As far as female comic book characters go, DC Comics‘ Catwoman is certainly one of the best. This antiheroine from Batman’s stories has been present for a long time and her evolution as a character and Batman’s love interest has been amazingly handled by a plethora of great writers and artists. So much, in fact, that she has become a true symbol.
This accounts for her various appearances in derivative media and these various iterations are going to be the focus of this article, as we bring you a list of the best versions of Catwoman that we have had the pleasure of seeing. The list will include comics, movies, animation, as well as television series. Some of them focused solely on Catwoman, while others focused on the Dark Knight. Be that as it may, here is our list of the best versions of Catwoman.
13. Catwoman (2004)
In 2004 the film Catwoman was released, with Halle Berry in the role of the titular protagonist. It was a sad day in the history of cinema. The film is very different from the comic. Berry plays Patience Phillips, a shy and sensitive designer who, after discovering the terrible secret of a beauty cream, is killed and resurrected as Catwoman.
Patience gains power from the Egyptian goddess Bastet through cats owned by an Egyptian and becomes more combative, charming, and self-confident. The film alludes to the previous cinematic incarnations of Catwoman, most notably in a scene in which Patience is confronted with a series of images of previous Catwoman, including Michelle Pfeiffer from Batman Returns.
The film’s script has nothing to do with either Batman or Gotham City. It was a box office fiasco and was crushed by both critics and comic fans alike, being considered one of the worst films ever made.
Ultimately, when it comes to this interpretation, which is the one that can ruin the career of a great actress like Halle Berry, we’ll just pretend like it never happened. Everyone else does, so why not us? This is so horrible that there are no polite words in the English language that could describe the dismal horror of Lovecraftian proportions that was 2004’s Catwoman. We’ll leave it at that.
12. LEGO universe (2013-present)
There’s really not much to tell, here. The LEGO version of Catwoman appeared in Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite, where she is first seen with Harley Quinn, the Riddler, Two-Face, and the Penguin, and later with Penguin, Two-Face, Harley, the Riddler, Bane, and Poison Ivy; in the movie, she is voiced by Katherine Von Till.
She also appears in The LEGO Batman Movie, which is a completely unrelated LEGO-based movie. She is voiced by Zoë Kravitz, who would later play a live-action version of Catwoman as well. She also has a very small role, appearing as part of Batman’s rogue led by the Joker. Oh, she also keeps saying meow, meow all the time.
With only two appearances, both of which were more or less irrelevant for the plot, this iteration of Catwoman couldn’t really and up higher on the list, regardless of the fact that the “meow meow” version from The LEGO Batman movie was voiced by Kravitz. Still, there’s absolutely no character development here, and although these versions have been funny, they’re the worst on this list (since we don’t really count the Halle Berry version; let’s pretend it doesn’t exist).
11. DC Animated Movie Universe (2011-present)
Since there is no one consistent version of the character that would fit under this umbrella term, we are just going to list the appearances and the actresses that voiced the different versions of Catwoman:
- Eliza Dushku voices Catwoman in Batman: Year One, and the short film DC Showcase: Catwoman.
- Selina Kyle, albeit not as Catwoman, appears in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, where she is voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Julie Newmar reprised her role as Catwoman in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders, which served as an animated continuation of the 1960s television series. The movie also includes a brief reference to the Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt versions of the character when a hit on the head causes Batman to see a triple image of Catwoman, although they do not appear in the movie. Newmar reprised her role in Batman vs. Two-Face.
- The Brave and the Bold version of Catwoman reappears in the Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold movie, with Nika Futterman reprising her role.
- Selina Kyle appears in the animated adaptation of the famous Gotham by Gaslight graphic novel, where she is voiced by Jennifer Carpenter, with Grey Griffin serving as her singing voice.
- Catwoman appears in the anime film Batman Ninja, voiced by Ai Kakuma and Grey Griffin in Japanese and English respectively.
- Catwoman appears in the animated film Batman: Hush, voiced by Jennifer Morrison.
- Catwoman appears in the two-part animated film Batman: The Long Halloween, voiced posthumously by Naya Rivera.
- Catwoman appears in the animated film Injustice , voiced by Anika Noni Rose.
- An anime version of Catwoman appears in Catwoman: Hunted, with Elizabeth Gillies voicing the character.
We know that Catwoman technically didn’t even appear in the DCAMU as it is defined, but we use it as an umbrella term for various animated movies that have appeared in the designated period of time. Now, the lack of consistency and any proper character development is why we actually had to place these versions so low, although not all of them were equally bad.
