Wannabee Catwoman? Didn't we all . . .: Kimberley Leston on the cartoon character with everything: looks, power, brains, and (originally) pointy ankle boots

THESE things are never written in stone, of course, but it is probably safe to predict that few ordinary women will be seen going about their daily business in the coming months wearing made-to-measure replicas of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman outfit. An emporium in Camden, north London, is doing off-the-peg versions in rubber but, astounding though they are, these require guts and the right measurements for optimum impact. Never mind. We devoted fans of the Fabulous Feline do not have to buy the suit in order to feel her influence surging through our veins. Contrary to popular opinion, the reason Catwoman dominates Batman Returns is not entirely because of Michelle Pfeiffer's mouth. It is because of Catwoman herself.

My own most vivid memories of Catwoman are as a redheaded temptress in the high-camp television series of the Sixties. Wearing a spray-on catsuit with a bosom like twin torpedoes, and a pair of spike heels that could do damage to the most formidable comic book adversary, she was the pop art heroine incarnate. No wonder my friends and I found her such an alluring role model: here was a woman who knew what she wanted, was feared and desired by all, and carried a whip (or, of course, cat o'nine tails) when most ordinary villainesses would have made do with a handbag. Maybe Catwoman was to girls growing up in the Sixties what the manipulative and sexually predatory characters played by Barbara Stanwyck had been to the cinema audiences of the Forties. Quite simply, a force to be reckoned with who was glamorous to boot. You just knew that if she ever got Batman into her boudoir she would make make mincemeat of him.

Catwoman made her debut in the first Batman comic story in 1940. Invented for the novelty value of having a female antagonist to pit against the early Batman, she started life as a pet shop owner by day and cat burglar by night, styled after the actress Hedy Lamarr. Her sex appeal gathered momentum through the Forties and Fifties with a fit-and-flare dress (see right), a hefty decolletage, pointy ankle boots and a blatantly come-hither mouth, thrown into sharp relief by a half-face mask that has remained her trademark ever since. Batman could hardly be expected to resist, and so was born the most intense sexual chemistry that has ever existed between two comic book characters.

After an uninspired period in the Seventies, in which she swopped her Diana Rigg-ish TV image for an early version of a Lycra bodysuit and suddenly sprouted a tail, she emerged in her darkest incarnation in the mid-Eighties in Frank Miller's acclaimed reworkings of the Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One as a suitably hardened prostitute who dons a trusty catsuit once more.

In the form of Michelle Pfeiffer in S&M corset and her most insatiable looking lips to date, she remains true to her roots but is unquestionably contemporary. She is the ultimate female predator: assertive, sexual, complex, but oddly unsure of herself too - a walking, stalking embodiment of the modern woman and her modern identity crisis.

For faithful fans who have followed the cartoon through the decades, Catwoman's special magic is as strong as Batman's ever was. Stronger, perhaps? The shop in Camden Town reports that the first order for their Catwoman outfit was from a man . . .

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

    £16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

    Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high