The love story of Batman and Catwoman isn’t quite a tale old as a time. Yet there is hardly any other comic book couple that’s as popular or beloved as the sometimes enemies and almost always vigilantes. Throughout their appearances in comics, video games, and movies, the tumultuous love affair of The Cat and the Bat has ensnared fans. The excitement about the pair is at an all-time high too. The two spandex lovers are preparing to get married with the pages of Tom King’s current run on Batman.
There’s a lot to love about Catwoman and Batman, together or apart. They’re not the most stable couple in comics, but they are the most interesting. Harmony and happiness don’t always make for the best stories, especially when it comes to Batman, but despite their popularity there’s a lot about the pair that most fans probably don’t know about them. Throughout their long history there’s been strange moments, weird twists and otherwise smoothed over tidbits that DC Comics has left buried or hidden. Theses fun facts aren't necessarily the worst aspects of their relationship or even mistakes. There’s still plenty about Batman and Catwoman that DC probably won’t want you to know as they prepare for the two's (hopefully) wedded bliss.
20 THE CAT, THE BAT AND THE HELENA
Batman collects orphans and children like baseball cards. He may not be the best dad in the world, depending on the writer, but he’s a dad (biological or otherwise). Catwoman though isn’t typically associated with motherhood. She’s a lone wolf (or cat) who usually is looking out for herself, even if she is a thief with a heart of gold. However, the two have had at least one child. The first child of Batman and Catwoman made her first appearance in the Bronze Age of comics on Earth-2.
In DC Super-Stars #17, Helena Wayne was introduced as the daughter of Catwoman and Batman.
In Helena’s history, Batman was an aging hero and Catwoman had died when Helena was just a teenager. The absence of her parents in the superhero scene inspired Helena to take up the mantle of Huntress and protect Gotham with Dick Grayson’s Robin. They did this until Crisis on Infinite Earths which erased them both (mostly) from canon. Helena would show up again in the Modern Age as the daughter of Catwoman. In 2006, Catwoman appeared with a young baby named Helena. According to Selina, the father of Helena was her former (dead) fling Sam Bradley. Yet it was always heavily implied that Helena was really the daughter of Bruce Wayne. Eventually Selina was forced to give up Helena for adoption and no one has talked of her ever again.
19 THE OTHER (WONDER) WOMAN
Often being the one woman in the Justice League, Wonder Woman has been imagined as many heroes’ love interest. Although she has typically been written as Superman’s love (outside of the “correct” choice of Lois Lane), Wonder Woman and The Dark Knight have also made eyes at one another. Diana and Bruce briefly dated in the comics and Wonder Woman was Batman’s main love interest in the DC Animated Universe which involved Justice League: Unlimited and Batman: The Animated Series. Yet even very recently Wonder Woman was a big “obstacle” to Batman and Catwoman’s happiness.
In the story arc, “Superfriends”, Batman and Wonder Woman team up. The pair have made a deal with the knight, The Gentle Man. He's the one line of defense between all of reality and demon hordes. So Diana and Bruce offer The Gentle Man a vacation by replacing him, yet neither of them realized that hundreds of years in Gentle Man’s realm is mere hours in the real world. The pair don’t grow older but they do spend countless years together, alone. They also very nearly get end up getting together all while Selina and Bruce are engaged in the real world. Neither Wonder Woman and Batman go through with it, as they still love Catwoman and Steve Trevor, respectively. It’s a testament to Batman and Catwoman’s relationship that not even Wonder Woman could turn him astray.
18 THE ROMANTIC AXE OF THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY
Catwoman isn’t just Batman’s most popular love interest, she’s also one of his longest romantic entanglements. Catwoman and Batman have been trading punches and kiss for decades. However, the Comics Code Authority nearly put an end to them before they really got started. The Comics Code Authority is the rather infamous body that decided that comics needed to be “cleaned up.” Instituted in 1954, the CCA had several guidelines and restrictions that greatly limited the type of stories that could be told within the pages of the comics. Some restrictions, like forbidding nudity, made sense as comics were originally marketed at kids. Others like criminals not being able to be at all sympathetic or “horror” being excluded from all titles, were just insane.
