Batman is part of our selective consciousness. A figure provided to us by DC Comics courtesy of Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. It grabs our attention when the masked playboy Bruce Wayne’s alter ego patrols the night in Gotham – bringing evildoers to justice.
The first time Batman appeared on the pages of Detective Comics #27 in 1939 he became an immediate success. There was something that grabbed the collective consciousness of readers across the globe. The idea of playboy Bruce Wayne fighting crime in the darkest hours appealed to people. Here was the everyman – someone who would fight back against the evil that plagued what was then a frightening time. On the cusp of WWII here was the Caped Crusader ready to do battle against the forces of darkness.
Complete with belt and gadgets he perched above a grimy city and was prepared to pounce on those who do us, the ordinary citizens, harm.
But there was something missing, something that was not contained in that belt filled with smoke bombs and bat heavy toys – and that was a love interest. The writers soon addressed that problem in the form of Catwoman.
She was to be a regular feature in the life of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, Batman. She was both villain and love interest – one of the first ‘anti-heroes’ that was explored on the pages of the iconic comic.
Today Batman’s original love interest – Selina Kyle – the alter ego of Catwoman has been reimagined. She is most likely to feature in upcoming movies at the side of the iconic Bat – but she has been there before – although not to the taste of fans.
The 2004 movie ‘Catwoman‘ was a disaster for Halle Berry and DC Comics. It cost $100 million to make and only took in $82 million.
The character and Berry were widely derided – it received reviews calling it ‘the worst movie ever made’. At that point, it was decided that Catwomen was simply too shallow a character to share the limelight with the iconic Batman.
However, the story behind Catwoman is a fascinating one.
A burglar in her alter ego the Catwoman is a skilled martial artist who has got the better of Batman on a number of occasions. For the lovers of the comic, it is readily apparent that Batman has a soft spot for her feline wiles.
He continually stumbles across her during his fight against the dark forces that seem to plague Gotham.
It is no wonder – Catwoman is no doubt a criminal – but she has a soft side. Her illegal activities are tempered by the fact that she is at heart altruistic. She flirts with the Batman and he, in turn, is torn between his apparent attraction to this feline flirt and her devotion to a life of crime and her undoubted sexuality. Batman will partner with her on occasion – but the uneasy nature of the relationship has been part of the Batman mythos since she was first introduced in Batman #1 which hit the shelves in Spring 1940.
The personality of Catwoman is one which would resonate with audiences today. It deserves to be explored in more depth than has previously been the case. The Silver Screen adaptations of the iconic figure have to date only touched on the depth of the character. The performance which might have come close to doing the character justice was that portrayed in Batman Returns – where the evergreen Michelle Pfeiffer who simply oozes sexuality and danger in this 1992 classic.
The addition of Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot and his alter ego The Penguin was a masterstroke by Director Tim Burton. The addition of Christopher Walken in the cast was something that should have assured box office success. However, sadly it did not live up to expectations. It seemed for an instant that the Bat was well and truly dead.
But he would live to fight against crime again and again. Actors played an increasingly dark version of Batman and now a version of Catwoman seem to be set for a comeback. It is no wonder that fans want Batman, (or Bruce Wayne) to have that long-lasting love interest. The chemistry between the two characters is something that cannot be simply set aside – it seems to be something of a Yin/Yang relationship. On one hand, you have a deep thinker who is committed to fighting crime as a sort of revenge for the deaths of his parents – and on the other hand, you have an equally torn and damaged character in Catwoman – who is rebelling against a society that allowed her to be abused in her younger days.
It should come as now surprise that this unique relationship has influenced popular culture well beyond their original medium. Catwoman is prominently featured in the popular Arkham and Lego Batman video game series as a playable character and there are even a handful of Batman vs Catwoman games in online slot gambling. Yes, Catwoman and Batman are everywhere.
The chemistry between the two characters is one that deserves more exploration. It is one that will no doubt come to the fore again in the next Batman movie. And one which true fans are waiting for with bated (Batted?) breath. The feline grace and power of Catwoman may just tame the Bat. However, we shall have to wait and see if the vision of that original comic and its pulp pages can be transformed into a visual feast for lovers of DC characters.