Catwoman is one of DC’s most iconic characters. The ultimate femme fatale in comic books, Catwoman is Batman’s best-known romantic interest, often acting as an antihero in the Caped Crusader’s storylines, although she has occasionally served as both a staunch ally and an outright villain.
As one of DC’s most recognizable and beloved figures, Catwoman has appeared in multiple Batman adaptations. Whether serving as a romantic interest and unlikely ally or a troublesome antagonist toying with the Dark Knight, Catwoman is a constant and welcome presence in numerous Batman-related works. Many actresses have played her in live-action, with several others voicing her in multiple animated works. And while they all bring something unique to the role, some are undoubtedly more iconic than others.
Tress MacNellie, best known for voicing Dot Warner in the Animaniacs franchise, voices an older version of Selina Kyle in 2013’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The film features a tired and drunken Selina who has fallen out of shape and stays out of the action. The intervention is short and very much not what fans expect from Selina Kyle.
Based on a line of toys aimed at pre-teen girls, DC Super Hero Girls follows a group of teenage heroes and villains attending Super Hero High School. Cristina Pucelli voices several characters, including Catwoman; like other characters in the show, Catwoman takes a lighthearted tone. It’s cute and fitting of the show’s setting, but it isn’t the best version of the famous feline femme fatale.
DC Nation Shorts aired on Cartoon Network back in 2012 and featured new takes on well-known characters. Batman of Shanghai saw the Caped Crusader fighting Bane and Catwoman and 1930s Shanghai, with Stephanie Sheh voicing the infamous cat burglar.
Sheh, best known for voicing Katana in numerous DC projects, does justice to Catwoman, but the short barely registers among the character’s best adaptations.
Batwheels is the most recent in a long line of efforts to keep milking the Batman IP for all it’s worth and is part of Max’s streaming library. The show ages down the characters, including Catwoman, voiced by Jane the Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez.
Batwheels is funny and occasionally funny, and Rodriguez does a good job fitting its childlike tone while respecting Catwoman’s essence. It’s a cute performance for a cute, albeit forgettable, show.
The DCAU built a surprisingly coherent and entertaining universe, anchored by arguably the best Batman/Bruce Wayne version since the beloved 90s series. Jennifer Morrison voices Catwoman in 2019’s Batman: Hush, based on the eponymous 2002 comic book arc.
Morrison’s Catwoman is good but surprisingly subdued; sometimes, the actress sounds too monotone, uninterested even. However, she shines the most as Selina, especially in her flirty interactions with Jason O’Mara’s Bruce Wayne. Given more time, she could’ve settled nicely into the role; alas, the DCAU dies shortly before Hush‘s release.
What can be said of Pitof’s now-infamous 2004 trainwreck that hasn’t been said already? Catwoman reframes the famous cat burglar as an antihero played by Oscar winner Halle Berry. The film doesn’t follow Selina Kyle but rather an original character, Patience Phillips, and exists away from the Bat-universe.
Catwoman is a genuinely awful film: it’s dumb, often embarrassingly ridiculous, and features some of the worst CGI in any comic book movie. However, it must be said Berry is not that bad as Catwoman; she does her best considering the material, embracing the character’s inherently campy tones and echoing back to the glory days of Eartha Kitt. Had the direction and screenplay been better, Berry’s efforts might’ve been better received.
Injustice is the definitive “evil Superman” story and one of the most divisive DC efforts in recent memory: you either hate it or love it. The 2021 animated adaptation is a straightforward translation of the 2013 game and Tom Taylor-written comic book series, with Anika Noni Rose as Catwoman.
Injustice features Catwoman at her most passive, serving mainly as emotional support to Batman. Still, Rose does fine work as Catwoman, maintaining the character’s cool facade while revealing new layers concerning her complex relationship with Bruce.
Oscar winner Anne Hathaway doesn’t so much play Catwoman as she does Christopher Nolan’s idea of Catwoman. The actress appears in Nolan’s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, playing Selina as an experienced but tired career burglar looking for a way out.
Hathaway tries to camp it up as best as she can while operating within Nolan’s notoriously hyper-realistic take on the Caped Crusader. However, the film firmly grounds her, preventing us from enjoying Hathaway in all her over-the-top glory. Still, her Catwoman is good, although she can’t help but come across as something of a missed opportunity. Not because of Hathaway herself – on the contrary, the actress clearly wanted to do more – but because of Nolan’s insistence to detach his Batman from any semblance of comic book playfulness.
