Making her first appearance in Batman #1 from 1940 (Not to be confused with the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics a year earlier). Selina Kyle aka Catwoman is Batmans most memorable, iconic and enduring love interest. As is often the case with comic book characters over time her origin and actions have sometimes contradicted previous stories, sometimes this is explained away by plot devices, other they just re-write history. Here is an overview of the character:
In her original appearance she was known as The Cat rather than Catwoman. As a burglar with a taste for high risk high-stakes she was introduced as an adversary for Batman. In the fifties she fell foul of the censors when the Comics Code Authority came into existence and she was promptly dropped. During this first stint it is revealed that she was flight attendant who suffered a blow to the head during a plane crash before starting her life of crime. She did briefly reform and help batman before being written out for over a decade.
Returning in the 60’s to the pages of the comic books as well as to the screen in the Batman TV series played by Julie Newmar (then later by Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt). Her most memorable screen outing came in Batman Returns (1992) played by Michelle Pfeiffer. There was another film version in 2004 but it was only vaguely based on the character.
The 70’s saw a new timeline known as “Earth-Two”. In this new version a reformed Selina Kyle married Bruce Wayne, the couple had a child Helena Wayne (who became the Huntress). Taking on the issues of the day it was revealed that the amnesia story was a lie told by Catwoman in a bid to change her identity and escape an abusive marriage. Her prowess as a burglar is revealed when she was forced to “steal” her own jewellery from her estranged husband’s vault. Enjoying the experience she becomes a professional cat burglar taking to The Cat/Catwoman as a disguise. This fits in with her original appearance.
In the 80’s Frank Millers Seminal Batman: Year One reinvented the character. Selina Kyle is a prostitute with an abusive pimp. She encounters Bruce Wayne before either take on their secret identities.
This new origin was expanded upon in part and rewritten again in part over time. Catwoman (vol. 1) #0 contained an origin story starting with an unhappy childhood and unloving parents. Variouse twists and turns revel how she became Catwoman, one off the more interesting ones involves her time in an orphanage where she exposes a corrupt administrator who has been embezzling funds. At this time she also deletes “Selina Kyle” from the city’s records and steals a diamond necklace belonging to the corrupt administrator, possibly her first theft.
Since the success of the 90’s movie appearance she has had her own comic book series and is portrayed as a likeable antihero rather than an actual villain and is often a love interest of Batman.
Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome both contain storylines suggesting that Selina may be the illegitimate daughter of Mafia boss Carmine Falcone.
How could she fit into the new movie? Following the death of Rachel Dawes Bruce Wayne becomes reclusive. Until he is forced by Alfred and Lucius to attend a party. There he meets a young socialite Selina Kyle who he is intrigued by. He is told she is new to Gothem, in her time there she has attended all the right parties and seen with all the right people, she drives a fast car and rides a motorcycle but nobody knows anything about her past, what she does for a living or where she lives. People chip in with rumors including a few that may be true (or similar to those from the comic book: Prostitute, Dominatrix, Burglar, Daughter of a mob Boss). The pair dump their prospective dates and spend the night together. The next day Bruce checks her out but at first he can find no record of her existing. Soon he discovers references all over the world to a mysterious female cat burglar who uses the latest technology to avoid detection and makes the most elaborate escapes. As he looks at the equipment she uses he soon realizes that she has purchased some of it from Wayne Enterprises via a dummy corporation, this will help him track her history.
As the story unfolds it is revealed that she has been working as a burglar for ten years. She has been doing it to earn money to help sting together some information and untimely to get close to the man she intends to kill. The man she blames for the death of her parents, an underworld boss who also may be her real farther Carmine Falcone*. As Bruce discovers what she is planning he tries to talk her out of it explain that revenge nearly destroyed him. Bruce’s saving Selina from herself can play out as his attempt at saving himself from his alter ego that is consuming him. This storyline can run alongside the main plot without being directly connected to it or it could have a direct connection to forcing Batman to make a difficult decision.
Why should she be in the movie. Batman/Bruce Wayne needs to move on from Rachel but it can’t be simple, he can’t meet a nice girl, hang up the cape and mask and settle down to a happy life. It has to be complicated and conflicted and above all I has to be someone who is in many ways his equal. Batman is a flawed character as under the mask he is just a man and he brings human flaws to the identity. The movie works best when he conflicted. And with Christopher Nolan’s visual flair and casting genius she guaranteed to look good! Who else can bring all these elements to the Batman universe?
Who could play her? The usual suspects who keep coming up are Kate Beckinsale, Rachel Weisz, Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie. Lets by honest everyone who has come up with those names is thinking what she would look like in Michelle Pfeiffer’s costume. As with everyone else who has appeared in Nolan movies to date she needs the acting ability to make it work. She ideally should be late twenties to mid thirties (or can pass for that age) tall and athletic other than that anything goes to be honest those things can go out the window if they have the right connection with Christian Bale. A few more suggestions: Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Connelly, Michelle Rodriguez, Eva Green, Emily Blunt and a real dark horse who needs to get way from crappy rom-com Anne Hathaway.
What would she be like in Nolan’s universe? A fiercely independent and often volatile individual hiding the damage person beneath. Possibly an adrenaline junky who is only happy when she forgets to be miserable.
Costume? A costume would be essential. Unfortunately Michelle Pfeiffer’s PVC won’t work. Something matt rather than shiny made of a high-tech (fictional) fabric would be more appropriate. She has been known to wear back, green or purple these could all be used at different times. The costume (as suggested above) could be made from a material developed by Wayne Enterprises possibly for military special forces. It should be stab proof and possibly coupled with a bullet proof vest over the top and a small backpack for her equipment and weapons. The addition of high-tech gauntlets and shin protectors would make it possible for her to fight Batman “toe to toe”; her costume offering less protection but more flexibility. Her mask/cowl has been known to contain night vision glasses, this would be useful (and could lend itself to a point of fight scene in total darkness). Gloves with retractable claws could be a useful tool/weapon. She may have to dispense with the whip in Nolan’s world though.
*For those who don’t remember Falcone was played by Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins, he was last seen in Arkham. He did not appear to escape with the other patients released by Ra’s al Ghul’s men and was mentioned In The Dark Knight as still being held in Arkham.
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