Grading Batman's Gal Pals

Posted at 8:26 PM Jul 20, 2008

By Rob Bricken

Let me be frank -- I have a penis. I'm the editor of Topless Robot, Heartless Doll's big-brother blog, and while I'm incredibly sorry to sully HD on its inaugural day with my man cooties, I come bearing a gift: on the heels of The Dark Knight's opening weekend, it's a list of the women Bruce Wayne has dated or Batman has knocked boots with in the long, pop culture career that includes his comics, movies and cartoons. OK, it's not exactly a fruit basket, but since everyone in America has been going Bat-shit crazy (Ha ha! I'm hilarious like that over at TR all the time, you should totally stop by), I thought you ladies might be curious about the incredible lows and the surprising highs that are the women in Batman's worlds. Care to join me?

Catwoman (comics)


While their alter-egos Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle sometimes date in the movies and the comics, generally, the hot and heavy passion is reserved for when they're wearing their Bat-cowl and Cat-suit, respectively. They're Super Friends with Benefits, which Batman allows himself to enjoy since Catwoman generally works as an anti-hero along with some light acts of thievery, making her a low priority after mass murderers like the Joker (it's important to note that Catwoman's just doing whatever the hell she wants).

Catwoman is the only woman on this list to have received her own comic series, involving international heists, some revenge for her own convoluted backstory (don't ask), and usually helping women and animals in need. This does give her an identity beyond her relationship to Bats. Catwoman is certainly smart and powerful (at least she escapes Batman's clutches more than any other villain), and never afraid to use her sexuality, but without becoming whorish. The best evidence of this is that she wears an outfit that doesn't expose a huge amount of cleavage, which makes her incredibly (and somewhat tragically) unique among female comic books characters. Grade: A

Chase Meridian (Batman Forever)


When Nicole Kidman talks about her most challenging roles, I'm guessing that Dr. Chase Meridian does not come up. The idea of a psychologist falling for the clearly emotionally damaged Batman is not without some storytelling merit, I suppose, but it does make her an incredibly stupid psychologist -- I'm pretty sure doctors aren't supposed to get emotionally involved with their patients, especially ones that dress like airborne mammals, and I'm absolutely sure that doctors aren't supposed to take off their clothes and reveal they're only wearing a slinky black negligee to keep their patients from leaving.

Overall, Meridian is a terrible psychologist who goes insane whenever Batman shows up. She did no favors to Batman, herself or womankind. Grade: D

Talia Al'Ghul (comics)


If you've been keeping up with the Batman comics (but, really, why would you?), you know that Talia Al'Ghul -- the daughter of the villain Ra's Al'Ghul, who was played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins -- is actually ol' Batman's babymama. Yes, Batman, in one of the many times he couldn't be bothered to put condoms in his utility belt, had sex with the villianess who bore a son, Damien, and had him raised by a league of assassins.

After dropping him off at Bruce Wayne's doorstep a decade-plus later, she engineered two bizarre schemes to kill/hurt Batman, one involving resurrecting the dead Robin Jason Todd and financing his plans to get revenge, and another involving ninja-man bats. Summary: Talia is a pretty bad girlfriend. Grade: C-

Vicki Vale (Batman)


Admittedly, reporter Vicki Vale was in the comics long before Kim Basinger played her in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie. But for both boys and girls born in the '70s and '80s, Basinger is Vale. I'll fully admit that Ms. Vale is a favorite among the male sex mostly for launching us into puberty, but unlike the girlfriends of the later Batman movies, Vicki was strong, resourceful, and still feminine.

She had an empowering job (world photographer, sometimes of war zones), was frightened of the Joker but never fell to pieces, and still occasionally gave Batman shit for his gruff act. Plus, she was kind to Robert Wuhl's fellow reporter character, when most people would have kneed him in the balls within seconds of meeting him. If she had a flaw, it was that she got captured about 45 times in a 90-minute movie. Still, a class act, all the way. Grade: B

Silver St. Cloud (comics)


This young socialite began dating Bruce Wayne back in Detective Comics #470 (in 1977), but she was no Paris Hilton. Noticing that Bruce kept leaving their dates at odd times, she eventually became the only person in Gotham City to suspect that Bruce was actually Batman, which she confirmed by yelling "Hey Bruce!" when Batman was fighting someone or another (yes, Batman looked).

