Monday, July 16, 2012

Catwoman - A Retrospective

This week leading up to The Dark Knight Rises coming out this Friday, I will be posting something Batman related everyday to gear up for the release.  It keeps me from going nuts with anticipation.

Now, with this latest Batman movie, one of the biggest new characters is Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman.  To be honest, I did not feel that Christopher Nolan, as obsessed as he was with keeping his Gotham City grounded in reality, was going to spring for Catwoman as a potential character, but he did.  While I have not always been a diehard Catwoman fan, I do see why many Batman fans dig here. If there was a one true love for Bruce Wayne, it would probably be Selina Kyle, not to mention the story possibilities are endless with such an ambiguous character.  She can go from being a hero to a villain in a split second, from fighting Batman to kissing him to helping him save Gotham in a flash.  It makes her a multi-layered character worth re-interpreting each incarnation of Batman (which is why she was most likely included in the upcoming film).

The thing with Batman on film, or on television for that matter, is that there have been more interpretations of the Dark Knight than perhaps any other comic book hero, and each incarnation had a version of Catwoman.  Which was the best really depends on personal tastes.  While I understand many loved Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, for me that wasn't Catwoman.  They screwed up the origin and made her act like a cat, not simply being a cat burglar whose persona is influenced by cats, like in the comics.  Dare I even mention Halle Berry?  No.  For me, when I picture Catwoman, I tend to see Lee Meriwether.

Meriwether was one of the three actresses that portrayed the character over the course of the three seasons of the 1960's Batman TV series, however she also had the honor of playing the role in 1966's Batman:  The Movie.  Unlike Julie Newmar, or Ertha Kitt, Meriwether portayed the romantic side of the character.  Kitt really amped up the cat-like qualities with her constant purring, and Newmar looked the part, but Meriwether had the too-hot attitude that exudes the character in every comic book incarnation.  Take her work in Batman:  The Movie, while Meriwether often had to deal with over-the-top situations and dialogue, she pulled off the role of Ms. Kitka to fool Bruce Wayne and seduce him, trying to set a trap for Batman.  Meriwether's Catwoman had that seductive quality to her, that chameleon persona, and unlike Pfeiffer she was not an insane cat lady who had supernatural abilities, she was simply a thief who doubled as a romantic interest.  Even if she never had a hero moment and was a straight up villain through and through, Meriwether is my favorite on-screen Catwoman, so far.  We'll see what happens come this Friday with The Dark Knight Rises.

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