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This page is about the character from the Tim Burton film and the Batman '89 comic book series. For other uses, see Catwoman (Disambiguation).

Main Article

"I am Catwoman. Hear me roar."

Catwoman was the alias of Selina Kyle, a lonely and frustrated secretary of the cooperate mogul Max Shreck, who was pushed over the edge after her boss tried to kill her to cover up his corrupt business plans. She then fashioned herself a new fearsome alter-ego, becoming a bandit and vigilante operating in Gotham City, in a nefarious scheme to get revenge on her boss. During these events, she came into contact with the crime fighting vigilante Batman, with whom she developed a love/hate relationship.


Early Life

Prior to her life of crime, Selina Kyle worked as a secretary for the powerful and ruthless Max Shreck, the owner of a business empire and the department store Shreck's. Despite being her role, Selina fancied herself as more as an executive assistant since she helped out in more ways than the others seemed to appreciate, something which Shreck himself also seemed to acknowledge. Residing in a lush apartment, she lived with a black cat named Miss Kitty and fed many of the local strays. She also seemed to have a strained relationship with her mother and in a relationship with an unnamed man.

Batman Returns

Lighting of the Tree Ceremony


Selina Kyle, before she became Catwoman.

During Gotham's Christmas celebrations after the Joker's death, Selina attended the meeting between Shrek and Roscoe Jenkins on his proposal for a new powerplant. During it, she tried to offer advice, though they dismissed nonchalantly. As they left to attend the Lighting of the Christmas Tree Ceremony, Selina remained behind to clear up. During it, she found that Shreck had forgotten his speech and decided to take it to him.

As she left, Selina found herself in the midst of an attack by the Red Triangle Gang. After Batman arrived on the scene, she herself was taken hostage by one of the clowns. When the Dark Knight took notice, he rescued Selina by grappling onto the wall behind them and pulling a chunk of wall into the clown, knocking him out. Selina instantly became fascinated with Batman, who took his leave to help bring the situation under control. After he left, Selina took her defeated clown captor's taser, planning to use it as a self-defense weapon in the future.

Discovering Shreck's Secret

Returning to her apartment, Selina began to prepare herself, Miss Kitty and the local cats dinner, during which she listened to unpleasant messages on her answering machine; the first was from her mother, who expressed disappointment that she was not going home for Christmas, whilst the second was from her boyfriend, who decided to spend holiday on his own on apparent advice from his psychologist. The third was from herself as a reminder to prepare documents for Shreck’s meeting with Bruce Wayne. Having completely forgotten, Selina returned to Shreck's to prepare it.

As she went through the files, Selina inadvertently discovered the plans for Shreck's proposed power plant. Reading further, she discovered that it would drain power from Gotham City rather than create it, allowing the Shreck family to store it and effectively bring the city under their control. Shreck, having also returned to the office, found Selina reading the information, leading her to confront him on the proposals. As Shreck revealed his motives, she tried to convince him she would not let it slip. However, Shreck, after briefly teasing her to his intentions, pushed Selina out of the window in order to silence her.

Becoming Catwoman

Batman Returns - Catwoman 4

Selina as Catwoman.

Falling through several of the building's awnings, Selina miraculously survived what would have been the otherwise fatal fall, though was knocked unconscious with only a mild concussion. As she lay in the alleyway, the cats she'd fed began to swarm and lick her, apparently reviving her.

Though dazed, Selina returned home and began listening to messages on her answering machine again. After listening to an advertisement from Shreck's, she finally snapped and suffered a mental breakdown, during which she ransacked the apartment and destroyed her possessions as dozens of cats began to enter from all sides of the apartment through the windows. Believing herself to be a new person, Selina used her sewing equipment to create a homemade cat costume. With this, she took on the identity "Catwoman" and began planning her revenge on Shreck.

Several nights later, Catwoman happened on a mugger who attacked and attempted to rape a helpless woman. Making her presence known to them, she brutally beat a mugger, carving his face with her claws. As the would-be victim attempted to thank her, Selina refused and chastised the woman for being unable to defend herself, leaving the scene before authorities arrived.

