Monday, November 21, 2016

Superhero Media: Catwoman

This film is so universally reviled that basically every internet critic that makes a living out of bashing poor cinema has taken a bat to it at some point. So if you want to learn everything that is idiotic and wrong with Catwoman, proceed to YouTube for your information, I'll be taking a different tack, in looking at what inspiration can be taken from the film for Supers Gaming. Don't get me wrong, Catwoman is terrible, the plot makes no sense, the costumes are terrible, there's way too much CGI and the whole thing is shot through a series of weird filters that makes it look like a video game on the PSX. That said, Halle Berry really fucking commits to the role, the villain is pretty interesting and there's a cool fake-out with the identity of the mastermind that would all work better in far better films. 

To start with, there is a running concept introduced in the credits that Constance/Catwoman is only the latest in a line of women divinely empowered to fight evil by the Egyptian Goddess Bast. Now that's actually a pretty cool idea, like a feminist spin on the old Moon Knight mythos, not sure why it's in a film about Catwoman, Gotham's costumed cat burglar, but a cool idea nonetheless. The Goddess Bast gets around as an Egyptian Mau, choosing the next Catwoman carefully and "pouncing" on them in a moment of personal crisis and tragedy. There is an element of feminism and fighting the patriarchy that is spoken about, but undercut by Constance's fetish costumes (her first costume is literally a dominatrix outfit from an adult store) and the villains being tied to cosmetics. It's like someone turned in an interesting and thought-provoking Third Wave Feminist script and the Hollywood machine chewed it up and turned this turd out.
Much like Showgirls or the film adaptation of The Crucible, Catwoman is such a "perfect storm" of poorly executed cinema that it cannot help but be fascinating to dissect. The cast act with such determination and professionalism that one would believe that they are either unaware of the low quality of the material with which they are working, or have made an Arthurian pact to overcome it. The use of filters is odd, it seems to serve no purpose, yet gives the film an utterly unique look. The rewriting of Catwoman's character and origin is utterly unnecessary, but there is potential for an interesting character in there. Are the feminist elements an afterthought, or were they watered down with rewrites and studio mandates? Who can tell? I may revisit this at some point if I feel my film academia skills waning, but for now, I can't say I'd recommend it for watching.

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