When Ann Hathaway slips into a skin tight cat suit to play Catwoman in the next installment of the Batman franchise, "The Dark Knight Rises," she will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the five actresses who have taken on the role beforehand. While how the 28 year old actress handles the role of Catwoman and her alter ego Selina Kyle remains to be seen, we can certainly review the previous portrayals of the character and speculate on how Hathaway will fare by comparison.
Anne Hathaway vs Julie NewmarPerhaps best known for her two seasons as Catwoman on the television show "Batman (1966-1968)," Julie Newmar was a statuesque brunette who played the role with undeniable sensuality and sense of humor, despite the campy nature of the series. Her flirtatious encounters with Batman (Adam West) are fully on display in episodes like "Catwoman goes to college (1967)," and "Scat Darn Catwoman (1967).
While Hathaway will be hard pressed to match Newmar's sexuality, she certainly has a much quirkier sense of humor, which if fully developed in the movie could go a long way towards helping to define the character's duality. Overall though, Anne would be wise to steer away from the Newmar's interpretation of the role.
Anne Hathaway vs Lee Meriwether
Meriwether, a former Miss America (1955), took on the role of Catwoman in the 1966 movie "Batman." The movie, which was based on the television series, starred most of the original cast. Newmar though had to abandon her role due to other commitments, leaving Meriwether, and actress of similar looks and stature, to portray Catwoman. Though she ably filled the cat suit much like Newmar before her, Meriwether did not display the off-beat sense of humor that Newmar exhibited in the series.
Though Meriwether is an award nominated actress she failed to bring anything new to the role of Catwoman, as such it should be easy for Hathaway to distance herself from the former beauty queen's portrayal of the villain.
Anne Hathaway vs Eartha Kitt
During Batman's last season on the air, the role of Catwoman was played by Eartha Kitt, who despite being just 5'-4" in height, had a perfect body for the cat suit (her measurements at the time she played Catwoman were "35-23-35"). Kitt, perhaps better known as a singer and Broadway actress, had a more "feline feel for the role," according to Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) , though her romance with Batman was missing due to concerns about race at the time.
It is doubtful that Hathaway can channel her inner feline or perfect Catwoman's purr the way Kitt once did. Physically more awkward in nature, Hathaway will need to take her performance in a different direction in order to succeed.
Anne Hathaway vs Michelle PfeifferOne of Hollywood's most well known actress at the time she took on the role, Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of Catwoman in the 1992 release of "Batman Returns," was voted by Empire magazine as the third "Sexist Movie Character of All-Time." The blonde actress was also able to add a level of strength to the role which had previously been missing, purring out lines like, "It's the so-called "normal" guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed." Pfeifer balanced the performance with her slightly ditzy take on alter ego Selina Kyle.
Though she's a good actress in her own right, Hathaway doesn't yet have the screen presence that Pfeifer had when she played Catwoman. As such, she will need to re-interpret the role in much the same way Heath Ledger re-invented the Joker after Jack Nicholson had provided movie goers with the defining performance in the 1989 release of "Batman."
Anne Hathaway vs Halle BerryNo doubt Halle Berry is a great actress who's blessed with both good looks and sex appeal, however her turn at playing Catwoman were hampered by both a poor script and a different take on the villain (she played Patience Phillips, not Selina Kyle). Berry's performance in "Catwoman (2004)" was so poor, it earned her a Razzie Award.
There is little chance that Hathaway can give a worse performance than Berry, if she does, something went terribly wrong with this projected blockbuster. Besides unlike Berry, Hathaway will have Batman to play around with.
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- former Miss America