The next day, Selina returned to Shreck's covered in bandages but sporting a more assertive attitude. Interrupting Max's meeting with Bruce Wayne, she shocked him with her miraculous survival, though feigned amnesia to put him at ease. Selina also talked with Bruce, instantly developing a mutual attraction with him. As Shreck regained his composure, she followed his orders to show Wayne out, during which they conversed about her role at Shreck's.

Ransacking Shreck's and Fighting Batman

During an attack on the city by the Red Triangle Gang, Selina decided to seize the opportunity as cover while she ransacked Shreck's. After breaking in as Catwoman, she began ransacking the store with a newly acquired bullwhip, using it to behead the store's mannequins. When confronted by the store's guards, Selina scared them away and rigged the shop's ground floor to explode. As she fled before detonation, Catwoman discovered both Batman and the Penguin waiting outside. When Shreck's exploded, she used the opportunity to flee to the rooftops.

Finding that Batman had given chase, Catwoman confronted him, landing several blows. After he landed a blow, she pretended to surrender before relaunching her attack, knocking him off the rooftop and ensnaring him with her whip. Using the opportunity to taunt him, Catwoman failed to notice Batman grab a blue corrosive chemical capsule from his utility belt and throw it, catching her arm. Losing her footing, she was rescued by him and pulled to a ledge.

Surprised Batman had rescued her, Catwoman became fascinated with him and began to flirt. However, she took to opportunity find weaknesses in his armor, eventually finding one above his utility belt and stabbing him in the abdomen. In response, Batman knocked her off the rooftop, causing her to fall into a truck transporting sand. Having lost "her second life", Catwoman decided to take vengeance upon the Dark Knight as well.

Alliance with the Penguin


Catwoman teaming up with the Penguin.

The following day, Catwoman tracked the Penguin to his campaign building. Having deduced he was responsible for the attacks, she waited for him in the second floor, where she proposed an alliance between them to take her revenge on Batman. Learning of Penguin's plans to kill Batman by rigging the Batmobile, Catwoman dismissed the plans, reasoning that Gotham would martyr him after death. Instead, she suggested they damaged his reputation and framed as a criminal. Brushing off Penguin's sexual advances, she playfully threatened to eat his canary, though let it go when Penguin threatened Miss Kitty with a hidden blade from his umbrella. Their alliance secured, the two devised a new plan to frame him for kidnapping the Ice Princess and attacking civilians via remote controlling the Batmobile.

Relighting of the Tree Ceremony


Selina kissing Bruce at Wayne Manor.

On the day of the relighting the tree ceremony, Selina encountered Bruce at Gotham Plaza. Walking and talking together, she accepted an invitation for an early dinner at Wayne Manor. Over dinner, Selina and Bruce discussed his personal life, including his previous girlfriend Vicki Vale. After he revealed his difficulty with duality, Selina began to recognize a kindred spirit in him, leading her to kiss him passionately. Eventually drawn away due to their attempts to cover up injuries, they noticed a news report informing them of the Ice Princess's kidnapping at Batman's apparent hands. Moments after Bruce excused himself in order to suit up, Selina also decided to leave to carry out their plan. Leaving instructions with Bruce's butler Alfred to give an excuse for her abrupt departure, she changed into her costume during her drive into Gotham.

Arriving on the scene at the same time as Batman, Catwoman engaged the Dark Knight in combat. Eventually pulling away, she forcibly dragged the Ice Princess to the building's roof. However, Penguin had engineered their hostage to fall off the building and frame Batman pushed her. After Batman was shot off the rooftop by police, Catwoman approached him and pinned him down. Continuing to flirt with him, she taunted Batman over his failure to save her and the Ice Princess, suggesting that he should retire. When Catwoman attempted to stab him in the same place previously, Batman broke from her grip and revealed he'd prepared. The surprised Catwoman only watched as he fled the scene using a hidden glider.

Penguin's Betrayal

Convening with Penguin on a nearby rooftop, Catwoman watch the chaos in Gotham Square as they drank champagne. Having been misled on his intentions for the Ice Princess, she expressed her dislike of his murder, rejecting his further advancements. Enraged and now deciding to rid of this now unwanted ally, Penguin tied Catwoman's neck to his Helicopter Umbrella and sent her flying into the skies. Eventually freeing herself, Catwoman dropped into a greenhouse directly across from her apartment window, once again displaying incredible luck and using up another of her nine lives. After this, she presumably planned revenge on him next.

