Catwoman: Who is the Renegade Thief? – Movie Rewind Backstory

When The Bat’s Away, The Cat Will Play

Catwoman:Is this what it’s like to wear a white hat? To do right? Is this what Batman feels like? I don’t like it. I’m no good at it.

Catwoman Vol. 4 #12

It is a dark night at the Gotham Museum. Moonlight illuminates a priceless antique cat statue. A soft scrape is heard as something cuts a hole in the skylight. A woman in dark clothing leaps down and lands twenty feet from the statue. She taps a hidden button, her goggles revealing a series of lasers between her and the prize.

The woman considers her options. She’s lithe and agile enough to slip between the lasers, but why take the risk? She finds a nearby control panel and attaches a device that shuts off the lasers and disables the alarm. The state-of-the-art lock is child’s play to pick. She removes the statue and looks up, where the Bat-Signal shines in the sky. Catwoman smiles. Now the fun part begins.

Catwoman is one of DC Comics’ oldest villains. She’s bedeviled Batman since Batman #1, always staying one step ahead of the law. So who is she? How did she become a criminal? Why hasn’t Batman stopped this crazy cat lady? Let’s find out.

Cat and Mouse: Catwoman’s Backstory

[Batman Beyond has arrested a villain he had a crush on]
Terry:This kind of thing ever happen to you?
Bruce: [smiles] “Let me tell you about a woman named Selina Kyle.

Batman Beyond “Dead Man’s Hand” (Season 1, Episode 8)

Catwoman’s debut in Batman #1 was in 1940. She was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, who intended for her to draw in female readers and provide sex appeal. The cat theme was inspired by Kane’s… questionable opinions about women.

Batman and Robin learned about a cruise ship that was plagued by a jewel thief. They eventually discovered that the thief had disguised herself as an elderly woman. When her wig was removed, they were face to face with Selina Kyle, alias The Cat. Her goons kept the Dynamic Duo busy long enough for The Cat to escape, with a charmed Batman allowing her to go free.

The Cat reappeared as Catwoman, now wearing a costume and wielding her signature whip. Batman wanted to rehabilitate her while Catwoman alternated between reciprocating his attraction and manipulating him. In at least one universe, Batman’s courtship succeeded, and he married Catwoman. The two then raised a heroic daughter called Huntress.

Stray Cat Strut: Catwoman’s History

Catwoman:You and me. The two orphans lost. Who see the weak in one another.

Batman Annual #2

Catwoman received a new backstory after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Now Selina was an orphan who turned to crime to survive while caring for her sister Maggie. Desperation drove her to prostitution, a time when she learned how to use a whip. Selina heard the stories spreading about Batman and was inspired to become Catwoman.

Batman and Catwoman bonded over their fights, coming to see them as a game. He even revealed his secret identity to her. Catwoman began acting as an anti-hero, helping out the little guy while stealing from the rich for the thrill of it. She also worked with the Birds of Prey and the Justice League, but never joined either team. 

Batman finally proposed to Catwoman during the teens. She accepted, but struggled with uncertainty. Some poorly-timed advice and manipulation from The Joker convinced Catwoman to call off the wedding for fear that a happy Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have the focus as a crime fighter that Batman needs. That’s really stupid logic, but it’s what the writers went with.

Cat Burglar: Catwoman’s Powers and Personality

[Exiting the Fortress of Solitude]
Catwoman:You say “impenetrable fortress” and I just hear “Christmas morning with presents to unwrap.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #31

Catwoman’s skills make up for her lack of superpowers. She’s a skilled street fighter and gymnast. The fingers of her costume have retractable claws. She uses either a bullwhip or a cat-o-nine-tails because most of her enemies don’t know how to use a whip properly. Catwoman is an expert at training cats. Her pet, Isis, often brings stolen goods to her hideouts while she distracts Batman. She has also sicced big cats on her foes.

Watch your wallet around this cat. Catwoman is arguably the most skilled thief in the DC universe. She can easily sneak past most countermeasures and crack almost any safe. She’s stolen Batman’s utility belt, carjacked the Batmobile, and evaded Lex Luthor’s bleeding edge security systems to break into his offices. On a few occasions, Catwoman has infiltrated Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, which is guarded by Kryptonian tech and a key that only he can lift.

“Keep them guessing” is Catwoman’s game of choice. She’ll be one of Batman’s greatest allies one second, and a crime boss the next. Catwoman is sometimes selfish, sometimes selfless, but always on her own side.  

The Actors Who Play Catwoman

Julie Newmar – Batman (1966), Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, Batman vs. Two-Face
Eartha Kitt – Batman (1966) 
Lee Meriwether – Batman (1966) Batman: The Movie
Jane Webb – The Batman/Superman Hour
Melendy Britt – The New Adventures of Batman
Adrienne Barbeau – Batman: the Animated Series
Gina Gershon – The Batman
Nika Futterman – Batman: the Brave and the Bold
Cree Summer – DC Super Hero Girls
Sanaa Lathan – Harley Quinn
Eliza Dushku – Batman Year One, DC Showcase: Catwoman
Jennifer Carpenter – Batman: Gotham By Gaslight
Michelle Pfeiffer – Batman Returns
Halle Berry – Catwoman
Anne Hathaway – The Dark Knight Rises
Elizabeth Gillies – Catwoman: Hunted
Zoe Kravitz – The Lego Batman Movie, The Batman (2022)

Didya Get All That?

DC’s greatest thief.

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