Catwoman is and has always been an oxymoron in human form — an unpredictable contradiction existing as half-villain, half-heroine. Batman’s devious enemy and simultaneously his love interest, the DC character Selina Kyle has leaped from the pages of comic books and onto our screens over the span of 82 years, clad in her iconic second skin catsuit as a captivating and complicated femme fatale for the ages. Portrayed by Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, and now Zoë Kravitz, it seems Catwoman still has a few lives left in her nine lives.
Kravitz is slipping into the fierce feline costume in Matt Reeves’ forthcoming addition to the DC cinematic universe, The Batman, a dark and gritty edition of the age-old superhero tale coming to screens March 4.
The Warner Bros. production follows Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne through a vengeful odyssey to simultaneously defeat Paul Dano’s The Riddler and Colin Farrell’s Penguin. We’re introduced to a mischievous master jewel thief, the compelling Catwoman, as our Caped Crusader constantly questions whether she’s friend or foe. Sporting a black leather belted zip-up catsuit and a knit balaclava, Kravitz’s mission-oriented costume sees the criminal mastermind as a formidable adversary for Gotham City’s finest.
Charting the live-action representations of the fierce feline, GRAZIA USA has rounded up all of Selina Kyle’s most compelling catsuits throughout her varying lives, as Kravitz sinks her teeth into the role.
Julie Newmar as Catwoman in Batman the series (1966-1967)
Starring as the first live-action Catwoman, appearing on Batman, the television series between 1966 and 1967, Julie Newmar made the shimmering lurex catsuit her own over the span of two seasons. Appearing in the DC Villains featurette Catwoman: The Female Femme Fatale, the former thieving feline said, “Once you put on that costume, and it’s the right costume, it does 50 percent of the work. It helped the character enormously to have that sizzle. Catwoman sells itself. There’s very little you have to do.”
Donning the skin-tight boat-neck unitard, the iconic costume came equipped with a variety of gold accessories to give the character some pizazz. A dangling gold medallion, low waisted gold belt, and elbow-length black gloves with gold metallic claws, perched kitten ears sat atop Newmar’s voluminous bouffant with the occasional masquerade mask to conceal her identity.
With the lurex garment walking the fine line of the 1960s between scandalous and family friendly, the costume has since been donated to the Smithsonian in 2008 and was featured as a “National Treasures of Popular Culture.”
Lee Meriwether as Catwoman in Batman the film (1966)
As Batman conquered the silver screen, show-runners reached out to Newmar to reprise her role as Catwoman in an accompanying film but was unable due to scheduling conflicts. Then came actress and former Miss America winner Lee Meriwether to step into the spotlight. Donning essentially the same catsuit as Newmar’s, Meriwether’s costume included the matching masquerade mask as the cherry on top.
Eartha Kitt as Catwoman in Batman the series (1967-1968)
Continuing the Batman television series for the third and finale season, Eartha Kitt’s portrayal of Batman’s slinkiest foe may be one of the most prolific yet. Donning the same style suit as her predecessors, that was about the only element that remained the same throughout their differing portrayals. Adding a crown of braids in her hair to support those emblematic kitten ears, Kitt’s Catwoman had a bit more bite and overt sexual chemistry than those before her.
Making the rumbling purr her signature, Kitt’s debut episode was in December of 1967, titled Catwoman’s Dressed To Kill. Commanding to her fellow thieves, “Let no one say that Catwoman is not the best dressed woman in the world.”
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992)
Starring in director Tim Burton’s sophomore Batman flick, actress Michelle Pfeiffer took on the role of Selina Kyle in 1992’s Batman Returns. With a catsuit that would go down in history, the skin-tight patent leather costume was designed by Mary Vogt and Bob Ringwood.
Portraying Selina Kylie from a mousy secretary to a full-blown wild cat on the prowl, Pfeiffer’s erratic rendition of Catwoman is played out through her clothing. Seen as an unstable, unnerving and unraveling character, the chaotic white stitching throughout the costume represents Catwoman’s mental state, coming apart at the seams (literally). “That split duality,” explained Burton in the DC Villains feature Catwoman: The Female Femme Fatale. “That was a fun costume to design, to put the stitching in there to kind of represent her patchwork — a fragmentation of her character.” Symbolic of the character’s story arc, as her state of mind continues to deteriorate, so too does her catsuit, and by the end of the film, the suit is practically ripped to shreds as she faces down the man who made her Catwoman.
Not so easy to simply slip into, Pfeiffer had to be covered with baby powder before putting it on. First made based on a body cast of the actress, Vogt and Ringwood were afraid the delicate material would rip in the fitting process. Brushing the latex and glued-on stitching with a thick coat of silicon, the second-skin suit got some extra shine. The kid gloves came off when Pfeiffer replaced Catwoman’s classic golden claws with silver nails crafted from household items. The cat o’ nine tails whip was the cherry on top of this Catwoman’s dominatrix-adjacent persona.
Having been on display at the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibit in 2012, the creation was featured alongside other costumes synonymous with iconic film history.
Halle Berry as Catwoman in Catwoman (2004)
Halle Berry’s take in the 2004 iteration of Catwoman in the eponymous film recreated the costume fans have come to love from scratch (get it?). More overtly sexy than her predecessors, Berry broke away from the typical suiting and went with a leather bra top with harness and ripped up leather trousers. As for the accessories, she went with helmet-style cat mask and open toed heels, which made us question their practicality.
With Catwoman’s signature bicep-length gloves fabricated in leather, her character’s claws have been switched up once again. Still able to claw out her trademark glass-cutting burglary skill with them, Berry’s Catwoman rocks rhinestone-encrusted nails for an extra dose of glam.
While the film was presented with four Golden Raspberry Awards (bestowed upon the worst films of the year), Academy Award-winning costume designer Angus Strathie (best known for his work in Moulin Rouge) met critical acclaim for this film as the costume was included in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Closing out Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway arrives as Selina Kyle amid Batman’s brewing battle with the supervillain Bane (played by Tom Hardy). A manipulative con woman, the gun-toting Selina Kyle bounces back and forth as to who her alliances are and who her allegiance is to.
Featuring a more tactical and practical catsuit, Hathaway’s costume drew far more inspiration from the animated persona drawn in the pages of the Batman comic books than her on-screen predecessors. With Academy Award winner Lindy Hemming helming the costume department, Catwoman’s military-esque look makes all the sense in the world. Responsible for the costumes in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman franchise and Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider films, Hemming knows exactly how to dress a badass woman.
Replete with the skin-tight catsuit, the leather gloves, a utility belt, and Catwoman’s signature goggles, Hemming made a witty move — when Hathaway flips up her goggles, they second as a pair of cat ears — another perennial staple of Selina Kyle’s alter-ego.
Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle in The Batman (2022)
With the inimitable costume designer Jacqueline Durran involved in the project, Selina Kyle is set to be the most stylish cat burglar of them all. Responsible for the opulent period piece garments of 2012’s Anna Karenina and 2019’s Little Women, the Academy Award-winning designer is a force to be reckoned with. Seen in various wigs with numerous wardrobe changes, the duplicitous vigilante is fully equipped to outrun, outsmart, and outfight whatever and whoever stands in her way.