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Characters / Catwoman: Selina Kyle

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Alter ego: Selina Kyle

Species: Human

First appearance: Batman #1 (Spring 1940)

Well. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a pretty girl before?
— Her response, after Batman catches her for the first time, in Batman #1 (1940) written by Bill Finger.

Catwoman is a fictional character associated with DC Comics' Batman franchise. Historically a supervillain, the character first appeared as The Cat in Batman #1, which means she shares her status as the second-oldest of Batman's long-term Rogues Gallery with the Joker, who was introduced that 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 wasn't introduced until Batman #62 (December 1950).

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), in which she uses magic to turn Superman into a cat, prompting Lois Lane 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. She did not get a solo title in the initial DC Rebirth set of series, but her latest series then began in 2018.

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 played by Lee Meriwether in The Movie of the Adam West series, then in a more supernatural interpretation 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's been 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 Trilogy that Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames. She was portrayed by Zoë Kravitz in Matt Reeves' 2022 The Batman, opposite Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne; she previously voiced the character in The LEGO Batman Movie.

She has also appeared in numerous video games, specifically featuring as a playable character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, both LEGO Batman games, The Batman: Arkham Series, and Injustice.

The character has been one of Batman's most enduring love interests, and is seen as the most natural one to him to the point that she and Batman were once engaged to be married.

Many modern writers have also interpreted her activities and costumed identity as a response to a history of abuse.

For tropes about her books, see here.

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Works that she has appeared in:

