Michelle Pfeiffer—the off-base Catwoman

Actress plays Catwoman AND Selina Kyle in 1992

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman Born: 29 April 1958 in Santa Ana, CA, USA

Catwoman was absent from live-action films in the 1970s and 1980s. Her appearances were restricted to Saturday morning cartoons. This situation changed in 1992 when Michelle Pfeiffer portrayed the Feline Fatale in the movie Batman Returns.

This version, unlike the 1966 movie, was more serious. It was a very dark film, as befits a Tim Burton film. It also deviated from the comic character. Among the deviations: Selina Kyle's mother is still alive, and Catwoman kills one of the antagonists at the end of the movie. In the comics, Selina’s mother died when she was a young teenager, and she has an aversion to killing.

Still, Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal displayed many of Catwoman's qualities, better or worse. The character was approached with more sympathy, as her origins and relationship with Batman/Bruce Wayne are explored. Even though Tim Burton's Catwoman's umbrella didn't quite fit in its umbrella base, this marks the beginning of the time period that Catwoman started to become a more morally grey anti-hero in Batman and would become much more sympathetic than had been previously portrayed in comics and movies.

Incidentally, we also see the first actual portrayal of Selina Kyle. Up until this time, films only showed the Catwoman side of the character. Here, Selina is a secretary working for Max Shreck (not to be confused with the lovable ogre!).

Ms. Pfeiffer's career began in the late 1970s, and a major breakthrough was accomplished in 1983, when she played Al Pacino's girlfriend in the movie Scarface. By the time she appeared in Batman Returns , she had appeared in many notable films. Her career continues at full speed in 2012.

This page updated 23 August 2012.

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