“Catwoman? They’re not user her again, are they?”
When Anne Hathaway was cast as Selina Kyle in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, I saw quite a few variations of that complaint and, I’ll be honest, I’ve never understood it. By that logic why should Nolan have revisited the Joker, or Batman at all come to that?
This attitude seems to be largely rooted within Catwoman’s last cinematic outing -- the Halle Berry-starring travesty which had nothing whatsoever to do with the character from the comic books. But then the same was also true for Batman once upon a time: after 1997’s BATMAN AND ROBIN appeared to kill the film franchise for good. Yet all it took was a good script and a director with a vision to restore credibility to Batman, and I don’t see why the same creative team cannot do the same for Catwoman.
The story as it stands in the Nolan series is perfectly poised to (re)introduce us to her. Bruce Wayne’s love interest over the past two films, Rachel Dawes, died in TDK, and her death had an understandably devastating effect on both our hero and Harvey Dent, leading to the dramatic conclusion which finds Batman a wanted man, having decided to take the blame for Dent’s crimes as Two-Face. All of these events, plus the arrival of Bane, are what Batman will be dealing with as we go into RISES.
I don’t think Catwoman should be included in RISIS purely because Batman’s previous love interest died though. Catwoman is the perfect choice not by virtue of being female, but because of what she represents thematically: if Rachel Dawes was the moral absolute, then Catwoman is the moral relativist. She never really favors either good or bad, picking one or the other when it best suits her.
Moreover, if Rachel was the life Bruce wanted but could not have, then Catwoman is the life he has chosen by becoming Batman. Rachel could not reconcile Bruce’s need for Batman with her own personal values, yet it is that very alter ego which initially captures Catwoman’s attention. She may well prove to be the key to Bruce deciding to fully embrace both Batman and Bruce Wayne instead of trying to favor one over the other.
It has been stated repeatedly that RISES will bring everything full circle back to BATMAN BEGINS, and Selina Kyle may well prove to be one of the characters that does so. In the Geoff Loeb/Tim Sale books (THE LONG HALLOWEEN, DARK VICTORY, and WHEN IN ROME), which have been a huge influence on the Nolan films, Selina Kyle was the illegitimate daughter of mobster Carmine Falcone. Falcone’s criminal empire has played a significant part in the previous movies -- perhaps through Selina Kyle that will carry into RISES as well. It would certainly provide the character with a subplot separate from Batman, as well as tying directly into BEGINS.
The third and final reason is simple: It’s Catwoman, for goodness sake! I don’t believe it would’ve hurt Nolan’s trilogy if she had not been included, but I would have felt something was missing. Next to The Joker, she is the most easily recognizable and iconic villain/character in the Bat-Mythos. You don’t need to have Batman standing beside her for people to recognise her. And what is more, Catwoman is a truly excellent character with a wealth of dramatic potential.
I personally have high-expectations for Nolan and Hathaway’s take on this iconic character, which I suspect will be both familiar and fresh from what has been before.