On sale now, the newest issue of Empire continues the film magazine’s reporting from behind the scenes of The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman cycle. This time, the filmmaker confesses to having had reservations about the role of Catwoman in his relatively realistic vision of Gotham City before his brother and co-writer Jonathan persuaded him that to exclude the indomitable Selina Kyle would be tantamount to blasphemy.
The following contains some measure of SPOILERS for The Dark Knight Rises, so proceed at your own risk.
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and innovated over the course of decades by writers and artists like Frank Miller, Jo Duffy, Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, Jim Balent, Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Mindy Newell, Chuck Dixon and many more, Catwoman is one of the most famous of Batman’s rogues gallery and unquestionably the leading lady of DC Comics’ Gotham City mythology. Ostensibly a cat burglar, the morally ambiguous antiheroine Selina Kyle would seem to be a perfect fit for Nolan’s thematically grim film universe, particularly given the fact that her classically flamboyant garb has been toned down in recent years from skintight body stockings and thigh-highs to the more film-friendly catsuit, goggles and utility boots.
As we’ve seen in numerous images and video, Hathaway’s Catwoman — who is never identified by that name in the Dark Knight Rises script — seems to borrow from more than one era of the character’s visual and narrative history (with the actress herself identifying Catwoman Annual #2 by Balent and Jordan B. Gorfinkel and James A. Hodgkins as her favorite Selina Kyle comic), but it’s interesting to learn that the character was initially not considered for inclusion in Nolan’s Batman films.
As he told Empire:
“I was nervous about how she would fit into our world. But [co-writer Jonathan Nolan] was very much convinced that there would be a great way to do it and eventually turned me around. 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.”
Indeed, fans of Catwoman’s role in The Dark Knight Rises’ story will have Nolan’s brother and collaborator Jonathan to thank, as he explained to Empire:
“Chris often comes from a position of, ‘Why should we do this?’ You know, presumed guilty. But I said, ‘What we’re endeavouring to do here is tell a complete take on the Batman mythos’. And a complete take of the Batman mythos without the character for me was sacrilegious. You’ve gotta gave her, because 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.”
The latest Empire includes much more from the magazine’s reporting on The Dark Knight Rises (like what the deal is with that flying thing — it’s called The Bat, for one) as well as a discussion with Nolan about his and writer David S. Goyer’s work on Zack Snyder’s Superman film, Man of Steel.