So Silver St. Cloud has been perhaps the only woman to figure out Batman's secret identity on her own. She confronted Bruce about it, told him that she loved him, but she couldn't deal with all his baggage. Silver St. Cloud is the smartest, most reasonable woman Bruce Wayne has ever dated, hands down. Grade: B+

Andrea Beaumont (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm)


If you haven't seen the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie because it's a cartoon, you're genuinely missing something: the best girlfriend Bruce Wayne ever had, and by far the best romance in any Bat-medium. After a young Bruce Wayne comes back from training around the world to avenge his parents by beating up bad guys, he meets Andrea Beaumont -- a nice, funny, exceedingly normal girl -- and falls in love. And Bruce Wayne is tormented -- should he follow through with his vow to his dead parents to be Batman, or should he marry the girl he loves? What would his parents really want, his happiness of vengeance? Bruce actually chooses love -- like a reasonable human being -- but then Andrea's dad crosses the mob, and she and her father have to flee. Bruce is heartbroken, and decides to become Batman.

But the story gets better: Andrea's dad is killed by the mob, and Andrea decides to get revenge for her dead father…just like Batman. She returns to Gotham City as the Phantasm, and actually kills the mobsters who ruined her life, which runs her afoul of Batman, and…I won't spoil the ending. Suffice to say, she never gets captured by the bad guys -- she captures them. Plus, she's smart, funny, strong and wonderful; it's easy to see why Bruce would rather marry her than go out like a bat every night.

Grade: A

Julie Madison (Batman and Robin)


I'm confident you either had totally forgotten until just now that Elle MacPherson starred in Batman and Robin, or just don't believe me. It's true -- she was the third-billed woman in the flick, under Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. MacPherson was Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend Julie Madison (who was also a girlfriend of Bruce Wayne in the 1940s Batman comics), but who did nothing in Batman and Robin. She may have gotten captured, actually, but I refuse to rewatch the film to find out.

I do know that George Clooney as Bruce Wayne told her he was Batman, making her the fourth woman in the movies to know Batman's secret identity, which, though ludicrous, is admittedly Batman's fault. Wikipedia says that most of MacPherson's scenes were cut from the film, including one where she gets stabbed to death by Poison Ivy. That scene would have earned her a pity "D" but instead... Grade: F

Rachel Dawes (Batman Begins)


Sure, the woman who first played her has let herself be enslaved by a man, never allowed to leave her home and forced to believe some jibber-jabber about dead aliens ruling the world, but Batman Begins' Rachel Dawes is certainly the most empowered woman in the live-action Batman universe. This Assistant District Attorney has been trying to make Gotham City a better place without dressing up in a Halloween costume. When riots break out in Gotham City late in the movie, she's immediately ready to help save as many people as possible, while most of the girls on this list would have fainted (and immediately gotten captured).

Her only real flaw -- watching Bruce Wayne fall into a big cave of bats as a child, then not putting two and two together when a clearly crazy but well-resourced man starts dressing like a bat and attacking criminals. C’mon, Rachel. It's not a toughie. Grade: A-

Rachel Dawes (The Dark Knight)

The Dark Knight earned a record-setting $155.34 million during its opening weekend, with Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over for Katie Holmes in the role of Batman's girlfriend. Grade the most recent Rachel Dawes in the comments.



dacalicious said:

Um, hello? BATgirl, anyone? It is implied in both comics & TAS that she's had a fling with her "mentor" ...

MyNoNos said:

Vicki Vale gets a B? Really? I think that's a little harsh. I don't think Gyllenhaal's character desrves honorably mention stacked against some of the big name cougar ass on this list.

onebadmutha said:

Gyllenhaal=negative hot.
katie holmes needs to exact her freedom from boydouchecruise and come give me lap dances. And be bruce's love bunny.
Gyllenhaal.. brokeback.. lesbian with the crossdressing joker FTW!

Dirty3rd said:

B? Vicki Vale deserves an F.

Pj said:

Um, wow, judging by the comments here, the readers of this allegedly female-targeted blog are not only male, but fairly moronic as well. Geez. Even Topless Robot readers have it more together.

Deborah said:

Vicki Vale on paper sounds great so I wouldnt mind seeing her pop up in the next batman movie (shake fist at Basinger). However my heart belongs to Catwoman...I hope they stick to the gritty realness of the new batman movies and pick an actress that isnt your typical "hot" girl. I want to see a Catwoman with curves!
Any suggestions for the next Catwoman??

Frumious said:

Suggestions for a Catwoman with curves (I assume we're keeping Bale as Batman/Bruce and talking about hip curves as well as up top):
* Scarlett Johannson (how many double letters there? IN HER NAME?)
* Shakira (too multi-talented to be typical)
* Aishwarya Rai (too gorgeous to be typical)
* Catherine Zeta-Jones (or is she skinny these days?)
* Rachel McAdams
* Amanda Seyfried (currently in "Mamma Mia")
* Selma Blair
* Katee Sackoff (Starbuck on Galactica - she'd kick Batman's you-know-what, although I think some would prefer her as Black Canary in another movie)
* Denise Quiñones (Andrea Rojas/Angel of Vengeance on Smallville)
* Christina Ricci
* the woman who plays "Ugly Betty" (haven't seen that show, but have heard good things about her acting)

If she had more hips, I'd say Uma Thurman. Why not have her as Poison Ivy and Catwoman? She can act a heck of a lot better than most of the women who've played opposite any of the Batmen we've had.

