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How Batman’s Live-Action Catwoman Relationships Are Always Different

Catwoman has had a ton of live-action appearances in the Batman series, but each time her relationship with Bruce Wayne is entirely different. Catwoman’s always-changing motivation makes her one of the franchise’s most interesting characters, as sometimes she is a hero, a love interest, a criminal, or even one of Gotham’s most notorious villains. Because of Catwoman’s shifting role in Gotham, her dynamic with Batman is always changing, with the two having a different relationship in each live-action adaptation.

Catwoman is one of the longest-running Batman characters, first appearing in 1940’s Batman #1. Although she first appears as a fairly one-dimensional cat burglar, Catwoman has since become one of DC’s most dynamic characters, with her relationship with Batman adding an interesting layer to the character. First appearing in season 1 of the 1966 Batman TV series, Catwoman has been portrayed by many different actresses in all kinds of Batman movies and TV shows. There have been over five decades of Catwoman portrayals, each with their own interesting take on her relationship with Batman.

Catwoman appears in both the 1966 live-action Batman TV series and the movie, with three different actresses portraying her: Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt. This version of Catwoman does have a romantic dynamic with Batman, but it’s actually mostly carried out by Catwoman. Throughout the series, Catwoman is the one pursuing Batman’s attention, with her constantly trying to get Bruce to admit his feelings for her. Although she is still a femme fatale, Catwoman’s sexuality was toned down in the TV series due to the show’s target audience of families.

The ’60s version of Catwoman also has another interesting aspect that isn’t seen in later live-action adaptations. Throughout the series, Catwoman and Batman’s relationship turns into a bit of a love triangle, with villains like Joker and The Penguin falling for Catwoman as well. Catwoman frequently works with the villains throughout the series, but despite their pursuits, Catwoman never seems to show any affection towards them in return. Catwoman’s relationship with Bruce isn’t incredibly complicated due to the show’s simple TV format and campy tone, but it is an interesting take on the popular character.

1992’s Batman Returns is the second installment in Tim Burton’s Batman movie series, and it also introduces its own version of Catwoman. Batman Returns’ Catwoman is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, with this version of the character being much darker and much more sexual than her 1960s counterpart. Batman Returns’ Catwoman and Batman relationship is interesting, as there are really two sides to it. While Bruce Wayne is attracted to Selina Kyle, the two are unaware of each other’s alter-egos, with Batman and Catwoman having an external conflict. Batman has to stop Catwoman from killing Max Shreck throughout the film, unaware that she is Selina.

Selina Kyle really captures the heart of Bruce, as when her identity is revealed, he tells her that they should leave the vigilante world together. However, Catwoman decides to pursue vengeance and continues to go after Max Schreck. In Tim Burton’s Batman universe, Catwoman also has a thematic relationship with Batman. While Batman learns to abandon vengeance, Catwoman succumbs to it, leading to her downfall.

Catwoman’s relationship with Batman in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is one of the franchise’s most dynamic interpretations, with her story acting as a redemption arc for Selina Kyle. Although she helps fight alongside Batman at points in the film, she also betrays him, leading him into one of Bane’s traps. However, once she realizes that Batman is Bruce, she regrets her decision. While Bruce is out of Gotham, though, Selina does some serious self-improvement, becoming a bit of a hero by saving a kid from some thugs. Selina Kyle even helps Batman at the end, working with him to stop the bomb.

The Dark Knight Rises’ Catwoman is also different due to her actually ending up with Bruce. The two leave their vigilante lifestyles and decide to live together in hiding, something almost no other version of the Batman and Catwoman relationship does. Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle is what finally allowed Bruce to leave Gotham, making her the catalyst for the conclusion of Batman’s arc.

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