By the end of watching Batman Returns I had a split view of how I felt about the movie’s portrayal of Selina Kyle (a.k.a. – Catwoman).
On the one hand, this shy, introverted woman transforms into a strong, sassy kitten who won’t back down from what she wants. She fights Batman hand-to-hand, is proven to be a threat, and even better than that, doesn’t back down on her vendetta because “˜her man’ pleaded for her to.
My mind, however, can’t just focus on those aspects of Selina. Truth is, she was a lousy villain. Penguin was the star of the show, having twice as much airtime as, not only Catwoman, but as Batman’s semi main squeeze who just happens to wear a mask when the sun sets. A two-in-one special. Can’t beat that.
Looking at what little airtime Selina was given to blossom, some messages rang clear to me. She wanted revenge against one man. She had some issues with property damage brought on out of anger from what he’d done to her. She’d take down Batman so he’d stop getting in the way of her objective. Really, it all came back to Mr. Shreck. She had no interest in hurting others. In fact, she didn’t like it one bit.
In contrast, Penguin wanted revenge against the parents that abandoned him. With them dead, the rest of Gotham City would have to perish in their stead.
Now, I do realize that the Selina Kyle first introduced in comic books was a very big grey area. She wasn’t bad or good. She was Catwoman – a little bit of both. And that was fine by her.
But in a movie where it has a message that a woman can be as large of a threat as a man, I begin to wonder if her grey area was a throwback to the comics, or a subtle point that a woman’s anger from being hurt could never fester into something far bigger.