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Film / Catwoman (2004)

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Catwoman is a 2004 superhero film directed by Pitof and starring Halle Berry, loosely based on the DC Comics character Catwoman.

Patience Phillips (Berry) is a shy secretary with few friends who works at the Hedare cosmetics company. She learns that the company is developing an anti-aging cream that gives incredible results but comes with severe side effects — and is highly addictive to boot — but gets discovered and killed by her boss's scheming wife Laurel.

Patience is subsequently brought back to life and given special, cat-like abilities by Midnight, an Egyptian Mau she earlier encountered and attempted to rescue. Now she must remember who killed her, find out why, stop their evil schemes, and come to terms with the changes brought on by her abilities, and use them for good rather than exploiting their potential for evil.

This film contains examples of these tropes:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: This version of the character fits Type I of this trope ("Animal Abilities"), unlike her Type II ("Animal Alias") comic counterpart.
  • Anti-Hero: Catwoman. Though she's definitely more heroic than her comic self for the most part, she's still got no compunctions about stealing, fighting dirty and roughing up her targets.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The scene where Catwoman short-circuits the speakers in a club by spraying them with water is a pretty egregious example. Doing this, in reality, is a sure-fire way to get electrocuted yourself!
  • At the Opera Tonight: George Hedare takes his mistress to a Cirque du Soleil-style performance; After the latter gets bored and leaves, Catwoman takes her place and confronts him. When the security officers confront Catwoman, she jumps off the balcony and onto the stage, then scrambles up the back wall; the audience, of course, thinks this is All Part of the Show.
  • Back from the Dead: How Patience becomes Catwoman. After drowning in a floodgate while trying to escape from Laurel, Mau finds and resurrects her because she tried to help him down from a tall building earlier, and gives her cat-themed superpowers to boot.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Catwoman attends one during the film, setting up the "White Russian that's just plain cream" joke.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The mystical Egyptian cat spirit Mau, who kindly resurrects Patience after she is drowned in the floodgates because she'd tried to save him.
  • Canon Foreigner: There are absolutely zero characters in this movie originating from any point in DC Comics history. Not even Catwoman herself, whose secret identity is Patience Philips here as opposed to Selina Kyle.
  • Cardboard Prison: During her Despair Event Horizon, Midnight appears to Patience by squeezing through the bars of the cell, which leads to Patience breaking out of jail by squeezing through the bars due to her cat-like powers.
  • Cat Girl: Catwoman, of course, wears a cat-themed costume.
  • Cats Are Magic: If you're nice to Egyptian cat spirits like Mau, they'll demonstrate their ability to bring you back from the dead and give you superpowers.
  • Cats Hate Water: Patience does not like rain.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: George is one and Laurel turns out to be far worse.
  • Cosmetic Horror: The cosmetic product produced by Catwoman's enemy Laurel is physically damaging and addictive.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: The heroine's mentor, believe it or not.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Nostalgia Critic wondered why they didn't take the makeup that makes you indestructible and sell it to the army.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Along with Light Is Not Good. In the final fight scene, the leather-clad Catwoman is pitted against the white-wearing Laurel.
  • Dating Catwoman: Patience a.k.a. Catwoman and Tom Lone, although Tom doesn't know about her alter ego at first.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Patience has one of these after Tom arrests her and Beau-line is still going to be shipped.
  • Digital Destruction: A rare instance of this happening in a film's theatrical release, with virtually all detail on Catwoman's skin being erased so as to make the transitions to her CGI model less jarring. Even the film's other scenes have excessive levels of noise reduction applied.
  • Disney Villain Death: Laurel goes out this way; falling from her own building after being shocked by her own decaying appearance from the Beau-line, and hitting a spotlight on impact.
  • Dressed Like a Dominatrix: The titular heroine, played by Halle Berry, wears a very Stripperific dominatrix outfit, complete with a whip.
  • Driven to Suicide: It's implied that Laurel deliberately allows herself to fall to her death after discovering that her face has become scarred and cracked during her fight with Catwoman.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Doctor Ivan Slavicky, the scientist who created the face cream, notes that he could have lived with the side-effects such as headaches or nausea, but he has concerns about the discovery that prolonged use of the cream causes serious skin damage if the clients stop using it after a certain length of time.
  • Evil Laugh: George and Laurel have the archetypal Corrupt Corporate Executive Smug Snake chuckle.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: After Patience becomes Catwoman, she cuts off her long lovely curls in exchange for a short, spiky hairdo.
  • Expy: Tom Lone to Batman. Like Bruce, Tom is Catwoman's lawful love interest and investigates a lot.
  • Fair Cop: Tom Lone is a handsome and honest police officer.
  • Fanservice:
    "There are three good things in Catwoman: Halle Berry's face, Halle Berry's body, and Halle Berry's costume. Those are first-rate."
    • Also, there's a scene toward the end where the Big Bad is lathering herself up with the poisonous makeup cream. Distractingly sexy.
  • Fountain of Youth: With a twist; continued use of the cream deadens the nerves and makes the skin like "marble," but if you stop using it, your face will decay.
  • Gender Flip: Oddly enough, the closest thing in the film to any DC Comics plot element is the resemblance between Laurel's arc and the original Batman comics origin story for Black Mask, the male C-list Batman villain who became comics Catwoman's personal Arch-Enemy during her 2000s solo series. The concept of a literally addictive beauty product bears a resemblance to the origin story of Clayface from Batman: TAS.
  • Googling the New Acquaintance: Detective Lone Googles the artwork on Patience Phillips' walls after meeting her.
  • Hurricane of Puns: All of them cat-related, courtesy of Patience; the vast majority of them also double as a case of a bad Pun.
