It was announced a week or so back that Anne Hathaway is going to be the new Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film. I’m reserving judgment until I see the movie, as Catwoman is a tricky character; the part has made or broken the careers of a few thespians. Either way, one doesn’t walk away from playing Selina Kyle without some sort of permanent mark.
THE TOP TEN ACTRESSES TO PLAY CATWOMAN.
10: Halle Berry – Catwoman (2005).
I’m not sure Berry can be completely blamed for the unforgivable cluster-coitus that this movie turned out to be. Though she won the 2005 “Razzie” award for Worst Actress for her part in the film (and showed up to receive it, which took balls), CATWOMAN also won a Razzie for Worst Screenplay, Worst Director, and Worst Film, so everything including the catered food contributed to this crap storm. When your leading lady calls the final product “…a piece of shit, God-awful movie” you know you’re making a classic. This film has nothing to do with Batman–or Catwoman for that
matter—instead is based around Egyptian cat mythology, cosmetic-based drug pushing, and the transformation of a recently murdered woman named Patience into a cat-themed vigilante who wears an outfit created originally for Borat/Bruno slash-fic. Eurgh. Other than illegal Filipino Batman movies and a Mexican stage musical, there are only ten actresses who have ever played Catwoman officially, so that’s why Halle Berry made the list. If the Filipinos had only bought the license properly, she would not have made the cut. Do not watch this movie without a spotter as injuries may occur.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: Halle Berry is one of only two Catwomen I have actually met, and the only one I have touched with my bare hands.
9) Melendy Britt: BATMAN, SUPER-FRIENDS, BATMAN/TARZAN ADVENTURE HOUR. (1977)
She was the voice of Catwoman on all the Filmation “Super-Powers” Batman and Super-friends episodes. I hated what she did with the character, the cackling laugh, the obnoxious purr noises, the entire routine. Still, she was leagues better than Halle Berry.
Ms Britt was also the voice of Batgirl, AND the sexy She-Ra, so she knew her way around shapely two-dimensional characters.
8- Maggie Baird. BIRDS OF PREY (2002)
She played Catwoman in the flashback sequences on Birds of Prey, the mildly disappointing but not-awful TV show of a few years back. Though she was the HUNTRESS’ mother on the series (something ret-conned out of the DC Comics continuity after the original CRISIS) her flashback sequences were fairly rare, and I’m not sure if I remember Catwoman actually having a speaking line on any episode. She was still better than Halle Berry.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: I am the only human on Earth who owns video copies of every episode of the Birds of Prey series. I’m not sure the producers even kept a set.
7) Gina Gershon: THE BATMAN (Animated Series 2005)
Gina took over playing the animated Catwoman in the Batman series that ran from 2004 to 2008. Gina Gershon certainly has the attitude, the bod, the voice, and probably knows how to handle a nine-tailed whip better than my high school lacrosse coach ever did.
Frankly, I would have preferred a live-action Gershon Catwoman than the less-than sexy designs they went with for this version of the character.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: This version of Selina Kyle is from the animated version of Batman that got Dan Slott and me fired a few years ago from Batman Adventures. But I’m not bitter.
6) Julia Rose: BATMAN: RETURN TO THE BATCAVE: The misadventures of adam and burt (2003)
She played Julie Newmar (and therefore, Catwoman), in the 1999 TV movie. This telefilm was a somewhat fictionalized story about the making of the original Adam West show including some amusing nonsense that simply didn’t happen. Worth a look for Bat-fans, if only to see Adam and Burt together again in the 90s! Julia has a fairly minor part, seen in the flashback sequences, but hubba-hubba! Ms. Rose looked amazing in the Catwoman outfit and pulled off the trick as an impression of a different actress playing the part.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: I LOVE this movie, primarily for the Frank Gorshin performance as “Frank Gorshin, the aging lunatic”.
