Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Catwoman Lost Her Whip

Rebooting a franchise most of the time isn't a good idea. Just look at the re-re-launch of Spider-Man. We all know he'll be bitten by that spider at some point. Same thing goes for sequels and prequels. Even Batman's commissioner Gordon made it to the television all by himself in the prequel Gotham. Not he, but villainess and all-round tough girl Fish Moon is my favourite character. The show is set in the past when Bruce Wayne is barely a teenager, it is difficult to predict how Selina Kyle--Catwoman--will turn out.

The bad kitten in the sexy catsuit has been watered down beyond recognition over the years in order not to offend anyone, but by leaving out more and more trademarks she also lost most of the appeal she possessed. Michelle Pfeiffer was horrible and Anne Hathaway even worse.


Born in 1940, Miss Furry has a complicated relationship with Batman. They love one another but just like any decent drama, life prevents them from being together. Starting out as villain until she takes a break fifteen years later, forced upon her by the newly founded Comics Code Authority, worried her character violated the rules the industry had set for itself. A decade later a transformed cat burglar reappears, transformed into an anti heroine and presumable less offensive.

Ageing? No. Changing? Yes. --For the better?

Fortunately in comic book land, characters never age, otherwise Catwoman would be 75 by now. As a by-product the character changes over times and those variations are not always consistent with one another. In the late 1980s Batman's origins were revised and Catwoman makes her initial appearance once again, this time trying to survive as a dominatrix, but realizes its no life for her and breaks away from it.

Her shiny catsuit made her a fetish icon from the start and the whips certainly added to her considerable impressive feline je ne sais quoi. Those weapons already appeared before the revamped dominatrix story line was introduced. Expert at wielding both an ordinary bullwhip and  cat o' nine tails, Catwoman chooses these weapons because the user must be trained to use them and are of no use to an unskilled opponent during a fight.

Over time studio executives' desire to morph Catwoman into a non-evil, non-threatening anti-heroine have left little of the original character and most sadly the whips are gone. According to an article in The New Republic--the publication's turmoil clearly is still ongoing-- the same fate has befallen another less famous female superhero: Wonder Woman.

Next victim please


Under the heading "Wonder Woman Used to Be Radically Kinky. Now She's Just Another Generic Superhero. What Happened?" and filed explicitly under BDSM, Noah Berlatsky analyses the attraction of Wonder Woman's magic lasso, which in the upcoming movie has equally magical disappeared and is replaced by a mere sword.


Wonder Woman was born in 1942, two years after Catwoman with a obedience compelling lasso as her weapon of choice. Like Catwoman, the Wonder Woman character incorporates a number of fetish elements, most obvious bondage and to a lesser degree submission enforced by her magic lasso.

"The first thing Wonder Woman ever does with her magic lasso is to play bondage games. This is in Wonder Woman #1, from 1942. Wonder Woman's mother, Queen Hippolyte of the Amazons, gives her daughter the lasso as a gift, explaining, “The magic lasso carries Aphrodite's power to make men and women submit to your will! Whomever you bind with that lasso must obey you!” Just then, an Amazon doctor walks in, and Wonder Woman—aka Diana Prince—decides to try out her new toy. She lassos the doctor and commands, “Now stand on your head!” The hapless doctor declares, “N-n-yes, princess! I wouldn't do it, but something compels me!”

How nice to obey because something (or someone) compels you. We've all been there and know how it feels. Still Hollywood has decided that contrary to the real or imagined popularity of Fifty Shades, super heroines are not allowed to deviate from the increasingly tight generic mould that should fit us all. With an attitude like that and the influence their superhero movies yield, the world loses more than just a whip and a lasso.

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