Enough already! This entire week seems like it’s been devoted to rumors about who will and will not be playing the role of Black Cat, the recently announced villain (and temptress?) of Spider-Man 4.
When news leaked that it would be Spidey vs. Black Cat in the next film, the first actress named for role was Rachel McAdams – then that rumor was debunked. After that came word that Julia Stiles is up for the role. Now we’re hearing Anne Hathaway’s name being tossed in the mix, while many internet fanboys are insisting that Eliza Dushku or Elisha Cuthbert be given the role because “they’re hot.”
Look… at this point we could keep on “reporting” each and every one of these Black Cat casting rumors as they pop-up and get knocked down again, but why? We all know the final decision is coming soon. But before we learn who will be playing Black Cat, let’s take a moment for ourselves and have a little fun discussing who should play Black Cat.
Lets begin with some background info on the character:
In the Spider-Man comics Black Cat is Felicia Hardy, a villain / love interest of Spidey’s who first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man in July of 1979 (almost 40 years after Catwoman first appeared in Batman comics, in case you’re wondering).
After decades of add-ons and reworkings, Black Cat’s current origin story is that she was the daughter of a world-famous cat-burglar, a daddy’s girl who inherited papa’s talent for larceny and his ambition to be the best. After some tragic incidents in her young adult life involving domineering men, Felicia becomes a fierce, independent-minded woman who trains herself to peak athleticism and skill as a thief. When her father ends up in jail, Felicia dons the Black Cat costume and attempts a jail break – where she runs into Spider-Man.
In the comics, Black Cat had the power of “bad luck,” often jinxing her opponents (and sometimes her friends, too). This “power” started out as a farce – elaborate tricks and traps meant to throw an enemy off-balance – but when Cat ended up in the clutches of the Kingpin, he used enhancement technology (same he used to create The Scorpion) to give Black Cat a “bad luck aura.” Since then, Cat and Spider have gone from hot and heavy to cold, ultimately becoming friends with an extra spark of attraction running between them.
Black Cat (if you can’t tell from the pics above) is sexy, flirty, wild, smart, crafty, and pretty kick ass. The character could’ve come and gone as a “knock-off Catwoman,” yet has remained a revered part of the Spider-Man universe for decades – which should speak to how much she’s distinguished herself as a character. Whenever the comics got too heavy with the whole Peter / MJ soap opera, Black Cat was there to break up the monotony. For readers like me, it was like having a wonderful affair without any long term consequence (and who doesn’t love that?).
Best part of all, Black Cat was an exciting rival of Spider-Man, not just another hurdle in the (often-annoying) romantic life of Peter Parker.
Taking all of the character’s themes and history into account, we need an actress who can be sexy, flirty, wild, smart, crafty and kick ass (like, able-to-tangle-with-Spider-Man tough). She’s also got be able to go from ultra-confident and strong to totally vulnerable at a turn, and there is the somewhat-weighty back story of Felicia’s issues with domineering men to consider – it’s what adds depth to the character and keeps her from being reduced to the status of Catwoman-copy eye-candy. The actress who gets the part needs to be able to handle those demands and still inject an overall sense of lightness and fun into the performance. Spider-Man must always be fun.
In terms of the actress rumored for the part, I like Anne Hathaway best. The Hathaway we saw in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married proved the actress has tough-girl dramatic chops; the Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada showed us she’s an able leading lady who can project a “strong, independent woman” vibe (and showed her comedic chops to boot); her Get Smart role proved she can make action look soooo good (see above); and her role in Bride Wars showed us just how “catty” Hathaway can be.
Sorry for that last bit, couldn’t resist :-) .
Then again, Hathaway may be too doe-eyed and soft-looking to be believable as the main villain in a major superhero movie. Of course, there is a second name I (and many of you) have in mind: Battlestar Galatica‘s Tricia “Six” Helfer.
Though Helfer is actually a year younger than Tobey Maguire, IMO she gives off a much more mature sexy vibe. Her role as Six on Battlestar had just about all of us sweating over her temptress wiles at one point or another, and in the latter seasons of the show, she definitely got a chance (playing different Cylon versions of herself) to prove she has more range than just playing a sexy girl. Helfer has shown us all sides of a complicated woman: damaged, assertive, angry, (very) sensual, rebellious, tough (downright savage!) while still being vulnerable – and though I may be beauty-biased here, I’m pretty sure I never once rolled my eyes at her acting during Battlestar‘s run.
In Helfer’s hands, I see Black Cat being an older woman than Peter Parker, much more mature and confident. We’ve already seen Peter deal with being tempted by another young girl in Spider-Man 3 (the tragically wasted Gwen Stacy); having the Webslinger go up against an older, wiser, supremely confident costumed character, while Peter Parker has to back down a “cougar” who wants to pounce on him… That image at least lends credability to the thought of Black Cat carrying an entire Spider-Man movie on her shoulders.
So there you have it, my two picks – Quick! Before the official announcement gets made and ruins all the fun: who do you think should play Black Cat?
Spider-Man 4 will be in theaters on May 5, 2011
Black Cat Images: Diablo2003 @ Deviant ARt & J. Scott Campbell (Amazing Spider-Man #605-606)