Selina Kyle

Written by @EllieDangerous
Gotham is so dark and turbulent a city; it’s insane that anyone lives there at all. The streets are built on crime, the crime is swallowed by bent cops, and dangerous psychopaths run rife and reign supreme. It’s hard for a rogue to stand out in a city like Gotham, but here’s one that does: a mini Selina Kyle, perfectly interpreted by Camren Bicondova. One day she’ll be Catwoman, but I reckon she’s already there. This kid is exactly a cat.

Spoiler Alert
When talking about a show that includes a villain with a mallet for a hand, we gotta respect that ‘Gotham’ puts a lot of weight on appearances, as inherited from DC Comics. So before we delve beneath the surface, we can be satisfied with the fact that Selina looks like a kitty. Her goggles stand like ears, her face boasts feline nobility, and she’s kinda floofy. She’s clearly a sleek black cat, clad in dark leather and shimmering in the shadows.

So we’ve got a cat who looks like a cat, but that’s only one box ticked so far. Next up: attitude. Curiosity hasn’t killed Selina just yet, but that girl is a lurker. Nothing could be more catlike than her behaviour in the traumatic early scene featuring Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne, both of them so young and fated. The urchin watches the happy Wayne family from atop a building: she watches them walk, she watches them laugh, she watches them get murdered by a thief. Selina doesn’t intervene: unlike dogs, cats don’t leap to the rescue. And nor does she dart groundwards to comfort Bruce as he screams over the bodies of his parents. Most cats don’t do that either.

Selina’s ensuing friendship with Bruce is filled with catisms. She’s crazy nimble; throw something at your cat, and they will dodge. She perches on windowsills, preferring them to the door, and she disappears into a tree when you’re in the middle of a sentence. She arrives when she wants, and leaves when she pleases. Bruce has experienced all this by season two, and he’s used to it. In befriending her he’s sort of like a rookie cat owner, but — as ever — the cat itself is the real master.

He’s also discovered the fickleness of cats — that is, the fickleness of our Selina. One moment she's there, the next she's not. One moment her eyes widen with interest, the next she’s distracted by a bottle of milk. One moment she's all but purring, the next it's a hiss. It's not that she doesn't know what she wants; it's just that she changes her mind all the time. And that, as we know, is the right of every cat.

One of the most significant outcomes of the character’s youthful portrayal is that she's made me see one of Catwoman's more distinctive traits in a whole new light. Her seductiveness. Selina in 'Gotham' is a young teen and already teasing Bruce Wayne with curious kisses. Previous incarnations of Catwoman have portrayed this habit as the same old unoriginal flirting from a woman who knows her wiles, but this incarnation suggests that these wiles are less womanly and more simply... feline.

For whether your cat is a beauty or a beast, he or she is probably a seductive little thing, using all those purrs and nuzzles either to get what they want or just because they’re in that kind of mood. Remember Selina’s conversation with Barbara Kean?

Barbara, the beautiful manipulator, looks at the young girl and deems her "a true beauty", offering to teach her that this can be used as a "weapon". Scruffy Selina raises an eyebrow and points out that it hasn't worked for Barbara. And this particular kitten doesn't care anyway: at no point does she show an interest in her own "true beauty" or successfully manipulate a member of the opposite sex with it (Bruce Wayne himself is much better at that). This suggests that Selina's blossoming brand of flirtation is not about the "woman" half of Catwoman. It's about the "cat" half.

Off she goes, then, following whims and changing her mind, perching on things and landing on her paws at every drop. Stealing milk and rejecting pats, being independent while at the same time pretty much needing a home.

So if you like Selina Kyle — and I bet you do — it's probably because she's your cat.
Bruce Wayne: I - I didn't expect to see you here.
Selina Kyle: Well, you want to steal stuff, it helps to go where the rich people are.
Bruce Wayne: You do know this is a benefit for Children's Hospital?
Selina Kyle: So?
Bruce Wayne: So, these people are here for a good cause.
Selina Kyle: Me eating is a good cause.
The best liars always tell the truth.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
Share on Google Plus
Published on 10 December 2015

About Ellie

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.