Despite being one of the most infamous comic books of all time, Halle Berry wants another crack at Catwoman. Apart from this time, she will also sit in the director’s chair.
Coming from his directorial debut, the recent Netflix movie Suggested, Berry hinted at his ambitions for the Vanity Fair during a career retrospective. From modeling in Chicago to being the first (and still only) black woman to win an Oscar for best female lead, Berry’s career has had a fair number of highs and lows. There are critical favorites like Introduction to Dorothy Dandridge and Monsters bold, and then there is a movie where the fallout would make many people want to forget it all. But in the interview, Berry confronts Catwoman, her fateful DC Comics movie from 2004.
“I would definitely instruct the next one Catwoman,” she says. “I think I would redeem myself. As a filmmaker now, I would change the story completely. I would change the characters. I wanted Catwoman to save the world from some disaster that male cartoon characters get done.”
As mentioned in Polygon’s Suggested review, Berry’s original Catwoman, directed by Pitof, “let her kick in the ass, but asked almost nothing dramatic to her.” The DC cartoon cast Berry as the gentle Patience Phillips who transforms into the mysterious and alluring Catwoman. When one sat with nine percent on Rotten Tomatoes, everyone seemed to agree that the film had more than its fair share of problems.
Originally intended as a sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman movie, the first idea for one Catwoman Movies saw Michelle Pfeiffer’s character temporarily leave Gotham for a desert resort known as Oasisburg. Intended to be an adult portrayal, it stood in stark contrast to what Warner Bros. did. wanted out of DC Comics at the time, which was more family-friendly food like the 1995s Batman forever.
Pfeiffer eventually saved from the independent, prompting WB to reportedly offer the role to Ashley Judd, who also eventually passed. The project languished in the so-called development hell until Berry came on board, moving on from a failed attempt to spin her character Jinx off in the James Bond movie Die another day.
WB hired Pitof, a French visual effects supervisor with a film under his belt at the time, to steer the Berry vehicle. He certainly had a vision that would focus heavily on the “cat” part of Catwoman. Choreographer Anne Fletcher was included in the film to help Berry act and even think like a cat.
“Pitof wanted Catwoman’s physicality to be as genuine as possible,” Fletcher said in a 2003 interview. ” For research, Berry watched hours of cat footage and spent time with the film’s pet dealer.
How feline a human body can become is not something seriously explored in Pitof’s Catwoman. What is being investigated is rather how confusing a single scene with Halle Berry and Benjamin Bratt playing basketball can become. The footage does not feel like a 90s music video, so much so that the result of someone explaining the concept of a 90s music video to a friend at a loud restaurant, and Pitof, who had overheard the conversation, went ahead and tried to remember the details.
Aside from trying too hard, the film did not leave Berry much to work with. As mentioned in a 2016 academic paper by Caroline Heldman, Laura Lazarus Frankel and Jennifer Holmes on female protagonists, the film presents Catwoman’s “agency, power, and freedom as a result of her hypersexualization,” leaving Berry’s character “without a core identity.” It is not so far from what costume designer Angus Strathie, as described in the film’s press releases released during the release, imagined. “We wanted a very reality-based wardrobe to show the evolution from venerable, repressed Patience to the sensual awakening of a sexy warrior goddess,” he said.
Catwoman was a critical and commercial flop that eventually won Berry the Razzie for Worst Actress of the Year. She comments on the importance of being a “good loser” at Vanity Fair, and she looks back with pride on her decision to attend the event. “If I can show up to win an Oscar when you honor me, I can definitely show up to pick up a Razzie when you say, good try, but do it better,” she says. After the show, she set fire to her Razzie.
It is highly unlikely that Berry would continue down Pitof’s road. Rather her newer roles, as in Suggested and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum provide better clues. In Vanity Fair’s career collapse, Berry praises Parabellum co-star Keanu Reeves for doing her own stunts with her and showing that “age is just a number.” Berry seems more refreshed by the “grunted” and physical worlds seen in John Wick and Suggested, so it underlies that her Catwoman would be something similar.
Although the exhaustive process of instructing herself does not seem to be something Berry is eager to repeat, her work with Spike Lee early in both their careers taught her to “never say never.” Yes, Zoë Kravitz will play Catwoman / Selina Kyle in the upcoming DC reboot Batman, but … if Zack Snyder can get another shot on Justice League, why not give Halle Berry another trip to Catwoman?