Comic Book / Catwoman

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dc_catwoman_8961.jpg
Catwoman — in Action! As drawn by Adam Hughes.

Catwoman is a fictional character associated with DC Comics' Batman franchise. Historically a supervillain, the character was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, partially inspired by Kane's second cousin by marriage, Ruth Steel. Kane, a frequent movie goer also mentioned that Jean Harlow was a model for the design. The character first appeared as The Cat in "Batman" #1 (Spring, 1940), joint second-oldest of Batman's long-term Rogue's Gallery along with the Joker, who was introduced in the same issue. The code name Cat-Woman (sic), and the first of her cat-suits were introduced in issue #2. Her civilian identity of Selina Kyle was introduced in subsequent appearances.

The character had regular appearances in the Batman titles for much of the Golden Age, both as a villain, and as a reformed criminal (or at least attempting to reform.) She disappeared from the franchise for over a decade in "Detective Comics" #211 (September, 1954), for fears that her depiction violated the recently introduced Comics Code. In 1966, over a decade later, the character was revived for the Batman television series.

The character turned popular again and revival in the comic books soon followed. Starting with "Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane" #70 (November, 1966). Where she uses magic to turn Superman into a cat. Lois Lane then gets to fight Catwoman to rescue her love interest. Regular adventures of this version continued to the 1980s. With an Earth-One version of Catwoman firmly established, the DC staff then reintroduced the original as part of the Earth-Two Alternate Universe. Or at least its backstory. According to "DC Super-Stars" #17 (November, 1977), the Golden Age Catwoman eventually married Batman. She was killed while performing One Last Job. Her daughter Helena Wayne, donned the cape of the Huntress to avenge her death.

Post-Crisis, Catwoman got a revamp in the Batman: Year One storyline (1987), which established a new background for Selina as a former prostitute who learned martial arts and the art of burglary to improve her life. She got a mini-series of her own in 1989. Then a regular Catwoman series started in September, 1993. From the 1990s until 2008 (with a brief gap around the turn of the century), Catwoman featured in an eponymous series that cast her as an anti-hero rather than a supervillain. In 2009 this was replaced with a Gotham City Sirens title that put her in a morally-ambiguous team with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. In 2011 this was dropped and a new ongoing Catwoman title (again casting her as more of an anti-hero than a villain) began as part of the New 52 universe-wide revamp.

Outside of the comics, the character has featured in a multitude of Batman-related media. She was a recurring villain in the iconic Adam West Batman series, famously portrayed by several different actresses including Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt. She was a major character in Batman: The Animated Series and appeared as a villain in both The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The character was featured in Bat Man of Shanghai, a series of Wuxia-inspired Alternate Universe shorts on the DC Nation block that reimagined Catwoman as a Chinese thief in the 1930s. For the Animated Adaptation of Batman: Year One, she was voiced by Eliza Dushku. Camren Bicondova plays a young Selina, a street kid mostly known by the nickname "Cat", in the series Gotham.

On the film front, the character was portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1992 film Batman Returns. In 2004, a standalone Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry was released, but the movie was a flop that had little in common with the comic character. She is played by Anne Hathaway in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, although she's only ever named on screen as "Selina Kyle" and "The Cat", with the name "Catwoman" only being used in merchandise and other supplemental materials - perhaps to sever ties from the aforementioned Halle Berry flop or possibly just because of the trend in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Dark Knight Saga that Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames.

She has also appeared in numerous video games, specifically featuring as a playable character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, both Lego Batman games, Batman Arkham Origins Black Gate, Batman: Arkham City, Batman: Arkham Knight and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

The character has been one of Batman's most enduring love interests, and is seen as possibly the most natural one to him. Many modern writers have also interpreted her activities and costumed identity as a response to a history of abuse.

Is the only character to make it onto both of IGN's lists of the 100 Greatest Comic Book Heroes (at #20) and Villains (at #11).

This series provides examples of:

