Explained: Is Zoë Kravitz' Catwoman a Hero or a Villain? – MovieWeb

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With The Batman now playing in theaters, audiences have gotten to see Zoë Kravitz’ Catwoman and now want to know if she’s a hero or a villain.
Warning: This article may contain spoilers for The Batman.Behind every great hero stands an even greater villain. Without one, the other is at a loss. Villains are more complex than they seem to be and sometimes are given the opportunity to seek some sort of character redemption when defeated or convinced to reconsider their life path. This opens the conversation around the binary of morality and questions the societally collective concepts of what is deemed as “good” or “bad.” Often, these morality-inspired hopes of saving others give way to the idea that the perceptions of “good” and” bad” are not entirely universal. It confirms that heroes can share beliefs with villains and villains can possess heroic traits.
Behind every great Batman is an even greater Catwoman. Without one, the other could be at a loss. The history of Catwoman has been vast and dramatic across Batman media throughout the ages, painting a portrait of tragedy through revenge through her actions. Zoë Kravitz allowed audiences to revisit Catwoman in The Batman through a more grounded, calculated performance that elaborates on the complexity of the character. While her motives are muddled at points, her attitudes and beliefs cut her out to be ambiguous, prompting the question: is Zoë Kravtiz' Catwoman a hero or a villain?
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Catwoman first appeared in Batman #1 as the primary villain, though at the time, the whip-carrying feline femme fatale's motives were draped in mystery. As the character of Selina Kyle was expounded upon just beyond her heisting, comic book writers attributed her behavior as a response to her past abuse. Selina previously shared half-truths in Batman #62 as she admitted that a blow to the head was to blame for her taste in high stakes and theft, though it was later revealed that her thieving was rooted in revenge. Her past marriage was troubled, and after her estranged husband had locked away her jewelry in his vault, she was determined to break into the safe and retrieve her once-stolen goods. The first sampling of theft was an enjoyable enough experience that left her craving more, thus birthing the alter-ego of Catwoman.
Alternative origin stories either depict Selina becoming Catwoman in pursuit of Batman after she sees him in action, or tempt her with the idea of joining Bane in crime after robbing a house during the Knightfall saga. Other controversial explanations for Selina's lifestyle examine her past as a sex worker who rebels against her pimp after they abduct and abuse her sister. She kills the pimp in a fit of revenge, which results in her ongoing spree of morally bankrupt villainy. This isn't the only instance where Selina's Catwoman origins are found in sex work, though remains to be the most just in comparison to substituted storylines that negatively portray the trade.
The concept of the antihero can be traced back to Greek dramas, Roman satires, and character tropes found in Renaissance-age literature. The official term was coined in the 18th Century as a trait closely associated with Byronic heroes that were created by English poet Lord Byron. The popularity of the anti-hero became more prominent in 20th Century media as they were more commonly used as central protagonists. An anti-hero can be classified by their lack of qualities that can be deemed as heroic while abiding by some sort of moral code as a guiding light for their actions. Their actions may serve self-interest or question ethical codes, but do not subscribe to wrongdoing altogether.
Catwoman has been regarded as an anti-hero because of her checkered past. Her thieving was first originated through self-interest and not through the idea of accosting others their goods, per cracking the safe to recover her jewelry once kept from her by her abusive partner. However, there is an absence of heroism in her actions as she does not exactly benefit the greater good of humanity through her criminality. Kravitz' interpretation of Catwoman is a proud anti-hero. The Batman fails to elaborate on how she first donned the cat-eared ski mask, though does defend the measures she takes in order to seek revenge over the homicide of Annika Kosolov, her current roommate who could also be assumed to be a romantic partner.
The Batman watches Selina take action in seeking her own vengeance against Carmine Falcone, Oz, and others among the corrupt crowd who frequent the Iceberg Lounge. Her featured heist is in Kosolov's favor, and as she finds herself in an alliance with the Batman (Robert Pattinson), her access to Gotham's most unethical politicians through the Lounge double as means of working towards her own revenge. Catwoman is depicted as one in pursuit of her own noble causes without claiming the title of neither hero nor villain. She looks to soothe her own personal woes through means that may not exactly defend the people of Gotham, though aligned with the city's outcries for social justice.
Related: The Batman & Catwoman's Relationship Will Change Bruce Wayne's Idea of Good and Evil
Catwoman and Batman have often shared romantic tangles snared in their ongoing relationship, which has evolved beyond the "enemies to lovers" trope that has teased their fates for years. In the comics, Catwoman and Batman have found themselves gravitating towards each other, though the intensity of their draw to one another is more muted in The Batman. DC Comics has wedded Bruce Wayne to Selina Kyle; The Batman sees them parting ways, destined to cross paths once again. Their relationship is without a label, but is an unspoken promise to reconnect the two as their futures are bound to collide.
Robert Pattison shared his personal interpretation of the relationship established and further cultivated between The Cat and the Bat in an interview with EW. "They have quite a strong connection pretty quickly," he said "and I think they're both trying to ignore that. They're both very surprised by feeling a connection with somebody because that's quite rare for them. It puts both of us out of our comfort zone." He then continued on by saying: "Bruce created Batman in this very binary worldview where he [believes] there are bad guys and there are victims. Selina comes along, and he's like, 'Well, you're a thief. You're basically the same as the Penguin,' and yet… there's something in her I recognize. It's going up against his snap judgment."

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