One of the most egregious casualties of the CCA was the character of Catwoman.
When the CCA was formed, Catwoman had to be removed from the Batman comics -- this wasn’t due (entirely) to her femme fatale nature. Rather the CCA didn’t want Batman to have a relationship with a criminal like Catwoman. Instead Batman needed a more wholesome love interest. So Batwoman, aka Kathy Kane was introduced. The idea was that Batwoman was a much more appropriate love interest for Batman as she fit into this ideal of a traditional family unit. Catwoman would return, obviously, but not until over a decade had passed.
17 ZATANNA: MAGICAL MATCHMATCHER AND MIND WIPER
One of the most controversial Justice League miniseries, ever, is Identity Crisis. The big event (and central mystery) of Identity Crisis is the murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of The Elongated Man. Yet Sue’s death is just the jumping off point for a much grosser story. It’s revealed that villain Doctor Light assaulted Sue and the Justice League, disgusted with his actions, tried to rewrite his mind. Zatanna used her magic to wipe Doctor Light’s mind and "fix" him. The effort backfired and Doctor Light went from a creepy super genius who fought the Justice League to a drooling buffoon that was easily defeated by the Teen Titans.
However, like with all big DC events, Identity Crisis bled out to other stories. It was eventually revealed that Zatanna had mindwiped another former villain, who went through a sudden personality change in Catwoman. When Catwoman first appeared, she was much more selfish and vicious. Yet eventually she became Batman’s ally (and lover). Identity Crisis claimed this change occurred not because Selina’s own free will or character development but because Zatanna had messed with her brain. In the other words, the only real reason that Batman and Catwoman ended up together is because of Zatanna’s magical meddling and a violation of Selina’s free will.
16 THE (OTHER) EVIL LOVE OF BATMAN’S LIFE
One of the big hooks of Batman and Catwoman’s romance is that, although they’re on opposite sides of the law, they find themselves drawn to one another. Catwoman might often be a villain but Batman loves her all the same -- it’s a compelling idea but it’s not a unique concept. Catwoman isn’t the only villain that Batman has ever fallen for or even gotten close to marrying. For awhile Batman was smitten with the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, Talia. Talia al Ghul rescued Batman when he was attacked by a fringe element of the League of Assassins and the two quickly developed a relationship. Batman was hopelessly in love with Talia. During the story, "Son of the Demon", Batman gets very, very close to marrying Talia. The only thing that holds him back is her father Ra’s and taking over the League of the Assassins, which would go totally against Batman’s no-kill policy.
For many years after Talia’s introduction in the early '70s, it seemed like Batman could end up with either Talia or Catwoman.
However, with the intervention of certain writers (mainly Grant Morrison) Talia became a more militant character and ever so slightly deranged. Talia slipped into villainy where Catwoman started to occupy a much more heroic demeanor, sealing Selina's fate as the love of Batman’s life.
15 THE CAT AT THE START
Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. It wouldn’t be until almost a year later that Batman received his first self-titled series in Batman #1. The first issue of Batman introduced a lot of classic characters, most notable among them were The Joker and, of course, Catwoman. However, at the time of Batman #1, Selina Kyle wasn’t going by the name of Catwoman. She was still a jewel their with a feline gimmick. Yet her actual supervillain name was The Cat. The Cat didn’t dress up in her skintight outfit either, instead The Cat had a much more dastardly disguise, that of an old woman.
The Cat used make-up to make herself appear as Old Miss Peggs. Batman (with a slight assist from Robin) figured out the ruse and wiped the make-up off of Selina's face revealing her true identity. The Cat would try on a variety of different outfits after Old Miss Peggs, including putting an actual cat mask on her face, eventuall she did just settle on a more traditional supervillain disguise. Yet the one thing that was always present is Batman’ feelings for The Cat. Although the dynamic duo catch Selina red-handed in Batman #1, the caped crusader lets Selina go because she's pretty.
