Known for her complex love-hate relationship with Batman, Catwoman is one of DC’s most enduring “villains,” as the character has been around for over 70 years with an ambiguous moral code. Originally planned as strictly a ruthless cat burglar and adversary of Batman, her character was slightly altered to be more of an antihero in the ’90s. Catwoman would often do the wrong thing but for the right reason, leading to an uneasy alliance with several DC heroes from time to time including Batman, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Catwoman’s relationship with Batman has evolved throughout the years, from antagonistic to recently accepting a marriage proposal from the Caped Crusader.
Catwoman became extremely popular early on, leading to the character being featured in a multitude of Batman-related movies, television shows and animated series. She is often paired with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, with the trio being called the Gotham City Sirens, which is expected to be an upcoming film from the DCEU. Typically clad in a skintight catsuit (natch), carrying a bull whip and having at least one pet cat, Catwoman has a clearly recognizable style. CBR takes a look at some of the best, and worst, looks of Catwomen throughout history.
20. HALLE BERRY
As probably the most well-known Catwoman fail in history, it should come as no surprise that Halle Berry’s outfit from her failed solo movie is at the bottom of our list. The outfit was a hot mess; comprised of low-rise ripped trousers, long, clawed gloves, a cat mask and a bra. As heinous as it is revealing, moviegoers did not appreciate this 2004 update of Batman’s favorite playmate.
Vile costume aside, the whole movie was a complete and total disaster. Her name wasn’t even Selina Kyle, it was Patience Phillips, so this entry barely counts as a Catwoman. The movie also appeared to exist for the sole viewing pleasure of men and had no real plot because it had Halle Berry in a hideously revealing outfit. Luckily, Berry redeemed herself (mostly) as X-Men‘s Storm.
19. HOLLY ROBINSON
Selina Kyle hasn’t always been Catwoman, there have been a few instances where someone has taken over for a variety of reasons. Upon the birth of Selina’s daughter, her sidekick, Holly Robinson, temporarily assumes the role of Catwoman. Also trained by Wildcat, Holly first appeared as an underage prostitute in the pages of Batman: Year One, but became a supporting character in Selina Kyle’s world.
Selina eventually helps get her clean and then takes Holly under her wing. Holly’s portrayal was so positive that it led to the Catwoman comic winning a GLAAD Media Award in 2004. While on patrol, Holly wore the same costume Selina used prior to the “Infinite Crisis” story arc. A black zip-up catsuit with a wide belt, knee high boots and a whip.
18. DARWYN COOKE’S CATWOMAN
In 2001, Eisner Award-winning artist Darwyn Cooke redesigned the Catwoman character, after a turnover in creative teams. Redeveloping the supporting cast and modus operandi as well, Cooke and writer Ed Brubaker dove deeper into Gotham’s underbelly, having Catwoman infiltrate various factions of criminal activity, giving a slightly grittier feel to both the character and the world she inhebited.
Cooke’s play on the character had a very playful, almost pin-up, type of look, which worked with the atmosphere they created. The standard black catsuit was there, along with cat-eye goggles and a whip that doubled as her belt. Even though it was ultimately short-lived, it is believed that this design directly influenced her modern, “New 52” look, and the goggles have become somewhat of a mainstay for the character.
17. THE ’60S LOOK
After a rule instituted by the Comic Code Authority regarding female characters in comics, Catwoman was removed from the pages of the Batman comic from 1954-1966. While she was banned in the comics, actress Julie Newmar was busy playing a flesh and blood version on the Batman television series. So, when Catwoman returned to print later in 1967, her outfit had yet another makeover.
Catwoman’s outfit was very similar to the sexy, form-fitting outfit Newmar wore on the hit television show. However, this time her suit was a shocking pea green color. Perhaps they were aiming for a team-up with Riddler? The texture of the outfit came off as scaly and she wore something of a masquerade mask. Thankfully, this look only last a couple years.
16. THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES
A continuation of the successful Batman: The Animated Series of the early 1990s, The New Batman Adventures aired from 1997-1999 and focused more on Batman’s supporting cast, which included such sidekicks as Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl. Though it never quite gained the popularity of its predecessor, it did eventually give us the Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman feature film, a fan favorite and the beginning of sorts for a shared continuity among DC animated films.
The majority of the characters underwent some redesign, with varying degrees. Catwoman was probably the most severe case out of everyone involved. In her simplest uniform to date, she simply wore a black catsuit with pointed ears and a swipe of red lipstick, going for a “less is more” approach to running around Gotham as a cat burglar.
Premiering on Fox in 2014, Gotham is a police procedural-prequel to the Batman story we already know. Focusing on a young James Gordon’s early days with the Gotham City Police Department, the show also went on to include various origin stories of several villains. Younger versions of Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and Catwoman all took turns wreaking havoc on Gotham City.