Too bad Winona Ryder is so skinny - it would be amusing to see her opposite in Bale in this since it's so massively different from their Laurie & Jo in "Little Women" many years back. Maybe she could be in the next movie as some other love interest.

IMFreakz said:

I choose : Rachel Dawes :D

mike said:

there were probably 1,000 other more attractive, more talented, and less gay actresses to choose for the dark knight over that butt of a chick maggie gyllenhal.

seriously, i give dark knight an A. Would've been an A+ if i didn't have to stare at that fucking behemoth of a woman for the movie. F'n pig ffs. However she does get killed, so that was a plus lulz.

unimpressed said:

While the omission of Bat Girl indicates that the author never heard of Batman until that first awful Tim Burton movie, I didn't actually hate this article until I read the comments. Looking forward to sparing myself this toxic dreck in the future.


"mike", you obviously don't know a good actrees when you see one. not only does maggie g > katie h, but she is a very beautiful woman and she chooses very interesting roles. you probably wish rachel dawes was a busty blonde tramp who would give you a lapdance to make you talk in an interrogation room. she's not a behemoth, get your head outta your ass.

Bigmatt419 said:

You gave Nicole Kidman a D? WTF!

Jimmy Crack Corn said:

Wow some of them chicks are kinda goofy looking!


Stuart Hannig said:

Rachel Dawes gets an F-. The Dark Night was garbage.

radpay said:

Basinger tops the list among movie question. Gyllenhaal is 2nd because she can act and she's got a brain. The other movie chicks don't even get consideration for choosing to be in such horrible movies. Fortunately, Kidman has since learned how to read scripts before signing contracts.

Traverse Davies said:

As a male, I figure it's my duty to post in order to at least help lessen the negative impact some posters here may have left regarding our mutual gender.
Wasn't a big fan of Maggie Gyllenhal, mostly because I didn't feel that she left Rachel feeling like she had much personality. My fiance on the other hand, hated her with a passion (but less than she hated Katie Holmes).
Angelina Jolie is said to have expressed a desire to play Catwoman... I think she has the acting chops to pull it off, and hopefully not pull another eye candy/complete fucking disaster like the Halle Barry version.

thebudda said:

Michelle Ryan, the wonderfully talented British actress who was recently in Bionic Woman, would make an excellent choice. She can be dark, direct, confident and non-goofy while having an incredibly subtle sexiness with mesmerizing eyes and not be overbearing.

concerned said:

... and sometimes I wonder why they say that women in our culture are conditioned to be competitive with one another.

gt said:

Maggie Gyllenhaal is not attractive. At all. F!



Tina said:

Well I agree with you. Nicole was worst! I think the next Batman girl should be Megan Fox. She is so sexy!


ElvenEyes said:

Definite F to Maggie Gyllenhaal. She is not even that attractive, and regardless she honestly cannot act. Hands down least favorite girlfriend of Batman ever.

Anonymous said:

Maggie Gyllenhaal kinda looks like an old woman. I think she should get points off for that.

Frumious said:

...curves, ctd.
* Angelina Jolie would do great, yes.
* Laura Prepon (That 70s Show) certainly has curves (along the lines of Scarlett J., if you haven't seen her before) for Maggie G.'s looks - she definitely has an odd nose and kind of a droopy face (so does her brother! so do Nicolas Cage and David Schwimmer), but I wouldn't call her ugly let alone butt-ugly or a butterface. She's a good actress and did a good job with the role and was much better suited to Bale than the much younger-looking (but cuter, yes) Katie Holmes. Maggie G. looks like a real, worldly woman whose Rachel is Bruce's equal, in part because she's not amazingly gorgeous and because she's intelligent and outspoken. She's a direct contrast to the showpieces Bruce has on his arms at the party, and on purpose, I'm sure. Bale didn't look so great in this one himself - looked very drawn to me. Katie, in the previous film, looked like a tagalong puppy compared to Bale's Bruce.

carl said:

ID like to put my thumb up Alicia Silverstones Asshole.

grigor said:

That Gyllenhaal skank is PAINFUL to have to look at. Why in hell did they cast her?

