Catwoman as she revealed in the bible for Batman: The Animated Series.

I don’t think DC’s writers have ever decided what Selina Kyle is supposed to be. Is she a cat burglar? Former prostitute turned parkour because she wants to be free while blackmailing the lady running the orphanage? Animal rights activist? Crimefighter? Mob boss? Candy mint? Memorex? Left Twix? It jumps around so much I can’t keep track of her and I stopped trying years ago. Catwoman is whatever that writer wants her to be and it will be changed by the next one.

I haven’t done a “versus” article in a while but a recent video posting from Cracked, whether in jest or not, elicited a response. I’m hoping this is all in fun but, while I’m not against a Catwoman movie that doesn’t suck (sorry, Halley Berry, but even seeing you in a leather bikini couldn’t save a movie that suffers from poor adaptation and worse writing) the comments by the presenter that a Catwoman movie is what superhero movies need to get out this supposed slump I must be the only person not seeing (granted, I haven’t gotten to the movies much lately for financial and medical reasons) is a woman whose description changes like the wind is not it.

First, of course, the video.

Again, am I the only one not seeing this supposed sameness in superhero movies? Captain America was a war story with sci-fi elements, Guardians Of The Galaxy wasn’t even a superhero movie (not every comic book-inspired movie has superheroes–remember that both Flash Gordon and the Men In Black were never superheroes), and Batman V. Superman was just a bad idea made worse. As for the presenter’s specific points:

Catwoman Is An Anti-Hero (no she isn’t)

Selina Kyle's first appearance as The Cat in B...

Selina Kyle’s first appearance as The Cat in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Catwoman is a cat burglar who is in it for the thrill (or to help cats if we’re talking DCAU) or the money. Every attempt to pull her away from that snaps back like a rubber band. If she fights a villain, he’s usually in her way or she just wants to get into Batman’s utility belt again. Quite possibly on a rooftop with the masks on because DC’s current staff are perver…I mean it’s “better that way”. Although considering some of the actions by their male editorial staff that’s come out lately, the pervert thing isn’t too far off.

An anti-hero by definition (at least in common use) is a hero who is as nasty as the villains. Charles Bronson in the Death Wish franchise, the Punisher, Venom during the 90s, are all examples of anti-heroes. The worst thing I’ve seen Catwoman do is scratch some woman in the DCAU tie-in comics for hitting a cat she (the woman, not Catwoman) testing make-up on to see if it was toxic. (For all I know that still goes on, but it was the rally du jour at the time for the animal rights movement.) As a full-fledged villain she did try to kill Batman and Robin on multiple occasions before the post-Crisis DC Universe, but that was villain, not anti-hero. Tim Burton had Batman blowing guys up with their own bombs so Batman Returns doesn’t count. I haven’t seen Dark Knight Rises because people who liked The Dark Knight hate it, and I didn’t even like The Dark Knight. Maybe she does something anti-hero there, but character inconsistency is not what makes one an anti-hero.

Surprise! (or “we know how to write her slightly better than Wesley Crusher”)

Yes. I went there. Like I said above, Catwoman’s character isn’t “surprising”, it’s lacking consistency on the writers’ part. Some of them want her to be Batman’s enemy, some his girlfriend with complications, and others are Frank Miller who just writes women as prostitutes, even in the two Batman stories fans praise. Sure, she can beat people up, but not knowing if it will be the good guy or bad guy makes her uninteresting to me because she isn’t trustworthy. I like to know I can root for a character all through the story, not flip Two-Face’s coin and play the odds. Pro wrestling is more consistent with face and heel turns than Catwoman. I can’t trust her then she isn’t someone I want to follow for 90 minutes. That’s why I seldom read her comics. The Star Trek: The Next Generation writers may not have known how to write Wesley Crusher well, but at least he was consistent. Not always very good, but to paraphrase Rattrap at least I know where I stand with Wesley.

(I fit in a Star Trek and Beast Wars reference into a Catwoman commentary. Where does my mind go?)

Feminist Icon (as opposed to the actual feminist icons)

Catwoman, and Isis, as seen in Batman: The Ani...

A jewel thief with a cat fetish. There’s your icon, feminists? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Selina a feminist icon? The woman who has sex with Batman on rooftops before DC Animation made it squicky? A thief and former prostitute? A former (or current, I’m not caught up) mob boss? Yeah, girlfriend did it herself without superpowers, but what did she do? Make people feel unsafe even if they aren’t bad guys, and ruin lives. THAT’S your feminist icon? I know I’m on the conservative side but I don’t think that counts, does it? Do you really want it to? When did femme fatales become “strong independent women”? You know, except for those times she needed Batman to save her.

What about two better choices for feminist icons? Wonder Woman was embraced by Gloria Steinem as a symbol of strong women back when superstrength didn’t come from her powers but growing up as an Amazon warrior for centuries. Even when she lost her powers (oddly to appease feminists and no, I don’t know how making her weaker makes her more appealing to women either) she found a new way to fight crime and help people. You know, unless Judd Winick is writing her (JLA: Acts Of God, anyone?) then superpowers are evil and Batman is Neo. Then suddenly the new feminist movement started hating breasts and Wonder Woman showing some cleavage made her the enemy of women and had her honorary UN ambassadorship to women revoked.

Or what about another woman who is about to get her own movie, Captain Marvel? Sure, Marvel Studios may only be giving her a movie because it’s the first time they had a Captain Marvel that justifies keeping Billy Batson from every using it again, but they had to mess with Carol Danvers to do it. (Personally, I always liked her Warbird name better than even her first name, Ms. Marvel, which also belongs to a new character.) She’s strong. She’s a former Air Force Pilot who gained her powers while saving her boyfriend (the original not Billy Batson), overcame alcoholism, and we’ll just forget Avengers #200 to keep the rage down, but she overcame that as well. (Probably why she started drinking. It would work for me and I don’t even have a uterus to do that with. Also, what the hell, Marvel?) She may have superpowers (and apparently our presenter is on Winick’s side, just with Catwoman instead of Batman) but she’s strong, caring, independent but knows when to call on her friends, and only recently has been written as an unlikable person, but that hasn’t stopped Tony Stark…whom she killed during the last Civil War miniseries but I’m sure he’ll get better before the next Avengers movie. See? There’s your antihero, too!

So no, Catwoman is not the character to “save superhero movies” or whatever. Making good movies that happen to feature superheroes will, but I still don’t see this sameness others seem to. Maybe I’m just not standing far back enough. That’s how I keep from falling into pits.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. Sean says:

    The only reason I watched the Catwoman movie was specifically BECAUSE I wanted to see Halle Berry in a leather bikini. The movie did stink but seeing her in that outfit made viewing that movie very worthwhile. It was worth the 8 bucks or whatever I paid to see her in that movie back in 2004 or whenever that was out.

    There are certainly better female super heroes who should be focused on in the cinema. For instance, there’s a lot of buzz around this summer’s upcoming Wonder Woman film. Maybe someday Hawk Woman will receive some decent treatment in film.

    Like

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