Costume Comparison: Nine Lives of Catwoman

Posted by Costume Collection on 24th Dec 2018

Catwoman started off as a humble cat burglar and a foe of Batman. She has now become an integral character of the DC Comics universe, appearing in films, TV series and video games.

But every Catwoman costume comes with a subtle difference.

Catwoman only had a cape in the comics

The first costumed appearance of The Cat, as she was then known, was in Batman Volume 1 #39 in 1947, written by Bill Finger and pencilled by Bob Kane.

This form continued right through to the 1980s, except for a brief period in the late 1960s when Catwoman was clad in a tight green outfit. Prior to that, from 1954, Catwoman was virtually eradicated from any DC Comic due to the Comics Code Authority character guidelines at the time.

The green cape, however, made a final appearance in a newspaper comic strip beginning in 1989, created by Marshall Rogers alongside Bob Kane. The story, written by Max Allan Collins, followed on from director Tim Burton’s cult take on Batman.

This style that exclusively appeared in the comics was the only instance Catwoman can be seen wearing a cape. Many would assume a cape is a prerequisite for any superhero or villain but the flowing green garment would be left out of all of the films, games and TV series.

Catwoman always had a chip on her shoulder

This sultry femme fatale has always had an edge, mostly due to her troubled past and upbringing. Sound familiar to you?

Her background and childhood was explored in-depth in the 1994 comic, Cat Shadows, written by Doug Monk and pencilled by Jim Balent. In it, a version of Selina Kyle’s past was revealed including her time at a female juvenile detention facility following the tragic death of both her parents.

This paved the way for her rebellious nature and strong-willed personality to develop. She was left alone from a young age, forced to steal and trusted nobody else. Until she and Batman finally fell for each other in Brave and the Bold Volume 1 #197: The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne, pencilled by Joe Staton and written by Alan Brennert in 1983.

Writer Ed Brubaker’s take on Catwoman in a series of comics launched from 2001 to 2004 then portrayed Selina Kyle as more of a hero, protecting the innocent and underprivileged citizens of Gotham City’s East End.

Catwoman was a master martial artist

Those long legs were not only useful for luring her victims into a state of seduction. Catwoman could deliver a mean roundhouse kick and rely on her stealth and athleticism to get herself out of trouble.

Just like her namesake suggests, Catwoman could leap great distances using techniques derived from gymnastics and parkour and inspired by the balletic aptitude of the humble house cat.

She could also emulate Kung Fu, Capoeira and a wide variety of grappling styles such as Hapkido, Jujitsu and Chin Na. In the original comics, Ted Grant (AKA Wildcat) trained Selina Kyle in the speedy style of Jeet Kune Do. She was also trained by the great Armless Master in Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Jim Balent’s Catwoman Annual Volume 2, published in 1995.

When interviewed about the role of Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway revealed that she mimicked mixed martial art techniques she saw crewmembers in the stunt department executed. Impressively, she did it in high heels!

Catwoman was never afraid to use a gun

Her trademark arsenal of weaponry was not always limited to a bullwhip or cat-o-nine-tails, cat claws or a set of bolas. Unlike most portrayals of Batman, Catwoman didn’t have any hesitation drawing a pistol now and again.

Traditionally this was an American Derringer Model 1 or a Colt Model 1908 used as a last resort. In the film, The Dark Knight Rises, Selina Kyle can be seen using two types of Berettas, a SIG-Sauer P226 and a ČZ 75. Selina has also handled many types of firearms in the TV series, Gotham.

Why Selina Kyle uses a cat disguise

So, why a cat? Is it just a decent alternative animal disguise to counter a bat?

Selina Kyle has always had an affinity with cats. They have been known to help and understand her in times of trouble. In the comics, her pet cat was there to support her emotionally following the death of her parents.

Selina’s personality also matches a cat’s to a tee – cunning, complex and only willing to seek companionship on her own terms.

Then, there’s the obvious word association with being a cat burglar.

Her favourite cat in the game, Batman: Arkham City and the animated TV series was Isis. Isis also featured as a main character in an animated TV spin-off called Krypto the Superdog.

Out of all the variations in the comics, games, films and TV series, who was your favourite Catwoman?