Who Is Catwoman And What Is Her History With Batman? - Comic Years
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Who Is Catwoman And What Is Her History With Batman?

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BY April 15, 2022

Matt Reeves’ The Batman just recently premiered in theaters everywhere and it’s already getting a lot of love from fans; however, it’s been buzzed about for months. From Paul Dano being cast as a much different Riddler than Jim Carrey’s version to Colin’s Farrell’s Penguin getting an HBO spinoff series, Reeves’ film looked like it was going to bring a lot of star power and a fresh new take on the Caped Crusader. One of the most talked-about characters though? Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman. She’s not the first actress to fill the role (that honor goes to Julie Newmar, who played the very first Catwoman in the 1960s series alongside Adam West), and she’s continued to be a popular character throughout the years. In this blog post, I’m going to be looking at who is Catwoman? What is Catwoman’s history and what exactly is her relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman? Read on to learn more about this feline femme fatale!

Who Is Catwoman And What Are Her Powers?

who is catwoman Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman/Image via Warner Bros.

Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman, was first introduced to comic readers as “The Cat” in Batman #1 in the spring of 1940. The character was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane as an antagonist to Batman, although throughout the years, she’s been depicted as an anti-heroine and a love interest to Bruce Wayne/Batman (more on that later). As mentioned earlier, Julie Newmar first played Catwoman onscreen, but Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt also put on the catsuit in the 1960s. In Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns, Catwoman was played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry played the titular character in 2004’s Catwoman (which was a huge flop). Later, in 2012, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises saw Anne Hathaway play the feline frenemy, and the 2014 television series Gotham cast Camren Bicondova as a young Selina Kyle. While Kyle is the most common iteration of Catwoman, the comics also introduced Holly Robinson (an openly gay character who briefly took up the Catwoman identity after Selina gave birth to her daughter) and Eiko Hasigawa (the daughter of a crime family that was at odds with Selina’s family, the Calabreses, but ultimately became Selina’s lover).

In Catwoman’s debut in Batman #1, she didn’t wear any sort of costume but disguised herself as an old woman to burglarize a jewel store. Later iterations had her in a realistic-looking cat mask, then a dress with a hood that had cat ears, and finally the more recognizable skintight catsuit with boots and a mask. The catsuit was originally green in the 1960s (typical of villains in that era), then it changed to purple in the 1990s. It finally changed to the more recognizable black and has been made out of latex (Michelle Pfeiffer) to a dominatrix-esque ensemble (Halle Berry).

history of catwoman Image via DC Comics

Much like her namesake, Catwoman has many of the abilities as her feline friends: stealth, agility, and sharp claws (her outfit has often been depicted with retractable metal ones). She has a strong affinity for cats and they tend to flock to her, seeing her as a friend. There have been several times where Selina was able to train them and they’ve come to her aid when needed. Catwoman is also a master martial artist and thief. Her preferred weapon of choice is her whip (both a standard bullwhip and a cat o’nine tails), and she’s also been known to use caltrops as well as bolas to entangle opponents at a distance. She usually carries duct tape or rope for binding her victims and has been known to use sleeping gas or knockout darts. Lastly, she’s great at flirting and has used her feminine wiles to take advantage of male opponents, including Batman.

A History of Catwoman: Friend, Foe, Or Frenemy Of Batman?

history of catwoman Image via Clay Mann for DC Comics

When Finger and Kane first created “The Cat” character, they drew from multiple people including actresses Jean Harlow and Hedy Lamarr, and Kane’s cousin, Ruth Steele. They wanted a character that would have sex appeal, but also could hook female comic readers; in other words, a “friendly foe who committed crimes but was also a romantic interest in Batman’s rather sterile life.” She was meant to be a love interest who could keep Batman on his toes. Kane said:

“(I saw cats as) kind of the antithesis of bats. I felt that women were feline creatures and men were more like dogs. While dogs are faithful and friendly, cats are cool, detached, and unreliable.”

Ever since in the history of Catwoman, she has always played Batman’s antagonistic love interest. Despite her being labeled a “villain,” Batman and Catwoman have a history of working together to achieve a common goal, even if Selina does it in a questionable way. Depending on which plotline you’re following, Batman and Catwoman have gotten married and even had a daughter together. The daughter was named Helena Wayne and she eventually became Huntress, eventually teaming up with Dick Grayson to protect Gotham City.

In the different Batman movies where Selina Kyle/Catwoman make an appearance, the character has antagonized the Caped Crusade but also helped him out. Pfeiffer’s Catwoman ended up sacrificing herself for the good of Gotham City while Hathaway’s Catwoman saves Batman from Bane and ultimately ends up in a relationship with Bruce. In Reeves’ The Batman, it appears that Catwoman and Batman are teaming up to take down The Riddler. So is Catwoman actually…good? While her morals may be questionable, it seems like she always ends up doing what’s right. Perhaps she finds a thrill in the game of cat and mouse, but in the end, she actually does want to settle down.

The Batman is currently playing in theaters everywhere. It’s likely to be released on HBO Max 45 days after its theatrical release.

Do you feel like you can answer the question of who is Catwoman better? What do you think of Batman and Catwoman’s history throughout the years? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image via Warner Bros.

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