  • Black and Gray Morality: Even as an Anti-Hero she tends to do some ethically questionable things, but she's got nothing on some of the villains she goes up against.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Brunette to Ivy's Redhead and Harley's Blonde in Gotham Sirens.
  • Byronic Heroine: A very Rare Female Example.
  • Carnival of Killers: In the "Run Like Hell" arc, the Penguin puts out a $1 million contract on Selina's head. This attracts a large number of Gotham's costumed criminals out of the woodwork to take a shot at her.
  • Cat Fight: Her own series is filled with these. Then again, what did you expect?
  • Cat Girl: Kind of. She's purely human in biological terms, though. Though in "Fables of the Bat-Man," one of the Legends of the Dead Earth Annuals DC did in 1996 (long story short, stories of how people on other planets post-Earth view Earth's heroes and villains) combined her with Poison Ivy and made her an actual Cat Girl.
  • Cats Are Mean: Her pet Isis usually helps her steal valuables.
  • Chronic Villainy: She's tried to quit the criminal lifestyle before, but something about it always drags her back in.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: One of the most triumphant examples if not the Trope Codifier.
  • Combat Pragmatist: As a Bat-Family member, it's no surprise. This was also actually why she chose something as difficult to properly wield as a whip; if disarmed, she wanted something as unintuitive and difficult to use as possible so as to actually put her opponent at a disadvantage if they tried to use it against her.
  • Combat Stilettos: Had a penchant for these in some incarnations, though they got sensible through the ages. She even wore combat boots for a while.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Adam Hughes draws her as Audrey Hepburn (example).
  • Continuity Snarl: No one is quite sure what Catwoman's backstory really is. Is she an orphan turned thief, an amnesiac air stewardess, a prostitute, a socialite, a product of an abusive marriage, the daughter of Carmine Falcone, or some combination thereof?
  • Criminal Amnesiac: In The Golden Age of Comic Books, she was a Criminal Amnesiac, without even a villain talking her into it. A later Retcon said she'd made this up to facilitate her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Subverted, really. In most incarnations, she knows about this, and steals for thrills more than anything else.
  • The Cynic: She has no hope for things to get better in the world.
  • Damsel in Distress: Selina has been put in these situations many times. Her only fear, in fact, is a world where she has to be rescued by Batman at every turn. She's scared of dependency. That's why she tries to be a Damsel out of Distress.
  • Dark Action Girl
  • Dating Catwoman: The Trope Namer. Though from her side of the relationship, shouldn't it be "Dating Batman"?
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Death Seeker: Controversially introduced as an element of her personality for the New 52 version.
  • Depending on the Writer: Her relationship with Batman is this, especially now that they're together. Her and Bruce have been depicted as star-crossed soul mates, each other's booty call, and everywhere in between.
    • Sometimes, Selina Kyle/Catwoman herself. Along with her backstories. She's been seen through prostitution in the grim and gritty streets of Gotham, an orphaned (and problem) child whose parents committed suicide, a high socialite to sharing low apartments with others, an amnesiac airplane stewardess, a beaten wife who stole from her husband to gain control of her life, and more.
  • Dominatrix: In at least one version of her backstory, she worked as one before becoming a thief, and supposedly picked up her preference for whips after using them on her "customers". Though not all writers like to acknowledge that bit of her backstory, her current costume design (skintight black latex, with a whip for a weapon) still pretty clearly invokes a Dominatrix vibe.
  • The Don: The aftermath of Batman Eternal sees her becoming a mob boss. while on one side she has to make some ruthless decisions, she manages to do a lot of good for Gotham and helps rebuild it.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: In the Pfeifer run, she carried a roll of duct tape on her person. It came in handy during her fight with Zatanna and she frequently used it to restrain enemies and hostages.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In her first appearance, she was billed as "the Cat" but didn't wear a cat-themed costume, just a green dress, although she did disguise herself as a much older woman for a few panels. She also shot a guy, which was retconned out as she had a stated no-kill policy basically through the Bronze Age.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted with Zatanna. Selina still hates her for the events of Identity Crisis (or more precisely, her actions thereafter).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being Ambiguously Evil, she's completely disgusted with most of Batman's other foes.
  • Evil Feels Good: She commits crime because she gets a rush out of stealing valuable artifacts.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Invokes this every chance she gets. She's certainly one of the most famous examples, too.
  • Friendly Enemy: Simply put, she's not evil, she's just an unapologetic criminal.
  • Friend to All Living Things: All cats, at least. Krypto seems to have taken a liking to her as well.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Next to Dick, she's probably the one most able to call Bruce out and bring him back to his senses when he's gone over the edge. Most of the time, anyways.
  • Give Her A Normal Life: This is most of the reason why Selina gave up her daughter Helena for adoption. Alternative, writers got rid of Helena upon realizing that a baby would be inconvenient for a fast-and-loose thief.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The entire Gotham City Sirens series is this. Either that or her relationship with Batman... or both.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Subverted. Her latest costume has goggles that appear to be there for no reason other than making her look more like a cat. Look at the trope right below this one for the subversion.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: They give her night vision. And general eye protection, since her line of work tends to involve crashing through skylights and other potentially eye-unfriendly things.