    Adaptations of Selina Kyle 

Comic Books

Film - Live-Action

Live-Action TV

Video Games

Western Animation

The character provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: She wears gloves with diamond-tipped claws.
  • Abusive Parents: Her mother Maria Kyle was preferred to spend her time with cats and committed suicide when Selina and Magdalene were very young. Her father, Brian, was an alcoholic openly doubted Selina's paternity and drank himself to death.
  • Action Girl: One of the first examples in Batman if not all of comics.
  • Action Mom: In the both the pre-Crisis and New 52 Earth-2 universes, Selina is married to Bruce with a daughter named Helena, who becomes the Huntress of her world. In the post-Crisis continuity of the main DC Universe, Selina also gave birth to a daughter named Helena, who it turned out was not fathered by Bruce, but by Sam Bradley, Jr.. This version of Helena was eventually given up for adoption because Selina felt she deserved a better life. Batman (Tom King) has given the possibility of the original Helena Wayne making her way to the DC Universe, with its second annual showing a potential future where an adult Helena becomes Batwoman.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Selina's first run-in with Superman has pretty humorous results.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Except for the super part. She's skilled enough for Roofhopping, sure, but she has no superpowers.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Catwoman has been portrayed as various ethnicities, including Italian, Cuban, Irish, Black (in several live action portrayals), or a mixture thereof. There are several comic iterations where her Latina ancestry is acknowledged or she is drawn with a significantly darker skin tone than other (White) characters, but her racial/ethnic background tends to vary based on the writer and there is not definitive or universal conclusion on what it's supposed to be.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Considering that she has both Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain entries here she definitely qualifies.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Earth-2 Catwoman had been suffering from amnesia during her criminal career. When she recovered, she was willing to go to prison for her crimes. Later, during a story where Batman sprang her from jail to help him, she revealed that she had made up the amnesia to make her Heel–Face Turn plausible; in reality, she had wanted to quit.
  • Anti Villainess: One of the earliest examples thereof. We can never figure out which side she's on. She's typically portrayed as just a thief: skilled and dangerous if you get in her way, but not one to gas the city for a good chuckle, and she'd as soon help Batman as oppose him if it served her goals. She has settled down since the 90s as an ally, but nonetheless retains her career as a professional thief, which is why she's still a criminal. She also isn't as merciful as Batman when it comes to fighting villains, if they should die, oh well.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Catwoman has difficulty believing her sister Maggie is possessed by a demon.
  • Arch-Enemy: Black Mask became this to her in her 2000s solo series.
  • Badass in Distress: She frequently gets captured and Batman has to rescue her. 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.
  • Bastard Bastard: Subverted. Post-Crisis, it was suggested that Selina is the illegitimate daughter of mafia don Carmine Falcone. She grows up with no knowledge of her parentage since Falcone cut ties with her mother before she was born, condemning them to live in poverty. Catwoman, even at her lowest points, is more moral than the most honorable version of her possible father.
  • The Beastmaster: Limited to felines. She has been shown to have a knack for dealing with not only house cats, but also big cats, such as lions. Her empathy is so great it extends to hyenas.
    Catwoman: Funny thing about hyenas, Ivy — They're a lot closer to cats than most people realize.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Batman. And the new Catwoman. And, Depending on the Writer, occasionally with Nightwing.
  • Berserk Button: It's best not to hurt any cats around her, but especially not the ones she personally owns. Also best to avoid hurting women and children especially her sister Maggie. She has a big-sister instinct that you do not want to get on the wrong side of.
  • Betty and Veronica: The (relative) Betty to Talia al Ghul's (relative) Veronica. Selina at least tends to be less conflicted about her morals most of the time compared with Talia. Gotham City Sirens states that they are the only two women that hold a place in Batman's heart.
  • Big Bad: In Batman Eternal, having single-handedly taken over the entire criminal underworld of Gotham, from grifters to supervillains, or so it seem...
  • Big Ego, Hidden Depths: That "World's best thief" boast isn't for nothing; She really is that good.
  • 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 City Sirens.
