The Batman's Bat And Cat Dynamic Proves Nothing Beats A Good Hero/Villain Romance

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Working through minor differences is part of the fun, when it comes to nurturing a long-lasting, healthy relationship. So what if your boyfriend dresses up in a cape and cowl and tries to throw you in Arkham every now and again? And what's so bad about having a girlfriend who occasionally commits a few felonies? If we're being honest, the Bat and the Cat have been all the better for it — working on different sides of the law just adds to their irresistibility. The intimate partnership of Batman and Catwoman heralds an 80-year legacy because there's nothing quite as powerful as a solid hero/villain romance.

Typically, our onscreen comic-book heroes tout three major relationship dynamics: allies, villains and lovers. Witty, flirtatious and morally grey, Catwoman has filled each of these roles for the brooding Caped Crusader — often at the same time. From Eartha Kitt and Adam West to Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton, audiences have enjoyed various iterations of their dynamic back-and-forth, trying to make sense of all their relationship can be as it simmers and brims with possibility. Their latest appearance comes in the form of Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz, onscreen and thriving in black spandex throughout the three-hour emo-experience that is "The Batman."

'But a kiss could be deadlier if you mean it.'

You've probably noticed that "The Batman" is taking over the internet, now that the much-anticipated superhero flick has finally made its way to theaters and stole audiences' hearts. There's no shortage of details worth praising and the reasons for its popularity are endless, but I'm gonna go ahead and zero in on my favorite: the chemistry between Pattinson and Kravitz, our newest Bat and Cat, is the backbone of the movie and inimitable proof of how well the hero/villain romance dynamic can work.

Not all villain/hero romances are made equal, but they are made sexy. If you doubt it for a second, just take a look at some absolute faves that cemented themselves in the minds of their respective fanbases for very good reason: Buffy and Spike! Eve and Villanelle! Will and Hannibal! Rey and Kylo! Captain America and the Winter Soldier! When these duos take to the screen, the rest of the world melts away — as much as it can, anyway. The pesky pressures of reality have a habit of getting in the way, forcing the two apart as they grapple with ... well, one another.

Besides some pretty overwhelming sexual tension, what do these pairs have in common? They somehow manage to bring out the very best and worst in one another, with complicated circumstances forcing the hero to question their belief system while the villain ponders a different life for themselves. Sometimes things come to fruition, other times they end in tragedy, but at the very least, their different takes on morality and magnetic pull to one another promise an irresistible slow burn that's impossible to look away from. To harken back to the previously mentioned pairs, this is what makes the hero/villain romance so powerful: the forbidden romance, the doomed progression, the endless complications and the fact that despite all logic, they have a way of fitting together so perfectly. In a genre of blockbusters so painfully lacking when it comes to compelling love stories, it's absolutely delightful that "The Batman" puts its core romance to work.

The Bat and the Cat. It has a nice ring to it.

First thing's first: the chemistry between RBatz and Kravitz is off-the-charts insane. Our latest Selina Kyle is cunning and perceptive and so brutally honest that she's often disarming, even for this Year Two veteran vigilante version of Bruce Wayne: growly, dialed in, and trying so hard to stay set in his ways. Whether he likes it or not, they have a way of seeing through each other. After catching sight of Selina in the Iceberg Lounge, Bruce is immediately suspicious, and knows to keep a watchful eye on the mysterious woman — a hunch that very much pays off when he catches her zipping up a catsuit for a night of crime. On the other end of the relationship, Selina comes to understand the Bat after just a few interactions — pinpointing his privilege when he makes his black-and-white read on evil clear, and yet also seeing the similarities between them.

They may not understand all the reasons why — not immediately, anyway — but these motorcycle-loving, spandex-clad orphans share more in common than they know. Together they create a noir-esque romance for the ages: two cynical, warped people with a charged energy between them, aware of the tension, but hesitant to act on it. So much goes unsaid, which works perfectly fine because even with his face covered by a cowl and ridiculous amounts of black make-up on his eyes, Pattinson expresses Bruce's desire for Selina's closeness. Their tension is painfully palpable, which makes their moments of resistance that much more powerful.

Their relationship certainly has other layers: be it the veneer of creepiness that shines through when the Bat peers in on Selina as she undresses or the unsurprising awkwardness he brings to each and every scene. Bruce Wayne isn't exactly your average bachelor, you see — this version of the character sheds the playboy air for more of a pale, mumbly, weirdo energy. In his ridiculously elaborate costume and cape, he looks insane hanging out in her kitchen while Selina sips milk in a burglar costume that's distinctly handmade. But like all the other complications of their dynamic, this just makes their relationship that much more alluring.

'It's such a waste when pretty things get broken.'

The Bat and the Cat are especially magical when it comes to their impact on one another. Selina complicates Bruce's notions of good and evil, almost immediately. Up until this point, we understand Bruce to have a very no-nonsense stance on crime: he's quick to beatdown criminals of all types, including serial killers like The Riddler (Paul Dano), along with your average muggers, like those he encounters at the start of the film. But burglary and working in a crime hub aside, he quickly sees Selina for the who she is: grounded, emotional and motivated for reasons that aren't so unlike his own. So he decides she's someone worth saving, starting him down the path of realizing what more his Batman persona can become.

It almost feels disingenuous to call Selina a villain. She and the Bat spend most of the movie allied for the same cause, up until his methods diverge from hers. In that way, she's more of a wildcard — but one that could easily be misconstrued as villainous. Her focus on finding her... ahem, roommate, Annika, sets her on a path for vengeance that happens to involve the crime boss father who abandoned her and strangled her mother. It's like killing two birds (a win for the Cat) with one stone and would rid Gotham of one of its many evils ... but in a more permanent matter than the Bat can approve of. 

So, like any good villain/hero romance, his caring for her ends up compromising his beliefs and adds a new layer of emotion to his journey. It's hard to believe that the 30-something year old man in guyliner with a journal full of childhood trauma can be emotionally compromised, but Selina is powerful like that. Her determination for vengeance, along with the Riddler's deluded read on his actions, help Bruce understand the need for him to change. Meanwhile, Selina allows herself to be saved from the "damning" act of murder — and her father ends up dead anyway!

While "The Batman" certainly leaves room for more, the for-now ending of their love story is marked by a gloriously bittersweet goodbye: Selina opts to escape from Gotham, leaving for greener pastures after losing all her loved ones. Though she tries to convince the Bat to follow suit, he isn't quite ready to leave his mission behind ... despite some very obvious longing that he spotlights by staring into his rearview mirror as she departs. Simmering tension and a magnetic pull aren't enough to keep these two together, but the impact of their flirtation speaks for itself.

"The Batman" is now in theaters.