First of all, if you don’t understand the title of this post, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vik1fJ2j1oA
There have been six different women who filled the role of the feline fatale herself on the screen, although one, Anne Hathaway, can’t really be considered until her performance is revealed in The Dark Knight Rises this July. That leaves five different women who have worn variations of the Catsuit. Their performances, though of basically the same character, are very different from actress to actress as well as from film to film. Sheldon (and I) find it worthy of looking through all these performances and rating them. You’ve heard Sheldon’s list but now you’ll get to hear mine, as well.
Starting with my least favorite and working up to number one, here are my ratings (and reasons for said ratings!) of all the film Catwomen.
Click on each picture for a youtube video of the Catwoman actress in question. If there are any specific parts of the video of greater importance to my reasons, the timing to watch will be listed underneath the photo.
NUMBER FIVE: HALLE BERRY
If you can stand it, watching the whole thing will give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, but if you just want to cut to the chase, watch 2:40-4:18
“Catwoman” the movie featured Halle Berry as Patience, a timid designer who is killed when she accidentally discovers some dark secrets about the makeup company that she works for. She is brought back to life by a mystical cat, which basically turns her into a human feline, complete with an unexplainable attraction to catnip. She uses her new powers to rock a sexy, barely-there black leather outfit, crawl around like Spiderman, and eventually defeat Patience’s murderer: the woman who was previously the face of the makeup company, but who has now turned into a villainess whose anti-aging makeup makes her skin as invulnerable as mithril.
THE PROS: Halle has a cat-like confidence once she starts getting into the role, and many of her physical actions mirror that well. She also delivers the best “purrrrfect” since Eartha Kitt.
THE CONS: First of all, the story just plain sucks. It’s basically Catwoman’s origin from Batman Returns copied into its own film. Then they add in a makeup powered villainess to make it seem more… feminine, I guess? The fights are cartoony, the girl power music always playing in the background is pathetic, and overall this is just a very shallow film and underserving of the title Catwoman. I understand that they were trying to make a completely new character, but if that’s the case, don’t call her Catwoman. Because this thing is a sorry excuse for one of the greatest female characters of all time (IMHO).
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Halle’s Catwoman tried to exude confidence, but does so in such an over sexualized, cartoony way that it actually works against her. When all is said and done, this is just a prostitute-like chick who gets crazy powers and has a bitch fight with a pathetically lame villainess. It obviously tries to speak about female empowerment but really, this Catwoman is little more than shallow eye candy for the boys, which kind of defeats the “female empowerment” purpose. Nice effort, Halle, but your over sexualized and laughably cartoony Catwoman from a shallow film was far from worthy of the cowl of the Cat.
NUMBER FOUR: MICHELLE PHEIFFER
The “transformation” scene. You’ll want to watch the whole thing.
Selina Kyle is a mousy secretary who is murdered by her boss after she finds out that his company isn’t as innocent as it seems. Unfortunately for him, she is brought back to life by a gang of alley cats, waking with a vengence against him and just about all other men. She is mentally unhinged which makes her dangerous but also alluring enough to catch the eye of millionaire Bruce Wayne.
THE PROS: Michelle has Catwoman’s love of what she does pretty much down. The scenes where we get to see her blowing up a store and whipping the heads off of display mannequins is gold.
THE CONS: I’m disturbed at seeing a Catwoman whose confidence, decisions, and entire personality is hinged on the fact that she is completely insane. That might work fine for the Joker or the Riddler, but not Catwoman. If you take away her confidence in herself, what do you have left? A crazy lady who seems to think that leather is the most comfy way to dress. As if Gotham didn’t have enough of those already. If you take away Catwoman’s sanity, you take away the fact that she is making all her life’s decisions for herself. She’s driven by craziness, not by Catwoman’s decision that this is how she wants to live her life.
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Insane Catwoman is a BIG no-go in my book. It makes her confidence seem forced and her sexuality more of a tool for her to lure men with rather than an actual part of her. She scores above Halle, but not by too much. I love Tim Burton, his vision, and his Batman movies; but his Catwoman leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
NUMBER THREE: EARTHA KITT
“THE BATMAN TV SERIES (SIXTIES)”
Montage of some Eartha Kitt Catwoman moments. Make sure you listen for her “purrrrr”ing!
