I’m no fan of cats. Aside from rampant allergies that make my eyes swell shut like I was popping shit to Clubber Lang, I think cats are assholes. They show love when they want, rip up your shit under the auspices of keeping their claws sharp, and they have no qualms about biting the hand that feeds them (literally). And they’re kinda nasty: “Fuck water,” says the cat, “my spit is juuussstt fine.” Ugh.
But there is one little kitty that I have a soft spot for—and she’s today’s dastardly diva: Catwoman.
Now, this post is not about the horror that was the Catwoman movie—Halle Berry in that outfit was the ONLY good part of that ridiculous piece of cinema (but it was a really good part). This is about Selina Kyle, cat burglar, Batman villain, and the Dark Knight’s friend with “benefits.”
There are a couple origin stories for the femme fatale in the skintight outfit: the Tim Burton/Halle Berry movies have her undergoing a transformation caused by cosmetics and chemicals; Christopher Nolan’s flick with Anne Hathaway doesn’t delve much into details but frames her as Rhianna-style good girl gone bad; the comics give her a much more hardscrabble upbringing: former prostitute who becomes a cat burglar (and a damn fine one at that) to escape that life and make a better one for her sister. One version of the story even has her killing her sister’s assailant and becoming a thief to maintain her freedom. My favorite version has Selina looking to Batman as her inspiration for her feline alter-ego.
Ladies, I don’t care what Cosmo or Vanity Fair or Teen Beat tells you: men like bad girls. And Catwoman is a bad, bad girl. Every time you see her she’s sashaying her sexy tail across the screen, leaving every male smitten with the “lap dance look,” taking what she wants, and, by the time guys snap out of it, she’s gone.
Whether it’s Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer or Anne Hathway, what makes Catwoman special (besides the outfit) is that she’s her own person. Murky morality aside, she’s going to be who she’s going to be; she’s going to do what she’s going to do. And there is nothing anyone—not even the Bat—can do to change that. This character, more than any of the villains I’ve explored, focuses specifically on that one facet that makes all of us unique: none of us all wholly good or wholly evil. The dichotomy (yes, there’s that SAT word again) between Batman and Catwoman is interesting: they are more similar than different. No matter how you look at it, Batman is a good guy who does some questionable things; Catwoman is a bad girl who commits crimes for good reasons. They’re not so different.
More than her self-acceptance and comfort with her moral ambiguity, Catwoman is honest. She doesn’t pretend to be more than what she is: a woman using all her abilities and assets to reach her individual goals. There is no global domination, criminal empire aspiration here. She’s a grassroots, Robin Hood-esque style of anti-hero and her populist, self-serving approach is almost admirable. And this, this inspirational quality, makes her one of the most dangerous villains out there and one of the best villains ever.
Coming up, I’m going all Heroic on ya! Sylar (the villain from Heroes) is next on the Festival!