During the Penguin's rally, Selina was among the crowds who attended the event, watching from a distance. During it, the speakers began playing recorded comments insulting Gotham's citizens, causing them to turn on Cobblepot. Whilst crowds began to boo him, Selina left abruptly, knowing he carried his gun umbrella and would likely react violently.

Maxquerade Ball


Selina and Bruce dancing at the "Maxquerade" Ball.

With her alliance with the Penguin shattered, Selina devised a plan to kill Shreck herself at his annual Maxquerade Ball with a concealed gun. During it, she encountered Bruce at the ball and took to the dancefloor. Though he intended to talk about their relationship, Selina revealed her gun and intentions to him. As she began to breakdown, Bruce attempted to calm her. However, after they repeated comments they'd made to each other as Catwoman and Batman, they realized each other's identities. Before they could leave to talk outside, the Penguin attacked, who revealed his plan to murder the firstborn sons of Gotham and took Shreck as a hostage in his son's place.

Killing Shreck at the Old Zoo

Batman Returns Souvenir Magazine (57) Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman

Selina, before she killed Shreck at Arctic World.

Whilst Bruce left to save the children from the Red Triangle Gang as Batman, Selina changed into her damaged costume and followed Penguin and Shreck to the former's lair at the Old Zoo. Whilst the latter attempted to escape, Catwoman made her move, throttling him with her whip and dragging him across the enclosure.

Eventually, Batman intervened and attempted to convince her to hand Shreck over to the GCPD. However, she objected on the basis that he'd still use his wealth to find a way to keep himself from conviction, so no jury would keep Shreck locked away for long. Batman eventually unmasked himself and tried to implore Selina to abandon her vendetta. Though she expressed a desire to share a life with him, Selina refused Bruce's offer, still determined to end it there.

While the pair debated, Shreck drew a pistol and shot Bruce. Defiantly challenging him, Selina, still believing she had nine lives, approached him and "survived" four shots. Eventually cornering him at Penguin's generator with the gun empty, she equipped the taser she'd taken from the terrifying clown and "kissed" him with it, holding a cable from the transformer over their heads. This caused the machine to overload and an explosive chain reaction. Though Shreck died, Selina survived the explosion, leaving only her former boss' charred corpse behind.

On the Prowl

Selina alive

Selina, alive looking at the Batsignal.

In the aftermath of the incident, Selina fixed her costume and began prowling Gotham's streets again. Bruce also began searching the city for her, hoping to find an indication she'd survived. During one of his searches, Catwoman's shadow was noticed in an alleyway. Fleeing before Bruce arrived, Selina left Miss Kitty behind for him to find as an apparent farewell gift. One account suggested she'd placed a microphone in her collar to spy on him.[1] Sometime later, Catwoman observed the Batsignal being lit from the Gotham rooftops, calling Batman on another mission.

Batman '89

The Year Away

According to one account, Catwoman actually stayed in Gotham but maintained a low profile, leading many to doubt her existence as an urban myth.[2] Over the next year, Selina began to change the Catwoman costume, integrating longer gloves, boots and a belt. Despite him assuming she was gone, Catwoman began following Bruce and Batman from afar, though never made contact with him for the next year.[3] Though he continued to search for her, she avoided making contact with him.[1]

With her old occupation gone, she began investigating white-collar crime and people in power, using her civilian identity infiltrate companies and investigate them from within. Rather than hand evidence over to the police, she would regularly steal from her targets, using the profits to help finance herself and her operations.[4] By Halloween of the following year, Catwoman had begun investigating the Lincoln Savings and Loan company, during which she uncovered links between them and Gotham's crime lords. However, before she could investigate them further, a heist was attempted from the bank by the "Joker Gang", though this was ultimately foiled by Batman.[1]

Reuniting with Bruce

When copycat criminals dressed as Batman set light to the Royal Autobody, Catwoman attacked and subdued the criminals, scarring their faces with her claws to make tracking them easier. When a disguised Bruce arrive on the scene, she stayed behind to greet him. Whilst he returned to the scene to respond to the fire, she remained behind to seal the gang into a dumpster, only asking for a kiss before he left her.[3] Catwoman remained on the scene, though only observed the scene from the rooftops. Whilst Bruce gave his statement, he noticed her, prompting her to salute him and leave the scene.

