Over the course of Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” the week of Friday, November 1 through Wednesday, November 6 was a whirlwind courtship for Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne/Batman and Zoë Kravitz’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman. That was all without Batman revealing his secret identity or even showing his unmasked face to her, while Selina never once referred to her cat burglar alter ego as “Catwoman.” As with most depictions of this classic DC Comics duo, Batman and Selina (the names of their true selves) demonstrate some striking similarities, even as they repeatedly come to blows physically and philosophically.
While neither is an officially sanctioned agent of the law, they’re driven by different backgrounds and desired outcomes. They share a desire to see justice done and they care about those in Gotham caught in the crossfire, even if their degrees of empathy for certain victims are affected by their class consciousness. In less than a week, the two not only learn about each other but learn from each other, coming together to save lives only to part ways because their still-evolving worldviews remain too irreconcilable for them to continue on parallel paths. “The Batman” takes place two years after Bruce Wayne has adopted his alter ego as The Dark Knight, but it’s also a time capsule of the five days when cat burglar Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman, and this is a ranking of her best moments.
11. Catwoman discovers Annika’s corpse
Even though this scene features the awesome first appearance of the Batmobile, it’s easily the weakest from the standpoint of showcasing Selina Kyle, who’s not given much to do. Nor does it reveal much we didn’t know, beyond confirming what we’d been led to suspect after her quest to locate and protect Annika. Selina deserves to learn what’s happened to the woman whom she’s lived with and cared for, even if the bitter truth is that she’s been killed, zipped in a bag, and stuffed in a car trunk at the scene of a drug deal between Penguin (Colin Farell) and Gotham City Police officers. When Catwoman arrives to snatch the bags full of cash being exchanged for drugs, it alerts the gangsters and crooked cops to Batman and Jim Gordon’s stakeout in their midst.
As Catwoman looks for the loot, Batman questions whether Selina’s expressed concerns for Annika were genuine, or merely a pretext for this heist. That is until Catwoman unzips one of the oversized bags to find her friend’s dead body. Selina’s undisguised shock over what’s been done to the roommate she took in as a “stray” appears to erase whatever doubts Batman harbored about the depth of Catwoman’s feelings for Annika. The cat burglar is still on the game clock, though, so she hops on her motorcycle and liberates a portion of the proceeds from the clutches of Kenzie (Peter McDonald), a corrupt GCP officer who moonlights at the Iceberg Lounge.
10. Catwoman holds Batman to his own rule
When the Riddler detonates his car bombs to destroy Gotham’s seawall, Selina’s first instinct is to flee the city, especially as the floodwaters rise above her ankles while she’s on her motorcycle. When she’s told the only remaining shelter for civilians is the Gotham Square Garden event center, she arrives to find Batman still striving to save newly elected (and freshly shot) Mayor Bella Reál (Jayme Lawson), plus as many of the city’s citizens as he can. This is all while Riddler’s copycat followers take potshots at them from the rafters of the indoor arena. Catwoman risks her own life to ascend the precariously tethered scaffolding to rescue the injured and weary Dark Knight from being swarmed by the superior numbers of Riddler henchmen.
She also holds him back from breaking his own rule not to kill, after he goes into a sudden frenzy from injecting himself with a vial filled with green liquid, that a number of fans have suggested might be Venom, the same drug that enhances Batman foe Bane’s strength and aggression. When Batman calms down enough to ask the Riddler disciple he’d been beating who he is, the man repeats Batman’s line — “I am vengeance” — contributing to the Dark Knight realizing he needs to offer hope as well as vengeance to a populace that’s already accustomed to living in fear. Again, this highlights Batman’s character more than Catwoman’s, but it shows Selina briefly shedding her cynicism about Gotham.
9. Catwoman solves Annika’s murder
Because Batman continued to prioritize the Riddler’s killings over Annika’s murder, it was left to Catwoman to track down who was responsible for the death of her friend. The Riddler’s clues have sent Batman and Jim Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) searching across Gotham (and online) for the identity of the informant whose tipoff helped Gotham City Police make a historic drug bust that ostensibly shut down mob boss Sal Maroni’s operation. However, the crime-fighting duo’s stakeout of the Penguin’s drug deal reveals that Maroni’s operation never ended, but merely transferred over to Carmine Falcone, with several corrupt GCP officers also involved.
It takes Catwoman to connect the dots for Batman and Gordon, as she plays a cell phone voicemail recording of Falcone strangling Annika after the mayor had told her that Falcone was the informant. Selina already resents Falcone for doing nothing to shield her as a child (his child) from Gotham’s social services system after her mother was also strangled, so she’s ready to revenge Annika’s murder by finally killing her absentee father. By the time Batman and Gordon respond to her lighting the Bat-Signal to share what she’s learned, Catwoman is ready to kick the crooked cop Kenzie off the under-construction building. It takes Batman and Gordon catching Kenzie in mid-air and hauling him back up to avert Catwoman’s attempted murder, so whatever treatment she intends for Falcone promises to be worse.
