DC Showcase: Catwoman

catwomanThe character of Catwoman has had a mixed history over the years in other media than the printed page. TV has had the Julie Newmar & Eartha Kitt versions, a nod in Birds of Prey, and a teenage version of the character can be seen in the Gotham series which premiered last month. In film, we had Lee Meriwether in the sixties incarnation then, perhaps most famously of all, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns [albeit only after Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman and Demi Moore all were linked to the part]. Then, there was Halle Berry’s Catwoman, still talked about in hushed tones as perhaps the worst comic-book adaptation of all time, and which arguably did more damage to action heroines than any other big-budget movie in history. Despite the massive success of the Batman reboot, it took eight years before the character would appear in another film, Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises.

However, it’s the animated versions – perhaps the nearest medium to the comic book – which are of most interest here. That dates back as far as 1968, when she appeared, voiced by Jane Webb (who also played Batgirl in the show), as part of The Batman/Superman Hour on CBS. A decade later, Melendy Britt pulled the same double-duty as Webb, playing both the heroic Batgirl and villainous Catwoman, in The New Adventures of Batman, another CBS show that began in 1977 and also used the voices of Burt Ward and Adam West, start of the original TV show. But it was the nineties when the form really took off. Batman: The Animated Series was ranked last year by TV Guide as among the top 10 cartoons of all time, and its style was clearly influential on the cinematic reboot of the franchise under Christopher Nolan.

Adrienne Barbeau voiced the character of Catwoman here and in The New Batman Adventures, later in the decade. This marked a shift, with the actresses being used for the role, even if never seen, becoming increasingly high-profile. 2004’s The Batman had Gina Gershon as Catwoman in five episodes, and the feature Batman: Year One had Eliza Dushku, With the third anniversary of the latter’s release this week, what better time to showcase the Catwoman-focused short below, which was originally included as a bonus feature on the Year One DVD. In it, Selena Kyle/Catwoman attempts to bring both a Gotham City crime boss called Rough Cut and his smuggling ring to an end, but stumbles upon a mysterious cargo shipment far worse than just smuggled diamonds…

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