Supervillain Origins: Catwoman

Born in Gotham City, Selina’s early life was filled with tragedy. In her youth, her mother committed suicide, and her father drank himself to death. Living on the streets and surviving through petty crime, she eventually used her sharp wits and amazing natural ability as a gymnast to become the slickest cat burglar the police department had ever seen. With Batman’s arrival in Gotham, she quickly found herself smitten with the caped crusader and took on a costumed persona of her own. In turn, Batman returned her romantic feelings, but became conflicted with his role as a crime fighter, opting to let her escape on a regular basis. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the origins of Catwoman.
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Supervillain Origins: Catwoman

She is one of the first-ever female comic book villains, and is often caught up in a complex love-hate relationship with The Dark Knight. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will explore the comic book origins of Catwoman.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline of Selina Kyle, Catwoman’s first and most popular identity, who was introduced in Batman #1 and expanded on in Detective Comics and “Catwoman, The Series.”

Born in Gotham City, Selina’s early life was filled with tragedy. In her youth, her mother committed suicide, and her father drank himself to death shortly afterward. Calling the police for help, she deciding to pack her bags and run away before the police could arrive.

Living on the streets and surviving through petty crime, she eventually used her sharp wits and amazing natural ability as a gymnast to become the slickest cat burglar the police department had ever seen. She even learned martial arts and boxing in order to protect herself.

Starting out as an unknown thief by night, and pet storeowner by day, she shared her ill-gotten gains with Gotham’s Poor. Calling herself "The Cat", her status as a villain remained ambiguous due to her moral code, which often stopped her from committing murder.

With Batman’s arrival in Gotham, and his investigation into her activities, she quickly found herself smitten with the caped crusader. Returning the romantic feelings, but conflicted with his role as a crime fighter, he let her escape on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Batman’s appearance in Gotham gave her the idea to take on a costume of her own, a mask which had the startling appearance of a real cat. With this new theatrical persona, she became one of Batman’s regular foes.

A short time later, Selina changed her criminal identity when she began being referred to as “the Catwoman” by the authorities and other criminals alike. Embracing the change, she began wearing less literal costumes. These included a dress with a hood, then a body suit with razor-sharp claws, a whip, boots, and goggles built into her head mask. She even tried to equal Batman by having her own cat signal, hideout called the “Catacomb” and “Kitty Car.”

After years of tangling with Batman, she convinced him that she had suddenly recovered memories from amnesia suffered earlier on. In her tale, she claimed to have been a regular stewardess that was involved in a plane crash, which caused her brain trauma, leading her to take up a life of crime. Believing her, they teamed up for a short while, until it was revealed that she was only experimenting with the idea of reforming herself.

A dark and mysterious creature of the night, this conniving love interest of Batman has appeared countless times in the comics, television and film. Her most popular portrayals were in the 1960s television series, where several actresses portrayed her, and 1992’s Batman Returns, in which she was played by a leather-clad Michelle Pfieffer. In later years, the character was rehashed for the silver screen in the uninspired spin-off film “Catwoman”, before being chosen for a more faithful and mature film adaptation, appearing in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”
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