Whilst Bruce visited Harvey Dent at Gotham General Hospital, Selina slipped a note on his car cryptically giving him the meeting spot of their rooftop where they first fought. Briefly engaging in a chase when he arrived as Batman, Catwoman was subdued finally subdued when he entangled her legs with a rope-attached Batarang. Soon joined by Bruce, they quickly began flirting and romancing each other, where she revealed her "work" since they'd last met. When he expressed displeasure, Selina confronted him on his inaction investigating white-collar crime and how his actions only affected the poor of Gotham. She also revealed that she was seeing a psychiatrist about their relationship, though claimed that her comments weren't taken seriously. When an series of fires and explosions went off around the city, Catwoman and Batman to divert their attention to them. She separated with Bruce either during or after the event.[4]

GCPD Infiltration

Planning to steal information from the GCPD's mainframe, Selina infected their systems with the "KitKat" virus. Posing as an IT technician, she infiltrated the building, claiming she'd been sent to remove the virus. Selina was interviewed by Barbara Gordon, giving a partially fictitious employment history. During it, they discussed Shreck's murder and the apparently unfinished investigation. When Gordon was called away to help officers search for Dent, Selina continued the "scan", in reality copying files to a floppy disk.[2]

Gunfight at Gotham Park

Selina's activities over the next several weeks is unknown, though she spied on Bruce through Miss Kitty's collar. When he and Drake Winston began tracking Dent, she overheard their conversation and followed them. Catwoman hid in the trees when Barbara Gordon attempted to arrest Dent. To ensure he escaped, she attacked the sergeant and told the former DA to flee. As she escaped the scene, Catwoman happened upon Drake and suggested he chased after Dent.[5]

After the fight, Catwoman and Drake followed Batman to the abandoned Burnside Station, which had been used by Dent and his gang as a hideout. Upon arrival, they discovered the station had been destroyed and the body of Commissioner Gordon. After Drake discovered an unconscious and unmasked Batman, they worked together to get Bruce back to get medical treatment from Alfred, thereby letting her into the Batcave for the first time. During the journey, she conversed with Drake about Bruce's intentions for him and if he was actually being trained as a successor.

Selina watched over Bruce as he recovered, reuniting with Miss Kitty as he recovered. When he awoke, she filled him in on his injuries and how he would be unable to operate as Batman. When confronted on the briefcase that Harvey took, Selina informed Bruce about her discoveries related to the Lincoln Job, including that the bank executives had been responsible for the heist to cover up their alliance with Gotham's Crime Lords. She revealed the contents of the briefcase to be the evidence, allowing Harvey to control the city. Selina also revealed that Bruce had been unmasked, thereby exposing his identity to Dent. As she helped him to meet with Drake and Alfred, they contemplated living a "normal" life away from the masks together.

Confrontation at the Batcave

When Bruce met with Harvey in the Batcave, Selina managed to elude Alfred to intervein in the confrontation. When Dent was given the opportunity to decide whether to kill Bruce or reform, she decided to take action to save his life. Catwoman used her claws to sever the cables holding up the Giant Penny from the Lincoln Loans and Savings, dropping it near Dent and causing him to fall. It's unclear whether she aid Bruce's recovery of Harvey, though her actions seem to indicate she did not.

After Dent's fall, Bruce chastised her for interfering and killing him, claiming he'd pocketed the coin and given him a double-headed replica to win his favor. Selina, however, argued that there was no way he would be able to recover and he was blinded by a "Messiah complex" to release it. As she investigated Dent's coin, she realized he had given him it back. Having decided he was too self-absorbed to understand, Selina took leave and left with Miss Kitty, leaving the collar behind to reveal she'd been spying on him.

Contact with Barbara Gordon

After the events, Selina began her operations once again, stealing money from Bruce to aid her. Deducing that Harvey had sent a package contained an unmasked Bruce to Barbara, she sent a message proposing an alliance to help her operations. Catwoman could later be seen patrolling the rooftops of Gotham, unknowingly being watched by Robin.[1]

Different Fates

"You like strong women. I've done my homework. Or do I need skin-tight vinyl and a whip?"
―Chase Meridian to Batman[src]

According to one account, Catwoman left Gotham, though her exploits became well known. Dr. Chase Meridian also learned of the attraction between her and Batman, later noting that he seemed to like strong women with "skin-tight vinyl and a whip".

