This article contains Batwoman spoilers.
While we eagerly await Javicia Leslie’s exciting debut as Ryan Wilder, the new titular hero of Batwoman, another major development for Batwoman season 2 has flown under the radar.
Will Luke Fox be stepping up as Batwing?
Fans have been eager to see Batwing since the name Luke Fox was first associated with the project. The appearance of #SwoleLuke on Earth-99 during the Crisis on Infinite Earths who had a distinctly different (yet all-too-familiar) personality and hinted at his own history of heroism and/or romance with that Earth’s Bruce Wayne only served to stoke the fires further.
At the time, we asked actor Camrus Johnson whether we might see those same character traits come out again if Batwoman does their own version of Batwing. True to his reputation as a fan first and foremost, Johnson responded positively, saying Batwing has, “a certain swagger to him.”
“Batwing is his own character,” Johnson continued, noting the difference between his character and the one portrayed during the Crisis or in the comics. “I think that Luke and I, we can get there. As you saw in the Crisis, I can get the six-pack, I can do the thing, and I have the boxing experience, I think that I can fill those shoes in a very fun way.”
Johnson was the only member of the Batwoman cast, other than Ruby Rose playing Batwoman herself, who was involved in the Crisis. It’s an experience he cherished and hopes to repeat in the future.
“Hypothetically, if there ever is another crossover, I am praying that I can be involved in that one too, on an even bigger scale,” Johnson said. While there are plenty of ways to be involved in a crossover, the best way to have a big role is in a suit, and not the kind that comes with a tie.
“I hope we get to the Batwing storyline sometime soon,” Johnson said during the same conversation in March.
That decision will be left to showrunner Caroline Dries. We spoke to her at the end of the show’s first season, when she hinted at big things for Luke in season two, saying, “We’ve just seen season one Luke and I think there’s a lot more to his journey that we get to uncover.”
Dries looks at Luke as coming into his own in different ways each season, saying that in season one, “He kind of conquered the intellectual part of it, and now it’s all about him finding his courage and physical strength.”
That sounds an awful lot like a man who’s headed toward the life of an even bigger hero, fighting in the streets of Gotham instead of back in the Bat cave, no?
In the comics, Batwing was first the alter-ego of David Zavimbe, a police officer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who operated as the “Batman of Africa.” In 2013, Luke Fox took up the mantle after Zavimbe, working out of Gotham. During Luke’s time as Batwing he relied on his training as a mixed martial artist and a suit and other tech created by his father Lucius Fox.
In the world of the DC animated movies, Luke is a military man rather than tech-oriented and his father is alive, but he becomes Batwing during Batman’s absence, driven by harm that befell his father. Sound familiar?
So far, Batwoman has found success with picking key parts of existing mythology and either remixing them with something from another character or storyline in the world of DC, or changing it up by grafting comics canon onto some existing part of the Batwoman television world. For example, Sophie existed in the comics but they brought her back into Kate’s life for TV, and Mary is a twist on Kate’s cousin Bette – who ended up in costume herself, as Flamebird. It seems likely that however and whenever Luke makes the transition to Batwing, there will be an element of preexisting DC canon, with a twist to make it new and exciting for the show.
We’ve already seen Luke get more into boxing and other types of martial arts training, and he’s been in the field here and there, albeit in a limited role. With Kate gone next season and the CW’s official character character description referring to Ryan Wilder as untamed, undisciplined, and “with no one in her life to keep her on track,” a hero vacuum at the start of Batwoman season 2 might hasten Luke’s journey into the cowl (which he’ll create himself, duh). At least to keep the wolves at bay until Ryan emerges and is ready to take up the Batwoman mantle, so there isn’t a repeat of what happened after Kate killed Cartwright and benched herself.
Luke has always been justice-oriented and finding true justice for his father was a big motivator for him in season 1. Uncovering the fact that what he thought was justice had actually been the corrupt conviction of a Black man was a major turning point for the character. With the Crows headed for more extreme abuses of power and the final episode of season 1 featuring them shooting a Black suspect who was in the process of surrendering, it’s not hard to imagine a season 2 where Luke is called to action by police violence and private paramilitary violence action Black people in particular.
That would allow Batwoman to position Luke Fox’s Batwing not as an extension of the carceral system, but rather as someone standing in opposition to corruption within it – or, more radically, its entire existence. It would be a natural follow-up to his existing complicated relationship with the legal system. It doesn’t hurt that it would be a lovely echo of Camrus Johnson’s own activism for the Black Lives Matter movement. With the addition of Ryan Wilder, a queer Black woman lead who has seen the harm of the GCPD and the legal system firsthand (and possibly has experience with addiction?), it stands to reason that Team Bat will continue to complicate a white American notion of justice and policing. Of course, for all of this to work, Batwoman needs to hire more than just one Black writer.
Other superhero shows (with the notable exception of Black Lightning), are predicated on the carceral system and the assumption that our legal system is just, with little to no critique of those systems. As a result, they will flail as they attempt to pivot 180 degrees and adapt their stories to a world in which white audiences are suddenly scrutinizing their behavior like never before. Batwoman, however, is one of the few that was already written to critique that system and many others. The show could continue to do so and could make the critique even more pronounced yet entirely natural, depending on how and when they deploy an alter-ego fans have been waiting for since day one, by showing Luke Fox become Batwing.