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Catwoman is a fictional character associated with DC Comics' Batman franchise. Historically a supervillain, the character was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, partially inspired by Kane's second cousin by marriage, Ruth Steel. Kane, a frequent movie goer also mentioned that Jean Harlow was a model for the design. The character first appeared as The Cat in "Batman" #1 (Spring, 1940). The code name Cat-Woman (sic), and the first of her cat-suits were introduced in issue #2. Her civilian identity of Selina Kyle was introduced in subsequent appearances.
The character had regular appearances in the Batman titles for much of the Golden Age, as both as a villain, and as a reformed criminal (or at least attempting to reform.) She disappeared from the franchise for over a decade in "Detective Comics" #211 (September, 1954), for fears that her depiction violated the recently introduced Comics Code. In 1966, over a decade later, the character was revived for the Batman television series.
The character turned popular again and revival in the comic books soon followed. Starting with "Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane" #70 (November, 1966). Where she uses magic to turn Superman into a cat. Lois Lane then gets to fight Catwoman to rescue her love interest. Regular adventures of this version continued to the 1980s. With an Earth-One version of Catwoman firmly established, the DC staff then reintroduced the original as part of the Earth-Two Alternate Universe. Or at least its backstory. According to "DC Super-Stars" #17 (November, 1977), the Golden Age Catwoman eventually married Batman. She was killed while performing One Last Job. Her daughter Helena Wayne, donned the cape of the Huntress to avenge her death.
Post-Crisis, Catwoman got a revamp in the Batman: Year One storyline (1987), which established a new background for Selina. As a former prostitute who learned martial arts and the art of burglary to improve her life. She got a mini-series of her own in 1989. Then a regular Catwoman series started in September, 1993. From the 1990s until 2008, Catwoman featured in an eponymous series that cast her as an anti-hero rather than a supervillain. In 2009 this was replaced with a Gotham City Sirens title that put her in a morally-ambiguous team with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. In 2011 this was dropped and a new ongoing Catwoman title began as part of the New 52 universe-wide revamp.
The character has been one of Batman's most enduring love interests, and is arguably the closest to being his equal. Many modern writers have also interpreted her activities and costumed identity as a response to a history of abuse.
- Abusive Parents
- Action Girl: One of the earliest examples thereof in comics.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing
- Anti-Villain: One of the earliest examples thereof. Mixes traits of all types.
- Anti-Hero: All of her heroic appearances have elements of this. Is a type IV, falling on V sometimes. Yeah, Catwoman is kind of... complicated.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Catwoman has difficulty believing her sister is possessed by a demon.
- Badass Normal
- Becomes a Badass Abnormal in DC vs. Mortal Kombat.
- Betty and Veronica: The Betty to Talia Al' Ghul's Veronica.
- Of course, their definition of "merits" seems to stray pretty far from the actual meaning of the word.
- Black and Grey Morality: Even as an Anti-Hero she tends to do some ethically questionable things, but she's got nothing on some of the villains she goes up against.
- Byronic Heroine
- Catgirl: Duh.
- Classy Cat Burglar: One of the most triumphant examples thereof.
- Criminal Amnesiac: In the Golden Age of Comics, Selina Kyle was an airline stewardess who got amnesia in a plane crash upon being hit in the head with a branch. Since she grew up in a pet shop with cats, she became Catwoman, being restored after another blow to the head. A later Retcon said it was a lie to facilitate her Heel Face Turn.
- Continuity Snarl: No one is quite sure what Catwoman's backstory really is. Is she an orphan turned thief, an amnesiac air stewardess, a prostitute, a socialite, a product of an abusive marriage, the daughter of Carmine Falcone, or some combination thereof?
- Dating Catwoman: Trope Namer.
- Death Seeker: Controversially introduced as an element of her personality for the New 52 version.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted with Zatanna. Selina still hates her for the events of Identity Crisis (or more precisely, her actions thereafter).
- Give Her a Normal Life: Helena
- Go-Karting with Bowser: It's arguable that the entire Gotham City Sirens series is this. Either that or her relationship with Batman... or both.
- Heel Face Revolving Door: An established part of her personality that seems to work for her. Writers seems to have her settled on Face.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: An element of her past that has been in and out of continuity since Frank Miller added it.
- Indy Ploy: The New 52 version of Selina uses these a lot. In fact she straight out admits she doesn't plan but handles most things by the seat of her pants.
- Karma Houdini: In her very first appearance (when she was still The Cat) Batman straight out allowed her to escape his custody, even foiling Robin's attempt to stop her... solely because he had the hots for her.
- Legacy Character: Holly Robinson briefly took over as Catwoman.
- May–December Romance: with several men including Wildcat, and Slam Bradley Sr.
- Morality Pet: Holly Robinson.
- Most Common Superpower: Depending on the Artist. She was one of the most exaggerated examples at one point, but has since gone back to something more realistic.
- Ms. Fanservice: And how!
- Mugged for Disguise: Often done by Selina when she needs to go undercover as part of a heist.
- Private Detective: Slam Bradley, a legacy character from the earliest issues of Detective Comics. He's pretty much straight out of the 1930s.
- Rival Turned Evil: She-Cat
- Stuffed in A Fridge: Catwoman writers seem to enjoy using her to subvert the trope.
- Hush tried to use her to get at Batman by cutting out her heart. In retaliation, she steals every last cent he has.
- Likewise, her response to Black Mask torturing her sister was to kill him.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted. Catwoman really doesn't have any moral objections to killing truly reprehensible foes.
- True Love Is Boring: Why Selina and Bruce have never been happy together. And why Selina possibly can't find someone else.
- Vapor Wear: Certain artists draw her costume in such a way that there's no way she's wearing anything under it. Guillem March is a big offender.
- Whip It Good