  • Born Lucky: The New 52 version seems to get out of dangerous situations with skill, quick-thinking, but most importantly jaw-dropping luck!.
  • The Bus Came Back: A 2020 storyline saw Selina cross paths with Snowflame of all people.
  • Byronic Heroine: A 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.
  • Character Name Alias: 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.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Quick combatant, has the ability to roof hop (which ignites hers and Batman's iconic roof chasing), took lessons in martial arts and acrobatics (with some self-training involved), and overall has come to be able to fend for herself incredibly well, expertise resembling that of the Bat-Family members.
  • Chronic Villainy: She's tried to quit the criminal lifestyle before, but something about it always drags her back in.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: The most literal and ultimate incarnation of this trope.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: Has green eyes. And fits the character description, being mysterious and associated with cats.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Comes as no surprise being a Charles Atlas Superpower in the Batman mythos. 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).
    • Bob Kane claimed that Catwoman was based on Hedy Lamarr which is likely since Bill Finger, the writer, was a movie buff.
  • Continuity Snarl: No one is quite sure what Catwoman's backstory really is. Is she an orphan turned thief, an amnesiac air stewardess, a sex worker, a socialite, a wife fleeing an abusive marriage, the daughter of Carmine Falcone, or some combination thereof? Does she have a sibling or not, and if so, is it a brother or sister?
  • Costume Evolution: In her early appearances in the 1940s, she didn't actually have a standard costume, instead relying on disguises. The Spy Catsuit was popularized by the 1960s TV series. Modern depictions have drawn influence from Navy SEAL amphibious "frogsuits", adding some tactical gear to make it look more high-tech. Cyberpunk influences are occasionally worked in.
  • 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.
  • Dating Catwoman: The Trope Namer. Though from her side of the relationship, shouldn't it be "Dating Batman"? Her Golden Age appearances always had her flirting with Batman or else giving him an easy means to escape her death-traps. Subsequent appearances retained that flirtation to where she either becomes a reliable ally and Secret-Keeper, or at least a Worthy Opponent who'll give Batman a kiss on the lips on the way out the museum door with a priceless cat statue.
  • 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. Even her ethnicity has been retconned back and forth, with Selina either being Cuban, Italian, or a mix of the two. Currently, writers seem to be sticking with the story that she was orphaned after the deaths of her parents, and grew up in an orphanage in the Narrows before turning to a life of crime.
    • Her fear of water. Typically if addressed, it can range from general discomfort to simply disliking getting wet.
  • 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.
  • Dressed Like a Dominatrix: Surprisingly, the famed villainess-turned-antiheroine Catwoman's appearances in comics didn't fit this trope until after the Batman TV series. In the late 1960s she first got a weird green scaled catsuit with gloves and high-heeled boots, and then a campy black leather leotard with light blue tights, high-heeled buccaneer boots, and opera gloves. After some time spent wearing her original costume, and a gray fursuit (thanks, Frank Miller), she got a new variation on this trope — a purple catsuit with black leather thigh-high boots and black opera gloves. Only in 2002 she got a black leather catsuit that first appeared in the TV series. In most of her appearances she wields a whip. Ironically, during the Miller run she was retconned into working as an actual Dominatrix — but her costume at the time was the aforementioned fursuit, which didn't fit this trope.
  • Dub Name Change: Catwoman is known as Gatúbela in Hispanic-America. Unlike many questionable translated names fom DC Comics, this one stuck in the region as it had a good ring to it, even being used in The Dark Knight Rises and Catwoman (2004), although there is no source for this translation origin.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: In the Pfeifer run, she carried a roll of duct tape on her person. It proved to be handy during her fight with Zatanna; Selina subdued Zatanna by gagging her with duct tape and then pushed her out of a window.
  • 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 (2004) (or more precisely, her actions thereafter).
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite being Ambiguously Evil, she's completely disgusted with most of Batman's other foes with the exception of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
  • Evil Feels Good: She commits crime because she gets a rush out of stealing valuable artifacts.

