A Brief History Of Catwoman On The Screen And The Page

"The Batman" may be the latest reboot of the Caped Crusader's adventures on the silver screen, but it's continuing a tradition of Batman movies by highlighting his complicated relationship with Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman — with Zoe Kravitz slipping into the trademark leather suit. First appearing in "Batman #1" under the simple guise of "The Cat," Selina Kyle has served as both enemy and lover to the Dark Knight, along with carrying on her own 80-year legacy. This includes appearances in film and television series, and even carrying on her own ongoing comic book series from time to time. 

Whether it's in comics canon or in a TV/film adaptation, creators and actresses have managed to put their own spin on Selina while also capturing her complicated nature. She wants to do good — but she's a thief. Her criminality puts her at odds with Batman — but the two are lovers. And she's managed to join a few teams — as well as form her own! 

Nine lives on the silver screen

Kravitz is not the first person to play Selina Kyle on the silver screen — it isn't even her first time, as she briefly voiced Catwoman in "The LEGO Batman Movie." The feline fatale was given life by Julie Newmar in the 1966 "Batman" series, with Lee Meriweather replacing her for the feature film adaptation. Eartha Kitt would take up the role in the third season, and is my favorite take on the '60's era Catwoman; her voice sounds exactly as alluring as one would expect Catwoman's to be and she rocked that satin catsuit.

Perhaps the most iconic film version of Catwoman is Michelle Pfeiffer's performance in "Batman Returns"; director Tim Burton added a supernatural flair to the character by literally giving her nine lives and her sexual tension with Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne was off the charts to the point where I hope she's coming back in "The Flash." Halle Berry played a different version of Catwoman, named Patience Phillips, in a 2004 solo film that was a critical and commercial failure, and is used as an example of what NOT to do when adapting a comic book to the big screen. Berry's taken it all in stride, even expressing her desire to return to the role in the future.

Catwoman in the comics

In the comics, Catwoman's turn to anti-heroism has been gradual — but it's clear that Batman has had a major influence on the feline fatale. Selina's even formed her own team, the Gotham City Sirens, with fellow villains turned antiheroines Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn; the series was even written by "Batman: The Animated Series" alum Paul Dini. Other teams Catwoman has been a part of include Batman's spin-off team, the Outsiders, and the Justice League. You heard that right, Catwoman was a Justice League member.

Tom King started to flesh out the romance between Batman and Catwoman during his run on the main "Batman" title, to the point where the Caped Crusader proposed to Selina. However, she felt like marriage would soften his edge and left him at the altar. Harsh, Selina, harsh.

King gave the couple a happier ending in his "Batman/Catwoman" maxiseries with Clay Mann on art; the series has the distinction of introducing Andrea Beaumont from "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" into comics canon.

The animated antics of Selina Kyle

Selina's even made an impact in animation, from "Batman: The Animated Series" to "Harley Quinn" on HBO Max; the latter even caused a stir when it was revealed that a scene of Batman ... "petting the kitty" was removed. (With how hot and heavy those two have gotten over the years, you really expect audiences to believe that's crossing a line?)

Fans jonesing for more Catwoman action after "The Batman" should definitely watch "Catwoman: Hunted," an anime movie written by "Young Justice" showrunner Greg Weisman and directed by Shinsuke Terasawa of "Lupin the III" fame. The story features Catwoman, voiced by Elizabeth Gillies, doing what she does best and stealing a priceless jewel — but soon, the feline fatale finds herself being chased by a collection of villains, alongside Batwoman. Not only does this film boast beautiful animation and a stellar voice cast, but it's also proof that Catwoman can thrive even when Batman isn't in the picture. And I hope it's something Warner Bros. considers, because I for one wouldn't mind seeing an HBO Max spin-off centered on Kravitz's Catwoman.