Selina Kyle (Catwoman)

catwomanfilmGoing on with casualgamer‘s request, we meet one of the most popular villains (or allies, depending on the situation) from Batman‘s rogues gallery: Catwoman, confirmed to participate to the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us. Catwoman has quite a story in live action appearances, starring in the 1960s television series, portrayed by Julie Newmar and by Eartha Kitt in a couple of episodes, and in the spin-off movie by Lee Meriwether, a burglar going under the pseudonym Miss Kitka (not a hard one to guess, I believe). The most memorable incarnation of the character so far is Michelle Pfeiffer‘s version from Batman Returns, a shy and sociopath secretary turned vengeful vigilante (Pfeiffer’s character also had a very brief picture cameo in the awful Catwoman, in which she’s supposed to be one of many chosen warriors of the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet). She also appeared as some sort of super powered mutant in the tv series Birds of Prey, portrayed by Maggie Baird, but she is killed by the Joker before the beginning of the story and seen only in flashbacks. And, sure, she was one of the main characters in the last The Dark Knight Rises, portrayed by the great Anne Hathaway. Let’s see who she is in the comics.

Ok, you already know it, but yes, I’ll repeat it, even Catwoman’s story have been changed many times in the years (if you think that her first appearance, simply known as The Cat, introduced her as an amnesiac flight attendant who turned to criminality just catwomancomics1because she didn’t know where she came from, you can see the path has been quite a long one). Anyway, let’s chose the latest version of the story, surely far from the stewardess with no memory. Selina Kyle was born in Gotham City, from a depressed and often brutalized mother, Maria, and a alcoholic father, Brian. When her mother committed suicide and her father died from cirrhosis of the liver, Selina and her sister Magdalene found themselves alone in the world. The two of them got separated by social service: Magdalene was sent to a cloister (she would have become a nun once grown up), while Selina was sent to the Sprang Hall Juvenile Detention Center, a state home that “took care” of orphaned and/or delinquent girls. To the life in the Detention Center, young Selina preferred life in the streets, and she escaped from the guardians’ surveillance and started living on her own. At first, she blackmailed the Detention Center’s director, who stole money from the foundation, and had her name erased from any record in Gotham. Then, in the East End, the most impoverished and ill-reputed part of the city, Selina learnt to live by the day, surviving with petty theft and prostitution; thanks to her natural skills as a gymnast and to her fast and sharp wits, she managed to survive, a lonely girl in a world full of desperate men. To protect herself, she also learnt some martial arts, and had Ted Grant, former superhero Wildcat, teach her some boxing. With the years, she became an even more skilled thief, making herself a name as the most formidable cat-burglar ever lived in Gotham. She started her activity as some kind of Robin Hood, stealing from the rich part of the city and sharing her loot with the poorest people of the East End. Her life could have been the same forever, but one night, from a window, she took a glimpse of a masked figure who was jumping from a roof to another, hunting for criminals: it was Batman, the new Gotham’s vigilante, and Selina just had the inspiration of her life.

Using a cat-like costume that her former pimp gave her, and a whip which was a trophy from one of her clients, Selina created the Catwoman identity, imitating Batman. With her identity concealed and a growing ability in burglary, Catwoman soon rose atop of Gotham City Police Department‘ most wanted list. Batman easily tracked catwomancomics2her down, and, after a brief confrontation in which she gave up everything she stole in her last heist, the two parted, with Batman being weirdly fascinated by the woman. From that point on, Catwoman and Batman faced each other many times, as both enemies and allies, seldom even lovers. Catwoman couldn’t be classified as a simple criminal, since her moral code made her something more complex, a shade of grey that Batman, used to see the world in black and white, couldn’t fully understand. Catwoman was intrigued too by the Bat, and often enjoyed flirting with him; she also helped the entire Justice League of America in one occasion, proving one more time that she couldn’t be defined an evil person… not completely, at least. Her “career” brought her out of Gotham many times, and she collected many adventures: as Catwoman, she once allied herself with the mercenary Bane, and later betrayed him helping his enemy Azrael; as Selina, she became CEO of Randolf Industries, a mafia-run company, through blackmail, and she even tried to get the position of mayor of New York City, but her plot was thwarted by the villain Trickster, enemy of Flash, who publicly revealed that Selina Kyle was in fact the infamous thief Catwoman. Back to Gotham, Selina dated for a while billionaire Bruce Wayne, but their story didn’t last long. She also had a daughter, Helena, after a one-night stand with undercover policeman Samuel Bradley Jr., and, being a mother, she retired for some time. Just for some time…

Selina Kyle has a personal moral code, which makes her an ambiguous person, always in balance between good and evil. She has got absolutely no problem in stealing, being it the thing she does best, and often shares her loot with poor people from East End. Like Batman, she abhors killing, but, unlike Batman, she made some compromise with that single rule a couple of times (namely, her former pimp and ex-boyfriend Stan, who abused her sister to take revenge on her, and crime lord Black Mask, who psychologically and physically tortured her friends Slam Bradley and Holly Robinson, and, again, Magdalene, who went mad following that events). Catwoman is an extremely skilled burglar and a brilliant strategist; she’s also a very well trained combatant and martial artist, and has a great ability in using her whip and her bolas. She fights using cat-like claws which are part of her costume. Ambiguous and fascinating, Catwoman is one of the few riddles Batman will never truly solve.

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