Photo via The CW

Why is Batwoman evil in ‘The Flash’ season 9? Red Death, explained

Batwoman returns to the Arrowverse in 'The Flash' season 9, except she's undergone a major change.

Many Arrowverse characters are coming to The Flash season nine as a farewell to fans, but Batwoman’s return might be one of the most shocking. A multiverse version of Ryan Wilder is appearing as the evil speedster known as Red Death and will rival Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen, but who is she really?

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Javicia Leslie took over the role of Batwoman in its second season and it was huge news at the time following Ruby Rose’s sudden departure. Ryan Wilder was a woman struggling to survive on the streets of Gotham City who finds the Batwoman suit after Kate Kane’s apparent death and becomes the new Batwoman. She teams up with tech genius Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) and medical expert Dr. Mary Hamilton (Nicole Kang) to save Gotham City from its dangerous rogues. Her story lasted for two seasons before it was canceled after Nexstar’s acquisition of The CW, but fans can rejoice knowing they’ll get to see her again in The Flash‘s final season.

Red Death is a new villain in the comics and was first introduced in the comic event Dark Nights: Metal by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Twisted versions of Batman from across the Dark Multiverse banded together to overtake the multiverse with its evil machinations. The Batman from Earth -52 wanted Flash’s Speed Force powers and went to great lengths to get them. This Batman has lost all of his family and he blames the Flash for not having done enough. After subduing the Flash using the weapons of Central City’s worst rogues, he chains the Flash to the hood of his Speed Force-modified Batmobile and drives him into the Speed Force, fusing the two together to become Red Death.

In The Flash, season nine, episode four, “The Mask of the Red Death, Part 1,” Red Death’s plan is revealed. She’s been using a team of rogues, Owen Mercer/Captain Boomerang II (Richard Harmon), Andrea Wozzeck/the Fiddler (Magda Apanowicz ), Michelle Amar/Murmur (Alexandria Wailes), and Mark Blaine/Chillblaine (Jon Cor) to steal materials for the cosmic treadmill for the purpose of going back to her dark timeline, but first, she has to pay a visit to Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton.)

An injured Ryan Wilder shows up at Iris’ front door after the Flash confronted Red Death in the middle of the street, and she sent out a wave of energy that knocked out Central City’s power grid and Flash was captured. At this point, Team Flash doesn’t know she’s Ryan Wilder, but as Ryan explains her story, Iris begins to realize that this isn’t the same Ryan Wilder as the one in their Gotham City. This Ryan admits that she’s from a Dark Multiverse and that in that world, she and Iris are best friends and now she needs her to get back to her dark timeline because she’s Flash’s lightning rod.

Ryan’s origin story is revealed here too. She says that Thomas and Martha Wayne adopted her when she was very young, but when they were killed, Ryan devoted her life to becoming Gotham City’s protector. She studied the weapons of her enemies and engineered her own versions of them. Ryan went on to study the abilities of other Justice League members, starting with the Flash, and mined the data from Flash’s suit she built her own armor and artificial Speed Force. With this power, she could eliminate crime completely, but Flash didn’t agree with her methods and he freed his rogues from Iron Heights and led them into battle against her, which led to the death of Iris.

Iris doesn’t believe everything she’s hearing and pieces together that she’s the villain in this situation. It was Batwoman’s refusal to stop her quest for vengeance that led to Iris’ death and Iris doesn’t want to help her. Iris knows Ryan is Red Death. Iris is taken taken by the evil speedster to her where Flash is being held. Because Red Death doesn’t have an organic connection to the Speed Force, but Barry does and that’s the energy she needs to power the cosmic treadmill.

Red Death threatens Iris’ life and the Flash conceded, giving his energy to the machine, but Chillblaine has a change of heart and he turns against Red Death, destroying the machine. Team Flash’s rogues arrive and take Flash to safety, but the Scarlet Speedster’s unable to save Chillblaine from Red Death’s rogues’ attacks.

The danger isn’t over after Red Death is taken care of because Cobalt Blue is on the way. Thankfully, the Flash has some powerful allies he can still count on. Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow will be returning to the Arrowverse, and it seems only right considering his series launched this universe of DC shows on The CW. Keiynan Lonsdale will be back as Wally West/Kid Flash, David Ramsey will be back as John Diggle/Spartan, and Sendhil Ramamurthy will stir up trouble as the villain Bloodwork.


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