It’s not always easy being the Batman. I’d say sometimes it was harder being Bruce Wayne. However … being both come with some perks to the jobs. One hand you get to drive an awesome car, live in a literal man-cave, beat the bejeebus out of crooks, scum, and the occasional lunatic. On the flip side, being Bruce Wayne allows lots of luxury, power, and prestige. What comes along with being a dark vigilante who is powerful as well as being an aloof billionaire with power? Well, lovely ladies of course. Like his British (with due respect) copy cat 007, Batman has a list of dalliances in his life. In the comic/graphic novels and of course film. I’m going to take a look at his top female counterparts in film and the women who play them. In order of worst to best. Lets take a look at
THE LADIES OF THE BATMAN FILMS …
I’ll list each character and actress that played them and the film they were in. Then give them a grade from A to F. (A being best … F being worst) A couple of polls will follow.
BATGIRL/BARBARA WILSON Played by ALICIA SILVERSTONE in “BATMAN & ROBIN”
Let’s get this garbage out of the way REAL FAST. First off ‘Batman and Robin’ is the ‘Superman 4’ of Superman movies. The ‘Quantum Solace’ of Bond films. The ‘Rocky 5’ or ‘Terminator 3’ of those franchises. I watched it twice. Once as a curiosity piece when it debuted on video. The second, for a laugh because I was depressed. Mostly everything is bad in this film. Not least of which is the annoying, and stupidly cast Silverstone as Barbara Wilson. Huh? don’t I mean Barbara Gordon? In Bat-verse yes. In the ignorant ass Schumacher-verse, nope. It’s Wilson. The ‘daughter’ of Alfred the butler’s sister.
Something that I find weird is when the Halle Berry ‘Catwoman’ film is mentioned, everyone says the same thing. That Berry’s character was not Selina Kyle and that they didn’t follow her storyline. Yet, I never hear the fact that Silverstone’s Batgirl is nothing like her comic self. Barbara Gordon is the daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon and is driven to become Batgirl because her father tries to keep her from becoming a cop. Not because she is a daredevil floozy with a wild hair in her rich spoiled ass. As Schumacher portrays her. All this and the combination of the annoying, awful performance by Silverstone make this a big fat flop.
GRADE – F
Yeah, that’s a spoiler. Miranda is Ras Al’ Ghul’s daughter. If it spoiled it for you, too bad. Should have seen the movie by now. ‘Rises’ was a good movie, but Nolan falls just short in many ways to me with his Batman movies. He goes so far out of his way to make them so uber – realistic that it takes some of the fun of the comic element in the Batman stories. Here is an example. Talia in the comics is the very beautiful daughter of the immortal Ras. They are assassin/terrorist but she falls deep in love with Wayne/Batman. In ‘Rises’ she tricks Wayne and tries to get Batman killed. Plus, she’s not all that good looking. I mean, she’s ok, but not gorgeous. (In my opinion.) Cotillard does an affable job in the role, but she is a bit dry. Nothing she does up until the end is very memorable at all. Even then she is very bland. I would love to have seen Emily Blunt in the role. (Blog for another day. My own ideas for a Batman reboot and cast :-)) Anyhow
GRADE – D+
Oh god, back to Schumacher. Here is another case of too bland. But it’s really not Kidman’s fault. Her role is very underwritten and is pretty much just there to look good in black dresses and get saved by Batman. They try to make her a little more than damsel in distress, but in the incapable hands of Schumacher … it fails. The most interesting women in the film could have been the cohorts of Two Face, (played horribly by Tommy Lee Jones. Sorry Tom, it’s true) Sugar and Spice.
I get the feeling that either some producer, or the studios wanted Joker’s chick Harley Quinn. But weren’t allowed to use her, so they came up with this solution. I can’t believe Schumacher did. He’s not that clever. If only a better director could have been involved this movie may have been so much better with all the elements in it.
GRADE FOR KIDMAN/DR. Meridian – D+
GRADE FOR SUGAR & SPICE – D –
Thankfully, last of Schumacher. This, they almost get right. Thurman does as well as she can do providing the drivel dialogue she is given. Ivy is portrayed much like Catwoman is (although not as well) in Burton’s ‘Batman Returns.’ More on that later. By this I mean she is mousey, a bit homely, and is changed through an act of murder by her boss. She is ‘reborn’ and becomes a super sexy villainess and takes down her murderer. The thing is though, unlike Michele Phiffer, Thurman doesn’t have a great script or director to lead her through her performance. Thurman is not good at all as Isley. But she is a great Poison Ivy. Even with the terrible dialogue, direction, sets, actors, lighting, …. I could go on and on. Thurman is pretty good despite the flaws of a horrible film.