14 LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT AGAIN AND AGAIN
Historically the first meeting between Batman and Catwoman is in Batman #1. Yet in comics’ pursuit to be as confusing as possible, their first meeting has been retconned over and over throughout their history. So much so that their meeting as The Cat and the Batman has been lost to time, happening somewhere and somewhen but probably not in the current continuity. There have been multiple retellings of Batman and Catwoman’s meet cute. Sometimes it's in their superhero identities, other times it's as Selina and Bruce. One of the most popular and probably the current “official” version is that the two met as a part of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.
In this telling, Bruce is disguising himself to fight crime but not as Batman -- at least not yet.
Bruce puts on make-up as an old man. In disguise, Batman fights a sugar daddy who has his sights on Selina and her friend Holly. Bruce attacks him, knocks him out and then, unaware of her true intentions, turns his violent attentions on Holly. Selina attacks, in an effort to save her friend, but Bruce knocks them both out -- it's brutal story worthy only of Frank Miller. The multiple meetings for The Cat and The Bat was mocked (slightly) in Tom King and Mitch Gerard’s Batman Annual #2 where neither can actually remember their first meeting.
13 TAKING DOWN CATMAN TOGETHER
Catman is one of the lamest named characters in DC Comics’ long line-up of characters. Every comic book company has occasionally phoned it once or twice. However, taking Catwoman (one of their most popular characters) and removing the “wo” is a whole new love of creative bankruptcy. All things considered though Catman is a rather decent character, especially in modern depictions. However, when he first showed up in Detective Comics #311, Catwoman wasn’t too happy.
Bill Finger and Jim Mooney, who created Catman, at least had the decency to have him tied to Catwoman. In universe, Thomas Blake decided to co-opt Selina’s gimmick and name for his own criminal purposes. He even tried to frame Catwoman for a couple of his crimes. Angered by the plagiarism (and the crimes she didn’t commit) Catwoman sought out the help of Batman to take down her male counterpart. The act of taking down the copycat (pun very much intended) was Selina and Bruce’s first real team-up.
It is Catman who brought the two together as allies and convinced readers that there was something to them as partners, not enemies. DC just probably doesn’t want you to remember that Catman was the impetus ... or that Catman exists at all, really.
12 THAT ROOFTOP TRYST
When DC Comics launched their reboot of the New 52, it didn’t seem like there was anything that the company could do right. In an effort to make the DC Universe appeal to new fans, the New 52 wiped out large portions of the characters’ history, gave everyone a homogeneous edgy look and took characters in bizarre and controversial directions. The aim was to be modern and update things but in reality, DC just made a number of terrible and distasteful decisions. One of the most infamous examples was in Catwoman #1. Catwoman has always been a very flirty and seductive character but Catwoman #1 went overboard on a certain aspect the character.
The most questionable moment is when Batman and Catwoman meet on the roof.
It's a scene that we've seen played out many times before, but this new direction of DC Comics really wanted to up the ante. Catwoman, as she often does, begins to flirt with Batman and then things get uncomfortable. Batman protests to the contrary and rejects Selina. Catwoman, however, doesn't listen and rips his clothes off. It all comes off as alarming and very uncomfortable. Thankfully, it’s been most forgotten but it’s hardly the best example of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship.
11 THE ORIGIN STORY WE SHOULD ALL FORGET
Just like any comic book character, Selina Kyle has been through several different origin stories. Some obviously exist in other universes where everything changes. Yet even in the continuity that is considered the “main” one of DC canon, Catwoman has been had some insane explanations for her criminal behavior. In Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s Batman #62, the origin of Catwoman comes out during a fight with Batman, but she' s knocked on the head in the struggle and this head trauma jogs her memory back to an earlier one. According to the story, Catwoman was once a flight attendant. Selina survived a plane crash but was knocked on the head and this removed all her memories and inexplicably made her want to commit crimes. This insane story was later retconned to be an insane story that Selina made up, but for decades it was her actual origins.