I gotta figure that they wanted Heath Ledger so much to play Joker that they let him have his way when his insisted they cast his boyfriend's sister as Rachel.

gibbs said:

Maggie - F in acting & looks

Katie - A for whole package for movie and Batman.

macross said:

Cartoons would be Andrea for me. Grade of A.

In the movies its Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Grade of A+
You have sex with her but she's marriage material.
Katie is hot but she was top notch on the role.
Cant say much about Maggie.

Ryan said:

A for Michelle Pheiffer because she made a bad script memorable with her performance and I can say the same for Katie as Rachel Dawes. Limited script but believable Rachel and believable aces her chemistry class with Bale.
She gets an A.
The new Rachel gets an F. She didnt live up to her acting hype and she is fiercely unattractive.

K said:

Katie was eye candy, Maggie is not. The role doesn't need oscar worhty performance, please bring eye candy any time.

Ben said:

The rest I grade an F but the exceptions are.....

Pheiffer - A
Kidman - A
Holmes - A

mxyzplk said:

I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal was great in Dark Knight - I found her way more believable as a lawyer than Katie. Katie wasn't quite as bad as "Denise Richards the nuclear scientist" from that Bond movie, but getting there. Apparently, and luckily IMO, the filmmakers didn't follow the "whoever's hottest gets the part!" theory that most of the commenters seem to subscribe to.

This list missed a couple. I recently saw the animated "Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman," where a Batwoman shows up and is pursuing vigilante justice with a bit more vigor than Batman likes. He ends up falling for Kathy, one of the women he suspects of being Batwoman (not to give anything away), the rich daughter of Carlton Duquesne, a well-to-do African-American gangster. I like her, she's obviously a self-starter and being rich she's a good match for Bruce - "Pretty Woman" notwithstanding, partnerships of equals tend to work out better.

ipod said:

Its not just the hot factor but Maggie missed on all accounts from hot,acting and chemistry whereas Katie knocked her out on the ballpark with all those.
So Katie deserves the A grades Maggie gets the F.
Kidman is my other fave Batlady giving her a B.

Lee said:

Maggie may not be attractive, but katie holmes is nasty too. However, how much is this supposed to matter? What if the chick was really hot but she couldn't act for shit? The whole movie (which is amazing) would have been ruined by that element. I think maggie played the role well, despite being born apparently displeasing. get over yourselves, shallow

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fallon said:

The best was Pheiffer and Holmes the rest sucks.

kiroara said:

i think they should put harley quinn or wonder woman in one of the movies

Barackoli said:

i choose Rachel Dawes

Barackoli said:

i choose rachel dawes

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Peter said:

Maggie Gyllenhaal was great in Dark Knight

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Oh gees said:

What about Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel?), the joker's lover? Sure she appeared in the cartoon first but since she has appeared in the graphic novels, and even has her own comic book!

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Grow said:

the "Talia Al'Ghul" loos intresting

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Beautiful Picture.

illegalitygirl said:

Oy, Maggie. You get an F. She looked terrible and acted even worse.

Bwin said:

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The Sexy Armpit said:

rachel dawes sucks ass. Silver St. Cloud and Vicki Vale are def. the best A+++++++++

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Rosemary said:

I vote Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman for the new movie, too. I'm sorry, I know she's an older gal so she can't POSSIBLY be cast as the love interest in a big budget Hollywood movie but she's still the best (and hottest) Batman movie girl ever! She did it once and I firmly believe she can do it again, despite her age. said:

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Foto-Foto Bugil said:

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I think, If she had more hips, I'd say Uma Thurman. Why not have her as Poison Ivy and Catwoman? She can act a heck of a lot better than most of the women who've played opposite any of the Batmen we've had.

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Matches Malone said:

Grading a character that dies is hardly worth my time. I don't like characters that are created specifically to be killed off, even though it took two movies to do it, and portrayed by two different actresses. Maggie G did ok with the material she was given.

Based on your commentary, Silver St. Cloud should've gotten the highest rating.

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If she had more hips, I'd say Uma Thurman. Why not have her as Poison Ivy and Catwoman? She can act a heck of a lot better than most of the women who've played opposite any of the Batmen we've had.

Meg said:

I really Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins however The Dark Knight sort of ruined her in my opinion.

In the first movie I found Rachael to be very insightful however in the second movie she leaves Bruce hanging for so long I started to loose my love for her character a bit. It probably didn't help that they changed the actor, Katie Holmes was a brilliant Rachael who created that emotion connection of the viewer to the character and I really didn't feel that emotional connection in the second movie.

Overall Rachael COULD have been an irreplaceable and powerful friend for Bruce and Batman however it should never have gone beyond that especially not when she already made it obvious from the end of Batman Begins that they would never be a couple while Batman existed.

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