Now that we know some early details about the film, fanboy chatter regarding Chris Nolan’s final chapter to his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is in full swing. The most recent news about TDKR has actors Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway playing Bane and Selina Kyle – though what the plot of the film will entail is still largely a mystery.

Our own Rob Frappier posted a great article about how Bane will fit into Nolan’s Batman universe, and today we’re following that post up by addressing how the character of Selina Kyle might be presented in the Nolan Batverse – and whether or not we’ll actually see her as Catwoman, a conclusion that many have (perhaps prematurely) jumped to.

Selina Kyle’s inclusion in Dark Knight Rises is hardly a surprise – Catwoman Batman 3 casting rumors have been circling the Web for years now. Chris Nolan has been continuously criticized in his career for creating female characters who are either one-dimensional, totally peripheral, or are otherwise flat and weak. This has certainly been true of Nolan’s Batman movies, where the one major female character, Rachel Dawes, has been labeled as the major weak point of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight – despite the fact that two different actress tried to pump life into the role. It’s rare that you see people walk away from the death of a major character in a movie franchise happier than they are sad.

But it seems that Nolan himself is aware of the criticisms surrounding his films, and is striving to challenge himself with Batman 3 by taking on arguably the most complicated and rich female character in comic book lore. Aside from the almost-guaranteed awesomeness Nolan will bring to TDKR, it’s going to be very intriguing to see if he can truly grow as a filmmaker and deliver a version of Selina Kyle (Catwoman?) that can surpass all the “Nolan girls” who have come before. But first things first, lets talk about the character of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and what she means to the Batman mythology.

Who is Selina Kyle?

The many Faces of Selina Kyle (Click for Larger Version)

The character of Selina Kyle / Catwoman has undergone so many revisions  at the hands of different creators in both the comic books and TV/film that it can be hard to keep track of who she is. Depending on which version of the character you’re familiar with, Catwoman has been depicted as all of the following:

  • A  master thief and criminal
  • A benevolent socialite moonlighting as a thief
  • A prostitute turned vigilante/thief
  • A rebellious mob boss daughter who steals from daddy
  • A mousy (no pun) secretary “born again” as an empowered costumed femme
  • A gray area mix of  thief  and anti-hero
  • A foil and love interest for Bruce Wayne / Batman

Actually, that breakdown is somewhat misleading: the (wonderfully) complicated thing about Selina Kyle / Catwoman is that at any given point she’s a mix of SEVERAL of the things listed above. It’s the complexity of the character that makes her a potential home run for Dark Knight Rises – especially since Rachel Dawes was little more than a backdrop for Bruce/Batman to play off of. Selina / Catwoman has the potential to be everything from the major focus of Batman’s and/or Bruce Wayne’s romantic intentions, to a cunning adversary for him to battle, to a peripheral figure who uses the Dark Knight and his struggles as a means to further her own agenda. The only question is, which version of the character does Nolan have his eye on?

Selina Kyle or Catwoman?

We have to question who it is we’re going to see in The Dark Knight Rises. As many Bat-fans who pay attention to the small print have noticed, when Hathaway was announced for TDKR, we were SPECIFICALLY told that she would be playing “Selina Kyle.” More recently, while covering the Arlington Theater tribute to Chris Nolan in Santa Barbara, SuperheroHeroHype observed how Nolan dealt directly with the question of whether or not we’re getting Catwoman in the next Batman movie:

Nolan still wouldn’t confirm whether Anne Hathaway would play Catwoman or just Selina Kyle. When asked, he smiled coyly and wouldn’t say a word.

By now we all know that Nolan is as much a trickster off-screen as he is with his movies. When dealing with a Nolan Batman film, the savvy fan knows to A) Never believe anything you hear unless it comes from the mouth of Nolan himself (see Robin Williams playing Hugo Strange or Killer Croc being the villain for examples).  B) Pay attention to how Nolan words the information he does offer, because when dealing with the famed director, the devil is almost always in the details.

That said, the general assumption still remains that Nolan has included Selina Kyle in Dark Knight Rises presumably to present a female foil for our hero on both sides of the mask – i.e., a socialite who challenges Bruce Wayne’s playboy facade, and a thief/anti-hero who challenges Batman’s notions of what constitutes a criminal in Gotham City. Either one of those halves of Selina/Catwoman is complicated enough to fill a movie role, let alone the complications of including both halves while still having time to fully flesh out another complex villain character (Tom Hardy’s Bane).

Hathaway and Hardy will play Selina Kyle and Bane.

Coincidentally  enough,  I was typing this post, our friends over at Bleeding Cool broke news from a talk with Chris Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, in which Batman 3 was discussed, including the lingering question of whether or not we’ll see “Selina Kyle” in Dark Knight Rises or “Catwoman.” Said Pfister about shooting the screen test for Anne Hathaway as “Catwoman”:

She looks phenomenal in the wardrobe.

And when Pfister was asked directly if that means “Catwoman” will be in the film:

…I’d get fired and I wouldn’t even get to shoot the picture… I can’t really say, but I definitely want to be around next year…

Now I know some people are going to read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that “Catwoman” will be in this movie – but me, I’m hedging my bets that if anything, Pfister was referring to some elaborate thief’s outfit that Hathaway will don to commit high-stakes robberies in the film. Then again, he could just as well have meant that she looks really hot in a cocktail dress and/or business suit…

So now that we’ve addressed some of the complicated questions, let’s discuss some of the possible answers: how will Selina Kyle and/or Catwoman fit into The Dark Knight Rises?

Continue reading for our ideas…

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