There have been several women who have become Selina Kyle, i.e. Catwoman, throughout the years. Much like the multitude of men who have donned the cape and cowl to become Batman, Catwoman is certainly not a stranger to screens both big and small. Naturally, she has served as a purr-fect companion and/or counterpart to Batman's vigilante day-saving. Whether hero or foe, Catwoman has been a cat-tivating character, and every actress who has put on the spandex and thrown around the whip has done something fun or unique with the comic book personality. But which actress played the popular part the best?
Everyone has their own personal favorite, and I'm only offering my own humble opinions. Without further ado, here's a ranking of all the live-action variations of Catwoman seen over the years. As noted in the headline, I'm limiting it to simply live-action this time. Nothing against the women who've provided their voices to play this key part elsewhere, but we're keeping this list focused only on those who've donned the signature costume for this character. Also, since we haven't seen what Zoe Kravitz will do in the role in Matt Reeves' forthcoming The Batman, we can't include her here. But we're extremely excited to see how the bright young talent compares to the fantastic actresses who played the part before.
7. Halle Berry (Catwoman)
It wasn't Halle Berry's fault. The Oscar-winning actress did the best she could to make 2004's ill-fated Catwoman work on her own terms. Yet Berry's campy, gleefully goofy take on the whip-friendly character was downplayed by a chaotic, unfocused and visually-disorienting film that played no favors to the actress' talents. Her performance was given a Razzie award, which she actually accepted with her tongue placed firmly in her cheek, and it has been considered the weakest iteration of the character to date, unjustly and not. In any case, outside of this role, Berry hasn't certainly proven her talents in several acclaimed roles. And there's admittedly a lot to admire in Berry's silly, over-the-top take on Catwoman — even if it's ultimately the weakest one.
6. Camren Bicondova (Gotham)
Once again, it's hard to fault Camren Bicondova. The actress provided the smarts, the toughness, and the fierce independence that makes Catwoman such a delightful character. Nevertheless, she was stuck on Gotham, a series that was constantly in a state of flux, trying to adhere to the more moody and gothic takes on the character while also indulging in the goofy, sensational sides of Gotham City's origins at the same time. The result? A rambunctious show that was never quite one thing, but it was always bananas. That likely undermined what was ultimately a strong, unique take on Selina Kyle.
5. Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie)
Ultimately, compared to her contemporaries, Lee Meriwether sometimes gets overlooked for her portrayal of Catwoman in 1966's ludicrous Batman: The Movie. That's not entirely fair. For all the self-aware antics and over-the-top gags, along with shark-repellent bat spray and/or a bomb or two you simply cannot get rid of, there is also a frothy, sexy relationship with Catwoman's "Miss Kitka" and Bruce Wayne, which involves Catwoman trying to seduce the character in order to take him down. It results in a devious, intriguing on-screen relationship that's similar and different than what came before it.
4. Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
In my view, Anne Hathaway is perhaps one of the more underrated portrayals of the character I've seen to date. For all the movie's well-disputed flaws, Hathaway's performance is a stand out, capturing the radiant mischievousness, intrigue and sexiness that often comes vibrant from the role. It is a strong turn from an exceptional actress, and it's a shame that it gets dismissed because it remains one of the third film in Christopher Nolan's sequel's strongest, most winning assets.
3. Eartha Kitt (Batman)
In what will go down as one of the most memorable and beloved turns in the character's extensive history, Eartha Kitt proved to be not only a worthy successor for Julie Newmar, but an actress with great talent and presence who was able to make this divine role her own. This version of the character relishes the evil and the delightfully wicked, and she has a ball playing this wilder, more villainous take on the character. The result is a splendid and sensational showcase for the actress, and it's also quite easily one of the most instantly recognizable and spellbinding takes on Catwoman thus far.
2. Julie Newmar (Batman)
For many folks, Julie Newmar's iconic turn as Catwoman is the Catwoman. The actress is sensational in the role, purring and ravishing in delight, while also sharing a seductive relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman. It's also the performance that really plays up the cat-like glee in the performance, as the actress carries the agile spunk of the character with exceptional captivation. But her take on the character is also properly layered, playing up the bad side while also showing a tender side when interacting with Bruce Wayne/Batman. It's a dynamic, fantastic turn, and it's easily one of the best yet.
1. Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
This might be a bit controversial, but for my money, Michelle Pfeiffer remains the very best Catwoman to date. First playing up the ingenue side of the character during the character's shy inception, she fully relishes the character's turn towards the dark side, providing a sensational twist of captivation and sexual charm. It's a dynamite and dynamic performance, filled with wit and spark, and it is benefitted from Tim Burton's creative flourishes giving the movie a fine pop. While everyone has their personal favorite Catwoman, this one is easily mine. This is a wonderful turn from an underrated talent.
It's not easy to rank those who played Catwoman over the years; in fact, I could hear arguments for other orders for sure, but looking into the nitty gritty of each of the portrayals, this is where I stand. But let us know your own personal favorites in the comment section.
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Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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