Catwoman: Film Versus Game
So, the new Nolan Batman has hits screens worldwide and given my disappointment at Catwoman’s portrayal in last year’s Arkham City, I went to see it with breath held, hoping her presentation in the film (and to a much wider audience) didn’t suck nearly as hard. So here I’ll be giving the film points for everything it did better than the game.
Repeat readers of my contributions will know that when we’re dealing with things that could potentially be spoilered, I tend to engage vagaries and nonspecifics to try and save people the pain. This won’t be any different, but just in case, here it is:
THE SPOILER WARNING.
Overall, Nolan hasn’t done too badly. Anne Hathaway seems a good choice, and there isn’t any in-yer-face cleavage or suspicious anti-gravity trickery.
Unlike in Arkham City.
+1 to Dark Knight Rises
Catwoman does have a black, skintight suit, but so does Batman – some compensation, I guess? – and there are only a couple of unfortunate shots of her bum as she rides the bat-bike. This is however; a) a big improvement on Arkham City‘s near constant sexy-butt-wiggling right in centre-camera, and b) offset by her being awesome on that bike.
+0.5 to Dark Knight Rises
It’s important to remember that the game and the film encounter Selina/Catwoman at different points in her story and her relationship with Bruce/the Bat. Despite this, both mediums do quite well in demonstrating her motivations and character. The film, however, does marginally better as it manages to do this while advancing, generally, a bit more respectful portrayal of her as a woman.
+0.5 to Dark Knight Rises
The most disappointing Catwoman scene of the whole thing. “You dumb bitch!” snarls the guy she’s fighting.“No-one’s ever accused me of being dumb before,” says she. Now, Selina ignoring the b-word could either be a) because she’s showing that its intended purpose (as an insult) doesn’t affect her, therefore suck it, or b) it’s such a commonplace piece of vocabulary she doesn’t see why it’s so excruciatingly wrong. I hope, and like to believe (based on Hathaway’s facial expression on-screen), that it’s the former. I was midway through writing this at the time, so I’m extremely disappointed it was there at all. Seeing as we’re comparing the movie to the game, however, having one instance of “bitch” in the whole film is 1000x better than hearing it every other second, like you do in Arkham City.
+0.5 to Dark Knight Rises
Also in that “bitch” scene is the sudden appearance of Selina’s massive metal stilettos. Why?! No one can be that gymnastic in 5″ fucking heels. As you may note, this hacked me off considerably. The film tries to justify these ridiculous boots by having the inside of the heel sharpened like a serrated blade (check out the poster image, right) – but that seems to me like a poor token to try and throw off the fact they’re pure decoration and only there for prettifying Catwoman. She doesn’t need them! They aren’t practical, even if there’s a Swiss Army Knife in those heels, it’s just… no.
The second attempt to validate them comes as a baddie asks her if they hurt (implied: to walk in) to which she responds, “I don’t know, do they?” and kicks him with one. Fun retort, maybe, but they’re still unnecessary, and all the credibility the film gained by not focussing on her boobs is lost as they just use those heels to return her to unrealistic pin-up status. Game-Catwoman has similarly stupid shoes so there’s no betterment to be found here.
+0 to Dark Knight Rises
To sum up…
Nolan & Hathaway’s Catwoman does better than Arkham City‘s, but there remains a lot of space to improve. The age-old issue of practical footwear is the big one for me – after making such an effort to cover up cleavage, making the top half of her outfit much more practical, what exactly was the point in contradicting that by forcing her to don stilettos?
The ‘bitch’ thing also irked me quite a lot, but it was much better than in Arkham City, which was almost unplayable in places for the amount of churning rage brought about by being called a Catbitch so often (I mean, aside from the fact a female cat can be called a ‘molly’, ‘queen’ or ‘dam’ where a bitch is a female canine, of course).
As I said, film-Catwoman’s body isn’t made nearly as much of a focal point as it is in the game. There’s no cleavage to ogle, lots of close-ups on her face, and when her body is in view, it’s often as hidden as Batman’s is by varying descriptions of black attire. Downfall is a bit a of bum-shot while she’s on the batbike, but this is nowhere near as big a negative point as Catwoman’s near-constant sexy wiggling in Arkham City.1
On the whole, film-Catwoman does much better than game-Catwoman for all the above reasons and many more I daren’t go into here for fear of lolspoilers. The film on the whole is pretty awesome, and the female characters are integral to the story: despite what the trailers may suggest, it is not simply Bat vs. Bane with a bit of eye candy on the side. I won’t say more because that’ll give too much away, but go see it and decide for yourselves. I enjoyed it immensely and will probably be seeing it again in the not-too-distant future.
- NB: Yes, I know about the portrayal of Catwoman in many of the comics and blah blah fidelity, but this is the 21st century, not 1940… so, surely, we can update her just a little to move with the times after 70+ years? And I don’t mean revealing more skin. [↩]