8. Falcone nearly pulls a three-peat
As much as Batman is known for proclaiming himself to be “vengeance” and “the night,” Selina Kyle proves she’s no slouch in those departments either, even without her Catwoman outfit. When Selena heads to Carmine Falcone’s digs at 44 Below (disguised as herself), Batman cuts the lights to prevent her attempted murder of Falcone. This initially seems to help her blend into the darkness until she aims her gun and declares she’s there on behalf of her mother, Maria Kyle … and misses her shot. This gives the remorseless gangster all the opportunity he needs for his savagery and experience to close the gap with his daughter’s stealth and training.
Prior to their fight, there’s little evidence that Falcone ever knew (or even cared) that Selina is his daughter. As Falcone bears down on Selina’s throat with his pool cue and chokes her with his bare hands, he confesses to murdering her mother the same way. Falcone is prevented from completing his strangulation three-peat (Maria, Annika, Selina) when the non-catsuited Catwoman demonstrates her sharp nails aren’t just for show by raking them across his face. Selina eventually relents in her attempted patricide so Batman and Gordon can escort Falcone into the custody of several Gotham City Police officers who aren’t on his payroll. However, the Riddler finishes what the mob boss’ daughter started by shooting him dead under the streetlights outside the Iceberg Lounge.
7. Trading stares at the Iceberg Lounge
When Batman and Gotham City Police Lt. Jim Gordon discover photos of murdered Mayor Don Mitchell Jr. in the company of a “working girl” at the Iceberg Lounge nightclub (operated by mid-level mobster Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot), Batman lets his fists do the talking to gain access to boss “Oz.” While Batman’s imposing physical presence and the Penguin’s outsized personality nearly fill Oz’s office at the Lounge all by themselves, nightclub waitress Selina Kyle discreetly slips in and out of the room to exchange cash for “Drops” with Oz. She also steals covert glances at Batman’s photos of the mayor and his mysterious escort. Batman makes a point of making his presence impossible to ignore, while Selina recedes into the peripheral corners of people’s attention.
Yet neither utters one word more than they need to. Between Batman recognizing Selina’s boots as the same style worn by the married mayor’s “other woman,” and Selina’s lingering look at that couple’s photos, the Dark Knight is able to deduce the waitress knows the woman he’s searching for, even as the Penguin professes his ostensible ignorance. Because Batman has rigorously ironed the “tells” out of his poker face, he quickly discerns how much discipline Selina must exercise in studiously seeking to escape notice. This scene is a subtle testament to Batman and Selina’s shared ability to spot clues without tipping their own hands.
6. Spying on Selina’s apartment
After Batman and Selina Kyle’s encounter at the Iceberg Lounge, Bruce Wayne briefly ditches his Batsuit to track Selina to her apartment, which she shares with the woman who appeared in photos with the now-murdered mayor. Our mysterious working girl appears ragged and frantic, and Selina strives to calm her down, calling her “baby” in a soothing voice. Selina’s physically affectionate gestures of comfort and the intimately co-mingled living arrangements within their cramped quarters lend support to actress Zoë Kravitz’s interpretation of Selina Kyle as a bisexual woman who “had some kind of romantic relationship” with her distressed companion.
Bruce’s visual sweep of Selina’s apartment through his binoculars from across the street also reveals Selina’s motley collection of cats, her closet full of flamboyant job-related costumes, and the more utilitarian catsuit and modified knit cap mask she dons. She finally dangles off her fire escape to land on her feet (like a cat, naturally) and rides off on a stealthy evasive motorcycle, not unlike Bruce’s. The cluttered mess of Selina’s apartment reflects her struggle to make adequate shelter space in her modest home for the cluster of strays and the troubled young woman whom she’s taken in. In spite of the disparity of their respective living conditions, Bruce reacts to Selina with visible surprise at finding someone whose black-clad, building-climbing second identity resembles his own.
5. Trading blows in the mayor’s home
Batman and Selina Kyle first meet at the Iceberg Lounge, but Batman and Catwoman first meet in the home of the murdered Gotham City mayor. With said mayor’s home secured as a crime scene, Batman follows Catwoman in breaking into the home, then fights her for the first time after she cracks open the mayor’s safe. Even as Catwoman remains alert, brisk, and whisper-quiet in picking the lock without a hitch, Batman still manages to sneak up on her. What follows is a professionally impeccable, virtually balletic display of formidably matched martial artistry, as Catwoman holds her own without allowing her unexpected guest to put a stumble in her step. Eventually, she joins Batman in melting into a shadow on the wall, a response to a Gotham City Police officer’s flashlight-swinging check of the room.
Considering Gotham has no other physically accomplished vigilantes at this point, Catwoman has clearly invested as much hand-to-hand combat training into her role as Batman has. When Catwoman retrieves the Estonian passport of Annika from the mayor’s safe, it proves the cat burglar is not completely mercenary, since she risked getting caught by the cops to aid her “friend,” as she describes Annika. Batman’s crusade progresses from his childhood trauma to a more broadly societal scope, while the seeds of Catwoman’s crusade remain personally rooted in the exploitation of her fellow underprivileged.
