Batman Returns: The Christmas Movie We Deserve
In which a savior is born and dies for our sins
Batman Returns is my favorite Batman movie (I didn’t say best, I said favorite so leave your The Dark Knight comments outside before I call Krampus). In addition to it having a very enjoyable balance between dark character drama and campy fun, it is also a delightful Christmas movie. Not only does it take place during the pagan-turned-Christian holiday, it features the birth of a someone special who was born in squalor to become a savior figure to the people.
Of course, I’m talking about Catwoman.
Selena Kyle. A meek woman working for a corrupt man, Max Shreck, who in this political climate would definitely be excited about this new tax bill and a hardcore MAGA supporter. After she uncovers his plans monopolize Gotham’s electricity, he pushes her out a window to what should be her death.
Little did Christopher Walkins know that by doing this, he was playing right into the paws of the cat gods. They breathed life into their chosen one and Catwoman was born. If you didn’t know, cat powers give you the ability to make leather clothes and apply red lipstick flawlessly. This is why you should pray to the cat gods.
All jokes aside, Batman Returns‘ Selena Kyle/Catwoman is without a doubt the standout character of the film. She is the only one with a true character journey. Her mousy demeanor and subservient personality belie a very smart woman who is being tied down by people’s perception of who she is, and what a woman should be. Her mother’s answering machine message. Her apartment, which is painted a terribly garish shade of pink and filled with stuffed animals, shows us a woman who is stuck in the mentality of a girl. That’s when the cat gods step in.
Catwoman, quite frankly, doesn’t give a damn about society. The way she walks into work the next day clearly changed and slightly “off” simply to freak out and declare psychological warfare on Shreck is amazing. In every scene, she is fully alive and in control of the situation. Even in her fights against Batman, despite Bruce having the upper hand in experience, Selena holds her own manipulating Bats at every turn, all while in complete control of her sexuality. What’s interesting about Selena’s sexuality is that while she is definitely not above flirting, she makes it very clear when she wants it and when she doesn’t.
Besides being gorgeous, sexy and powerful, what has made the Catwoman character in Returns stand out above many equally talented Catwoman performances (with the exception of Hallie Berry, I’d argue Catwoman has been good in almost every incarnation) is how raw she is emotionally.
Not to mention the way she rejects the offer of normalcy offered to her by Bruce Wayne/Batman. For the old Selena Kyle, this would have been the endgame, to be swept off her feet by a handsome rich man who can offer her the world. Nu!Selena has bigger fish to literally fry. Selena goes from being a damsel in distress to the heroine of her own story: she defeats the bad-guy and holds her own, defeating death eight times in order to get her revenge.
So this holiday season, after watching Die Hard and White Christmas, give Batman Returns a watch. It will fill you with Christmas Spirit and remind you of a happier time when Batman movies could be fun, and the lead played by a likable actor who could have both the suaveness of a Bruce Wayne and the physicality of The Dark Knight. You’d believe Michael Keaton’s Bats to be the World’s Greatest Detective.
Plus, the puns. “Eat floor, high fiber.”
In Catwoman’s name, have a Happy Holidays!
(image: Tumblr/Warner Bros.)
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