2021 has been a great year for more Asian representation in media, especially in superhero franchises.
Marvel Studios introduced its first Asian protagonist with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings…
Now, with Eternals, it’s only looking up from here as the cast was incredibly diverse. They included their first deaf superhero, LGBT+ representation, their first South-Asian hero, etc.
One of the viewers’ favorites is South Korean-born actor Ma Dong Seok (also known as Don Lee) as Gilgamesh.
MCU fans can also look forward to Park Seo Joon in the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, coming in 2023. His role is not yet confirmed, but it is rumored to be Amadeus Cho (he becomes The Hulk) or Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy.
Also, let’s not forget our beloved Jimmy Woo, portrayed by Randall Park! He steals the show in every scene, whether he’s in Ant-Man or WandaVision!
But, what about the DC Comics‘ Cinematic Universe?
Filipina Korean actress Ella Jay Basco brought to life superhero Cassandra Cain (the fourth Batgirl in the comics) in the 2020 film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Not only was this an awesome feat, but she turned 15 just this year!
DC is slowly but surely getting there clearly with AAPI representation. Japanese American actress Karen Fukuhara made her film debut with her portrayal as superheroine Katana in 2016 with Suicide Squad.
Now, as far as villainesses, our first-ever Asian American Poison Ivy has just been introduced, and we’re already obsessed with her…
Meet Nicole Kang, the second Poison Ivy but the first Asian American Poison Ivy.
Korean American actress Nicole Kang portrays Dr. Mary Hamilton in CW‘s Arrow-verse TV show Batwoman.
She’s many things on this show. For one, she’s Kate Kane’s stepsister, an illegal clinic operator in Gotham City, and one of the original members of Batwoman’s support team.
In the latest episode, “How Does Your Garden Grow?,” Mary became infected by one of Pamela Isley’s vines, ultimately becoming the second Poison Ivy after Isley.
Since being infected, she’s developed a new style and new attitude with supervillain tendencies. The Dr. Jeyll, Mr. Hyde vibes are strong with this one, except much sexier! She’s such a baddie.
Can we talk about this old photo of hers? She was born for this role!
Kang told Entertainment Weekly that the process of becoming Poison Ivy has been “emotional,” and we can totally understand why.
I was really emotional. I burst into tears. It has given me purpose and drive, and ultimately, I’m really proud of how Poison Ivy came out. What I’m most proud of is that it is rooted in history, both comic and fashion history. And it is culturally conscious. And then I am what’s inside of it, what’s filling it. And as a Korean girl, that’s when it all came together.
— Nikole Kang
While fans may have initially hoped Mary would be a superhero, Kang is very excited to portray a supervillain, especially because there are not many Asian villains portrayed, at least not well.
Everybody, I think, has been wanting Mary to [become a superhero because there’s] the expectation that everybody suits up and for us to subvert that expectation — We have a Black Batwoman, we have Batwing, and an Asian Poison Ivy — it’s so cool. It’s really exciting for me to create a fully fledged Asian villain. I think sometimes Asian villains are not explained, right? Their humanity is sometimes lost when in telling a story about a hero. And I think it’s super brilliant.
— Nikole Kang
Obviously, like the rest of us, Kang is big on AAPI representation in media.
She is also very proud of her Korean heritage. Both of her parents are originally from Korea, so she is a first-generation American.
She recently shared casting news for Koreans as Netflix is casting for the new show XO, Kitty, a spin-off of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Kang is all for lifting up others! Together, we can always accomplish more.
If you’re still wondering where you may have seen Kang before other than Batwoman, we got you! She’s been acting since around 2017. Her first major role was in the Netflix series You in 2018.
She’s since had many guest roles in TV series, including her role as Kiki in Orange Is The New Black in 2019. Additionally, she’s been in The Code, The Feels, Two Sentence Horror Stories, and Instinct.
As for movies, she was in The Social Ones. Last year, she appeared in Ten Minutes to Midnight, which earned her awards for her role as Maria.
We all know she’s a great actress. She’s, however, multi-talented as she’s currently writing, directing, and starring in the short film Jack and Jane. Not to mention she’s a skilled dancer, trained in ballet and jazz.
As a teenager, she was a competitive figure skater too. A real-life superhero, methinks.
Kang is also a singer and can play the piano. Um, is there anything she can’t do?
She’s so multitalented, but we definitely feel like Kang was destined for her role in Batwoman.
Fans are already loving her as Poison Ivy! In fact, she’s even converting some non-DC Comics fans. Her power!
If you’re loving Nicole Kang as Poison Ivy too, you can watch Batwoman on Wednesdays at 9/8c on CW.