5) Lee Meriwether. BATMAN: The Movie (1966)
Ahhh…Batman: the Movie. Such rich chocolately goodness to behold for the lifelong Bat-fan. Up until the recent Dark Knight movie, this was my hands down favorite Batman film, and still the one I’ve seen the most times by a wide margin. (It’s likely over twenty-five times by now). The scenes where “Miss Kitka” was trying to seduce Bruce Wayne with her goofy Russian accent, I could do without, but she wore the Emma-Peel-With-Ears outfit with flying colors, and moved all cat-like when she needed. And have you seen a recent picture of Ms. Meriweather? It’s not just my opinion, but a provable fact that Lee Meriwether is the hottest senior citizen on the planet Earth.
4) Eartha Kitt. BATMAN (The TV Series) 1968
Orson Welles once called Eartha Kitt “The most exciting woman in the world”. Considering that Welles worked with Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Marlene Deitrich, and Deloris Del Rio, Orson knew his way around exciting women. It’s really about “the voice”. No one did the purring sound like Eartha because the woman was actually genetically part cat. It’s in her name, so there’s no use in pretending. Find a copy of the old musical St. Louis Blues on DVD and tell me the woman in that film isn’t a human-feline hybrid created in a lab somewhere.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: Ms. Kitt is the other Catwoman I got to meet. I played a prank on her at a party once, and my girlfriend (at the time) got blamed for it. I am an evil man.
3) Julie Newmar. BATMAN (the TV Series) 1966
She was the first Catwoman actress, and certainly one of the best. Sexy, slinky, supple, and other words that start with S. No matter how well Eartha Kitt did the “purrr-fect” gag, Julie still did it first, and created the template of Catwoman as a live breathing character to fanboys and girls the world over.
As far as I can tell, Julie is the only Catwoman who had a movie written about her cult status amongst transvestites.
But Julie is ALL girl, and even has a patent on a special kind of bra, and a special kind of butt-shaping undergarment. Both inventions are the lingerie of choice amongst transvestites, I understand. Thanks Wong Fu.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: I learned everything about the birds and the bees by watching Julie give birth on Star Trek.
2) Adrienne Barbeau: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1992)
It’s hard to find fault with this version of the character, arguably the best interpretation of Ms. Kyle yet put to screen. Her origin as a socialite turned animal rights activist turned jewel thief in a slinky cat-costume hit all the right buttons for this Selina-phile. The costume is great, and the voice behind it is the completely Catwoman-worthy Adrienne Barbeau.
Great in a cat-suit. Great lurking in a swamp with the Swamp Thing. Great sparring with Bea Arthur in Maude. Just great.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: I briefly dated a woman who played the Siamese cat in a production of Cats, and who wore a costume identical to this one – on stage, mostly. Also: I wrote and drew this version of Catwoman quite a few times, and won a few awards for it.
1) Michelle Pfeiffer. BATMAN RETURNS. (1992)
It’s wrong of me. I know. But this is the version in my head when someone says “Catwoman”. It’s also the image in my head when someone says “Leather body-suit” or “Is that your zipper?”. It’s not just the costume, it’s not Michelle Pfeiffer, it’s not because this is a well written version of Catwoman (though her scenes with Bruce are the most “on character” moments in any of the Tim Burton movies) and it’s not the whip. But the whole combination of that actress, in that suit, with that whip, in that movie, at that time…it imprinted the Correct Catwoman-ness into my DNA even though it makes me feel all private and tingly whenever I see the it.
PERSONAL CATWOMAN CONNECTION: As it spent some time on display in the big conference room at the DC offices, I have actually touched Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman suit. The costume was smaller than I thought it was. Legends loom large.
There you have it Anne. You’ve got some competition for the hearts and minds of the audience. I generally like the newer Batman movies, so there’s a good chance you’ll pull it off, just so long as you don’t drink milk and lick yourself like Halle Berry, and you don’t try to do Eartha Kitt’s voice.
Ty the Guy OUT!
Special Postscript: I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a photograph of a friend of mine, Meghan Campbell, who is Toronto’s (and possibly comic fandom’s) best Catwoman cosplayer. Don’t just take my word for it…
Again, Ty the Guy OUT!
Here now, your Illegal Pilipino Batman Movie Moment:
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