The flight attendant origin would later be a replaced with an even more insulting one where Selina too on the oldest profession known to man , and she was inspired to turn to crime after seeing Batman in action. No matter the story, Selina’s origins have always been tied to Batman, but they’ve also almost always been awful (and ignored) outside of the story in which they appeared.
10 THE SIDEKICK COPYCAT
Batman has always been a big inspiration for Selina, whether as a hero or a villain. Selina’s love of Batman either convinces her to be a better person or seeing a grown man dress up as a small black animal motivates Catwoman that she can do it too. Yet there’s a smaller and more embarrassing way that The Cat has copied The Bat -- for awhile Catwoman had her own sidekick and it was extraordinarily silly. Much as she is now, before the DC Universe rebooted in the New 52, DC Comics was all-in on the concept of Catwoman as a full superhero. There was no anti-hero nonsense or her playing both sides against the middle -- Selina was full-on fighting crime. In the course of this heroic turn, Selina met Kitrina Falcone (yes, the name was just that unsubtle).
Kitrina was the was the youngest daughter of the Falcone family and Catwoman saved her life.
Inspired by the skinsuit wearing vigilante, Kitrina wanted to help fight crime, so Selina adopted her as protégé. Kirtina became Catgirl and stood side-by-ridiculous-side with Catwoman. Kitrina was an obvious and very lame Robin clone that, thankfully, the New 52 wiped Catgirl from existence -- but not before Batman offered to ship Kitrina to a boarding school for girls, an offer the troubled youth eventually accepted. Only Batman can have child soldiers in Gotham.
9 THE RETURN OF BATMAN RETURNS’ CATWOMAN
Catwoman has had nearly as many live-action adaptations as Batman. Any time that someone wants to reboot Batman, a reboot of Catwoman can’t be far behind. Yet many still consider the definitive version of Catwoman to be the one that Michelle Pfeiffer played in Batman Returns, even if her origins are even more insane than some of the comics. The introduction of Catwoman into Tim Burton’s Batman universe completely changes the mood of the movie and wipes out memory of all previous love interests -- Vicky Vale became a distant memory, if she wasn’t one already. Sensibly, the adventures Michael Keaton’s Batman and Pfeiffer’s Catwoman were supposed to continue beyond Batman Returns but the plans were scrapped.
Batman Returns was the last time Tim Burton was behind the camera for a Batman movie, but he wanted to continue with a direct sequel and maybe even a Catwoman spin-off. However, Batman Returns (while a success) didn’t manage to outgross the original Burton movie. Warner Bros. fearing the franchise was going into a too dark direction, they removed Burton (and many of his actors or characters) for a much lighter and goofier version in Batman Forever.
8 CATWOMAN’S OTHER GREAT LOVE(S)
Batman has had several other love interests before Catwoman. There’s the previously mentioned examples of Wonder Woman and Talia al Ghul but there are, of course, others. In The Dark Knight trilogy it’s Bruce’s childhood friend, Rachel Dawes, who is the love of his life. In the comics, he’s had small flings with everyone from Vicky Vale to Poison Ivy. The impression of Catwoman is that she’s always been in love with Batman, and while Batman is Catwoman’s longest and most fulfilling relationship, he’s not always been her entire world.
Catwoman has had flings with several characters of both genders.
In the comics and the cartoons, Catwoman has shown a lot of interest in Nightwing. This is a bit like replacing a smoking addiction with chewing tobacco but Nightwing isn’t Batman. Selina Kyle, a confirmed bisexual character, even had a rather long love affair with Eiko Hasigawa. Eiko is a daughter of a crime family and, for a time, even followed Selina’s example becoming her own Catwoman. Batman and Catwoman always find their way to back to each other, given the cyclic nature of comic books. Yet despite the way it seems at time, Selina does have a life outside Batman -- not all of Catwoman’s romantic thoughts surround Batman.
