Posted at 10:00 AM Jun 24, 2009
The DC Comics universe was undoubtedly created by men. With its barrel-chested male superheroes saving a perpetual line of women in distress, with its anatomically impossible female superheroes wearing form-fitting lycra and sultry smiles, it might appear an unlikely place to find a lady to truly admire. But while there might be some women who need to start kicking ass again, I can think of at least one from DC comics who never stopped: Catwoman.
Table the fact that she dresses in tight leather if you need to, and forget about that movie with Halle Berry (really, please, forget all about it). I'm talking about the Catwoman, Selina Kyle, the morally ambiguous international thief who Batman wants a few minutes alone in the Bat Cave with as much as he wants to see her behind bars. She's not the walking PSA that other female DC staples like Wonder Woman and Supergirl sometimes can be. She won't save you and then remind you to always floss. Catwoman doesn't care. She does her own thing. She'll save you if she feels like it, but no guarantees, and she might nab your wallet at the same time.
My own knowledge of the character is best informed by Michelle Pfeiffer's interpretation in Batman Returns, seen in this clip beginning at about the 1:36 mark.
Now, this film and most (if not all) of the comics written about Catwoman were written by men, and we could have long, college-English-class-like discussions about the character's true nature, whether she's in control of her sexual power or simply a product of the male gaze, or whether the reclamation of the word "bitch" in the '90s was advisable or successful. However, can we please collectively acknowledge and get behind Catwoman's genius with that whip? I mean, c'mon! One minute it's a playful, swishing cattail, and the next it's a deadly cutting tool.
Plus, later in the film, Pfeiffer utters a line I've always loved. "Look, Batman napalmed my arm. He knocked me off a building just when I was starting to feel good about myself. I want to play an integral part in his degradation." Purr-fect.
And yes, fine, I'll acknowledge that there's a certain lack of logic to nominating a villain for real-life status, but I had to pick one, didn't I? And with the sort of violence you hear about on the news these days, wouldn't it be nice to be hounded by a villain who's more interested in jewels and cash than killing you? I know I'd feel a whole lot better. I think we all would.