“I saw The Dark Knight Returns last night, and among other things, Catwoman is a feminist superhero with a story line and transformation of her own — plus class consciousness, a girl buddy, equal skills with the Batman equipment, and an apartment of her own in Old Town. And she gets the guy.”-Gloria Steinem
Why Gloria Steinem has to put her stamp of approval on a comic hero,or why she is only now seeing the qualities of Catwoman that all of us girl nerds already knew,is either a testament to her own unresolved issues or a testament to just how badly that ill written script poor Halle Berry had to play out a few years ago marred Catwomans image and left a bad taste in the mouths of fans everywhere (maybe even Steinem). The “Catwoman” film was ok,and Berry is always beautiful-but the story was just …BAD…and the CGI was over the top. Steinem’s defining, as aggravating as it can be and the reasons for it being anybody guess, is still a stamp of approval of sorts-Chris Nolan and Jonathon Nolan’s writing married with what some feared was a bad casting of Anne Hathaway, created a great Catwoman and one this generation can be proud of.
Last year,when I saw the teaser for TDKR, I literally became sick. No way could Anne Hathaway pull off Catwoman. No…freaking…way. For all the genius that was in The Dark Knight-how could Chris Nolan commit creative suicide by this one casting? I was not the only one,every nerd I knew had serious serious doubts. We resolved to see the film and choke on our disappointments. Expect the worst and be surprised if it doesn’t embarrass us all. After reading an interview with Hathaway where she described going to the audition prepared for the role of Harley Quinn-thinking Nolan could not possibly be attempting to top what her generation and mine consider the greatest Catwoman of all time (Michelle Pfieffer in Tim Burton’s version of Catwoman in Batman Returns), I was a bit more hopeful. If Anne Hathaway was intimidated by the culture icon of Catwoman and even she thought it was impossible to top what had already been perfected-then maybe she understood the importance of the role. She was left to trust Nolan with the character,and herself to play Nolan’s version of the character-not her version of Pfeiffer’s interpretation (as was done in Catwoman the epic fail of a movie), So maybe I had been a bit hard on Hathaway and not considered the genius of Nolan.
I went to the midnight showing of TDKR (yes I’m unashamed of my love for Batman) I did not want to read scathing or praising reviews before I saw and judged for myself. I didn’t have to wait long to relieved. I had been wrong and it was proven in the first scene wherein we meet Selina Kyle. It was proven again in the first scene where we meet Selina in the cat thief suit. I don’t think the film ever refers to her as “Catwoman”….but we all know don’t we? In the context of Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this Catwoman was needed and was valuable. This Catwoman was not portrayed as a sexy cartoon, and her sexual prowess was very subtle. Unlike the Pfieffer and Berry version, the cat-human-female dynamic was not the rule, but that was not the way Nolan wrote the character. For this Catwoman to scratch around like a feline would have been out of sync with the story and psychology of the entire Dark Knight trilogy. What has been amazing about this trilogy was the way the writing surfaces all the fibers of the main characters. What births them,creates us them-what makes them resilient or what destroys them. It has been so since “Batman Begins” and continued to be so with TDKR,and Anne Hathaway does a beautiful job revealing to us Selina’s desperation, defenses, values and independence. Steinem was right,but it is not as if these traits were hidden to anyone watching. Selina Kyle does have her own story -though not as flashy as her past two incarnations. She is equal to her male counter,and what is relieving is that it is not just an equality when they are in their alter egos,but an equality that transcends to their everyday interaction. Bruce never seems to doubt Selina,even though he knows exactly what she is, he doesn’t question if she can handle the ginormous bat bike.The chemistry between the Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway is not forced and so the chemistry between the characters is tangible,but not as sexually charged as in Batman Returns, which for once is refreshing. On a personal note, although Hathaway has made her mark as an adult in various roles opposite male actors ( Love and Other Drugs, Rachel Getting Married etc) seeing her hold her own opposite Christian Bale made me… proud-way to go girl-get him get him…
There were a few comparisons that I picked up on…having been a child who watched the classic Batman Movie and some of the TV shows that I was introduced to. Some of the personal touches to the walk,talk and coy remarks made by this Catwoman was reminiscent of Julie Newmar’s Catwoman, which is probably the favored Catwoman of the 60’s (polls tie her with Pfieffer ). Now that I think of it, Anne Hathaway is the first Catwoman since 1968 to show her hair while in the cat suit.
In regards to the suit itself-which there was allot of worry about among all of us-the promotional images were not sexy poses. They were shots of Catwoman on a bike with her night goggles on. So the suit looked boxy and unflattering. This again is in form with the past Dark Knight movies-none of Nolan’s Batman characters have looked classic nor have they looked over the top modern and sleek, like Batman and Robin or Batman Forever. These incarnations have looked more industrial -militia style and desperate ( like Ledgers joker). No worries-Selina is not boxy and her suit is no unflattering ( she has some hot heeled boots) but she isn’t latex and nails like Pfieffer ( interesting note Michelle Pfieffer did not enjoy wearing that famous suit).
All in all I was not disappointed in the new Catwoman,the portrayal of her or in the movie itself. A great series came to a even greater end. The most well rounded trilogy I have seen to date,and yes -all spoilers aside-she does get “the guy” and for once everyone wins. The girl done good-go see it.