Batman Gets His Catwoman

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2021 may still be a long way off, but excitement is already building toward the next ‘Batman’ movie. We already know that ‘Twilight’ star Robert Pattinson will be taking on the mantle of the Caped Crusader, which he’s inherited from Ben Affleck. There’s been speculation that we may see an appearance of some kind from Joaquin Phoenix’ Joker, who is currently basking in the glory of his own critically acclaimed movie. We don’t know whether or not that will turn out to be the case, but we do know someone who will definitely be in it; Zoe Kravitz, who will be playing a brand new incarnation of Batman’s female sidekick Catwoman.

The news of Kravitz’s casting was announced to the world – seemingly by accident – when ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa publicly congratulated Kravitz on landing the role with a post on his Instagram account. Momoa letting the news slip can probably be both excused and explained by his parental pride – Kravitz, who is the biological daughter of rock and roll legend Lenny Kravitz, is Momoa’s stepdaughter. Momoa has been married to her mother, Lisa Bonet, since 2017. Before that, he was dating Bonet for a full decade, and so he’s been in Kravitz’s life since she was 20 years old.

The news suggests that the new Batman film will adopt a closer relationship with the text of the original comic books than has been seen in the more recent movies. Catwoman is a prominent character in the comics, and made regular appearances in the campy Adam West-led television show of the 1960s, but has had a somewhat spotty history in the movies which have come since. In fact, Kravitz will be hoping to break something of a curse with the role – so far, no actor has portrayed the character on the big screen more than once.

The Definitive Catwoman

The most recent name to give the part a try was Anne Hathaway, who briefly put on the catsuit in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ Although prominent in terms of the plot, the character served as more of a love interest for Bruce Wayne than she did a superhero in her own right. Her superhero standing was actually diminished to the point that she was never named as ‘Catwoman’ on-screen during the film’s running time – although she was easily identifiable from the outfit.

Other big-name actors who have played the part (and probably wish they’d never bothered) include Halle Berry. The Oscar-winning actor played Catwoman in 2004 to dreadful reviews, with the majority of critics concluding that it was one of the worst movies ever to be made. Berry ‘won’ a ‘worst actor’ Razzie Award for her performance, although she did at least have the good grace to turn in person to collect the award and provide a tongue-in-cheek speech for the ceremony. Michelle Pfieffer also had a stab at it in 1992’s ‘Batman Returns’ and didn’t do too badly, although she wouldn’t consider it to be one of her career highlights.

With seemingly nobody having had a good time playing Selina Kyle’s alter-ego in films, the title of ‘definitive Catwoman’ probably still belongs to Julie Newmar, who was the Catwoman of the aforementioned 1960s TV show, and used her fame from the show to launch her own brand of tights ten years later. She had fun in the role, and is still fondly remembered for it fifty years later. It’s her face you’ll see if you ever play the mobile slots game ‘Batman & Catwoman Cash.’ It’s probably telling that although there are multiple mobile slots on website like Kong Casino based on Batman and characters from the ‘Batman’ universe, only one of them contains Catwoman, and it’s Newmar’s interpretation of the character that gets the nod. Mobile slots often draw inspiration from pop culture sensations. If no other ‘Catwomen’ turn up at mobile slots websites, it’s a sign that none of them were considered significant enough.

A Low Bar For Success

While one way of looking at the situation would be to say that nobody’s done well with the part of Catwoman for the last two generations or more, another way would be to say that Kravitz has a great opportunity. The bar for what would be considered a successful portrayal of the character will be very low. She won’t face the same problems that Ben Affleck faced when he followed Christian Bale playing Batman. Affleck seemed lost in the part, and even Pattinson is likely to be compared to Bale’s brooding, iconic performance as the Dark Knight. Pattinson will have to deal with all the pressure. Kravitz can just do her job and relax.

As the casting has only just been announced, we have no way of knowing how small or large a part Kravitz’s Catwoman will play in the film. If the movie is inspired by the comics, we may still find out that someone else has been drafted in to play Batman’s other sidekick, Robin. The larger Batman’s gang turns out to be, the smaller the speaking role for any of the characters not called ‘Batman’ is likely to be because of it. The script is only thought to have been finished in the past few weeks, and shooting for the movie is yet to begin. Until actors start appearing in front of the camera, nobody can even make an informed guess.

What’s not up for debate, though, is that the producers are likely to see the portrayal of Catwoman as being an opportunity to build a new franchise-carrying star. We know from the way that DC and Marvel have structured their recent superhero movies that no sidekicks are truly sidekicks anymore. If it’s thought that either of them could carry a film on their own, they’ll soon be making them under their own banner. If all goes well, Kravitz might not just be the only actor to play Catwoman in more than one ‘Batman’ movie – she might land her own series of ‘Catwoman’ films. We’re sure she’s hoping she had that in her future, rather than enduring the same experience as Halle Berry.