The short-lived 2004 animated series The Batman adopts a more playful and carefree approach to the Dark Knight’s lore. The show featured several inspired choices and many questionable twists, although its portrayal of Catwoman was quite good.
Voiced by the iconic Showgirls actress Gina Gershon, The Batman‘s Catwoman is sassier than other versions. The character’s design is not the best, but Gershon perfectly captures Selina’s wicked humor, embracing the show’s tongue-in-cheek dialog to deliver a pleasant and frisky version of Catwoman.
Catwoman: Hunted came and went with little fanfare when it was released in 2022. A shame, considering it’s a fun take on Catwoman, placing her front and center in a story that borrows heavily from anime.
Elizabeth Gillies does a surprisingly great job as both Selina and Catwoman, blending lighthearted humor with genuine pathos. The film presents a more fallible and vulnerable version of Catwoman, and Gillies plays up the character’s faux sense of confidence. Catwoman: Hunted deserves more love from mainstream audiences, as does Gillies’s take on the feline robber.
The delightfully subversive and hilarious Harley Quinn show on Max offers a refreshing, R-rated approach to the Batman mythos. The show embraces chaos and kink, featuring an inspired take on Catwoman, voiced by Sanaa Lathan.
The show’s Catwoman is dry and manipulative, with Lathan delivering a wicked and cold performance that perfectly matches the show’s anarchic tone. Lathan’s Catwoman is very much a dominatrix, embracing the character’s inherent and raw sexuality and playing it up for laughs.
Nearly a decade ago, Gotham took everyone by surprise by not sucking. The 2014-2019 Fox show offered one of the best depictions of Gotham City, populated by familiar faces that weren’t quite the iconic characters audiences knew and loved yet. Gotham‘s Selina Kyle, played by Camren Bicondova, is still a child, a street-smart thief with a guarded personality.
Unlike other versions of the much-acclaimed character, Bicondova developed Selina’s psyche over the years, showing her journey toward becoming the self-serving, mercurial thief audiences know and love. Bicondova’s interactions with David Mazouz’s gawky Bruce Wayne rank among the best Bruce/Selina dynamics, with the two developing a playful but earnest and complex connection that captures the unique bond between the characters better than most big-screen versions of the famous romance.
Notable voice actress Grey DeLisle voices Catwoman in the underrated animated 2018 gem Batman Ninja. A full-on anime version of Batman, the film sees the Bat Family transported to feudal Japan. DeLisle, credited as Grey Griffin, voices Catwoman, depicting her as a selfish and self-serving antihero constantly switching sides between Batman and the Joker.
Batman Ninja is beautifully animated and surprisingly deep. DeLisle knocks it out of the park as Catwoman, opting for a softer voice without sacrificing the character’s seductive confidence. Batman Ninja is among the best DC animated efforts, with DeLisle ranking highly in the Catwoman voice department.
When it comes to classic Catwoman portrayals, most might think of Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt. However, Lee Meriwether is just as deserving of the acclaim, thanks to her take on Catwoman in the 1966 film Batman: The Movie. The actress took Catwoman in a less toyetic direction, portraying her instead as a dangerous femme fatale more at home in a 1940s noir film than in the 1960s campy show.
Meriwether’s Catwoman often gets the short end of the stick compared to her other live-action sisters. However, she did a great job in the role, even if she didn’t leave as strong a mark as other actresses.
2018’s Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is another inspired take on the Dark Knight, taking the action to Victorian England. The plot sees Batman tracking Jack the Ripper with the help of the mysterious stage actress Selina Kyle, voiced by Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter fame.
Although Catwoman never technically appears in the film, Carpenter is a genius bit of casting as Selina Kyle. Her confident, commanding performance perfectly fits the film’s tone, with Carpenter producing one of the best versions of Selina Kyle in live-action and animation. It’s a shame Carpenter was a one-and-done because she is stellar as Selina, capturing the character’s self-assured allure in a way few other actresses have.
The late Naya Rivera voices Catwoman in the 2021 two-parter Batman: The Long Halloween. A faithful adaptation of the classic comic book storyline, the films follow Batman’s attempts to stop the serial Holiday Killer amidst increasing unrest in Gotham City.
In many ways, Rivera is the perfect Catwoman. Sexy but approachable, guarded but vulnerable, mysterious yet weirdly relatable. The character shines the most in Part 1, becoming a victim of Part 2’s overcrowded third act. However, Rivera remains a scene-stealing wonder, playing Catwoman with cool conviction. The Long Halloween threatens to overwhelm with its sheer number of characters and story, but Rivera never allows Catwoman to become lost amidst the increasing noise.
