Introducing guest blogger Francesca Ayala who is the co-blogger of Bad Girls Eats.
Which of Batman’s bad kitties wore the leather better?
Long before The Dark Knight Rises trailers leaked on YouTube, pictures of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman costume were making their rounds all over the blogosphere. Apparently, everyone from fanboys to fashionistas had something to say about the leather onesie that Christopher Nolan’s leading villainess donned for the final installment of his Batman trilogy.
Much of the controversy surrounding Hathaway’s costume had to do with the fact that despite being a “cat” suit, Nolan’s incarnation of the iconic outfit lacks the overtly feline attributes that every other Catwoman costume has had. The only element that harkens back to Hathaway’s predecessors is her cat ears, which, in fact, are just her high-tech, badass, safe-cracking goggles flipped back to the top of her head. Her Catwoman doesn’t even have a whip, but as proven by a stellar performance and some seriously high kicks in towering, steel stiletto boots, she sure as shit doesn’t need one.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Hathaway is Selina Kyle, a master jewel thief whose greatest skill is exploiting female stereotypes to her advantage. Why? To manipulate her way into the pockets of Gotham City’s rich and powerful (or the driver’s seat of Bruce Wayne’s sports car).When a broken Bruce Wayne catches her snooping through his mansion dressed as a maid, she transforms into a scared little girl. Once he lets his guard down though, she takes him out, revealing her true nature for only a split second before tumbling out the window, ditching the collars and cuffs to transform her maid’s uniform into a sexy, black cocktail dress.
With this stealthy outfit change, she transforms into a dangerous seductress and sneaks into a wealthy guest’s (who also happens to be a government official) car. Naturally, the poor guy is helpless to her charms. This bites him in the ass, as one would expect, because our dear Miss Kyle then kidnaps him to use as leverage when a meeting with the big guns of Gotham’s underworld goes predictably wrong. In this scene, she slinks into a grimy dive bar with her hostage (unbeknownst to the thugs) on her arm, wearing a skin-tight black mini dress and armed only with a plan. In a matter of minutes, she metamorphoses from a tough and street smart chick to a hysterical damsel in distress, playing rough with the boys and then shrieking her way out of suspicion when the police arrive on scene.
All these stereotypes she uses for manipulation purposes though are nothing compared to her true personality, which is most evident when she’s in the Catwoman suit. Suited up, Selina Kyle is a cunning villainess. She’s clever, confident, and duplicitous, but also a little vulnerable to her sentiments. Paired with masterful acrobatic skills, martial arts training and a penchant for shiny things, Hathaway’s Catwoman is a serious force to be reckoned with. What works about her outfit is that, unlike all the previous Catwomen, it doesn’t give the audience the option of distracting from its wearer’s personality. This is why Nolan’s wardrobe choice ultimately seems like a good move. Instead of hammering his viewers over the head with obvious cat references and flashy outfits, he instead lets Hathaway work for their recognition and respect. Sure, Selina Kyle’s not rocking a fake tail or scary, sharp claws in this film, but you are still every bit convinced of just how dangerous she is.
Despite a lengthy lineup of Hollywood heavyweights in the ultimate femme fatale role, we at The Modern Bitch agree that the only other Catwoman worthy of a throwdown with Hathaway is Michelle Pfeiffer. In Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle goes from a wimpy secretary to a totally batshit crazy bitch with a whip and a penchant for PVC. As Selina Kyle the secretary, Pfieffer delivers a performance so mousy it borders on pathetic. Even the power suits, shoulder pads and oversized tailored jackets she wears to work fail to give her the slightest bit of bite. Sadly, this is what gets her killed when, during a late night at the office, her boss realizes she’s discovered his plan to suck all the power from Gotham City and hold it for ransom in his brand new, city-funded power plant. Poor Miss Kyle tries to whimper her way out of it, but he pushes her out of a very high window and leaves her for dead in a snow-covered alley and a cheap khaki suit.
Luckily for Selina, her cat, Miss Kitty, rounds up the rest of her feline street posse and they bring her back to life… By chewing on her fingers. When she rocks back up at her place, it’s clear this new and improved Selina Kyle has some major screws loose and serious crazy eyes, because she totally loses it and trashes her apartment. She shreds up stuffed animals in her garbage disposal, spray paints her walls black and goes to town on a black patent leather trench coat with white thread, scissors and wire. The result of course, is the iconic Catwoman costume that we all remember from Batman Returns. “I don’t know about you, Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier,” she tells her cat, as she admires her newly “renovated” apartment. As it turns out, Pfieffer’s Catwoman thrives when there’s chaos, which is what makes her a terrifying villain.
Like BDSM pleather cat suit she’s hacked and sewn together, this new and improved Selina Kyle isn’t into playing by the rules. She’d rather blow stuff up while using her whip as a skipping rope or spar on an icy rooftop with someone else who wears black leather and pointy ears at night. Her fighting moves aren’t anything to write home about but Pfieffer oozes 100 percent sex appeal no matter what she does in that suit. Whether she’s trying to eat the Penguin’s pet parakeet or make out with her former employer with a taser in her mouth, there’s something about Selina 2.0 that seduces you no matter how mental her actions are.
This, is what we think makes Pfieffer’s Catwoman such a fantastic character. She is a creature of impulse, entertaining her every desire no matter how dark they may be. She is fierce, wild and unstoppable. Not even an unmasked Bruce Wayne can get her to give up her crazy ass ways (or that dominatrix outfit, which in that scene is, aptly, starting to come apart at the seams) for a mansion and a shot at true love. At the end of Batman Returns, Selina Kyle chooses herself, bids Batman goodbye and blows up her ex-boss. It’s one hell of a way to break up with your boyfriend, but in the end, we’re rooting for her when she does. A mysterious and dangerous creature like Pfieffer’s Catwoman belongs to no one, and that’s how it should stay.
While both Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfieffer delivered equally arresting performances as Catwoman, their approaches are polar opposite. Hathaway’s character in calculating and manipulative while Pfieffer’s is reckless and impetuous. As Catwoman, Hathaway’s suit isn’t as remarkable as the performance she delivers, while Pfieffer’s outfit absolutely accentuates her acting. Hathaway’s Selina Kyle and Catwoman are one and the same person in The Dark Knight Rises. In Batman Returns, they are obviously on extremely opposite sides of Michelle Pfieffer’s severely bipolar character. Both portrayals are brilliant interpretations of the character. As for who’s better dressed, it’s a bit harder to say. We suppose it would boil down to which sort of black leather costume you prefer, sexy spy or crazy dominatrix. Fitting into it? Well, that’s a totally different story.
About the author: Francesca Ayala (@frantarded) has spent her entire life breaking rules and following recipes.