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First look at Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman In The Dark Knight Rises! (And Thoughts…)

The first images of Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises have been revealed, and – as with everything about the movie – they’re stirring a considerable amount of controversy. There’s an official still below and a photo of a stunt double in action below. I have to admit though, I genuinely love it.

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There’s been a lot of debate over the fact that there’s not really a lot of “Cat” to the photos, in that there isn’t a cat motif to compliment Bruce’s bat theme. In dhort, the bulk of complaints seem to focus around the fact she has goggles, and doesn’t have a “cat’s-ear mask” like Michelle Pfiefer or Halle Berry did. I can’t really complain, though. It helps that the look seems heavily influenced by Ed Brubaker and Darwyn Cooke’s redesign, which has always been a bit of a personal favourite. Rumours (and Amazon fishing) suggest the run’s getting a re-issue, and I’d recommend it.

I think there’s enough “Cat” about Selina Kyle without the animal imagery. She’s a cat burglar in a catsuit. I don’t need her to carry a whip, care for cats, or work “meow” puns into her dialogue to remind me who she is supposed to be. Much like I didn’t need toxic laughing gas or bleached skin to recognise the character of the Joker in Heath Ledger’s portrayal.

I mean, the whole point of Catwoman is that she doesn’t have Bruce’s resources to fight crime. In fact, one of the more consistent reasons Batman tolerates most of her petty crime is because he appreciates that Selina lives a life of financial hardship, and knows much more about the struggling of the common person than trust-fund billionaire Bruce could recognise from his isolated mansion (or even penthouse apartment). Even if she lacks his rigid moral compass, Selina is a character consistently portrayed with her own sense of justice that comes from her own origins.

I think that’s part of Bruce’s fascination with her. He’s used to arresting criminals, believing in a concrete version fo right-and-wrong, while Catwoman grew up in an environment where the only way to achieve social justice (and making sure people ate) was through petty crime. Her portrayal has shifted over time, but she’s always been a relatively friendly enemy or a morally ambiguous friend to Batman.

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Quite simply, she doesn’t have the resources to fund a military R&D department to build her a cool cat-themed outfit like Bruce. She doesn’t have the money to build a costume that looks in any way efficient, and she’d ultimately end up looking like a low-budget dominatrix. And as much as I like Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, that’s a portrayal I’m happy to stay away from. If Selina can’t wear a cut-price mask without looking like a kinky hooker, I’m happy with her being streamlined and efficient.

Oh, and I love the idea she stole her equipment from Batman, although there’s any number of ways she could have landed the bike. I think the possibility she stole a bike from the goddamn Batman says more about her character than a silly cat mask with pointy ears. Oh, and I like the goggles – an affectionate homage to the domino mask without being too obvious or reverent (like the way Batman’s eyes went white in The Dark Knight, in homage to the comics and cartoons).

But hey, that’s a sneak peek, and these are just quick thoughts.

4 Responses

  1. I like the new look. The fetish angle has aged terribly. The Catwoman for the realistic Batman.

    • Yep, but I do think Burton’s Catwoman worked in the context of his Gotham. After all, the previous franchise did play up the creepy pseudo-sexual aspect of dressing up in leather to fight crime. I honestly doubt Nolan’s going to have the “whips and sharp claws as foreplay” sort of subtext that Burton did relatively well.

      I think it comes down to Burton seeing Batman as something of a freak who expresses his inner self through the costume – down to his ego, his sexuality and everything with it. Nolan’s Batman, on the other hand, is really just a single driving facet of the character – “My anger outweighs my guilt.” Nolan’s Bruce isn’t trying to build a new identity or persona for himself, he’s channelling his rage into a symbol. Rachel may remark that Batman is Bruce’s true face, but it’s not the face of anactualised person, and it’s certainly not a face with a sex drive.

  2. I’d be curious to get your thoughts on the new Superman image as well.

    • I actually really like the new Superman, but it’s too early to tell. I think the move away from spandex is a good choice – not because there’s anything wrong with Superman wearing spandex, but because it demonstrates the movie won’t be weighed down by Donner’s (admittedly fantastic) vision.

      I also like the fact the first shot isn’t Superman posing or flying, but it’s very much an action shot. Superman debutted in Action Comics, after all, and I think the character works best when he’s being dynamic – if only because he doesn’t really hold up to too much introspection and analysis.

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