GRADE – C –
A Nolan-verse created character. The childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who becomes the one that got away later on. I have to believe that Holmes must still want to kick Tom Cruise in his Scientology nuts for her missing out being in one of the biggest movies of all time. (You know it was that idiots fault) Most say Gyllenhaal was the superior Rachel. I tend to disagree. I think there is much more chemistry with Bale and Holmes. Holmes also has a sweetness to her that is likeable, while Gyllenhaal is a bit cold. Speaking of which, Rachel becomes a megabitch in TDK. Bruce just can do nothing right, despite the fact he saves her and Harvey numerous times during the film. I actually laugh when she blows up.
HOLMES – C+
GYLLENHAAL – C
As I said earlier, if there is one thing about Nolan’s Batman films that bothers me just ever so slightly. It is his going so far into the real world with Batman. Yes, it gives Batman the grit or noir feel. But it leaves out so many of the best characters or you have to tweak the ones you do use. Sure, it worked with the Joker, and to a lesser extent Bane. But, in some cases it doesn’t. With Ras Al’ Ghul for instance. I love the Ras that uses the Lazarus Pit to keep himself immortal. A combination of Dracula, Rasputin, and Genghis Khan. In Nolan’s world, he is just a mad terrorist bent on destruction. Same with his daughter Talia as I covered earlier. Not to mention the Scarecrow could be such a creepy villain. But how about Nolan’s version of Selina Kyle? Why don’t I call her Catwoman? Because those words are not uttered in TDKR. At all! There is a reference in a news paper to a ‘cat burglar. The goggles she uses when flipped up look like cat ears, which is clever. There is even a little homage to the legendary ballroom scene with Bruce Wayne and Selina.
Almost identical right???
But she is to me just Selina Kyle. She doesn’t even use a whip in the movie!!! Hathaway does a good job. She is cute, kind of sexy. She has a great suit, and does the part well. But she never seems like Catwoman to me. Like Bale as Bruce Wayne. He’s a great Wayne, but never seems like Batman. Hathaway is a great Selina Kyle, but an average Catwoman. Ooops, sorry Nolan. Didn’t mean to use the C word.
GRADE – B
Now, here we have the original Bat-Lady. Unless one counts the 60’s “Batman the Movie” with Adam west and Lee Meriwether. But in my mind, Basinger is the original as Vickie Vale. Now I realize not all were so impressed with Ms. Vale and Basinger in this film. I was, and still am. Like Katie Holmes, Basinger has a sweetness about her. An almost naivete in this movie that for me was perfect. She wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen to her life, and it shows through out the film. Basinger is adorable as she and Keaton have a great chemistry on film. They make a great looking couple and one wants them to be together. Only draw back is like Kidman Basinger is regulated to being the damsel in distress for Batman to rescue. Which, is not terrible and one roots for the Batman to rescue her. Vickie Vale is great isn’t she?
GRADE – B+
Really now, whom else could it have been. The lady who nearly steals the movie away from Batman himself. Ms. Pfeiffer owns the role of Selina Kyle AND Catwoman. When she says, “I’m Catwoman … hear me roar.” It is almost as epic as when Keaton first says, “I’m Batman.” In “Batman and Robin” Stupid Schumacher and company attempt to recreate the story of Selina Kyle’s transformation from the mousey demure Selina, to the ultra powerful, independent and sexy Catwoman. Where Thurman fails is where Pfieffer succeeds. Pfieffer is terrific as the milktoast Selina that men push around and use. One feels for her and are horrified when Max Shrek kills her. Then Pfieffer literally, figuratively and performance wise, comes to life as she is resurrected as the Catwoman. Another difference in Schumacher’s Poison Ivy and Burton’s Catwoman is that Ivy turns in to a pure criminal. After being sort of sympathetic and good, she turns into a pure villain. While Catwoman in Burton’s film is a wildcard. She is playing by her own rules. Neither good nor evil. That’s what makes her so likeable.
One last thing. The reason I rank Pfieffer abouve Hathoway mostly is because of the endings of both films. Hathoway’s Kyle gives in and runs off with Bruce Wayne. She goes to live in the lap of luxury and retires from her life of crime. That’s fine for the happy ending thing. But Pfieffer’s Kyle, while tempted to go with Wayne, refuses to give up her new found independence. She has become her own woman and person and knows she will become the demur door mat again if she gives in. So she leaves him and doesn’t look back. That to me is what makes Michelle Pfieffer not only the superior Catwoman. But the best all time LADY OF THE BAT-FILMS.
GRADE – A+
Well, that’s what I think. Agree, disagree, think I’m full of it? Let me know in comments and polls. Thanks for reading.