  • The Fagin: According to one version of Selina's childhood, she mastered picking pockets under one called Mama Fortuna, a stereotypical fortune telling crone. Unfortunately, children under her "care" who weren't great at stealing were sold, and those with natural talent, like Selina, had their fingerprints burned off to make them better thieves. Fortuna's kids eventually rose up and dealt out some street justice on her, and Selina's friend Sylvia took her place as a more benevolent version of the trope.
  • Fanservice Pack: The New 52 series sexualises Selina even more, which headed straight into softcore erotica. We even see her breasts (in a skimpy red bra no less) and her butt before we see even her face.
  • Femme Fatale: One of the more classic examples, though the influence has decreased a bit over the years.
  • Foil:
    • Catwoman is an obvious one to Batman. They are both dark, mysterious figures who dress as a night animal and use stealth as their greatest weapon, and both are motivated by the trauma of being orphaned. Selina and Bruce, on the other hand, are from different worlds: Bruce's late parents were loving and Selina's were neglectful and/or abusive. After losing them, Bruce had Alfred and his inheritance to fall back on, while Selina had no one (if anything, she failed as her sister's support,) and spent her adolescence as a Street Urchin. Bruce is self-sacrificing to a fault and fights to spare others his tragedy, but Selina is guided by self-preservation, kleptomania, and an adrenaline addiction. The most heroic memories of being alone and penniless drive her to be is limiting her thieving to Gotham's abundance of wealthy and corrupt.
    • To Talia al Ghul, Batman's other most prevalent love interest. They are both dark-haired, green-eyed women on the wrong side of the law who gleefully use their sex appeal as a weapon. Beneath the surface, however, they're perfect opposites; Selina, an Anti-Hero, is a thief who won't take a life unless there is no alternative, and has been known to play Robin Hood for the downtrodden of Gotham with her loot, and Talia, an Anti-Villain, is an international terrorist who has been instrumental in many plots of mass-murder. Selina had only herself to answer to as an orphan trying to survive day-to-day on the streets, while Talia grew up in luxury as the daughter of Ra's al Ghul but spent her life being indoctrinated into his extreme philosophies. Selina revels in freedom and chaos, Talia preaches destiny and her father's grand plans. This also extends to their relationships with their sisters: Selina loves Maggie unconditionally and is never hesitant to drop everything if she needs her help, but Talia and Nyssa are usually at each others' throats.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Always as Catwoman.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Selina Kyle's childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair betrays her by allying with Black Mask and telling him her identity. Because of this, Black Mask kidnaps Selina's sister Maggie and her husband Simon Burton. Simon is tortured to death, while Maggie is tortured to insanity. When Selina confronts Sylvia, she thinks that Sylvia betrayed her because, during a heist gone bad, Selina was forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested. However, the true reason she betrayed Selina was that when they were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident, which led to Sylvia's hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Selina points out that she was a kid and was afraid. She also says that she was not the only one who had a hard time on the streets and asks Sylvia if she really thinks that justifies what she has done.
  • A Friend in Need: One of Selina's most commendable traits is her loyalty to her friends. She may not give her trust freely, but once you earn it, she'll fight tooth and nail to protect you.
  • Friendly Enemy: Simply put, she's not evil, she's just an unapologetic criminal.
  • Friend to All Children: She'll deny it, but Selina has a soft spot for kids. In her more down-to-earth incarnations, she's an unofficial big sister to any little ones in Gotham's gutters, and has been ever since she was a homeless orphan herself. As a socialite, several charity foundations Selina heads (and steals for) are dedicated to disadvantaged children.
  • Friend to All Living Things: All cats, at least. Krypto seems to have taken a liking to her as well.
  • Friends with Benefits: Her relationship with Batman in the New 52. She isn't aware of his identity, but they still have a sex life together, though it is hinted Selina does want more than what they have. This aspect of their relationship eventually disappears when Selina becomes a crime lord.DC Rebirth removes the entire notion altogether, with Selina being aware of Batman's identity for years and the two all-but being an Official Couple (and that's without taking into account their engagement).
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: She is one of the few able to call Bruce out and bring him back to his senses when he's gone over the edge. Bruce returns the favor on occasion, most notably during "No Easy Way Down."