10. Batman: The Telltale Series (2016-2018)
The “cat burglar” who is the first enemy of the game. As soon as she arrives in the city, she is instructed by the Penguin to infiltrate the town hall and stage a theft at the security guard to be able to enter the office of the corrupt Mayor Hill and obtain incriminating evidence against the mafia boss Carmine Falcone, an accomplice of Hill.
There, however, the thief is stopped by Batman who, after a long fight, defeats her and steals the stolen objects as well as the evidence possessed by Hill that frames Falcone (at the end of the fight, however, Catwoman manages to escape the Batman by disappearing). Following some slight but visible abrasions that both have suffered, when the two later meet as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, they will recognize each other, thus learning their respective secret identities.
Some time later, the two will collaborate against the Penguin, who intends to capture Catwoman for not having completed the job he had entrusted to her. At the end of the second episode, you can decide whether to save Selina from Penguin’s men, or Harvey Dent, who was about to be attacked by the Penguin himself.
In case you chose Dent over Catwoman, she will be wounded in the shoulder by a second shot from one of the Penguin’s men but will still manage to escape, although battered and resentful towards Batman; if you choose to save Catwoman, she will remain on good terms with Bruce Wayne who, after the attack suffered by Selina, will take her to rest at Wayne Manor, where a mutual feeling will seem to arise between the two. She is voiced by Laura Bailey.
This was actually a pretty solid, albeit a bit formulaic interpretation of Catwoman. On par with modern standards set by Michelle Pfeiffer and the modern comics, Laura Bailey’s voicework fits well with the narrative development of the Catwoman persona from these two video games. The only issue we have with it is that we haven’t seen more of her.
9. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle in the film The Dark Knight Rises, a sequel to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In this version, Selina Kyle is a skilled jewel thief, nicknamed “The Cat”, wanted in various places for thefts. One of her main motivations in the film is to acquire a program to erase her data, thus redeeming herself and starting a new life.
The Cat, which is a play on her comic book origins, demonstrates her ability on several occasions; she is introduced disguising herself as a maid to break into the rooms of Wayne Manor and steal fingerprints (on request) and Bruce’s mother’s famous pearl necklace. She is later seen stealing jewels and running across the rooftops of Gotham’s buildings, eventually engaging in battle with Bane’s soldiers.
She highlights her ambiguous morals and, just like in the comics, she is one of the two main women with a love interest for Bruce Wayne/Batman. Finally, Bruce manages to erase Selina’s criminal record and they both go to rebuild a life outside of Gotham, together.
And while Hathaway’s interpretation was, more or less, faithful to the comic books and it respected the character’s comic book origins, it simply didn’t do enough. The role never really came to prominence in Nolan’s universe and Catwoman is, sadly, a character that most people actually forget about when talking about the characters from the trilogy. This is why we couldn’t put her higher up on the list.
8. Gotham (2014-2019)
Selina Kyle appeared in the television series Gotham, played by Camren Bicondova. Selina Kyle is portrayed as a 14-year-old thief, nicknamed “Cat”, who lives on the streets of Gotham City. In the first episode of the series, she witnesses the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Following the murders, Selina walks around Wayne Manor’s perimeter.
Gordon arranges for her to stay at Wayne Manor, where she befriends the young Bruce Wayne. They then both escape to the city when a gang of hitmen arrives at the mansion with the aim of killing her for witnessing the death of Bruce’s parents. Although Detective Jim Gordon and butler Alfred Pennyworth manage to rescue Bruce, Selina returns to the streets to hide.
She later returns to Wayne Manor to return some stolen items to Bruce and in the middle of saying goodbye to her, gives him her first kiss. In the second season, after overcoming a rivalry with Silver St. Cloud, a new love interest of Bruce, she becomes her formal partner. This relationship ends in season three, when Selina’s mother returns to Gotham desperate and asks her daughter for money to escape from a man who is after her.
A younger version of Catwoman made absolute sense in the world of Gotham. And while this version of Catwoman might not have been perfect, Bicondova’s charisma is what made the role stand out. It was a truly authentic and original interpretation that still stands out among the other interpretations. The only thing it lacked was a final touch, but that was Gotham – when Batman appeared, the show had to end.
7. Batman (1966-1968)
In the 1966 Batman series, Catwoman was played by Julie Newmar in the 1966 and 1967 seasons, and Eartha Kitt in only three episodes before the program was canceled in 1968. In the series, Catwoman was one of the main villains, indistinguishable from the others and although he showed attraction to Batman, he did not skimp on attempts to kill him like the other villains. In the 1966 film, the character was played by Lee Meriwether.