Another account suggests that Selina was one of many "Catwomen" to have existed throughout history, having apparently been resurrected by the messengers of Bast. A photograph of her was collected by Ophelia Powers and shown alongside some of her believed-predecessors to Patience Phillips.


Falling into red canvas awnings does not mak you a zombie


Behind the Scenes

Annette Bening was initially cast as Catwoman, but was forced to drop out due to pregnancy. Jose Fernandez had already sculpted a cowl for Bening, which looked more animalistic, covering her nose and upper lip. When Michelle Pfeiffer was chosen to replace her, it was decided to make a cowl that revealed more of her face. Pfeiffer trained at the Steeleboxer kick boxing gym two hours a day for six months. She also practiced yoga, weight lifting and karate. Additionally, she spent three months training with a 12-foot bullwhip.

Inspiration from Comics

Despite claims to contrary, there are many similarities to the original Catwoman origin, in which she was depicted as Stewardess at Speed Airlines who turned to crime after suffering a head injury during a plane crash. The film switches the occupation to corporate secretary, but the symbolism remains the same increasing the sexism and patriarchal oppression.

Nine Lives motif

Michael keaton4

Catwoman and Batman.

Catwoman displayed incredible luck in her brushes with death, leading her to believe she had nine lives. This is related to a common superstition about cats, due to their apparent swiftness and ability to escape potentially harmful situations. In the course of Batman Returns, Selina lost eight of her "lives" in the following incidents:

  1. When Shreck pushed her out the window (before she became Catwoman).
  2. When Batman knocked her off a building and into a sand truck.
  3. When the Penguin tried to hang her on his umbrella-copter.
  4. When Shreck shot her left shoulder.
  5. When Shreck shot and grazed her right thigh.
  6. When Shreck shot and grazed her left thigh.
  7. When Shreck shot for a fourth time and missed completely.
  8. When she yanked a cable that caused the generator near them to explode, which killed Shreck.

Aborted appearances

After the release of Batman Returns, various attempts were made to include Pfeiffer's version of Catwoman in later media. After completion, Warner Bros. began working on a spin-off film, with Daniel Waters submitting a script that would focus on her version. According to interviews, the film would have focused on her moving to a city loosely based on Las Vegas and battles against other superheroes aside from Batman. However, the film was eventually put into development hell and would later develop into the 2004 Catwoman film. Development of the film prevented Catwoman from returning in later films in the Batman Film Anthology, now under the direction of Joel Schumacher.

Catwoman was also going to appear in a proposed third Schumacher film entitled Batman Unchained. She would have reappeared as a hallucination induced by the Scarecrow's Fear Gas, with her set to appear in a sequence where she and other villains from the other films put Batman on trial. Pfeiffer was expected to reprise her role from the Batman Returns, as were other actors who had portrayed villains in the films. However, the Unchained was scrapped after the critical and financial disappointment of Batman & Robin.

After Walter Hamada became the head of DC Films, several reports indicated that his plans included the return of Pfeiffer's Catwoman alongside Keaton's Batman. These also included her returning in an ultimately abandoned Batman Beyond film. According to some sources, Pfeiffer had also expressed interest after it was announced Keaton was returning in The Flash.[6] However, these plans were abandoned after James Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios.


  • Catwoman's absence the later installments seems consistent with Bruce/Batman's other love interests in the other Anthology films, as they either break up during or after the films' events.
  • Catwoman's costume from the film was replicated for her counterpart from the Birds of Prey TV series, though with notable differences to the cowl. A replica was also worn briefly by Christina Aguilera in the music video for the song "Keeps Gettin' Better".
  • Selina/Catwoman's character arc is strikingly similar to that of Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy from Batman & Robin. Both are glasses-clad women who get involved in an argument with their abusive bosses, who then attempt to kill them, but they somehow survive, trash their living area or working area, and exact revenge on their killers (the main difference being the fact that Kyle's boss is killed much later than Isley's).
  • Pfeiffer's Catwoman is mentioned in a deleted scene for the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. The scene in question showed an article that claims that she'd become a socialite and become engaged to Bruce. This briefly appears in trailers for the crossover.