Leslie explained to Variety that as a result of being in the foster system and being around others in her position, Ryan’s drive to protect the citizens of Gotham comes from a deeply personal place after already having to become “other people’s protectors” in her youth. “So, when she puts on the suit, it does go naturally with who she is as a person,” Leslie told the magazine.
But where Ryan comes from isn’t just influencing her decision to become Batwoman. It’s also affecting how she approaches being the vigilante hero. Though Kate had to literally and figuratively fight homophobia, she was still white and wealthy with a father who headed up a private and influential police force. Ryan is also a lesbian, but as a Black foster kid, her relationship to wealth, race, and the police is fundamentally different. That means how she navigates Gotham in her role as Batwoman will be, too. Leslie says that will be illustrated best through how her character defines right and wrong.
“Ryan’s the type of person who has this standard of what’s right and what’s wrong, and she lives by that, and there’s not a lot of budge room in that,” Leslie said. “When we think about what’s going on in society right now, in real life, and if you look at police, they’re all supposed to represent what’s right and what’s good no matter what, but nowadays we’re finding that’s not always the case. That is an issue for Ryan. That should be the standard; you should be able to look at who’s policing our community and [say], ‘If no one else is right, at least they’re right.’ When I look at Ryan, that’s what she battles. There is no gray area for her.”
Fans can catch Javicia Leslie’s debut as Ryan Wilder when Batwoman‘s second season debuts at 8/7c on Sunday, January 17.