  • 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. Prior to that series, Selina did not have a good relationship with either Harley or Ivy as both of them had tried to kill her repeatedly in the past, Harley at one point tortured her and Ivy subjected her to Mind Rape. After the series, they're commonly depicted as friends and allies.
  • 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.
  • The Hedonist: As expected for a woman whose life creed is basically, "Do whatever the hell you want." Whether it's food, fashion, jewelry, sex, or thrills, Selina loves to treat herself!
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: This born and bred rabble from the wrong side of Gotham loves reading classical literature in her downtime. She also has impressive proficiency with the tech and gadgets she uses for heists for someone who had no higher education and needed to be her own teacher.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: While no-one who knows anything about her is unaware she's got a kind side there are still things she'd prefer to keep hidden, especially from Batman. Over in the Robin Tim offered to put in a good word for her with Bruce after she found him sleeping on a rooftop while recovering from the Apocalypse Virus and then stuck around and helped him out, she responded with "Don’t you dare. I've got my reputation to think of."
  • 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.
  • Iconic Sequel Outfit: Before settling on the black Spy Catsuit that she is well known for today, Catwoman had a variety of outfits from the Golden to Bronze Ages. The most memorable of these was a purple dress, purple mask and green cape ensemble.
  • Idiot Ball: Played for Drama, as her trust in her childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair had tragic consequences. Despite Selina being forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested in the past, with Sylvia spending 10 years in jail, Selina trusts Sylvia, thinking of her as her closest childhood friend. When Sylvia betrays Selina, she admits she did not think Sylvia would have a grudge against her. Her naivete costs Selina her brother-in-law's life and her sister's sanity.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Gives such a speech to Batman during the Hush arc regarding his attempt to kill The Joker after the latter had seemingly murdered a life-long friend of his. It doesn't work, in part because Bruce fears the day when Joker might target her and succeed note .
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: She's well known for using her looks to get her way.
  • I Have Many Names: Before her secret identity was finally revealed in Batman #62, Catwoman went by the names Miss Pegg, 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: Only in The Dark Knight Returns. She has not aged well for some reason or other there.
  • 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.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Deconstruction. When Selina and Sylvia were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident or attempt to comfort her, causing Sylvia to develop a deep hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Sylvia's hatred of her was unknown to Selina, who still trusted her and considered Sylvia her closest childhood friend. This allowed Sylvia to betray Selina in the worst way possible.
  • Interclass Romance: She is the only one of Bruce's significant love interests to come from a poor background, which creates a lot of tension between them. Their romance in The Dark Knight Rises is especially tinged with this.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Selina poses as a maid in The Dark Knight Rises to steal Bruce's fingerprints and his mother's necklace.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Her defining characteristic has her act as a villain, but with some care for those who're helpless.
    Catwoman: I'm no altruist, but I'm still a member of the human race.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The more heroic incarnations of Catwoman indulge in this. Already rich enough from her career as a cat burglar to live in comfort, Selina will donate heist spoils to charities for the welfare of animals or children.
  • 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.
    • The 90's animated series is one of the few that bothered to name one of her pets; in that version she's the owner of a Siamese cat named Isis who's she's very protective of.
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Her relationship with Batman involves a lot of fighting and kissing; she in particular seems to have an affinity for it by making it happen all the time.
  • 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.
  • Le Parkour: An accomplished freerunner.
  • Legacy Character: Holly Robinson briefly took over as Catwoman, and as a lesbian, Holly counts as an Affirmative-Action Legacy.
    • A new Catwoman appears in the Batman Beyond ongoing series. She's the daughter of Multiplex, an unrelated enemy of Firestorm.
  • Licked by the Dog: In "Hush", and by Superman's dog, no less.
