The Many Lives of Catwoman
August 03, 2012
One of my favorite comic book icons is back on the big screen this summer: that felonious figure of feline femininity, Catwoman. This princess of purr-fidy has been beguiling and baffling Batman since 1940, when she first appeared as a jewel thief known as The Cat. But even after all these years, our favorite femme fatale is still leaving claw marks on pop culture.
Catwoman has had a major impact on screens big and small. She was famously played by both Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt in the 1960s kitsch series Batman and by Lee Meriwether in that series' spin-off movie. Michelle Pfeiffer played the role with equal parts sleaze, sensuality, and insanity in Tim Burton's 1992 Batman Returns. Later in the 90s, Adrienne Barbeau provided Catwoman with an appropriately slinky voice in Batman: The Animated Series. Halle Berry gave the character a shot in 2004, but critics pounced on her like a Manx on a mouse. And this summer, Anne Hathaway is quick with the catty comeback in The Dark Knight Rises. Each of these formidable actresses has brought something different to the character, and there really is no comparing them: Catwoman is just as loveably purr-nicious no matter who’s snapping the whip or cracking the jokes.
But let’s not forget the comics! Catwoman is as identifiable with Gotham City as the Bat-signal, the Batmobile, and the Batarang. In Catwoman: When in Rome, our kitty queen combats the Riddler and comes face-to-face with another feline supervillain. In Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street, her murder is investigated (but how many lives does she have again?). If you want to get a glimpse of the way she has evolved over her seventy-plus years in the comics, check out Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale and its companion non-fiction title Catwoman: The Visual Guide to the Feline Fatale.
The more you explore, the more you will discover that Catwoman remains im-purr-vious to time… and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Which is your favorite portrayal of the Queen of Crime? Tells us in a comment below!