Completely in line with the campy style of the Adam West and Burt Ward show, this version of Catwoman was actually quite bold for the time, as well as the whole concept of the show. She was a vixen and a seductress, and although it all had a profoundly comical effect, the interplay between Catwoman and Batman had the essence it has today. The casting changes caused some confusion, but all in all, this is an interpretation that made Catwoman an important character and gave her a bigger role than she had in the comics of the time.
6. Batman: Arkham (2009-present)
The character is voiced by Gray DeLisle. Chronologically, she first appears in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate. While Catwoman does not appear in Batman: Arkham Asylum, parts of her costume are on display inside the old Arkham Asylum mansion and being explored to solve one of the Riddler’s riddles that will unlock her biography.
She is also referenced by the Joker when he addresses a box of Venom to the character as a gift from her and appears on a list of Arkham inmates freed by Harley Quinn. She physically appears as a playable character in Batman: Arkham City. She first appears in the game’s prologue, breaking into a safe belonging to Two-Face, to retrieve the plans for Hugo Strange’s confiscated goods vault, where the prison warden has Selina’s loot.
However, she is caught by Two-Face in the act and taken hostage in his courthouse. Hanging above a vat of acid, Catwoman is put through a mock trial by Two-Face, before being rescued by Batman. She retrieves the plans, and seeks Poison Ivy’s help. After some convincing, Ivy agrees to help her get into the vault.
However, once Catwoman is found, she implements Hugo Strange’s Genocide Protocol 10, and reluctantly leaves her loot to rescue Batman, who is pinned under the fallen rubble and left for dead. After saving his life, she attempts to retrieve her belongings from her apartment and flee the prison city, only to find a bomb planted by Two-Face.
Surviving the explosion, she searches for Two-Face once more, slashing his face and leaving to collect her belongings. She later returns as a playable character in Batman: Arkham Knight. The Riddler contacts Batman and informs him that he is holding Catwoman hostage, and in order to free her, Batman must complete a series of tests.
With each trial he completes, Catwoman is rewarded with a key that will deactivate one of the bombs strapped around her neck. Batman and Catwoman finally find all nine keys, and Catwoman is free to leave the orphanage where she was held hostage. However, she returns when Batman returns to confront the Riddler, and the two of them defeat him.
After the fight, Catwoman and Batman finally kiss, before Batman pulls her away, telling her that this is the last time they will see each other. Later that night, he unmasks himself and apparently commits suicide. Catwoman returns as a playable character in the DLC expansion mission Catwoman’s Revenge. Catwoman infiltrates one of the Riddler’s hideouts while he is in prison. She finds his robot factory underground, and steals all of her money before destroying the facility.
Now, this was a Catwoman we really liked. Tempting, sexy, able to handle things on her own, and brilliantly written. The Batman: Arkham version of Catwoman gave her a lot of space in the games, despite them being focused on Batman; she even had a standalone story with the Riddler, which was great in every aspect. We definitely wanted to see more of her, but as far as interpretations go, this is truly one of the best ones out there.
5. The Batman (2022)
We won’t be spoiling much for you here. Reeves’ version of Catwoman from The Batman is played by Zoë Kravitz, who had already given her voice to the character in The LEGO Batman movie. She plays a crucial role in Batman’s investigation of Riddler’s scheme and the chemistry between them was completely palpable. Since the movie is currently trending, we won’t be revealing any plot details at this moment.
If you know anything about Matt Reeves, you know that he is great at writing and developing his characters. Kravitz’s Catwoman is a prime example of that, being a character that not only stands out in The Batman, but also a character that – in several instances – steals the scenes from Pattinson’s titular hero. Kravitz played the character masterfully and in line with all the contemporary interpretations of the character, finally giving us a comic-worthy interpretation of Selina.
4. Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
In the critically acclaimed ’90s animated series, heavily influenced by the Tim Burton film, Selina Kyle takes on a similar role of thief and antagonist as well as romantic interest, never engaging in violent crime and showing reciprocal concern for Batman. Selina appears blonde, just like Michelle Pfeiffer, although her outfit is slightly different. Her voice actress was Adrienne Barbeau.