7 THE NO KILL POLICY EXCEPTION
Batman’s one rule is to never kill -- it’s a rule that has become more of a guideline with the cinematic Batman adaptations. In the DCEU (and other movies) Batman has been totally willing to kill people. Yet the comics have been rather stringent on Batman being a pacifist and hating anyone who kills, no matter the reason, but the big exception seems to always be Catwoman. One of the earliest stories in Tom King’s run on Batman saw the Dark Knight trying to rescue Catwoman from the gas chamber after she was accused of mass murder. This is because Batman believed Catwoman was innocent (and he was right) -- Catwoman hadn’t killed anyone. Instead, she was covering for her friend Holly Robinson. Yet the fake mass murder is hardly the first time that she has been associated with killing.
Pre-New 52, Catwoman went after the gangster and Batman villain, Black Mask. Black Mask was responsible for the killing Catwoman’s brother-in-law and terrorizing of her sister. This inspired Catwoman to go after him and eventually Catwoman confronted Black Mask and shot him in the head, killing him. Catwoman did regret the action, almost immediately. She retired from being Catwoman and tried to rebuild herself but Batman honestly cared very little, as it seems that the Cat really can do no wrong in his eyes.
6 BATMAN LITERALLY STOLE HER HEART
One of the most poetic things that can be said of Catwoman and Batman is that, although she is an actual thief, Batman pulled off the bigger heist: Batman stole Catwoman’s heart. While that’s true, if a little mushy, it’s also literal. Batman once had to literally steal Catwoman’s heart to keep her alive. In the story "Heart of Hush", written by Paul Dini and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, the villain Hush returns to enact revenge on Batman. Hush targets Catwoman to really get at Batman’s emotions and that involves going after her heart. Hush, who is a surgeon and a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, kidnaps Catwoman and removes her heart from her body. Catwoman doesn’t die, because Batman takes her body and straps it up to machinery in the Batcave.
This keeps her alive but without a heart.
She is on death's door for most of the arc, and the theft of Catwoman’s heart is only small part of Hush’s plans (another part of the scheme involves him stealing Bruce Waynes and performing surgery to look just like Bruce). Yet it is the theft of Catwoman’s heart that drives most of the action in the story and it causes Batman to admit, for the first time, that he loves Selina and he will always love her.
5 THE OTHER CATWOMEN
It’s well known that there have been multiple people to wear the mantle and name of Batman. When Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back, Jean Paul Valley took over the title and when Bruce Wayne was “killed” by Darkseid, the Batman name was adopted by Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson. Yet there have also been multiple women to take over the pointy mask of Catwoman. It’s true that most of Catwoman’s history she has been Selina Kyle and even in alternate universes, it’s a version of Selina as Catwoman. Yet the first time a new woman took up the title of Catwoman is when Selina retired from the lifestyle in the early '00s. Feeling guilty over killing Black Mask and suddenly becoming pregnant with a daughter, Selina disappeared. In her stead, Selina's friend Holly Robinson became Catwoman.
Holly served as Catwoman for a time while Selina nursed her baby. Yet when Selina, inevitably, gave her daughter for adoption Selina returned to the mantle of Catwoman, removing Holly. The third Catwoman was Eiko Hasigawa, who didn’t even need Selina to retire. Instead Eiko just took the whole gimmick while Selina was still active, as the head of a crime family, but still around. Neither Eiko or Holly had much of a romantic relationship with Batman and, in fact, Holly was rather antagonistic towards Bruce. However Selina was interested in Eiko, inside and outside of the Catwoman suit.
4 CATWOMAN IS BATMAN’S CATNIP
Everyone superhero needs a weakness. Superman has Kryptonite, Wonder Woman has being bound by men (seriously) and Green Lantern has the entire color of yellow (even more seriously). The biggest obstacle for Batman though is, in fact, Catwoman. In the New 52 the Justice League of America was formed with a very specific purpose. Gathered together by Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller, the JLA was meant to save the world but also take out the Justice League if they got out of hand. Everyone that was recruited to Justice League of America was supposed be the match for someone on the Justice League.
Vibe was meant to neutralize Flash, Martian Manhunter could take on Superman and Catwoman was there to be Batman’s weakness.
