“I’m not talking about right or wrong, I’m talking about basic human dignity.”
Gritty and realistic. Two words often used when discussing Nolan’s Batman films. So as I prepare for the end of his epic trilogy, I looked at my collection of Batman graphic novels and asked myself, “what are the darkest and most believable stories here?” It wasn’t hard to settle on Selina’s Big Score as a necessary piece of reading material. Not only is it all about Catwoman, who we know is playing an important role in The Dark Knight Rises, but it’s an all around brilliant heist story by Eisner Award-winning comic book writer, artist, cartoonist and animator Darwyn Cook. This story served as a relaunch for the character, with Ed Brubaker eventually being brought on board to help write an ongoing series.
Catwoman is well known as a strong woman in comics. She’s every bit an equal to Batman, and whether she’s portrayed as more thief or hero, what makes her compelling is her resilience and humanity. Sure, she’s made mistakes and has often made some shady alliances to get by, but she’s not strictly a villain either. As a contrast to Batman’s strong moral code of right and wrong, Selina Kyle has always cared more about “basic human dignity” and making ends meet. She didn’t grow up with affluence like Bruce Wayne. Not to minimize the pain of witnessing your parents’ murder, but Kyle had neither wealth nor a kindly old butler to help her through her problems. She did it on her own.
So what makes Selina’s Big Score stand above the average Catwoman story? For starters, Selina is an obvious candidate for a crime noir story, and that’s exactly what Cooke delivers. Presumed dead, and short on cash, Selina Kyle looks to take on a heist that will get her back on her feet. She approaches Swifty, an old friend who introduces her to a source in the Falcone family. She gathers a team to help her pull this off, and even attracts the attention of classic DC Comics detective Slam Bradly, a series regular in the Brubaker/Cooke Catwoman run. This character-centric crime tale succeeds on every level. You grow attached to these fleshed-out characters through their noir style narrations and Cook’s art brings the dismal Gotham City to life. Like any good crime-noir (or Nolan film for that matter), the ending isn’t a perfect “happily ever after”.
The hyper realism is very close to what audiences have experienced in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. So how will Nolan and Anne Hathaway handle this role? The film may or may not make reference to Selina’s Big Score, but I imagine the tough, out for herself Selina we see in the film will be a reflection of her better moments in the comics, this story included. Personally, I’m still a little concerned with Hathaway in this role. I really wanted to see Emily Blunt or Marion Cotillard as Catwoman. Both of whom are great actresses and look more like Selina Kyle to me. I would also have an easier time believing the “darker” side of Catwoman if portrayed by either of those actresses. After Inception, I confidently assumed Nolan would use Cotillard as Catwoman, but I was incorrect. However, I have to remind myself right now that I also had reservations about Heath Ledger playing the Joker, and we all know how brilliant he was in that role.
But back to the point, if you haven’t read Selina’s Big Score you’re going to want to get your hands on it soon!