Can Anne Hathaway cut it as Catwoman? A look back at the pun-tastic legacy
Fresh from the movie news wire comes the announcement that Anne Hathaway will play Catwoman in the third entry to Chris Nolan's gritty Batman series, inexplicably titled The Dark Knight Rises (probably because these movies make everyone involved a lot of dough). The character was introduced in the first official Batman comic ever, Batman #1, and is the villain that's made the most appearances in Batman media, including video games, comic books and the dreams of children everywhere. In the comics she's been reborn and reinvented dozens of times, from a master thief to a former prostitute to Bruce Wayne's wife and the mother of his child. Her cinematic legacy is just as complicated and contradictory.
Sure, Anne, go with that costume.
Catwoman's first screen appearance came in the 1966 Batman TV series (known for it's easily written-out theme song: da da da da da da da da Batman!) where she was played by Julie Newmar. The redhead rocked a black catsuit with pointed cat ears and no mask, because the "purrfect" villainness don't even care if those two fools see her face, yo (Adam West's Batman wasn't exactly the greatest detective that ever lived, either, although he was almost a good a dancer as John Travolta, who would later steal the Batusi dance for his performance in Pulp Fiction).
A big fan of puns, she had two hideouts called Cat-Lairs (original), including one in New Jersey, probably hidden in one of those big piles of trash the state is known for. She also took on apprentices, including Leslie Gore in 1960, meaning she was probably bisexual (If you don't know who Leslie Gore is, do what I do -- Google her secretly and then act all superior when other people don't know her). She wasn't so much a cat burglar or a master of stealth as she was an insane thief who constantly racked her brains trying to come up with ways to literally use cats to help her steal fortunes (including ones belonging to people with names like "J.J. Spaghetti"). Oh, and she had a thing for Batman.
When Julie Newmar ran off to be sultry somewhere else, Catwoman was taken over by brunette Eartha Kitt, probably because her name sounds like "cat." Eartha Kitt also rocked a black catsuit, though she subtly changed the bling around her neck in the form of a newly understated cat medallion that sat on her chest and approximated Batman's logo. She liked puns even more than Julie Newmar, but had the same predilection for high-profile plans and schemes involving cats (why she never thought of strapping explosives to them, I do not know. First thing I'd do).
The year being 1966, and Eartha Kitt being black, this permutation of the character most definitely did not have a thing for Batman -- in the '60s, interracial kisses only happened on Star Trek. This never really made sense because everyone knows Eartha Kitt had a thing for paunchy white guys (I'd flirt with Orson Welles for a part too, and he's dead). A gay rights activist, Eartha Kitt's Catwoman did however, heavily empathize with Batgirl, so she was probably bisexual.