07/25/2012 10:23 am ET

Anne Hathaway Is the Best Catwoman Yet

The critical reaction to The Dark Knight Rises has been sharply divided between people who see it as a masterful conclusion to a trilogy that redefined superhero movies and those who found it a soulless Rube Goldberg Machine. But in between thundering fight scenes and ponderous monologues, there was a wicked glint of something tremendously fun: Anne Hathaway as the best Catwoman ever to grace the big screen.

Catwoman has, in the past, been a rich well for explorations of female trauma. In one comics origin story, Selina Kyle (Catwoman's given name) began her life of crime by stealing her jewelry back from the vault of the abusive husband she was in the process of leaving. Frank Miller, looking back to Batman's noir roots, made Selina a prostitute at the mercy of a violent pimp in his The Dark Knight comics. In Batman Returns, Tim Burton presented her as a mousy office worker pushed out a window by that avatar of bloodless unease, Christopher Walken, on whom she bestowed a murderous, electrified smooch in the movie's climax. And the unfortunate 2004 Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry climaxed in an actual catfight between Berry's feline avenger and Sharon Stone's wicked cosmetics executive.

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