Zoë Kravitz first voiced Catwoman in The Lego Batman movie before playing the character in live-action in Matt Reeves’ acclaimed The Batman. The film draws heavily from The Long Halloween, meaning Selina plays the role of the shifting femme fatale discovering her identity.
Kravitz’s Catwoman has a lot of things going for her: she has the best theme by far and benefits from Reeves’ noir approach. However, Kravitz’s Selina is not a femme fatale; instead, the actress opts for a less clichéd take on the famous character. Kravitz is still alluring and elusive, but she embraces Catwoman’s well-known protective and caring instincts, especially in her relationship with the character of Annika. Her banter with Bruce could use some work, but Kravitz makes up for it thanks to her electrifying chemistry with Robert Pattinson.
The original Catwoman, Julie Newmar played the character during the first two seasons of the 1960s campy cult classic Batman. As the first live-action iteration of the character, Newmar had room to make Catwoman her own, and boy, did she do it.
Newmar’s Catwoman is bubbly and playful, a witty femme fatale who kills with poisoned honey. She is also remarkably horny, standing out among the show’s silly characters; Newmar’s Catwoman is always in control, even as she pretends to be as harmless as the other villains. The actress would reprise her role fifty years after her two-season stint on Batman, voicing Catwoman in 2016’s Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, cementing her place as one of the defining versions of the beloved icon.
It’s not an overstatement to call Batman: The Brave and the Bold the best and most complex animated take on the Caped Crusader since the glory days of the 90s show. Blending the campy tone of the 1960s show with spectacular action, humor, and visual design, the show is an animated masterpiece and one of the best versions of the World’s Greatest Detective.
Nika Futterman voices Catwoman in The Brave and the Bold, delivering a spectacular performance that ranks as the best in the 21st century. Commanding yet tongue-in-cheek, Futterman is stellar in the role, embracing the show’s lighthearted humor while maintaining Catwoman’s trademark thorny tongue. Her banter with Batman is brilliant and flirty but very much aiming to wound, showcasing the complicated dynamic between these two perennial enemies.
The iconic Eartha Kitt was the third actress to play Catwoman, taking over Julie Newmar in Batman‘s third season. Kitt introduced major changes to the character, forsaking the romantic banter with Batman; instead, her Catwoman was all business, a ruthless criminal determined to claw her way to the top.
Having a Black woman play a major character, a villain no less, was a major moment in 1960s America. Kitt understood the importance of her casting and revolutionized Catwoman, turning her into the ferocious and dangerous yet alluring antihero modern audiences know. Kitt’s Catwoman is savage and lethal, capable of wounding someone with her words just as easily as she could with her whip.
Batman: The Animated Series is the best Batman adaptation in the eyes of many fans and critics. The show presented the ultimate version of Batman and Bruce Wayne, expertly finding the balance between the character’s two personas in a way no other adaptation, animated or live-action, has done. The show also produced stellar versions of most Batman characters, including Catwoman.
Voiced by Adrienne Barbeau, TAS‘ Catwoman is the perfect noir femme fatale: sneaky, seductive, clever, and irresistible. Barbeau’s Catwoman cemented the character as Batman’s perfect match, masterfully evading him while providing enough interest to ensure their continued interactions. Batman: The Animated Series defined Batman for an entire generation, and its portrayal of Catwoman remains undefeated; everything about her, from the costume to the characterization, is outstanding.
All hail Michelle Pfeiffer, by far the best Catwoman we’ve ever had. The three-time Oscar nominee played Selina Kyle in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, introducing a welcome fantasy element into her story. Pfeiffer’s Catwoman gains superhuman abilities after being brought back to life by a group of stray cats, setting her on a path of revenge against the man who killed her.
Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is literally a cat – she even has nine lives. The actress goes all-in with the gimmick, playing the character like a sentient, oversized kitty with severe mental issues. Burton is fascinated by the character, and Pfeiffer lives up to his admiration with a devastating and instantly iconic performance. Batman Returns is all about sexual liberation and identity, with Pfeiffer’s Catwoman at the center. In her hands, the character roared and rampaged, becoming an icon of ’90s feminism. Pfeiffer deserves another Catwoman movie, if only to win the Oscar she should’ve received for Batman Returns.
- Who is the best Spider-Man actor? All the Spider-Men, ranked
- Who is the best Lois Lane ever? All the Lois Lane actresses, ranked
- All the villains in the Fast and Furious movies, ranked from worst to best
- The 50 best K-pop songs of all time
- Earth Day 2023: Check out these best nature documentaries of all time