  • Lovable Rogue: No pun intended, but this has become her standard characterization in modern comics. She's a thief, heartbreaker, double-crosser, and will break the law out of boredom as much as necessity, but she has a conscience and won't lay a hand on the defenceless. Plus she's so damn charming.
  • Love Interests: To Bruce/Batman.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Played with for quite a while. Even before Selina learned who he was, she and Bruce Wayne were sometimes depicted as close friends and even, at times, romantically involved, even though Selina always ultimately gravitated towards Batman. What she thought about Bruce in contrast to Batman ranging from seeing him as a good guy but not a serious boyfriend to legitimately making a try at a relationship with him despite her attraction to Batman.
  • Mafia Princess: In some versions, she's the daughter of Carmine Falcone. In others, she's the daughter of Rex Calabrese.
  • Mama Bear: If you hurt women, kids, or animals around her, good luck making it to the end of the day.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In flashbacks, Selina's father Brian expresses doubts that she's his biological child. The Long Halloween trilogy suggests he was right and Selina's biological father is Carmine Falcone.
  • Master of Disguise: Each of her solo series have shown Selina to be extremely good with disguises and infiltration jobs. This was actually part of her character before she became Catwoman, as her original identity as "the Cat".
  • May–December Romance: With several men including Wildcat and Slam Bradley Sr.
  • Meaningful Name: "Selina" is a modern form of "Selene," the name of the Greek goddess of the moon, which is fitting for a cat burglar.
  • Morality Pet: Several, but most famously and consistently is Holly Robinson.
  • Most Common Superpower: Depending on the Artist. She was one of the most exaggerated examples at one point, under Jim Balent, the artist on her 90s solo title, but has since gone back to something more realistic. Her appearance in The Long Halloween and its spinoff, Catwoman: When In Rome was pretty bad as well as a side effect of the exaggerated art style used by Tim Sale.
  • 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 (especially considering that she first appeared in the 1940's when sexual content was nearly nonexistent). 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.
  • Newer Than They Think: She’s only known Batman’s secret identity in the main universe since about 2002. Previously, he knew hers only. They’ve only also really become an Official Couple since then as before it was mostly just flirting.
  • Not Me This Time: In Batman #69, a series of cat-related crimes strike Gotham. Now Reformed Criminal Selina is immediately suspected, but it turns out to be a new villain, the King of Cats, who turns out to be her brother Karl.
  • 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.
  • Oblivious to Hatred: Deconstruction. Selina's childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair had a deep hatred for her because when they were teenagers working the streets together as prostitutes, Sylvia took Selina's place during their first time so Selina wouldn't have to go through with it. Selina didn't know how to handle Sylvia after the incident or attempt to comfort her, causing Sylvia to develop a deep hatred of Selina because she felt Selina abandoned her. Despite their shaky history - and also that in the past during a heist gone bad, Selina was forced to leave Sylvia to be arrested - Selina was in the dark about Sylvia's hatred for her and trusted her, even considering Sylvia her closest childhood friend. Sylvia abuses that trust by revealing her identity to her enemy Black Mask, who kidnaps Selina's little sister Maggie and her husband Simon Burton. Simon is tortured to death, while Maggie is tortured to insanity.
  • Odd Friendship: With Alfred Pennyworth. He's a loyal butler and she's a morally ambiguous thief. Yet the two get along surprisingly well, with Alfred covering for her more benign crimes, like stealing her wedding dress and Selina helping Alfred keep Bruce from becoming completely consumed by his cape crusading. In the latter case, the two will happily collaborate to occasionally messing with Bruce to remind him of his humility.
    Alfred: You took that rather far, Ms. Kyle. You're lucky cats have...
    Catwoman: No, Alfred. Just no. You're better than cat jokes.
    Alfred: Heh, I've always liked you, Ms. Kyle.
    • She also develops one with Lois Lane, as they both prod their respective significant others into being closer friends with each other (especially since Selina and Bruce are close to tying the knot), they end up becoming friends themselves.
  • Only Sane Woman: Her obsession with cats aside, Selina is regarded as the only Batman Rogue who doesn't have serious psychotic issues (if Penguin's bird and umbrella themes count toward this). Lampshaded frequently even in the Bronze Age.
  • One True Love: Gotham City Sirens states that she is one of the only two women Batman has ever truly loved (the other being Talia al Ghul), and Batman's Anguished Declaration of Love in the Hush arc confirms that she is the love of his life. This concept is explored further in DC Rebirth, where her relationship with Batman is stronger than ever before and the two are engaged.

