Move over Clois (Clark Kent and Lois Lane) and WonderTrev (Diana Prince and Steve Trevor), the superior DC Comics relationship has arrived. Yes, I’m talking about BatCat. You can argue in the comments to your heart’s content, but I’m here to tell you that Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have the best superhero relationship of all time.
Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through their history.
The Origins of BatCat
It may be hard to believe, but the first BatCat kiss occurred eighty years ago, in 1940. The original Batman comics have a lot of problematic moments (it was the ‘40s after all) but one of the highlights is the near-instant chemistry between Batman and The Cat.
Their first kiss occurred in Batman Issue #3 and from there, the rest is history.
In Batman Issue #15, sparks fly as Selina Kyle assumes the identity of Elva Barr and meets Bruce Wayne for the first time at a beauty pageant. Suspicious of her motives and her true identity, Bruce decides to date her (despite being in a relationship with Linda Page, at the time) and the two end up engaged after a whirlwind romance.
Forty years later, during the Bronze Age of Comics, one of the best BatCat plots hit the pages in Batman (Volume 1) #308. Following her release from prison, Selina Kyle vows to clean up her act and turn away from petty theft and crime. In the process, she falls in love with Bruce Wayne. It’s the first time the two characters are allowed to have an extended romance plot — and it’s tested and explored with all the delicious angst and pining that makes this best relationship. The arc ran from Issue #308 to Issue #326 and fundamentally changed how Selina Kyle’s character and her relationship with Batman were portrayed moving forward.
Their relationship is also a fundamental aspect of the DC Multiverse. Sure, there may be alternate universes where they don’t end up together, but I choose to focus on Earth-2 where Selina proves to be a steadying force in Bruce’s life. So much so that the two end up married.
In the 1983 comic book, The Brave and the Bold Issue #197, Bruce comes to terms with his fears of ending up alone — which leads him to Selina. The only person he feels that he can trust, after the Scarecrow causes Bruce to believe his allies have turned against him.
This isn’t the only time Bruce and Selina walk down the aisle together into wedded Batrimony. (Catrimony?)
Most recently the highlights of Tom King’s Batman series was commemorated in Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album, which took fans through the ups and downs of their relationship — from Bruce’s proposal, wedding plans, Selina’s stolen dress, and their ultimate decision to call off the wedding. Despite how disappointed BatCat fans were by this turn of events, I would argue that Bruce and Selina’s reasoning is exactly what makes them perfect. They fundamentally understand each other in a way that no other pairing does.
Selina worries that happiness would ultimately destroy Batman — rationalizing that Bruce needs that internalized pain in order to be the hero that Gotham needs. She writes in a letter to Bruce, “To save the world, heroes make sacrifices […] my sacrifice is my life. It’s you.” Despite her criminal origins, Selina recognizes that their monikers are bigger than their happiness and love.
Which leads me to my next point.
BatCat Understands Each Other
Like most comic book characters, Selina Kyle has had numerous origin stories. DC Rebirth offered a glimpse into Selina’s past, revealing that her parents died when she was young. Not unlike Bruce Wayne’s tragic upbringing. The key difference between the two is that Bruce had unlimited funds at his disposal and Selina did not. But that shared tragedy is what makes these two a match made in comic book heaven.
They’re both creatures of the night, clinging to that darkness to hide who they are during the day. Selina’s slightly cheerier disposition always serves as a challenge for Bruce’s broody personality, drawing them to each other like moths to the flame.
Jeph Loeb’s 12-issue Batman Hush highlights exactly why Bruce and Selina just work.
Nightwing is the voice of BatCat shippers everywhere as he encourages Bruce to own up to his feelings for Selina Kyle and treat their relationship better than he’s treated previous romantic relationships. In order for it to succeed, he has to let her into both areas of his life and Selina is a character perfectly suited to understanding the dichotomy of Bruce and Batman.
The conversation with Nightwing leads Bruce to reveal his identity to Selina. But, like most BatCat stories — there are no happy endings here. Shipping BatCat isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an arduous and painful experience. But how can you not love these two emotionally complex and morally ambiguous characters?
There have been numerous instances where she already knew about his double-life, but Hush provided fans with the first time (in 60 years!) that Bruce revealed his identity to Selina.
