Yeah, I’m hung up on this. Actually I hadn’t really looked into it since my last rant, but now that The Avengers has premiered, The Dark Knight Rises is the next big superhero flick on the radar. And as you can see by the recent publicity photo here, Anne Hathaway’s version of Catwoman has still got long, unbound hair and has managed to also add an entirely different pet peeve of mine.
Now first, a little bit of positive in that they managed to work in the ears. She’s displaying her hindquarters in the standard female superhero pose, but all right, Catwoman’s a character who’s never been shy about people checking out her ass. But the heels. Oh, the heels.
Sure, stuffing superheroines into impractical shoes has been a tradition for decades. Even an ostensibly girl-oriented cartoon like She-Ra had rampant stilettos being deployed in the fight for justice. But again, the Nolanverse of Batman has always been about bringing Batman and his allies and nemeses into the “real world” and figuring out how such things could work. Nothing is hand-waved as “because comics”… for better or worse, there’s all these torturous twists and turns to explain, for example, exactly why the cape allows the crusader wearing it to glide. I’m not claiming it’s entirely realistic, but part of its charm is how it tries.
With Catwoman, it’s like the production has gone completely haywire. According to at least one source (backed up by the press photos and toy photos we’ve seen), we’ve got a Catwoman who uses a gun instead of a whip and has no claws, ostensibly because they’d be unrealistic to try to portray in the serious tone of the Nolan films. But then we have the hair and the heels, and an outfit that seems to scream that Nolan was less concerned about trying to adapt Catwoman to his universe and more concerned with indulging a decades-old Julie Newmar fetish.
It’s abundantly clear where Nolan is getting his vision of Catwoman from, and sure, it works… if Bale’s Batman shows up in a grey-and-blue outfit with white eyebrows drawn onto the cowl. All of the Nolanverse heroes and villains have had a certain gravitas or menace to them. Do you get any sense of menace or gravitas out of Hathaway? Nah. She’s just a cute girl playing dress up and slinking around. Certainly nothing about her outfit says “practical”, much less “competent”, and Hathaway’s interview where she claims the heels are functional as fighting weapons would be adorable if it wasn’t so delusional.
I think the most disappointing thing for me, again, is that where every other major player portrayed in this series has gotten a gritty reboot re-imagining them as tortured products of a modern age, bizarre but not egregiously out of place, Catwoman is just looking like a throwback to turn-your-brain-off 1960’s kitsch, with barely any thought given to how she should actually function. My expectation right now is that she’ll have as much of an impact on the proceedings as Rachel Dawes did in the previous two films, i.e. not bloody much. It’s certainly not helping quell that nasty rumor going around the Satellite Show that Nolan’s kryptonite is trying to figure out women.
Nolan or not, it’s such a typical way to treat a female character in a superhero film that it might not even invite comment, except that Black Widow just happened and showed that it doesn’t have to be that way. Avengers is a much, much lighter toned film that DKR promises to be, and yet its example of a heroine is someone actually prepped and ready to get her job done, despite a lack of stiletto heels propping up her small stature. Or maybe because of that?
In my case, I know the answer.