Most of the plans of the Justice League of America went awry, meaning they never did too good of a job in taking down the Justice League or even attempting to take them down. Yet Catwoman was surprisingly effective as a personal threat to Batman. On the few occasions that the Justice League and the JLA did face off, the sight of Catwoman against him was enough to shake Batman. Batman didn’t want really want to hurt Catwoman and that caused him to hold back. Amanda Waller didn’t know much with the JLA but she did know how to get into Bruce Wayne’s head.
3 THE HUMANIZING ASPECT OF A MASTER THIEF
Tom King is one of the most talented and popular comic book writers of the moment. Due to his work on Grayson, Mister Miracle, The Sheriff of Babylon and Marvel’s The Vision, King’s career is on fire. So it was a very exciting prospect when it was announced that he would take over Batman with DC Rebirth. Yet King wasn't nearly as excited as everyone else when it came to writing Batman. According to the writer in an interview with Inverse, he had a very hard time trying to get into Bruce Wayne’s head. King couldn’t figure out how he was going to write Batman, until he realized that he should focus Batman’s relationship with Catwoman. King had Bruce ask Selina to marry him in Batman #24, so he, as a writer, could better relate to the character.
Batman caring deeply for Catwoman gave the character emotional stakes that King could understand. It made the character less than perfect. “I’m fortunate that I’m madly in love with my wife. The biggest stakes for me are my relationship for her,” King explained. “When I was in a dangerous situation in my former job, I was never scared of getting hurt. I was scared of her being without me. When you’re in love, you have these thoughts. It makes everything in your life different, it makes you admit things about yourself.” Batman and Catwoman’s impending marriage is all due to Tom King’s love for his wife.
2 NOT BATMAN'S FIRST (SECRET IDENTITY REVEAL)
One of the consistent and special things about Catwoman is that she is the one of just a few people who knows Bruce Wayne that is Batman. This bleeds out to mediums other of the comics. In the movies and video games, Selina has learned that Bruce is Batman (whether because he’s directly told her or she just figured it out for herself). However, it wasn’t until 2003’s storyline "Hush" that Batman unmasked for Catwoman. Before the two knew each other as just Batman and Catwoman or as Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne. Bruce knew but Selina had no idea Bruce and Batman were the same person.
However, Selina wasn’t the first (former) villain or even love interest to learn Batman’s identity.
Deathstroke, Riddler, Bane, Man-Bat and Hugo Strange all figured out that Batman was Bruce Wayne before Catwoman got the information for herself. To Catwoman (and DC’s credit), some of the other villains who’ve learned Batman’s secret identity have gotten their memories wiped or been retconned to not learn it. Since she was told, Catwoman has always known. Yet Talia al Ghul, the woman Batman almost married, has known Bruce Wayne’s secret identity since the late '80s. Batman trusted her with the secret, decades before he told Catwoman.
1 THE STARTER MARRIAGE
DC is treating the upcoming marriage of Batman and Catwoman as the biggest event ever in the characters’ history -- it’s coming off as this unprecedented moment that has never happened before. That’s true, but only from a certain point of view. Batman and Catwoman have never been married before… in the current continuity. For a long time, Catwoman and Batman’s marriage was a long-established part of their characters. It was introduced in the mid '70s with the introduction of their daughter but in DC continuity Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle were married for decades on Earth-2.
Before "Crisis on Infinite Earths", which reconfigured the entire DC Universe, Earth-2 was known as the world that contained all the Golden Age superheroes. The first appearances of Batman and Catwoman belonged to the Golden Age. It’s those specific versions of their characters who eventually got married and had a daughter, Helena Wayne, together. The marriage of Batman and Catwoman in the DC Rebirth timeline isn’t a brand-new concept for DC. Rather it’s a return to a bygone, Golden Age of comics. Let’s just hope that Batman and Catwoman’s current marriage has a happier history than her former one as the both ended up dying prematurely, leaving their daughter and adopted son to take up their mantles.