Tragic love stories are commonplace in fiction, but few share the strong, well-known elements of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman.
On the surface, one is a vigilante out for justice while the other is a career criminal, but in the 80 plus year history of both iconic comic characters, fans have seen love, betrayal, loyalty, broken vows and even family from the tragic lovebirds. While the Caped Crusader has a coterie of supervillains in his Rogue’s Gallery who have made the leap from comic book to live-action, there’s no denying the fascination that Hollywood has with Batman’s other half, namely Selina Kyle.
Whilst Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which stars Robert Pattinson in the title role, brings a number of the rogues to the big screen including main antagonist The Riddler (Paul Dano), The Penguin (Colin Farrell) as well as Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), fans can’t help but also but obsess over Zoe Kravitz’s Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. According to Reeves, they have every right to be because believe it or not, their tragic love story is a key element in the movie.
“I can make an argument that many different things are the heart of the movie, but their relationship is one of the key things in the store and in that sense, she is the heart of that movie,” explained Reeves in an interview with Geek Culture.
“You look at these two characters who you want them to be together, and they want to be together so desperately but everything that’s driving them comes from a kind of brokenness. You look at them and you go, ‘Well, he’s committed to this idea of being a vigilante and she’s committed to what she’s doing’ – can two people that are broken really ever be together?”
And like the original comic book iterations, there is a shared history that these two might not always end up together, though in 2012 The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne does end up with Selina Kyle. Another shared history that Kravitz’s Kyle has with Anne Hathaway’s version from that movie, is that neither are officially known or referenced as Catwoman in either movies, though Kravitz does allude to having nine lives, and refers to herself as a cat, likely because she’s a cat burglar.
Reeves’ Batman/Bruce Wayne is also different and unique from previous iterations of the character, in that he does not retain the charm of the rich-boy lifestyle or much of the fancy jaw-dropping gadgets. Instead, Reeves’ Batman is unfazed by social events, bubbling with anger, out seeking vengeance for those who have been wronged on the violent streets of Gotham.
Of course, Batman’s vigilantism is largely motivated by the murder of his parents. Each time the Dark Knight takes to the streets, it’s largely to catch bad people do bad things – though that perspective of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ changed when he met Selina Kyle. Still, comic book fans might balk at some of the changes Reeves takes with the character, though in some ways, it matches the current comics.
“It was very important to me that Batman evolves over the course of the story. He’s very driven to try and make sense of his life by being a vigilante. People look at that and they see heroism and selflessness. At the same time, he is driven by personal motivation, because really what he’s doing every time he faces down a criminal, those criminals become the criminals who killed his parents. What I wanted to do was make sure that he was challenged by the story, and that’s when he meets Selina,” explained Reeves.
“She is involved in a world that he looks at as being immoral and corrupt, he immediately begins to judge her, and he looks at her and realises they’ve actually had similar traumas in their childhood, but she hasn’t had any of the advantages that he’s had. He’s judging her in the beginning and then when you find out what her true story is, he realizes he’s gotten her wrong and it’s an awakening for him.”
Selina, in the comics and inThe Batman, also suffered the loss of her mother at a young age. Whilst young Bruce Wayne was raised in the sheltered life provided by Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis) and the Wayne riches, Selina had a rough life, living amongst crime bosses and depended on manipulating those around her for survival.
In The Batman, she’s not the Catwoman (yet), but rather a girl that works at the Penguin’s ‘The Iceberg Lounge’, and has an affinity for strays, and not just cats but also people around her who require help and protection too – and she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that she provides.
“He’s immediately drawn to her. Her motivations are just as pure as his. It’s just that she’s had, you know, her own tough road and she doesn’t have the resources of a billionaire so she goes the way that she can to survive. I think their stories and how they affect each other is sort of the heart and critical part of the story.”
A complicated romance from the get-go, Batman and Catwoman are often at odds with each other, despite being on the same page on certain things. Is there a happily ever after? I mean, it’s a Batman movie we’re talking about so is there ever?
To that, Reeves teased that there’s still hope for the two. Maybe in a year or so, or perhaps in another movie.
“It’s kind of like a classic, sort of tragic love story. There’s this push-pull, you want them together and you also know they’re always going to be in conflict in some way. And so the idea that we would see them cross paths again… if there are more movies for me, there’s no question that you will see the cross paths,” said Reeves.
The Batman is out in cinemas on 3 March 2022.