Is Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman a heroine or a villain?
Warning: this article may contain spoilers for The Batman.Behind every great hero is an even greater villain. Without one, the other is lost. Villains are more complex than they appear, and sometimes have the ability to seek some sort of character redemption when defeated or convinced to reconsider their life path. It opens up the conversation around the binary of morality and challenges collective societal concepts of what is considered “good” or “bad”. Often these morally inspired hopes of saving others give way to the idea that perceptions of “good” and “evil” are not entirely universal. This confirms that heroes can share beliefs with villains and that villains can possess heroic traits.
Behind every great Batman is an even greater Catwoman. Without one, the other could be lost. Catwoman’s story has been vast and dramatic across Batman media through the ages, painting a portrait of vengeful tragedy through his actions. Zoë Kravitz allowed audiences to revisit Catwoman in The Batman through a more grounded and calculated performance that elaborates on the complexity of the character. While her motives are muddled at times, her attitudes and beliefs make her ambiguous, which begs the question: is Zoë Kravtiz’s Catwoman a hero or a villain?
Why did Catwoman become a villain?
Catwoman first appeared in Batman #1 as the main villain, though at the time the whip-wielding feline femme fatale’s motivations were shrouded in mystery. While Selina Kyle’s character was explained just beyond her heist, comic writers attributed her behavior to a response to her past abuse. Selina previously shared half-truths in Batman #62 as she admitted a blow to the head was to blame for her fondness for high stakes and stealing, although it was later revealed that her stealing was rooted in revenge. Her past marriage was troubled and after her ex-husband locked her jewelry in his safe, she was determined to break into the safe and recover her once stolen possessions. The first flight sample was a pleasant enough experience that left her wanting more, giving rise to Catwoman’s alter-ego.
Alternate origin stories depict Selina becoming Catwoman in pursuit of Batman after seeing him in action, or tempting her with the idea of joining Bane in crime after he robs a house during the fall of the knight saga. Other controversial explanations of Selina’s lifestyle examine her past as a sex worker who rebels against her pimp after kidnapping and abusing her sister. She kills the pimp in a fit of revenge, which results in her continued spree of morally bankrupt villainy. This isn’t the only instance where Selina’s Catwoman origins end up in sex work, though it’s still the fairest when compared to substituted storylines that portray the trade negatively.
How is Catwoman an anti-heroine?
The concept of the antihero can be traced back to Greek dramas, Roman satires, and character tropes found in Renaissance literature. The official term was coined in the 18th century as a trait closely associated with the Byronic heroes created by the English poet Lord Byron. The antihero’s popularity became more prominent in 20th century media, as they were more commonly used as central protagonists. An anti-hero can be categorized based on their lack of qualities that can be considered heroic while adhering to some sort of moral code as a guide for their actions. Their actions may serve their own interest or challenge ethical codes, but do not completely endorse wrongdoing.
Catwoman has been considered an anti-hero due to her checkered past. Her theft was initially born out of self-interest and not the idea of approaching other people’s possessions, cracking the safe to retrieve her jewels once hidden by her abusive partner. However, there is an absence of heroism in her actions as she doesn’t exactly benefit the greater good of humanity through her criminality. Kravitz’s interpretation of Catwoman is a proud anti-hero. The Batman does not specify how she first put on the cat-eared ski mask, but defends the measures she is taking to get revenge for the homicide of Annika Kosolov, her current roommate who could also be assumed to be a romantic partner.
The Batman watches Selina take action to seek her own revenge against Carmine Falcone, Oz, and others among the corrupt mob that frequent the Iceberg Lounge. Her featured heist is in favor of Kosolov, and as she finds herself in an alliance with the Batman (Robert Pattinson), her access to Gotham’s most unethical politicians via the lounge doubles as a way to work. to his own revenge. Catwoman is portrayed as someone pursuing her own worthy causes without claiming the title of hero or villain. She seeks to assuage her own personal woes in ways that may not exactly stand up for the people of Gotham, though aligned with the city’s cries for social justice.
What is Catwoman’s relationship to Batman?
Catwoman and Batman have often shared ensnared romantic entanglements in their ongoing relationship, which has evolved beyond the “enemies to lovers” trope that has teased their fates for years. In the comics, Catwoman and Batman have found themselves gravitating towards each other, though the intensity of their attraction to each other is more muted in The Batman. DC Comics married Bruce Wayne to Selina Kyle; The Batman sees them separate, destined to meet again. Their relationship is unlabeled, but is an unspoken promise to reconnect the two as their future hangs in the balance.
Robert Pattison shared his personal interpretation of the established and cultivated relationship between The Cat and the Bat in an interview with EW. “They get a pretty strong connection pretty quickly,” he said, “and I think they both try to ignore that. They’re both very surprised to feel a connection with someone because it’s pretty rare for them. It puts us both out of our comfort zone.” He then went on to say, “Bruce created Batman in this very binary worldview where he [believes] there are villains and there are victims. Selina comes in and he says, ‘Well, you’re a thief. You’re basically the same as the Penguin,” and yet… there’s something about her that I recognize. It goes against his snap judgement.”
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