Catwoman and the fierce women who portrayed the character

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Top Photo Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman with Robert Pattinson as Batman, Lower left photo Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, Lower right photo Halle Berry as Catwoman

With the theater release of The Batman this Friday, March 4, viewers will get a chance to see Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) take on the role of Gotham’s masked crusader as he battles the Riddler portrayed by Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave) and the Penguin played by Colin Farrell (S.W.A.T. and Horrible Bosses). The iconic superhero has fought his fair share of memorable villains and enemies, but none stand out quite like the complex relationship between Batman and the whip-cracking jewel thief Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. This enemies-to-lovers duo takes center stage in the new version of the DC Comics movie franchise.

Catwoman is one of the most famous comic book characters of all time. She’s been around since the “Batman #1” comic in 1940. She has been portrayed as both a hero and a villain but is most often depicted as an antihero. The Catwoman character has garnered so much mainstream popularity throughout the years that she’s been included in many different forms of media, including movies, action figures and video games. She has undergone many costume and personality changes but a few stand out amongst the bunch. 

In this new film iteration, Kyle’s alter ego is played by Zoë Kratvitz.  Her portrayal of the fearsome feline brings to light the third time a Black woman has played Catwoman on the big and small screen. And it’s an added bonus that the movie debuts during Women’s History Month. 

Kravitz is best known for her role in the superhero film X-men: First Class, which earned her multiple award nominations including a Teen Choice Award, and the HBO drama series Big Little Lies which earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination. She is also the daughter of actress Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show) and musician Lenny Kravitz.

This film version seems to take Catwoman in a more serious direction, giving her a new origin story that depicts her childhood and why she chose this life of crime. Kravitz joins a long list of fierce and remarkable actresses who have turned Selina Kyle into their own, donning the cat ears, black gloves, bodysuit, and the infamous whip combination. 

In Catwoman’s first and only stand alone movie to date, Halle Berry took on the role. After receiving mostly negative reviews for her performance, the film currently holds a 3.4 rating on IMDB, and its critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer is  9 percent.  However, the Oscar winner stated that she has no regrets about playing the legendary character. 

“While it failed to most people, it wasn’t a failure for me because I met so many interesting people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I learned two forms of martial arts and I learned what not to do,” said Berry in a 2018 interview with Glamour Magazine. 

Additionally, this is the second instance of Kravitz following in the footsteps of Halle Berry. Berry portrayed Storm in the X-Men trilogy of the early 2000s; Kravitz was Angel Salvadore in the prequel movie X-Men: First Class that premiered in 2011. 

Last but certainly not least, the captivating Eartha Kitt played the cat eye-masked  burglar on the final season of the Batman TV series in the 60s. Her role was short-lived due to the show’s cancellation because of low ratings, but it was definitely memorable. Kitt was the first Black actress to portray the character. Just four years after Berry’s portrayal of Catwoman on the big screen,, Kitt passed away in 2008 after a bout with colon cancer. 

Dedicated Batman fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating the latest film. Early reviews praise the film for giving a fully-realized, loving portrayal of Selina – one that delicately handles her selfish heart and a potential power to be greater. That message, which was once hidden, is now promoted for all to see. 

To watch The Batman, check local listings for movie times. 

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Catwoman and the fierce women who portrayed the character

By Joshua Martin
March 4, 2022