In The New Batman Adventures, Selina had short black hair (as opposed to the long blonde hair of the predecessor series, or she cut her hair short and dyed it black) and, as Catwoman, she wore a costume primarily inspired by the one worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in the Batman Returns. In this series, as in the previous one, it is not clear if she is a hero or a villain, since she does not help Batman in any of his appearances, but she does not seem to tolerate that he suffers any damage.
Of course, she keeps that love-hate relationship from the original series, but loses some of the eroticism of the previous version. Despite not having made an appearance of any kind in Batman Beyond and with her fate being unknown, Catwoman had a strong presence in that series.
As was the case with all the TAS characters, Barbeau’s Catwoman was also brilliant. A toned-down version of Pfeiffer’s latex-wearing Catwoman, the TAS version had everything you’d want from a character like her. She was portrayed meticulously and the episodes that featured her were always so wonderfully entertaining.
3. Batman Returns (1992)
In the movie Batman Returns, Selina Kyle, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, is a lonely and submissive office worker who works for millionaire Max Schreck, who plans to steal Gotham City’s electrical power with a capacitor, passing it off as a large power generator. Upon being discovered by her boss, while examining her protected files, he murders her by pushing her out the window of her office.
Thanks to obstacles that softened the fall like tires and snow, she wasn’t completely “killed”. When she falls unconscious in an alley she is surrounded by stray cats, who start licking and nipping at her fingers, which surprisingly causes her to wake up from her coma. Selina returns to her apartment where she makes her routine entrance.
Listening to the telephone answering machine recordings of her, which reminded him of her lifestyle, she bursts into a fit of suppressed rage. Selina destroys her home and gets rid of everything that represented her old life. She then finds in her wardrobe a black vinyl trench coat, with which she creates her Catwoman outfit.
Over the course of the film, we see Catwoman seducing Batman and Bruce Wayne, but mentally divided by her alter egos. At the end of the film, she looks fragile, lost, and even shows that she has lost some of her sanity, so she decides to reject Batman / Bruce Wayne in order to quench her sick thirst for revenge, murdering her boss.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was something else and it was a groundbreaking interpretation that really put Catwoman in the forefront. From a comical seductress, Catwoman became a sexy antiheroine, daring and intriguing, and it was Michelle Pfeiffer who made her like that. This interpretation became a cornerstone for all subsequent adaptations.
2. Prime Earth (2011-present)
In September 2011, DC discontinued all previous releases and began a new series of titles, The New 52, which broke with earlier continuities and started over. The solo Catwoman comic was continued, but initially focused on Selina’s young days as Catwoman, without analyzing her genesis. In the first editions, we follow her conflict with the Russian mafia, but we also learn that Batman and she are lovers.
The first issue of the comic also brings the first explicitly shown scene of sex between Batman and Catwoman. In Catwoman #0, Catwoman was given a slightly altered genesis based on that of Batman Returns. During later releases, Steve Trevor approaches Catwoman and offers her a place in the new Justice League of America founded by Amanda Waller.
Selina refuses at first, but agrees after Trevor promises to find her a woman who pretends to be her. It is later revealed that she was called to the JLA solely to defeat Batman, in case the new JLA ever clashes with the original JL. That conflict is portrayed in the “Trinity War” mini-series.
The new and current comic book version of Catwoman from Prime Earth still has to prove herself. Sure, we had the larger wedding saga which really showed how relevant Catwoman could be, but this version still lacks a story such as the Loeb-Sale The Long Halloween saga, which culminated in Catwoman: When in Rome. When Catwoman gets such a story, we’ll reevaluate our opinion.
1. New Earth (1985-2011)
The new origin of Catwoman appeared in 1987, when Frank Miller decides to rewrite Batman’s story in Batman: Year One. The new story tells that Selina is a prostitute and dominatrix lover of cats that becomes a jewelry thief when she sees Batman in action. She apparently was a victim of sexual abuse by her father.
She’s the only friend of a minor character called Holly, who ends up being raped. Ultimately, she frees herself from the brute who subjected her to such way of life, and decides to manufacture a disguise inspired by the new hero that emerged in the city: Batman, imitating his modus operandi.
This version of Catwoman also received a solo series, written by the scriptwriter Mindy Newell in 1989. In this story, Selina’s training to become Catwoman was put in the spotlight, as well as the evolution of her as a character and her relationship with some other characters.
When you, as a character, get such a deep story and development like in Loeb-Sale’s series, which culminates in a standalone story where you beat the sh*t out of Riddler, you know you’ve done well. The New Earth version of Catwoman still tops all the versions of this great character in terms of depth, diversity, and development, which is why he put her on top of our list.