Zoë Kravitz Kinda Began Catwoman Training For The Batman When She Was 10 Years Old

Matt Reeves' 2022 film "The Batman" featured the title character in yet another rebooted continuity, this time even darker and grittier than ever before. Batman (Robert Pattinson) was seen as a pale-skinned, stoic outsider, rarely making public appearances as Bruce Wayne, preferring to use his fists to ignite fear in the hearts of the criminal underground. He didn't smile and seemed incapable of experiencing happiness. The Riddler (Paul Dano) was reimagined to resemble the real-life Zodiac Killer, and murdered people on the regular. Gotham City was more corrupt than ever, and it is tantalizingly suggested at one point that Bruce Wayne's late father might have opened the door for massive corruption to leak into the city's legislature. Sadly, that moment is walked back. 

Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz), meanwhile, is a stolid and bitter woman living in poverty with multiple cats and her at-risk girlfriend Annika (Hana Hrzic). Technically, the screenplay never makes it explicit that Selina and Annika are lovers, but the subtext is in place. Selina Kyle is also known as Catwoman, of course, meaning she will have to possess the outrage, the cat burglary skills, and the fighting acumen of a comic book supervillain. Like Batman, she is stoic and determined, more prone to anger and despair than happiness or contentment. Given its bleakness, it's no wonder that "The Batman" was so often compared to David Fincher's 1995 serial killer film "Se7en." 

Kravitz's fight training, as explained in a 2022 behind-the-scenes video, was something she had been doing since she was a girl. And it turns out that Robert Alonzo, a second unit director and the film's supervising stunt coordinator, had once been hired as a young Kravitz's martial arts coach when she was 10. 

Put me in, coach

Alonzo began working professionally as a stunt performer back in the mid-1990s, appearing on episodes of "Nash Bridges" and "Big Bad Beetleborgs." In film, he began his career working on "Swordfish," and the Jet Li film "The One." He has since appeared in dozens of high-profile Hollywood features including "Collateral Damage," "The Scorpion King," "Cradle 2 The Grave," "Spider-Man 2," "Mission: Impossible III," "Star Trek," and way too many others to list here. Most recently, he did stunts and/or fight choreography for "Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood" and "Ad Astra." Kravitz was born in 1988, so Alonzo was already working on shows like "Charmed" and "Roswell" when he was giving private lessons to her. 

"For Zoë and myself," he said, "it was a bit of a reunion for us. I used to actually teach Zoë private lessons in martial arts when she was ten years old."

Alonzo pointed out that, while he had worked with the actress many years before, training her in 2020 was particularly difficult. "The Batman" was in the middle of filming when the world locked down because of Covid, requiring Alonzo to give most of his training remotely. He was still able to communicate what needed to be done, however, and could even recall the precise martial arts that Selina Kyle would have been trained in. Alonzo said:

"Given the required social distancing, we've implemented video training so that they can learn technique and stance work. [...]  A lot of her style is more evasive and in tune with using the style of, say, tai kwon do and capoeira and hapkido."

Staying sharp

Kravitz, meanwhile, recalled only how difficult the training was. Because of the Covid-related lockdowns, Kravitz had to take several months off, and retaining her martial arts knowledge was difficult. She said:

"The first couple months of training was, you know, it was intense. I would hobble home. I started training in November 2019, and then we shut down in March for six months and I tried my hardest to just kind of remember everything I'd learned. [...] Rob Alonzo and his whole team are just incredible people, really dedicated to it feeling real and feeling accurate."

In addition to realistic fighting styles, Kravitz's stunt moves were also evocative of, well, a cat. The evasiveness that Alonzo mentioned above was, to the audience's eye, very much like a cat trying to avoid being picked up by its owner. "The Batman," like many of the more recent superhero fare, deliberately stays away from using the characters' colorful superhero names. As such, Catwoman's feline attitudes and themes had to remain academic, communicated either through the character's personal circumstances — she owns cats — or her physicality. Hence the cat-like fight moves and the black cat suit. It was only incidentally that Selina's Catwoman mask possessed a pair of pointed tips on the top, making it look vaguely like cat ears. 

"The Batman: Part II" is currently in production. It operates in the same world as the upcoming "The Penguin" TV series, but will exist outside of the ballyhooed upcoming connected DC Universe.