4. Annika vanishes from Selina’s apartment
When Batman accompanies Selina back to her apartment, they find Annika missing, and the Caped Crusader tells Selina her home is no longer safe. Selina’s desire to locate her likely imperiled “friend” provides just enough of a motive for her to grudgingly agree to assist Batman’s investigations into the murders of Gotham City’s mayor and Police Commissioner Pete Savage. Nonetheless, Selina does not take well to Batman taking charge, as when he attempts to order her to leave her apartment, nor to his passing judgment on her criminal activities, including her dealing “Drops” (an illegal, addictive, and frequently fatal drug administered via eye droppers).
Even as a drug dealer and a cat burglar, Selina is hardly living in the lap of luxury, as Batman’s uninvited rummaging through her belongings reveals an overdue electric bill for her shoebox-sized, economy-class hovel, an indicator that not even resorting to crime can afford a working-class Gothamite enough funds or resources to make ends meet. Not that Selina is free to spend whatever money she might have anyway, since she’s caring for another person and what’s implied to be an ever-expanding herd of cats. The contrast between cozy, domestic Selina and a Dark Knight clad head-to-toe in military-grade body armor is subverted slightly when Selina’s cats nuzzle against Batman’s thick-soled, stompy boots.
“You got a lot of cats,” Batman observes standoffishly.
“I have a thing about strays,” Selina admits, her line written by Zoë Kravitz.
3. Can this city (and couple) be saved?
While Batman and Selina end their adventures together with more optimism than they had at the start, Selina still believes Gotham City is beyond saving, and she suggests they check out Blüdhaven (the home city of Dick Grayson, after he grows up into Nightwing). As Selina concludes when she spots the Bat-Signal in the sky, “You’re already spoken for.” Even if Batman weren’t already monogamously committed to Gotham, he remains too much of a cop in spirit to join Selina in adopting a Robin Hood attitude toward justice. However fast and loose Batman plays with rules like Miranda rights and chain of custody, he doesn’t share Selina’s expressed eagerness to “knock off some CEO hedge-fund types,” no matter how much she tries to persuade him.
Less cheerfully, Selina is convinced that attempting to save Gotham will destroy Batman. Beyond the physical punishment and sanity-testing stress of the mission he’s chosen, Selina knows Batman will throw his whole heart into his crusade, and she can’t bear to be there watching the city he cares about break his heart, back, and brain. So she has to leave. After the couple visits Maria Kyle’s final resting place, they go their separate ways on respective motorcycles, but they spend enough time driving parallel that it’s easy to imagine their roads reuniting eventually.
2. Selina tells Batman Falcone is her father
Selina’s second-best scene in “The Batman” is a simple conversation, but it’s a close contender for the film’s best. In spite of seeing through Selina’s eyes (literally, via surveillance contact lenses) how Gotham’s civic paragons are caught in a criminal conspiracy of their own making, Batman coldly dismisses the murder of Selina’s roommate, friend, and heavily implied lover Annika as a consequence of associating with criminals. Selina never learns Batman’s secret identity, but his shallow outlook is all she needs to recognize the man inside the Batsuit must have been raised rich before she tears into the murdered mayor, police commissioner, and district attorney as “white privileged @$$holes,” just like the Wayne family.
Selina heard how Bruce Wayne escaped the Riddler’s attempt to kill him for his late father Thomas’ misdeeds, which tie into the same criminal conspiracy. “As far as I’m concerned, that psycho is right to go after these creeps,” Selina tells Batman. By contrast, Selina confides she’s the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone, raised by her mother Maria Kyle until she was murdered at 44 Below. Selina couldn’t choose the environment she was raised in, caught between a powerful but dangerous father who never fully acknowledged her, and a single mother who struggled to support herself and her daughter.
1. Going undercover at 44 Below
Zoë Kravitz’s best scene as Selina Kyle shows how she and Batman don’t exactly mesh as a “Dynamic Duo,” when the Dark Knight equips Oswald Cobblepot’s waitress with his identity-verifying “smart” contact lenses and sends her snooping to 44 Below, “the club within the club” at the Iceberg Lounge. Comics, cartoons, and other live-action adaptations have accustomed us to Batman receiving intel from partners through earbuds, but Selina’s undercover walkthrough at her workplace relegates Batman to “the guy in the chair,” as Ned Leeds puts it in the MCU.
As Batman demands (via earbud) that Selina persist in questioning movers-and-shakers, including Gotham City District Attorney Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard), while they discuss illegal dealings in front of her, the instinctively attention-eschewing Selina fears arousing the suspicions of who could easily do her in. Selina gazes at faces in the crowd longer than she feels safe doing, to accommodate the facial recognition abilities of Batman’s contact lenses, but she breaks away from a clued-in social circle when she suspects one of Oz’s “working girls” could lead her to Annika. When Batman presses her to follow up on her chance encounter with mob boss Carmine Falcone, with whom she’s clearly acquainted, Selina finally shuts down “the guy in the chair” by removing his contact lenses.