23. Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises, 2012)
A bit of a housekeeping note first: In the comics Catwoman has both been a hero (albeit maybe an anti-hero) and a villain and has filled both roles at various points. The Hathaway and (shudder) Halle Berry versions portray her as a hero so I’ve ranked those two, while the 1966 Batman and Batman Returns versions had her in the role of villain, so those two are excluded.
I remember that people were slightly apprehensive when they heard that Hathaway was cast as Selina Kyle in the third movie. A lot of people weren’t sure that she was right for the part, if she was a good fit for the Nolan universe, and why/how the character would even have a role in the movie. The first shots we got of her in costume from the set seemed a bit underwhelming as well.
The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be a flawed film that was more or less disappointing overall. Not a bad film by any means, but certainly flawed and a let down from the highs of Dark Knight. Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, however, was most certainly not a reason for that at all, and was called by many as the highlight of the film.
Her introduction tells you everything you need to know. The hobbled Bruce catches her thieving while posing as a maid, and then we see her drop the shy maid façade and smiles as with a well-delivered and insincere “Oops!” She then proceeds to incapacitate Bruce and make off with what she’s stolen. We see what we need to know about her, her chemistry with Bruce, her abilities and personality. And throughout the rest of the film, those are on display wonderfully. Our initial fears were put to rest as the movie continued. Hathaway’s performance was great, displaying all the confidence, ability and sexiness we associate with the character. She makes a great foil to Batman, and provides good comic relief and levity without becoming a joke herself.
Some people complain that her being the one to finish off Bane was cheap – but what would you have preferred? Bane HAD to die...and having Batman kill him would raise a whole bag of worms that the movie didn’t have time to get into. Would you have preferred to Bane to fall off a cliff or some other death of his own doing, like a cheesy Disney villain?
Also, I know there were a lot of complaints about her role the ending, and I do understand them. Bruce runs away to live a normal suburban life in Italy – with Selina Kyle? The woman who is also a criminal, who he’s fought with and is hard to predict? Is this really the type of girl to settle down to a normal life in the Italian suburbs and have kids with and whatnot? My brain raised this issue in my head and I understood how it could be kind of dumb, might not work out, and be somewhat nonsensical.
But, damnit, I loved the hell out of it. People complained that about the fact that we saw Bruce (and Selina) in the café after the shot of Alfred, how it ruined the scene and we should have ended it with Alfred smiling without being shown what he saw. But I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. – if we didn’t see it, we wouldn’t have known for sure that the woman he was with was Selina. I won’t get too much into detail about the ending since most of that will be saved for the Bale Batman entry, but I will say that after decades of seeing versions of the Bruce/Selina romance develop and ultimately not lead anywhere because of various circumstances, we finally got a version where the two of them got to ride off into the sunset together, and I found that incredibly cathartic and rewarding and loved the hell out of the fact that I got to see it.
I do have some complaints and concerns about this movie (although by no means is it a bad movie, just a disappointing one given previously set high standards) but Catwoman was portrayed fantastically and was not one of them.
22. The Comedian/Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen, 2009)
Another housekeeping note: I included the Comedian on this list and not Ozymandius because I think Ozymandius (regardless of what you think about his motives and whether his actions were justified) despite initially being a superhero, plays the role of the “villain” in the book and movie, so I classify him as a villain and would have put him in my super villain rankings had I made them after Watchmen came out. The Comedian, despite being a scum of the earth human being who does villainous things, is always still considered to be a “superhero” throughout his life – he does fight crime, and is on the same side as the protagonists and doesn’t fight against them. Oh, sure, you could argue whether anyone in the book/film is a hero, but within the context of the film taken as a superhero movie, Adrian is the villain, and Blake (despite probably being the most reprehensible human being in the entire piece) is not.
In any case, nothing but praise for this character and portrayal. I could sit here and wax poetic about the Comedian as a character, his “Life is a joke” view on life, and his importance to the film…but if I analyze him too much as a character, all I’m really doing is analyzing his character from the comic book, because really, it’s the exact same. Essays have been written about the philosophies and characters of the Watchmen comic, so I’m not going to get too much into that here. What I’m here to analyze is how the 2009 film adapted the character from the comics onto the silver screen.
And the answer is…pretty much perfectly. To start with, Morgan himself was a fantastic choice – he is the spitting image of the comics character, and his sneer demeanor perfectly encapsulates the selfish, nihilistic jerk who has a detached view of the world.
The Vietnam scene was a great capture of all of this. He shoots an innocent woman who is pregnant with his child, and then turns to Dr. Manhattan and chastises HIM for not stopping it…never mind the fact that Blake was the one who pulled the trigger. Morgan sells this completely.
The Comedian, in the film, comes off as a quite memorable and great character despite a low amount of screentime. There isn’t enough time to do him as much justice as in the comic series, of course, but what we do see matches up perfectly with what we already know about the character.
So, really, I enjoyed the hell out of this character and wouldn’t change a thing about the way he was portrayed in the movie. However, a character who was in only four or five scenes total and isn’t involved in the active storyline can’t be ranked too high. In addition, people who walked away from Watchmen probably thought that The Comedian was a
highlight of the film, but not one of the two main highlights of the film. (Those two main highlights of Watchmen are the two most important characters, and I’m sure you know who they are, and they will obviously appear later). So he’s lower than the next two entries on the list, who were both by and large considered the highlights of their respective films, even in supporting roles.