Is Catwoman a Superhero? (& How She Got Her Powers)

Is Catwoman a Superhero? (& How She Got Her Powers)

Selina Kyle, better known under her costumed nickname Catwoman, is one of the best-known and most popular DC Comics characters and an essential part of the Batman mythos. Introduced back in 1940 as the Cat, Selina Kyle rose to fame after being censored for years due to her overly sexualized portrayal and dark past. Still, she has managed to become an essential part of DC’s lore and in this article, we are going to tell you about her powers and her moral affiliations.

By most standards, Catwoman is an antihero, although not a traditional one. She has helped the heroes on multiple occasions and is not intrinsically evil, but she is a burglar and has never given up her life of crime, regardless of the circumstances. This is why she cannot be labeled as a superhero, but also not as a traditional antihero, who is good, but simply does things his own way.

In the remainder of this article, we are going to discuss whether Catwoman could be classified as a superhero and how she got her powers, if she has any powers at all. Catwoman is a truly interesting character and while we are aware that he cannot really give her a thorough analysis in just one article, we have decided to focus on one of the more interesting aspects of her personality.

Is Catwoman a superhero?

Now, the history of Catwoman is very rich and quite complex. What is undoubtedly true is that she began her career as a villain, debuting Batman #1 (spring 1940) as the Cat. For most of her history, she was an adversary of Batman’s and she is considered to be a member of his Rogue’s Gallery, but she is not nearly on the same level as Joker, Mr. Freeze, Riddler, or even the Penguin, who has been known to cooperate with the Dark Knight on several occasions.

Catwoman and Batman share a much deeper and more complex relationship, which is basically romance halted because they’re more often than not on the opposite sides of the law. Still, Catwoman is definitely not a supervillain. She is, for one, not insane as most of Batman’s villains, she has absolutely no megalomaniac ideas, and she basically does not want to fight Batman. She does not consider Batman to be her rival, but rather an overly righteous nuisance to her criminal plans.

So, what kind of criminal is Catwoman, anyway? Catwoman is a burglar (a cat burglar if you want to be punnier) and that’s about as much as she does (in most cases; there are exceptions, but they are not that common). She steals from rich people, and like a cat, she likes shiny objects. She mostly does it to secure herself a living, but she sometimes does it because she cares for others.

This has been a trademark of her character since her debut and although there have been rare cases where she’d give up a life of crime (sometimes because of her love for Batman), it would usually be for a very short period of time. This is why Catwoman cannot be classified as a superhero, but also not as a traditional supervillain. Catwoman is, therefore, an antihero and we are about to explain why that is.

Why is Catwoman an antihero?

An antihero is defined as “a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes, such as idealism, courage, and morality. Although antiheroes may sometimes perform actions that are morally correct, it is not always for the right reasons, often acting primarily out of self-interest or in ways that defy conventional ethical codes.” This basic definition of the term illustrates exactly why Catwoman fits into this category.

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She is not a villain, she has collaborated with the good guys, but she lacks all the major heroic values and doesn’t really embody any form of heroism; rather, in fact, she embodies the principle of egoism. This is why she is a perfect example of an antiheroine, although she is not a traditional antiheroine as well.

Namely, antiheroes aren’t generally criminals. They’re outcasts, cynics, and people who aren’t really role models, but they aren’t really criminals. Catwoman is and she probably will be until the end of time. This is why she can, indeed, be classified as an antihero, but just like she is atypical in a lot of other aspects, she is an atypical antiheroine as well.

Is Catwoman good or bad?

And while it may seem that the answer to this question is difficult, it is actually not. Namely, Catwoman is definitely not a bad character. She is not a villain and she is not evil. She is an egoist, and she is a hedonist, and she is a criminal, but she’s not inherently evil. The Joker is evil. Riddler, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze – but Catwoman is not evil. She might not always be on the side of good, but she is not evil.

