Wednesday, September 03, 2008


We here at Brevity don't usually feel the need to comment on what everyone else is talking about. So no Michael Phelps, no Sarah Palin. (Nor any Michael Palin or Sarah Phelps.)

Another unmentioned subject here from the past few months: The Dark Knight. I have seen it (once), and it had already been out three weeks by then. There was really no point in finding a new take on such an exhaustively discussed movie. It has its strengths (the Keyser Soze opening; the pencil trick; Aaron Eckhart) and its weaknesses (the Cillian Murphy cameo; pretending to kill off one of the 3 characters you CAN'T kill off). Is it the greatest superhero movie of all time, or is that label too limiting? Will it break the box office of Titanic? Will it be nominated for Best Picture? I don't know, and don't yet care.

But one Batman-related item got me interested over a month ago: with the inevitable sequel talk, people were bringing up Catwoman a lot, and jumped right into casting the role. Names bandied about included Angelina Jolie, Marion Cotillard, and Emily Blunt. Their logic was simple: find a brunette you wouldn't mind seeing in skintight black leather. (Understandable. That's exactly how I approach my weekends.)

But I see two problems with introducing Catwoman. First, women don't really figure into director Christopher Nolan's vision of Batman. We know Bruce Wayne had a mother, but she isn't discussed at all; Batman Begins is mostly about Thomas Wayne's life and legacy to Gotham. And having two actresses play Rachel Dawes gives us separate insights into how irrelevant she is as an individual (though certainly of symbolic value to the men).

Second, this version of Batman seems the least interested in a work challenge like Catwoman because he's not married to his job. Christian Bale is sort of the anti-Adam West in that he's not a monk in a costume, but just a guy with exceptional means to get things done. He's like the DC Comics incarnation of John McClane: there because he's needed, not because he's volunteering. I don't see how any previous embodiment of Catwoman will attract his attention.

There is a way to do Catwoman right, however, and it has nothing to do with getting an ingenue to give us her best purr. Just as the Joker was re-interpreted to be more anarchist and less jokey, so should Catwoman lose the playfulness and just give off a scent of desperation and danger. So why not cast the actress who was once so desperate for the role: Sean Young?

Apparently, I'm no longer the only one who thinks so. (Dang blog procrastination.) Last month this fan placed Young at the top of his list of choices, going so far as brand her breed of cat a cougar. Also open to the Freudian approach: the studio, if you believe the rumors that we call movie news. Last week In Contention quoted an insider with an even more bizarre suggestion... Cher.

While she's not my first choice (or even second choice among the Witches of Eastwick), the very idea tells me that a darker, less conventional depiction of Catwoman is at least in the discussion. In this Gotham City, Catwoman shouldn't get by on just her allure. She needs to be the intelligent and resourceful one who, by virtue of her gender, messes with Bruce's mind in a way that a man can't.


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