Played by actress Camren Bicondova, this Selina Kyle is shown to be a 13-year-old thief and orphan who lives on the streets of Gotham City. She witnesses the murders of Bruce Wayne’s parents, forms an uneasy alliance with James Gordon and even saves a young Bruce from a gang of hired killers. A mix of street clothes and practicality, Selina’s costume involves finger-less gloves, a leather jacket and lace up boots.
14. THE ’40S LOOK
When Selina Kyle first took the official name of Catwoman in 1947, she wore a costume appropriate for any comic book hero or villain to wear at the time. She sported a purple dress with a green cape, which were all the rage back then. Though it may have seemed more appropriate for a dinner party, it was certainly a stylish look for Selina.
The best feature of the costume was a cat mask that would be similarly incorporated in future versions of Catwoman’s costumes. It covered the top half of her face, allowing her long hair to flow behind her and topped it off with some high-heeled boots. This costume would later reappear in the late ’80s, only at that time it revealed more skin.
13. LEE MERIWETHER
Though Julie Newmar originated the role of Catwoman in the Batman television series of the ’60s, she was unavailable after the first two seasons and subsequently replaced for the third season, as well as the feature film. For the feature film in 1966, producers cast Lee Meriwether as Catwoman. The majority of Meriwether’s previous work was for comedy shows, which made her a perfect fit for the campy theme.
In this particular version, Catwoman is a straight up villainess, masquerading as Ms. Kitka and later joins other Gotham City villains in a plot to take over the world. It seemed she was only in the movie to play the part of Batman’s love interest. Her costume consisted of a sparkly black catsuit, gold claws, a cat’s eye mask and pointed ears.
12. DC SUPER HERO GIRLS
Launched towards the end of 2015, the animated show DC Super Hero Girls went on to spawn an action figure franchise and inspire young girls around the world. Focusing on several teenage versions of well-known DC heroes and heroines who attend challenging classes and deal with the awkwardness of growing up along with the stress of having unique superpowers, the show has become a hit in the United States. Classic villains such as Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Killer Frost and Catwoman were made child-friendly in an effort to display acceptance among diverse peers.
Inspired by the character’s New 52 design, this Catwoman sports the traditional black catsuit along with combat boots, a silver cat-head belt buckle, goggles and a short, punky hairdo with purple streaks. In the series, she is often seen cheering heroes on and often joining in on their “battles” with villains. Child-friendly, of course.
11. CATWOMAN 1,000,000
“DC One Million” was a brand-wide crossover that also ran as a weekly limited series and through special issues of most titles in 1998. It envisioned a DC Universe in the 853rd century because that is the century in which DC would publish issue 1,000,000 of their comics had they maintained a regular publishing schedule. The main story of the event focused on the 20th-century Justice League of America and the 853rd-century Justice Legion Alpha coming together to defeat a plot by Vandal Savage and future Superman nemesis, Solaris.
In Catwoman’s issue, we find her on a mission to maneuver around state-of-the-art security systems in the Batcave to steal a teleporting Boom Suit on the planet of Pluto. Yes, you read that right. Artists took the contemporary ’90s purple catsuit and augmented it with technological gadgetry. Her flowing hair was replaced by what looked like metallic cords of dreadlocks.
10. BOMBSHELL CATWOMAN
DC Comics Bombshells started out as a line of statues depicting famous super-heroines in a retro ’40s look, with one released every so often. They grew in popularity so much, they eventually spun into an ongoing comic book series focusing on various popular female characters like Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Zatanna and Catwoman.
This version of Catwoman is depicted as a noir-type spy; part Emma Peel, part Holly Golightly. Wearing a low-cut black mini dress, with knee highs, glasses and strappy heels, the look was topped off with a string of pearls. This was definitely a new look for the Selina Kyle we all know and love (or love to hate sometimes). Vintage, classy and 100% sexy, this Catwoman look was the very definition of the word “bombshell”.
9. THE ’70S LOOK
The early ’70s was not a pretty time for the wardrobes of female DC characters, like for the rest of the people in the real world. The new decade brought another updated Catwoman costume and, while it was definitely an improvement from the green suit, it wasn’t all that cat-related. However, they did add a tail.
They made her leather gloves longer, which would go on to influence future designs, but that’s pretty much where the feline similarities end. The black bodysuit is reminiscent of a one-piece bathing suit with a Dracula-like collar. So as to not show too much skin, they had her wear some white leggings and go-go boots in public. This also marks the first time audiences would see Catwoman with a short hairstyle.
8. THE NEW 52
In 2011, DC Comics revamped and relaunched its entire line of ongoing comic books. After the fallout from the “Flashpoint” crossover, DC canceled all of its current titles and debuted 52 new ones. DC attempted to make their characters more modern and accessible during this time, however the brand would go through another similar upheaval just give years later with their Rebirth initiative.