  • Green Eyes: And fits the character description, being mysterious and associated with cats.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: An established part of her personality that seems to work for her.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Her costume is made of leather and very skintight.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Selina's love of cats and shiny things was once used against her by the GCPD; at the scene of one of her robberies, they planted a fancy old cat statue that caught her eye. Catwoman didn't realize that the statue had a tracking device planted on it until she was nearly back at her hideout and getting swarmed by cops.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: An element of her past that has been in and out of continuity since Frank Miller added it.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Gives such a speech to Batman during the Hush arc. It doesn't work.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: She's well known for using her looks to get her way.
  • I Have Many Names: Has gone through quite the aliases. Before her secret identity was finally revealed in Batman #62, she had gone by the names of Marguerite Tone, Elva Barr, Belinda, and Madame Moderne. In the One Year Later story arc, she uses the assumed name of Irena Dubrovna to hide her identity, which in turn provides a Shout-Out to the character in the 1942 film Cat People.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The main reason why she acts as a criminal.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In The Dark Knight Returns, she has not aged well.
  • Indy Ploy: The New 52 version of Selina uses these a lot. In fact she straight out admits she doesn't plan but handles most things by the seat of her pants.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Her defining characteristic has her act as a villain, but with some care for those who're helpless.
  • Karma Houdini: In her very first appearance (when she was still The Cat) Batman straight out allowed her to escape his custody, even foiling Robin's attempt to stop her... solely because he had the hots for her.
    • Once Catwoman became an antihero, Batman started looking the other way when she does her thing, since she protects Gotham in her own way.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The "kindhearted" part may not be obvious, but she has at least a dozen cats, all of which she loves. She frequently donates money she obtains from her heist to animal shelters.
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap/Slap-Slap-Kiss: Her relationship with Batman involves a lot of fighting and kissing.
  • Last Girl Wins: In The Dark Knight Rises, she's the last love interest introduced in the series and ends up finally starting a relationship with Batman.
  • Legacy Character: Holly Robinson briefly took over as Catwoman.
  • Licked by the Dog: In "Hush", and by Superman's dog, no less.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Played with for quite a while. Even before Selena learned who he was, she and Bruce Wayne were sometimes depicted as close friends and even, at times, romantically involved, even though Selena always ultimately gravitated towards Batman. What she thought about Bruce in contrast to Batman depends on the writer ranging from seeing him as a good guy but not a lasting fling to legitimately making a try at a relationship with him despite the attracting to Batman.
  • Lucky Bitch: The New 52 version seems to get out of dangerous situations with skill, quick-thinking, but most importantly jaw-dropping luck!.
  • Mafia Princess: In some versions, she's the daughter of Carmine Falcone. In others, she's the daughter of Rex Calabrese.
  • Maid Impersonation Infiltration: Selina poses as one in The Dark Knight Rises to steal Bruce's fingerprints and his mother's necklace.
  • Mama Bear: If you hurt women, kids, or animals around her, good luck making it to the end of the day.
  • Master of Disguise: Each of her solo series have shown Selina to be extremely good with disguises and infiltration jobs.
  • May-December Romance: With several men including Wildcat, and Slam Bradley Sr.
  • Meaningful Name: "Selina" sounds like a portmanteau of "Selene" (Greek goddess of the moon) and "Felina" (catlike).
  • Morality Pet: Holly Robinson.
  • Most Common Superpower: Depending on the Artist. She was one of the most exaggerated examples at one point, but has since gone back to something more realistic.
    • Jim Balent's tenure as the artist on her 90s solo title stands out as the most ridiculous example.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She is a woman who goes around in tight leather and spends a lot of her time flirting with everyone around her. Even before she wore her now trademark catsuit, she was still quite sexualized. As if to spell it out to readers, in Death of the Family she escapes a death trap that ripped up her outfit...and shows off an insane amount of skin!
  • Mugged for Disguise: Often done by Selina when she needs to go undercover as part of a heist.
  • Not My Driver: In #50 of the New 52 series, Killer Croc pulls this on Penguin to take revenge on him for having called a Carnival of Killers on Selina.
  • Only Sane Woman: Her obsession with cats aside, Selina is regarded as the only Batman Rogue who doesn't have serious psychotic issues. Lampshaded frequently even in the Bronze Age.
  • Pet the Dog: Her main Morality Pets are children and cats, and sometimes members of the Bat family.
  • Pirate Girl: Capitana Felina, the Elseworlds version of Catwoman in Batman: Leatherwing.
  • Private Detective: Slam Bradley, a legacy character from the earliest issues of Detective Comics. He's pretty much straight out of the 1930s.
  • Rape as Backstory: Several Post-crisis origins.