In fact, we’d go as far as to claim that she is, in fact, good. She doesn’t want evil to triumph and she has demonstrated on multiple occasions that she is willing to help the good guys fight against evil, but in the end, she does look out for herself first. And that is why she is an antihero, and not a hero, but that is also not a reason for her to be labeled as evil.

Does Catwoman have any superpowers?

Equipped with an elastic and flexible body, Catwoman has excellent agility, balance, speed and motor coordination, equal to those of the best acrobats and trapeze artists. Her accomplishments are so amazing that it could be argued that her acrobatic prowess is somewhat superhuman. She has a strength level that allows her to lift around 200 kg with maximum effort.

Selina, in addition to being an excellent athlete, is able to move so quickly that it is imperceptible to the eye. Her reflexes are quick and lightning fast enough to surpass even Batman’s.

She is also a martial arts expert, trained in boxing and street fighting. Catwoman has learned different martial arts styles such as capoeira, taekwondo, hapkido, jujutsu, kung-fu style of the dragon, and karate. The martial art that Selina favors is the Shotokan style, and this makes her a formidable hand-to-hand fighter, also making use of the agility, intelligence, and precision she is gifted with. She is also known for her quick escapes.

Her abilities are enough to have managed to injure and defeat Batman on more than one occasion. She is well versed in various sidearms and has an incredible ability to use the whip. Selina is highly intelligent and is an expert in survival, explosives, seduction, stealth and infiltration, able to sneak easily, as well as being a formidable burglar and the greatest thief in the DC Comics universe.

She is known throughout Gotham City for the burglary of feline-themed items, gems and jewels of the highest quality. To succeed in her thefts of her, Catwoman resorts to disguise: in her first appearance, she presented herself as an old lady to steal a precious jewel while she was on a cruise ship.

Selina has a strong affinity for cats, who accept her almost immediately, somehow recognizing that she is a friend of hers: this allows her to calm injured cats, train them, make friends and form strong bonds with them. These animals sometimes even come to her defense when she is attacked. In addition to her mother tongue, Selina can speak Mandarin fluently.

Charming by nature, Catwoman’s feminine attractiveness and wiles also allowed her to take advantage of male opponents. Selina has trained her eyes so much that she can even see in the dark when she can’t use her infrared visor.

The above paragraphs are a list of Catwoman’s powers and abilities and as you can see, Catwoman does not have any superpowers at all. She is exceptionally skilled, but she does not have any superhuman powers. This refers to the canon iteration of Catwoman; some alternative versions did have superpowers, but that was never canonized.

How did Catwoman get her powers?

As far as this question is concerned, Catwoman has obtained her level of skill through years of training and perfecting her technique. Depending on the author, her origin story has varied (although not much, to be frank) from comic book to comic book, but her skills have always been a result of experience and training. Sure, her seduction skills were a result of her looks, but everything else was the result of rigorous training. This, of course, refers to her canon powers.

As far as some alternative, superpowered versions are concerned, each of them has a unique origin story that involves a certain supernatural element, most commonly connected to cats or feline deities. Since these origins vary from story to story, we won’t be analyzing each of them in detail in this article.

When did Catwoman get her powers?

Since Catwoman doesn’t have any specific superpowers, there is no one moment we can pinpoint as the moment when she obtained her powers. In the case of some alternative versions, such as the Burtonverse iteration of Catwoman played by Michelle Pfeiffer, we can state that she received her powers after almost dying from being pushed through the window by her former employer, Max Schreck (Christopher Walken). But these versions have never been canon.

As far as the canon Catwoman is concerned, her powers and abilities have been developed throughout the years. Ever since she was a child, she has been learning, training, and perfecting her skills, only to become one of DC’s most formidable burglars. This has been (and still is) a life-long process and that is why we cannot pinpoint any precise moment in her history.

  • Arthur S. Poe has been fascinated by fiction ever since he saw Digimon and read Harry Potter as a child. Since then, he has seen several thousand movies and anime, read several hundred books and comics, and played several hundred games of all genres.