  • Parental Substitute: Selina mothers her friend Holly, her sister Maggie, the Alleytown Kids, Kitrina Falcone, and even the younger members of the Batfamily like Tim, Stephanie, and Damian on occasion.
  • Parent with New Paramour: The Batkids' reactions to her relationship with Bruce varies greatly. Dick encourages the relationship, Tim and Cass are civil but don't really care, Jason is initially suspicious and hostile but warms to her over time, and Damian... calls her "the tramp." Damian does get along better now though, having bonded over their love for animals and being morally grey while in league with a bunch of goody two shoes.
  • 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 (heck, he predates Batman).
  • Race Lift: While originally portrayed as white, later comics would portray her as being half-Cuban. Both the 1966 tv show and 2022 film had her portrayed by black actresses.
  • Rape as Backstory: Several Post-Crisis origins.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Not her actual eyes, but the infrared goggles in some versions of her mask can create this effect.
  • 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.
    Cheetah: Mine are real, Catwoman.
    Catwoman: We better be talking about claws.
  • Sad Clown: Her overtly snarky personality is a very obvious defense mechanism to hide the fact Selina’s a deeply traumatized and broken woman, who’s desperate to survive in a city like Gotham and find meaning in a life that was defined by tragedy.
  • Satisfied Street Rat: When her backstory involves being The Runaway or an orphan, Catwoman considers the fact she carved out a life for herself on the rough streets of Gotham, and came out a Classy Cat-Burglar, something to be regarded with awe rather than pity. In fact, some flashbacks show Selina choosing homelessness over the chance for a stable home just because the latter would be too boring to her.
  • 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)
  • Secret-Keeper: Bruce eventually revealed his identity to her in the mainstream DC Universe and it marked the turning point of a major Relationship Upgrade for them. The New 52 retconned their status into Selina being ignorant of Batman's identity but still being Friends with Benefits. Then DC Rebirth came about and restored Selina's status of knowing Bruce's identity as Batman as well as explicitly making her his One True Love who has known since the earliest days of him being Batman.
  • Sensual Spandex: Her 90s outfit more than anything, as well as her animated ones.
  • Series Continuity Error: Ed Brubaker's run reintroduced Holly Robinson, Selina's roommate and 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: Crisis in Time! Cosmic Retcon provides an easy in-universe explanation for fans who really want one.
  • Sexy Cat Person: She is arguably the Trope Codifier in Anglophone culture, being cat-themed and hugely associated with fanservice.
  • Shadow Archetype: Of Batman. Animal-themed motif costumed prowlers of the night with double identities? Yes.
    Catwoman: You are part of the night, just like me. We’re not afraid of the dark–-we come alive in it...we're thrilled by it.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: She's always using her sexuality as a weapon.
  • She-Fu: Being trained in acrobatics, it's no surprise that it's her most common and standard fighting style in majority of her representations.
  • 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.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Selina and her sister Maggie are alarmingly different. Selina is a flirtatious, wild thief whose primary concern is survival, while Maggie is (depending on the material) a nun or a housewife who is modest, law-abiding, and will give until it hurts. The sisters also react differently to their individual Trauma Conga Lines. Selina fights back and gets by with raw determination, but Maggie lacks the spirit to cope, and winds up in a mental institution.
  • 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 he is a genuinely good person who risks his life to help others, including herself.
  • 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.
  • Spicy Latina: In the iterations where she's half-Cuban.
  • Sticky Fingers: She's got a pretty bad case of Kleptomania. This is why Catwoman has never fully reformed. She doesn't just steal things she needs or even things she wants; she steals to show off her skills at stealing, she steals things for her next job that involves stealing something that could be acquired much more easily through legal means, she can be hired to steal things, and she's even Batman's go-to-person when he needs something stolen for him.
  • 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.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: 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.
  • The Tease: Catwoman is well-known for using her sexuality as a weapon. The most obvious case is her flirting with Batman.
  • 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.
    • Also in the New 52 JLA. Because of her criminal record, her membership is hidden from the public.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Selina is the Tomboy to Maggie and Talia al Ghul's Girly Girl.
  • Tragic Mistake: While Selina is the protector of the residents of Gotham's East End and carrying out an ambitious career as a cat burglar, her little sister Maggie and childhood friend Sylvia Sinclair move into the area. Despite their shaky history, Selina still trusts Sylvia, even telling Sylvia her sister is living there too. Sylvia ends up betraying her by allying with Black Mask and telling him her identity. Because of this, Black Mask kidnaps Selina's sister and her husband Simon Burton. Simon is tortured to death, while Maggie is tortured to insanity.
  • Trickster Girlfriend: Tends to be this for Batman, which is natural given that they are on the opposite sides of the law.
  • 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.
  • 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: Her lust for Batman. And Superman, but that's Played for Laughs.
  • Villainous Friendship: Sometimes she's friends with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
  • Weapon Specialization: She's specifically mentioned on more than one occasion that she picked up the whip because she didn't want a weapon that would be easy to turn against her if she was disarmed.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Takes over the mob in order to clean up the streets of Gotham.
  • Whip of Dominance: Many incarnations of Catwoman have her wielding a whip in combat, to denote her character being a seductive Femme Fatale with a domineering attitude that has most of her costumes designs have a skintight black leotard that clearly invokes a Dominatrix motif, and it's to be expected that when she fights Batman with a whip, she will make flirtatious banter with allusions to bondage and S&M. One of her (many) backstories even had her being a sex worker who worked as a dominatrix and was very skilled with the whip. It's worth noting that the movies and cartoons always show her with a bullwhip, when in the comics, she normally uses a cat o' nine tails (a whip with multiple ends tied to metal balls), to fit with her Animal Motif.
  • Wild Card: She's on her own side and moral standards, and in any given appearance may side with or against Batman.
  • Wild Child: A one issue story implied there were periods in Selina's childhood on the streets where she was one. Of course, it's unclear whether the following monologue and the surreal images of her as a kid, growling and pouncing on a man like an animal, were to be taken literally or metaphorically.
    Catwoman: Little girls are so fragile. Their skin, their bones, and their hearts break under the slightest pressure. You can't be a little girl when it's predator or prey, and your heart is the jungle drums. Sometimes it's better to have claws instead of small, soft hands. Better to...just be an animal.
  • 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.
  • Woman Of Wealth And Taste: As head of the Calabrese crime family, she often wear suits tailored for her in Catwoman Vol 4, instead of her usual catsuit.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Batman knows there's good in her, but it's really hard to see.

Alternative Title(s): Batman Catwoman, Catwoman The Character