  • In Name Only: Given that the main character isn't even Selina Kyle, you kinda have to expect this trope to be in play. The movie makes a few references to previous Catwoman incarnations - notably the scene in Batman Returns where Selina is brought back to life after being killed by Schreck, but otherwise, this movie goes off on its own track and bears little resemblance to the comics version of Catwoman. Other than the main character being a cat-themed anti-heroine who dresses in black leather and wields a whip, there's barely anything to compare.
  • The Internet Is for Cats: Played for a brief gag: as Patience tries to search the internet for info about "Catwomen", her first Google searches for "cats. women" end up giving her gaudy home pages of crazy cat ladies, forcing her to get more specific.
  • Lactose over Liquor: In one scene, Patience goes to a club and orders a "White Russian; no ice, hold the vodka, hold the Kahlua". The bartender smirks and presents the resulting drink, which is just cream, straight up.
  • Light Is Not Good: Given that Catwoman dresses in black outfits, Laurel has to wear white/bright ones to visually contrast her.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Beau-line is a skin cream that causes all sorts of terrible side effects if you stop using it. See Cosmetic Horror.
  • May Contain Evil: Beau-line, the new line of cosmetics the Hedare company is releasing.
  • Mistaken for Suicidal: Tom Lone believes Patience is trying to jump out of her apartment window when she's really trying to save a cat.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Selina Kyle's Catwoman was this in the comics already, but is taken to ridiculous levels with Patience Phillips (as played by Halle Berry) in this movie with her Stripperific ensemble and the camera focusing on her boobs and ass many times.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Happens repeatedly to Patience after she is brought back to life. As to be expected, it freaks her out at first.
  • Obviously Evil: George Hedare, who is clearly established as an antagonist from the first scene he appears in. With Laurel, it's played with. She comes across as an antagonist at first, but later helps Catwoman, and then stabs her in the back.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: While escaping the police station Patience hides behind a corner as a pair of cops pass, then appears several feet away from an instant later, despite a solid wall between those two points.
  • Power Fantasy: Patience is a meek and shy woman who, after being killed and revived with cat powers, becomes a confident and kick-ass superheroine who humiliates men that are mean to her, dominate guys in sports, and can beat up entire crowds of armed criminals.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: An overconfident post-resurrection Patience lays out a pretty brutal one on her Bad Boss George Hedare in front of the entire office after he pushes her buttons too much, only to then come back to her senses, immediately regret what she just did, and getting fired on the spot. Cue to her walking down the street with obligatory Cardboard Box of Unemployment.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Tom Lone. Really, what else do we know about him other than he's in love with Patience? He's a cop. Although even that may not be saying much...
  • Sexy Cat Person: Catwoman wears a Stripperific costume.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: This happens on Patience's second date with Tom.
  • Shout-Out: When being educated about the cat-women through time, one of the pictures thrown down is from Batman Returns, a shot of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman.
  • Shrinking Violet: Patience at the beginning of the film.
  • Spy Catsuit: Patience wears one at first. She later ditches it for a somewhat less tasteful outfit.
  • Stealth Pun: Sharon Stone playing a woman whose skin is like marble due to a side effect of the skin cream she markets.
  • Stealth Sequel: There isn't a direct connective tissue in terms of story, but the film's mythology implies that it takes place in the same continuity as Batman Returns. When Patience learns the origin of various past "Catwomen", one of them is shown to be Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle, and considering that both she and Patience have effectively have the same Origin Story (both were women who were seemingly killed before being "reborn" from cats), it can be easily read as this film staking a claim on retroactively explaining Kyle's backstory.
  • Straw Feminist: When Patience asks Ms. Powers why most people have been oblivious to the existence of the cat-women for centuries and why she's had little success proving it, she chalks it up to "male academia", rather than the fact that her ideas were absolutely ludicrous. It's unclear, however, if she's just being silly/sarcastic or if the writer feels we're supposed to side with her on this.
  • Stripperiffic: Catwoman's revealing costume, a departure from the typical full-body catsuit. The making-of material reveals (no, not visually) that the top to the costume had a tendency to pop off — so often that it actually became annoying to everyone on the set.
  • Stupid Evil: It's a mystery how Laurel and George presumably thought no one could possibly connect the extremely distinctive injuries or deaths of numerous people, who'd either just bought or regularly used their cosmetics, back to their company; or that if the truth did emerge they wouldn't be in serious trouble. Their justification is that the worst side effects — aka facial disintegration — only happen if you stop using Beau-Line, and they'll just make sure people keep buying it to be certain no one finds that out. Never mind the fact that they can't possibly control the spending habits of every single one of their customers, a lot of whom would naturally seek medical advice about the lesser side effects of the cream (like the headaches and fainting spells that eventually land Sally in the hospital), their skin gradually losing all sensation and becoming hard to the touch, and their faces melting if they stop using Beau-Line for whatever reason. Laurel even boasts about the cream preventing aging by making skin and flesh as hard as marble, and honestly seems to think that this is something people would want. Even in the unlikely event that no one died, there would still be a class-action lawsuit the likes of which has never been seen; particularly when any high-profile customers (who'd be able to hire top-notch lawyers) discovered that they were tricked into getting addicted to a product the company knew was dangerous before widespread release... and which they would still have to keep using if they didn't want their faces to be destroyed. In fact, if Patience had just done nothing at all, the regular authorities would still have taken care of everything in quick order.

Alternative Title(s): Catwoman