  • Right Through the Wall: An issue of the New 52 Catwoman series has Selina fighting a cop in his apartment. In order to avoid arousing suspicion, she covers the cop's mouth and begins making loud, sexual noises so that the neighbors think there is simply some rough sex going on, rather than a brutal fist fight.
  • The Rival: She's had more than her fair share of encounters with Wonder Woman's enemy, the Cheetah.
  • Roofhopping: Especially when being chased by Batman.
  • Save the Villain: Parodied at the end of the "Relentless" arc. Black Mask has blown up the community centre Selina funded, tortured her brother-in-law to death and driven her sister permanently insane, had one of her best friends run over with a car, and announced his desire to torture her to death. After a brutal fight, Selina kicks him off the balcony of his penthouse, but he manages to grab hold of the parapet with one hand.
    Black Mask: Help... Help me. C'mon, you won, OK. Help me up.
    Catwoman: God, you're even crazier than I thought. (stands and watches as he loses his grip and falls)
  • Series Continuity Error: Ed Brubaker's run reintroduced Holly Robinson, Selina's room-mate and sex-work protegee from Batman: Year One and Her Sister's Keeper, as her new sidekick. Unfortunately, Holly had previously been killed off, after being given completely different Character Development as a mob wife, in a story from the Action Comics Weekly anthology series. Rather than make any attempt at Retcon, Brubaker simply acknowledged the error in a short Leaning on the Fourth Wall comedy piece included in the Catwoman: Secret Files and Origins one-shot. He admitted both in the piece and in interviews that he simply hadn't known about Holly's death, given the relative obscurity of the comic where it happened. The intervening Zero Hour! Cosmic Retcon provides an easy in-universe explanation for fans who really want one.
  • Shadow Archetype: Of Batman.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: She's always using her sexuality as a weapon.
  • She's Got Legs: Legs, meet miles.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, she often tries to get the two to admit their feelings for one another or voice jealousy.
  • Shrinking Violet: Only the "Batman Returns" and "Catwoman" film depictions show that Catwoman was a shy office worker before becoming her true self.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: She's very cynical and frequently calls out Batman and his sidekicks on their optimism.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She's attracted to Batman because of the good inside of him and how he risks his life to save others, including her, out of selflessness.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Has this with Batman, but she seems to have an affinity for it by making it happen all the time. She also likes the reversed version.
  • Smug Smiler: Every time we see her face she usually sports one of these to show how smart she is. It's mostly because she knows she's a Karma Houdini.
  • Stripperiffic: Especially since she began wearing black leather catsuits. Treated literally in the DC Showcase animated short in which Catwoman impersonates a stripper - and all she has to do is go on stage in her regular costume and take it off.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Both invoked and subverted during the same story arc. Hush cuts out her heart and hooks her up to life support in a deliberate attempt to hurt Batman in the worst way possible. However, when she gets her heart back and recovers, she's the one who goes after Hush and hurts him in the worst way possible: by financially ruining him so utterly that he no longer has two cents to his name.
    • According to Gotham City Sirens (which has Continuity Nods to the Hush arc), the whole experience left her with an apparent psychological scar, where, despite the physical wound being healed, she still feels weak.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: For most of her career, Catwoman has tried to avoid killing anyone (one of the reasons the creators were able to make her into more of a sympathetic villain and it was easy for her to cross into hero territory, even being accepted by the moralistic likes of Superman). But when it comes to really reprehensible people like Black Mask, she will do so (although not without regret, as the spoiler-protected example continues to haunt her for many issues afterwards).
  • Token Evil Teammate: Sometimes fills this role for the Batfamily.
  • True Love Is Boring: Why Selina and Bruce have not been happy together in most of adaptations (barring possibly The Dark Knight, and just possibly). And why Selina possibly can't find someone else.
  • Tsundere: She can be very harsh towards Batman, but she'll usually be the first to open up emotionally to him.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: If anyone but Batman rescues her, she won't return the favor.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: She usually never ends up with Batman.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Black Mask found out just how bad an idea it was to piss off Catwoman.
  • The Vamp: Before Ivy came along, that is...
  • Vapor Wear: Certain artists draw her costume in such a way that there's no way she's wearing anything under it. Guillem March is a big offender. Paul Gulacy did several panels in his period as artist that outright showed her naked before putting the catsuit on.
  • Victory Is Boring: It's just not fun if Batman is never there to give chase.
  • Villainous Crush/Villainesses Want Heroes: Her lust for Batman. And Superman, but that's Played for Laughs.
  • Villainous Friendship: Sometimes she's friends with Poison Ivy.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Takes over the mob in order to clean up the streets of Gotham.
  • Whip It Good: She's specifically mentioned on more than one occasion that she picked it because she didn't want a weapon that would be easy to turn against her if she was disarmed.
  • Wire Dilemma: In issue #61 of her own series, she winds up having to defuse one of Film Freak's bombs. As it turns out, cutting ANY of the wires would shut it down, making this a subversion.

Works that she has appeared in:


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/Catwoman