The New 52 Catwoman focused on her early days, though not necessarily her origins. It is revealed that she and Batman are lovers and the premiere issue features the first sex scene between the two of them. Her costume strongly resembled the one belonging to Marvel’s Black Widow; black leather catsuit, gloves and boots, and a pair of night-vision goggles. This is the first time we also see her with a short, punky pixie cut.
7. EARTHA KITT
A pioneering African American singer, actress and activist, Eartha Kitt was cast to play Catwoman in the third and final season of the ’60s Batman television series. With Julie Newmar unavailable beyond the first two seasons, Kitt stepped into the role purrrfectly (sorry, couldn’t help it), bringing a new level of class and diversity to the series. Her work on the show would go on to be one of the highlights of her career.
Similar to Newmar’s Catwoman costume, Kitt’s also had some details lifted from the dreaded green suit featured in the comics at the time. Ever so stylish, her slinky black catsuit was topped off with a necklace that strewn gold discs across her neck area. Along with the standard mask and pet cat, Kitt’s Catwoman is remembered as the second best from the show.
6. GUARDIAN OF GOTHAM
Comparable to Marvel’s What If… line of comic books, Elseworlds takes superheroes out of their usual settings and puts them into strange times and places. Some of these places have existed and others that can’t or shouldn’t exist in the first place. The result is stories that make characters who are familiar seem new and fresh.
In 1999’s Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham, the shoe is on the other foot. When Selina Kyle’s parents are murdered, she assumes a masked identity to fight the criminal underworld and protect Gotham City from a psychotic and villainous Batman. This Catwoman wore a version of the familiar purple catsuit that also included a black corset-like top and thigh high boots. Her hair flowed freely from the back of her cat mask and, as always, had her trusty bull whip.
5. ANNE HATHAWAY
While never actually referred to as “Catwoman” in the movie, Anne Hathaway was cast as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises. You almost wonder if this was a conscious decision to try in some way to desexualize the character, giving her a refreshing change from the countless overtly sexual versions of the character that came before her.
The award-winning actress definitely added some much-needed depth to the character, since the last time audiences saw a Catwoman, it was in the previously mentioned Halle Berry disaster. Donning the classic black catsuit, Hathaway also brought the sexy. With nightvision goggles that doubled as her “ears” and guns in place of a whip, Hathaway’s costume also looked highly practical and functional. The stiletto boots were just for fun.
4. JULIE NEWMAR
As the first actress cast as a live-action version of the character, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman is a fan favorite to this day. The statuesque actress played Catwoman in the first two seasons of the popular ’60s Batman television show and would later lend her voice to the character in future animated movies. A Tony Award-winning actress and dancer, producers were thrilled to have someone with such beauty and talent portray their Catwoman.
Newmar’s Catwoman costume, now on display in the Smithsonian Institution, was a basic shiny black catsuit with claws and high-heeled boots. The actress made a slight modification, moving the belt to her hips instead of her waist to emphasize her hourglass figure. Something tells us the girls of To Wong Foo would approve.
3. THE ’90s LOOK
In 1993, fans finally got what they were waiting for: Catwoman got her very own ongoing title. The stories primarily depicted her as an international thief, and occasional bounty hunter, with a vague moral compass. She has a short stint as a reluctant government operative and the series actually delves into her origin story, right up to her training with Wildcat.
The color of her bodysuit had gone back to purple with an older version of her mask that exposes her hair still being used, and thankfully minus any sign of the whiskers. Her razor sharp claws were much more prominent in this look and the tail was also thankfully removed from the costume altogether. This remains the quintessential ’90s Catwoman costume in the comics.
2. MICHELLE PFEIFFER
We wonder if filmmakers had any idea what they were in store for when they cast Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns? Arguably one of the most beautiful women of all-time, the woman could also act. Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Selina’s transformation from a pathetic doormat to dangerously damaged is one of the best parts of the film, and her vulnerability with wanting to have a life she could never have with Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne is heartbreaking.
Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume (which the character stitches together herself) is a vinyl catsuit, with sewing machine-type needles as her claws, a full-head mask and a bondage whip. With an almost grunge-y feel to it, the outfit would be on-trend for the ’90s movie. She is also blessed with some of the best dialogue in the movie.
1. BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
Probably the most popular Batman-related cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series ran from 1992-1995. This is the first time an animated series focused on the character since The Batman/Superman Hour days. Praised for its complex theme, darker tone, artistic quality and modernization of Bat-characters and their origins, the show was also first in the continuity of the super-popular shared DC Animated Universe that would follow.
This version of Catwoman was a long-haired blonde (based on Michelle Pfeiffer’s looks) when Selina wasn’t in costume. The costume itself was a mostly gray catsuit loosely based on the costume used in Batman Returns as well, with long black gloves and high-heeled boots. Accessories included a gold-chained belt and her trusty pet cat, Isis. This Catwoman look remains a classic.
Did we miss out on a particular Catwoman look? Let us know in the comments section!
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