In the latest entry of our ongoing series, Screen Rant’s Ryan George reveals what (probably) happened in the pitch meeting for the ill-fated 2004 Catwoman movie. Less a direct adaptation of DC Comics and more what you’d get from a screenwriter who was given the word “Catwoman” and no other information, the movie stars Halle Berry as Patience Phillips, an artist working for a cosmetics company. After an accidental drowning, she is brought back to life by the Egyptian goddess Bastet, who gives her catlike superpowers.
This is quite a departure from the comic book version of Catwoman: Selina Kyle, a Gotham City cat burglar who has no superpowers but instead, like Batman, uses a mix of highly-trained skills and gadgetry. Selina has been played on the big screen by several different actresses, including Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Anne Hathaway. However, due to complicated rights issues, Catwoman couldn’t use the name Selina Kyle for its protagonist – and so Patience Phillips was born.
From the notorious basketball scene to the costume that was really just a leather bra and some ripped pants, Catwoman definitely earned its bad reputation. Even John Rogers, one of the credited writers on the movie, described it on Twitter as “a s**t movie” with “zero cultural relevance either in front of or behind the camera.” Rogers was fired from the movie before filming began because he argued that the studio’s notes would make it “very, very bad,” and also for pointing out to higher-ups that the movie’s third act was “Halle Berry dressed like a Québécois stripper beating the s**t out of a makeup exec in a pantsuit.”
When even a movie’s writer thinks it’s terrible, you know things are bad, and when Catwoman arrived in theaters in summer 2004, pretty much everyone was in agreement with Rogers. Catwoman has a score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, and grossed an absolutely dismal $82 million worldwide against its $100 million budget. Between Catwoman and Elektra, which was released the following year, what little enthusiasm Hollywood had for female-led superhero movies was severely dented, and we didn’t get another one until Wonder Woman came along in 2017.
The DC Extended Universe has yet to introduce its own version of Catwoman, though recent rumors have suggested that she could appear as a villain in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Robert Pattinson has been cast as a young Bruce Wayne, so perhaps it’s about time for a new Selina Kyle as well.