Eartha Kitt was TV’s third Catwoman, slinking onto the series in its third and final season. Eartha’s run introduced not only an African-American Catwoman, but also the outrageous Catmobile, which was basically a car with a giant cat face and tail added on.
THE PROS: Eartha had one of the best Catwoman voices. There’s a reason why Yzma (the character she voiced in the Disney movie “The Emperor’s New Groove”) turns into a cat at the end. Eartha could roll her R’s and say “purrrrrrrfectly” like no one else. Her Catwoman was spunky and obviously having a good time.
THE CONS: This Catwoman, although she was having some fun, was still too much of a “black-and-white” bad girl character. She lacked the complexity of the previous Catwomen before her. In all honesty, this could in part be attributed to the fact that the series was spinning itself out at this point, but this Catwoman still is what she is.
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Eartha’s Catwoman was believable, but it was still pretty basic and got a bit repetative after awhile. She was an actress going through the motions of being Catwoman rather than really being Catwoman. Granted, she was wonderful at it, but she still could have been more… unique. This Catwoman was a pretty standard bad girl character.
NUMBER TWO: LEE MERIWETHER
“BATMAN: THE MOVIE (1966)”
A scene that shows both Catwoman and her alter-ego, Kitka.
Lee only had one time in the spotlight as a Catwoman of the sixties. Julie Newmar was filming another movie when the 1966 Batman movie was being filmed, so a replacement had to be cast, and Lee Meriwether got the part when she imitated the bathing actions of her cat during her audition. She provided a more polished, good-girl-gone-bad spin on the character. She also provided Catwoman with a seemingly innocent but inwardly devious alter-ego, the Russian journalist Kitka.
THE PROS: What if a really good girl decided that she wanted to be really bad? That’s the question that this Catwoman best answers. Lee’s performance is confident and believable, but you can also see a bit of goody-two-shoes in her as well. It makes me feel as if she is channeling some other person that maybe she once was, in order to fulfill her current devious schemes. As Catwoman’s false alter-ego, Kitka, she was completely believable, letting the “good girl” side come out in full swing. But this in no way makes her status as a villain seem unbelievable or forced.
THE CONS: Since Lee was only a replacement Catwoman for the movie, we didn’t get to see what more she might have been able to do with the character if she’d had entire television seasons to play with, like the other Catwomen did.
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Lee’s Catwoman is not only convincingly bad, but she’s also convincingly good when she wants to be. It’s interesting to see her switch on and off the different sides of her personality as it best suits the intents of the character. This Catwoman really can be described by the old rhyme: “When she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid.”
And that means…
NUMBER ONE: JULIE NEWMAR
“THE BATMAN TV SERIES (SIXTIES)”
One of Catwoman’s most awesome schemes! 1:40-6:50
Sometimes the original just can’t be beat. Julie Newmar was the first Catwoman on the 1966 Batman TV series, and she brought the character to an entire new level. Being both sweet and sour, the sugar and the spice, Julie’s Catwoman held her own against the man she both desired, loved to annoy, and wanted to destroy: Batman.
THE PROS: Julie’s Catwoman NEVER sold out for anyone, not even Batman. She’s funny, smart, and 100% confident in her own skin and personality. This gives her an ability to be deadly alluring. You can tell that this Catwoman was Catwoman because she WANTED to be, not because she had mystic powers or was driven by insanity or was simply a bad girl who needed a gimmick. Even her desires that Batman make her his wife were always on her own terms, not his. And if someone didn’t agree with those terms, then look out.
THE CONS: Julie was replaced in the third season, so her reign as the feline fatale was not as long as it could have been.
THE FINAL JUDGEMENT: Cool, sexy, and never afraid to go for what she wanted, Julie took Catwoman from what could have been an average kitten performance to a real roaring lion. She’s never forced or fake: she doesn’t need to impress anyone but herself, and that really shows through. Julie’s Catwoman is number one because she really nailed the fact that Catwoman lives her life for her and not for anyone else, and she does it because she wants to.