The beauty in their relationship is that they are deeply flawed characters who recognize their limits, but still strive to do better and become better people to make their relationship work. Fundamentally, that’s what causes their relationship to breakdown time-and-time again. They are works in progress: sometimes they can grow together and sometimes they grow apart.
Bruce sees the world pragmatically — there’s white and there’s black and it isn’t until Selina comes into his life that he recognizes the grey in between. Where his moral righteousness fuels his crusade as Batman, Selina’s moral ambiguity forces him to reexamine the world they live in. Selina understands the world he lives in and serves as an emotional anchor for him, helping him to remember that he is actually capable of loving someone.
For Selina, Bruce gives her a reason to be good. Throughout her character’s journey — regardless of whether it’s a comic book, film, television series, or video game — Selina’s underlying desire is to be a better person. When no one else believes in her, Bruce consistently believes in her. Even when outside forces give them both reasons to distrust each other, they still remain the one person they can turn to.
At the end of the day, it’s this foundation that makes BatCat the superior relationship. Even at their worst, they understand each other and respect each other. They balance one another. Whether they’re Bruce and Selina or Batman and Catwoman, their characters are drawn to each other. They may not be the healthiest relationship at all times, but when they’re at their best — they’re at their best.
If you want a heart-wrenching story check out Tom King’s Batman Rebirth (Annual #2) where BatCat is allowed to live a long and happy life together. From their first encounter to their blossoming love story, their daughter’s birth and her venture into crime-fighting, and Bruce and Selina growing old together — it’s a story for the history books. Even if it culminates in Bruce dying from an incurable disease. The beautiful part is that Selina’s by his side and he’s surrounded by his family and friends. It’s a glimpse into a life that’s seldom afforded to the caped crusader.
“I love you too, Cat. From first kiss to the last.”
Bruce and Selina: In Film
With Matt Reeves’ highly anticipated The Batman trailer giving us our first glimpse of Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman opposite Robert Pattinson's Batman — now is a great time to look back at BatCat’s greatest hits in film and television.
Look at them!
Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer killed it as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in Batman Returns. I can’t think of a more iconic BatCat scene than the one where Catwoman licks Batman’s face.
Tim Burton perfectly captured the essence of BatCat — Selina’s vulnerability and her desire to be wanted and understood is the perfect companion to Bruce’s own brand of vulnerability. Selina helps him to come to terms with the dichotomy of the bat and the man, where Vicki Vale was unable to in the previous film. In my book, Batman Returns is peak BatCat content. Their iconic dance scene is also revisited in Christopher Nolan’s Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and the Gotham series.
Nolan’s interpretation of Bruce and Selina offers a rare happy ending for the duo. Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale exude chemistry. Throughout the press junket for the film, Bale highlighted the ways in which Selina essentially revived him after hitting a low point in his life.
“She's everything that on paper Bruce Wayne should not become involved with. She makes him laugh and even when she's stealing his belongings he's laughing about it because she has character. She brings out life in him that he hadn't felt for years.” (x)
The Dark Knight Rises handles the evolution of their relationship with remarkable ease. Even after Selina sells Bruce out to Bane, she realizes that isn’t the path she wants to go down. Yet again, Bruce proves to be the moral compass that brings Selina back to him. Unlike the numerous times throughout comic book history, when Selina offers to run away with Bruce — he actually listens and the two run away from their personas and Gotham forever.
I’ll be honest — I never finished watching Gotham, but from what I’ve gleaned from Twitter and Tumblr over the years is that baby BatCat was done well. From everything I’ve seen, the essence of the ship is there as they grew up together, dated, and eventually became Batman and Catwoman.
I did catch the time-jump scenes in the finale and it made me very hopeful for a Catwoman spin-off where we get to fully explore the feelings that the two still have for each other as adults.
The Bottom Line
Sure, Bruce gets paired off with a lot of characters, but somehow his storyline always circles back around to Selina Kyle. There is no other character in the DC Universe that understands him the way that she does. Without Catwoman, Batman wouldn’t be the character we know and love today. Her character was introduced a year following his and quickly became an intrinsic part of who he is. There is no other character that entrances him or causes him to bend his strict morals the way that she does. They see each other as the person they both try to hide from the world.
The most valuable item Selina Kyle has ever stolen was Batman’s heart.
(P.S. The only other relationship to rival BatCat is Harley & Ivy. Because, seriously, who needs the Joker?)