When Christopher Nolan set out to reboot the story of Batman, his goal was to make the character and his world more “realistic,” a goal that many will concede he has undertaken successfully. And if you can make a malicious psychiatrist draped in a scarecrow outfit, a psychotic bank robber painted in clown makeup, and a disfigured politician with, literally, half his face burnt off seem realistic, then you can probably make just about anything work. Nonetheless, Nolan was intimidated by one major component of the Gotham universe: Catwoman.
MTV reports that in the upcoming issue of Empire, director Nolan reveals that he was initially against the idea of including Catwoman, a.k.a. Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Anne Hathaway), in his third and final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan, “Catwoman is a very iconic figure in the Batman pantheon. I was nervous about how she would fit into our world … Once I got my head around the idea of looking at that character through the prism of our films, saying, ‘Who could that person be in real life?’ we figured it out. She’s a bit of a con-woman, something of a grifter. A hard-edged kind of criminal.”
It’s curious why Nolan was so intimidated by the idea of Catwoman not “meshing” with his take on the series, while she is not intrinsically any more outlandish than the Scarecrow or the Joker, two characters Nolan has included in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Perhaps Nolan was jaded by the previous incarnations of Catwoman, notably in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, where she was played with some very colorful flair but Michelle Pfieffer. But the idea of a Machiavellian female cat burglar is nothing that can’t be handled sincerely.
In fact, Catwoman might well be the most necessary figure from Batman lore to include in the series, for two reasons. First, she has always been the villain with the strongest personal relatability to Bruce Wayne. Nolan has painted his star stuck between the worlds of fame and infamy. As The Dark Knight Rises co-writer Jonathan Nolan expresses, this is the same line that Selina Kyle walks: “She has a delicious greyness to her that helps define who Batman is. She keeps wavering on this line of, ‘Is she a good guy or a bad guy?’ Well, she’s kind of neither. And that’s why, to me, that relationship and that character only enhances the universe — and the Batman character.”
Second, Nolan’s Batman film series is in dire need of a strong female character. Rachel Dawes, of the first two films, served primarily as a vehicle for Bruce Wayne’s growth, rather than as a self-sustaining figure. Building a strong Catwoman will contribute something necessary to The Dark Knight Rises: the female perspective to this practical apocalypse that has been so evidently absent.
Director Christopher Nolan credits his brother Jonathan with being the driving force behind the inclusion of Catwoman in the series’ final installment. Jonathan states, “What we’re endeavoring to do here is tell a complete take on the Batman mythos. And a complete take of the Batman mythos without [Catwoman] for me was sacrilegious. You’ve gotta have her.”
So, you can thank the younger Nolan for the Selina Kyle the world will be seeing on July 20.
[Image Credit: The Dark Knight Rises]