The Love of Batman and Catwoman
Eric S Brown
The Love of Batman and Catwoman
By Eric S Brown
Detective Comics #27 features the first appearance of Batman in 1939. Merely a year later, Catwoman first appears in Batman #1 as simply The Cat. In their very first meeting, Catwoman attempts to seduce Batman and convince him to give up crime fighting so that the two of them can run away together. Batman rejects her offer, mainly because he’s engaged to someone else at the time, but even so it clearly establishes that he finds her to be perhaps the most attractive woman he’s ever encountered. This first meeting kicks off a relationship and series of encounters that spans eighty years of comics.
The Bat and the Cat meet again in Batman #3 where they share their first kiss with Catwoman again being the aggressor. The kiss shocks Batman and leaves him wishing for more of Catwoman in his life. It will be years later however, in the 1950s, during the events of Batman #62, that the Cape Crusader finally discovers that Catwoman is really Selina Kyle. This revelation doesn’t have any notable effect on their relationship of reoccuring encounters, full of sexual tension and mutual attraction. Much later in Batman #197, at the end of the 1960s, Catwoman offers to give up crime if Batman will admit the depth of his feelings and marry her. Though he turns her down, it sets the stage for an alternate Batman on another Earth to take her up on that offer. They do get married on Earth 2 and have a daughter that grows up to be the Huntress.
By Batman #308, the two develop a relationship deeper than just flirting encounters. This is not a relationship between the Bat and the Cat however but rather one between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. They grow extremely close during this time but sadly, Selina returns to her life of crime, driving them apart. It is important to note though that in this time period, Catwoman still does not know that Bruce Wayne is the Batman.
The Cat and the Bat finally team up as crime fighters for the first time, however briefly, in the 1980s. This inspires more alternate Earth versions of them, including a version in the 1990s, upon an Earth where both Batman and Catwoman are pirates. In this world, they again unite, becoming the masters of the seas together. A mere five years later, another alternate world version of the Cat and Bat is introduced in which their roles are reversed. Though husband and wife here as well, Catwoman turns on Batman when she discovers that he is a criminal and destroys their marriage.
In Batman #355, a modern classic with an iconic cover, Catwoman finally discovers that the Caped Crusader is actually Bruce Wayne for the first time, but of course, this couldn’t last. The Joker essentially fries Catwoman’s mind and it takes decades in real world time before she relearns who Batman truly is. Shortly after issue #600, Batman reveals who he is to her and in the process learns what the Joker has done. Not trusting her feelings towards him, Batman breaks off their relationship yet again.
Though apart, the two continue to retain deep feelings for each other and in the pages the Batman event titled The Long Halloween, their history is rewritten to add an even greater deal of sexual tension. There is a focus and exploration of the sexual aspect of their relationship in DC’s New 52 universe rebooting event which continues today.
In 2018, Bruce pops the question and asks Selina to marry him. They are on the road to true happiness together in the real DC universe. She steals the perfect dress for their upcoming wedding while Batman struggles to pick his best man, in the end he opts for Superman. Of course, Batman’s Rogue Gallery couldn’t allow such a marriage to happen. Banes uses other heroes and villains as pawns and wages psychological warfare on Bruce and Selina. Not believing that Bruce could remain who he is with her in his life, Selina stands him up at the alter. Batman is crushed by Catwoman’s actions, but their on and off relationship in the comics continues even now, and remains one of the longest running, most intense and tragic romances in all of comics.
The relationship between Batman and Catman goes beyond the comics they originate in, being present as early as the Adam West Batman TV series in the 1960s. This series greatly reflects the sexual tension that the Bat and the Cat share even in their early comic appearances. During this time three different actresses play Catwoman – Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, and Eartha Kitt. Newmar stands out among the trio because of the level of sexy she brings to the screen.
When Batman makes the leap from the small screen to the large screen, Catwoman goes with him. In the 1992 sequel to the Michael Keaton Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer, a sex symbol of the era, plays her. The two have a heavy make-out session in the film before their relationship once again ends in sorrow.
In Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Returns is released in 2012. Anne Hathaway assumes the role of Catwoman and in this film and the two have a very rare happy ending for their relationship as they remain together at its end.
All of the many Batman animated series and even live action spinoffs, such as Gotham, have their own takes on the relationship between the Bat and the Cat as well. Some of them alter their history – like Gotham’s version of Selina Kyle who helps train a young Bruce Wayne to take up the mantle of the Bat. Most though, keep their relationship close to what is, and has been, in the comics.
In 2022, the Batman franchise returns to the big screen as Robert Pattinson assumes the role of the Bat, and Zoe Kravitz portrays Catwoman. The film proves to be a success, earning over seven hundred million to date. Reintroductions are made between the Bat and Cat in this new cinematic world, and they promptly team up after a few rough encounters. Again they draw to each other but by the film’s end, Catwoman abandons Batman and leaves Gotham, deeming it a city that can’t be saved.
Will fans ever tire of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle? It’s certainly highly unlikely given the length of the relationship between the characters so far. It is also doubtful the two will ever find true, lasting happiness together within the real DCU, but one can bet their continuing struggle will be just as moving and intense as ever.