Selina Kyle is an expert cat burglar, master planner, and anti-hero who has a special connection with Batman. Though she started as a villain, she is often seen working with Batman, more than against him. Over the years, their relationship has evolved into one of love and trust. Though, Bruce’s devotion to the cowl keeps them apart.
Catwoman has featured in many of Batman’s most famous stories, played by some of TV and movies’ most well-known actresses. While each brings her own style to the role, they all have the character’s signature qualities in common. With that in mind, these are the 10 best on-screen performances of Selina Kyle/Catwoman.
10 GINA GERSHON - THE BATMAN
The women who brought Catwoman to life in the ‘60s TV series set the standard for the character. However, this led to many performances coming very close to impersonations. In The Batman, Gina Gershon takes on the mantle, not really bringing anything new to the character.
The series didn’t give Selina a backstory, so it was hard to become emotionally attached to her, as she never felt like an individual. She was just another one of Batman’s endless rogues, with Gershon not given a chance to stand out.
9 ELIZA DUSHKU - BATMAN: YEAR ONE
It sounds weird, but Batman: Year One is actually about Jim Gordon more than Bruce Wayne. The film chronicles the caped crusader’s earliest days as a hero and the detective’s entry into the GCPD. Unfortunately, it doesn’t leave much time for Selina, as she’s somewhat shoehorned into the story.
She’s a young burglar, using her skills to help other girls in trouble. She also has a vendetta against the mob, that seems to be her main motivation for everything. It’s not the best version of the character, essentially making her a prop for prop’s sake, which gives the talented Eliza Dushku very little to work with.
8 JENNIFER MORRISON - BATMAN: HUSH
In Batman: Hush we get to see both sides of Bruce and Selina’s relationship play out as Selina struggles to stay on the right side of the law as she begins a romance with Bruce. When one of Batman’s enemies threatens to ruin his life, he reveals himself to Selina to protect her.
Jennifer Morrison gives us the full range of Selina’s experience, as she joins the team, wanting to be better for Bruce. The actress’ best moment comes at the end when she displays Catwoman’s independence by not being second fiddle to Batman’s endless hero complex.
7 CAMREN BICONDOVA - GOTHAM
When it was announced that Gotham would be a Batman prequel featuring a young Bruce, as well as a young Selina, fans were understandably skeptical. However, when they saw the performance of Camren Bicondova as Selina, viewers knew they were getting a fresh take on a classic character.
The young actress hit all of Selina’s strengths, her independence, loyalty, and rebellious streak, while also giving her the freedom to make the same kinds of mistakes all teenagers make. It was such a fantastic portrayal of the character, fans were interested in her getting a spinoff.
6 ADRIENNE BARBEAU - BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
The legendary status of Batman: The Animated Series is well known among comic book fans. One of the many reasons it’s so beloved, is the depiction of Batman’s relationship with Catwoman. Through several episodes, especially “The Cat and the Claw” and “Tyger Tyger,” we got to witness their evolution from adversaries to lovers.
Adrienne Barbeau gave Selina depth, portraying a real separation between Catwoman and her secret identity, making every appearance memorable. She and Kevin Conroy had a chemistry that highlighted how important the duo is to each other’s lives.
5 LEE MERIWEATHER - BATMAN
Based on the 1966 TV series, the Batman movie features Lee Meriweather taking on the role. What’s so great about the three actresses who embodied the role for the series, is that they were all able to give similar, yet original performances,
Meriweather made her Catwoman an equal to the other villains, not something often seen in the sixties. She effortlessly balanced her wits and sexuality to set her plans in motion. Her one appearance introduced a Catwoman ahead of her time.
4 JULIE NEWMAR - BATMAN
In her turn in the bodysuit, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman had a regal quality. She was a queen, who was not afraid to let the men of Gotham City know it. She had the same affection for Batman but never hesitated to put her plans ahead of her feelings.
The playfulness Newmar brought to the character set the tone for future portrayals. She made her a woman who handles her business but is completely aware of the absurdity around her. She was excellent at highlighting the contradictions of Catwoman’s personality.
3 EARTHA KITT - BATMAN
Catwoman has always moved through life with a confidence to be admired, and no one played that confidence like Eartha Kitt. She portrayed the character’s sexiness with a self-assuredness to be envied. No actress on the list had more fun with the role than her. In fact, she became synonymous with Catwoman.
Kitt never let viewers forget that Catwoman was the boss in every situation, whether she was facing off with Batman or manipulating the Joker. Everything comic book fans love about Catwoman can be found in Kitt’s performance.
2 ANNE HATHAWAY - THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Before she was cast in The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway was most well known for her roles in romantic comedies. This caused fans to go crazy when she was cast as Selina Kyle. Of course, they all turned out to be wrong, as she was the highlight of the movie.
Her Selina is completely comfortable with herself, unapologetic in the choices she makes to survive. She is 100% Batman’s equal, even outsmarting him a couple of times. While she has a costume and mask, she’s not using it to hide herself the way Bruce is. Her strength comes from being herself and not caring what anyone thinks.
1 MICHELLE PFEIFFER - BATMAN RETURNS
Of all the versions of Catwoman on this list, Michelle Pfeiffer’s is the only one to truly make a transition from mousy, pushover Selina to self-reliant Catwoman. Though she teams up with Penguin, she’s not really into being a villain, because she always retained her humanity.
Once she commits to being Catwoman, she discovers her true self, never being pushed around again. Her physical performance, which has the perfect touch of feline qualities, set the standard for all the actresses and animation that followed. She’s the blueprint for Catwoman performances.