superhero drama's official season 2 synopsis, which revealed that the False Face Society, Black Mask's gang in the pages of DC Comics, "tightens its grip on Gotham distributing a perilous new drug known as Snakebite" in the new episodes.

"We have a couple big bads this season," Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries tells EW. "One, [who] we teed up midway through last season, is this woman Safiyah, and she's sort of Alice's Achilles' Heel. And ultimately yes with the False Face Society, we will see the leader of this gang as Black Mask later on in the season."

While we don't know who will play the sadistic crime lord, we do know that new Batwoman Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) — who takes on the Crimson Knight's mantle following Kate Kane's disappearance — will have a major problem to pick with him because of her experience with drugs.

"While Ryan never used drugs, she was in a relationship where somebody was using drugs and it's ultimately what got Ryan put away in jail. So, it's this idea that Ryan is this innocent woman and if she were white, per se, she might not have had the same punishment [that] she, as an innocent Black woman, had to go through. That's a huge piece of her backstory, so that's something we're exploring this year," says Dries. "Batwoman has this particular vendetta against the False Face Society because the idea of drugs permeating the city and nobody taking any responsibility for it strikes at her core."

Black Mask
Credit: DC Comics

Created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, Black Mask, a prominent figure in Gotham's criminal underground, has appeared in a couple DC Comics animated shows and Fox's Gotham. Most notably, Ewan McGregor famously portrayed the sadistic rogue Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Coincidentally, that Margot Robbie-led film also featured the Batman villain Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), who will also appear in Batwoman season 2 played by Alex Morf.

As mentioned above, season 2's other big bad is Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai), the formidable ruler of the island of Coryana who has a complicated past with Alice (Rachel Skarsten). Having both of these villains in the mix allows the show to tackle two classic types of Bat-themed stories: While Black Mask and the False Face Society bring the gritty street-level action, Ghai's Ra's al Ghul-like foe delivers the heightened comic book spectacle.

Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

Batwoman premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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