When a Batman film is made, we always tend to sit back and try to figure out who would have been better suited as one of the iconic characters and who fit the role just right. Throughout the years we’ve been discussing the best and worst performances in a Batman flick, and in the recent months since the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, we’ve sat back and doubted the casting decision. But in the end, we’re here to discuss the best and worst female portrayals in a Batman movie.
Before we begin though, I wanted to point out one thing. If Halle Berry’s Catwoman (2004) had been considered a Batman film she would have been named the worst actress in a Batman film. Catwoman wasn’t a Batman film, therefore won’t be seen on this list.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s begin.
1. Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Batman Returns, 1992)
Most female portraits in Batman movies are just the damsels in distress. In Batman Returns Michelle Pfeiffer takes on the iconic role as Selina Kyle’s alter ego Catwoman. Giving the best performance by a female in any Batman movie, Pfeiffer was timid, angry, seductive, vengeful, scary and witty when she needed to be. Nobody else could have played Selina Kyle/Catwoman better than Pfeiffer did. She owned the role as Catwoman and while a bit corny for my taste, embodied the traits of a cat to a tee.
We all know that Batman & Robin is not only the worst Batman ever but one of the worst movies of all time. However, while the movie was complete crap you can’t deny that Uma Thurman’s performance as Poison Ivy is fantastic. As Pamela Isley she is the perfect type of nerd and as Poison Ivey she is so seductively evil. I believe Uma Thurman’s performance in Batman & Robin is considered a great performance in a bad film that shouldn’t be lumped in with all the bad performances that came out of that film. Some may think Thurman was over the top, but her performance was fabulously entertaining and I loved it. Uma Thurman is great at playing the innocent, helpless character, but she’s even better as the menacing maniac.
3. Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in (Batman, 1989)
It’s not hard playing the love interest of Bruce Wayne. We’ve seen it in almost every theatrical release of a Batman film. Just like Nicole Kidman as Bruce Wayne’s love interest, she did an excellent job at what she was supposed to do. She was beautiful and charming as the woman seeking the true identity of Batman. Yet, the role was nothing special and it could have been played by anybody really. It’s not the loves of Bruce Wayne that are interesting; it’s the woman trying to kill him that makes a splash.
I am not the biggest Nicole Kidman fan but I found her supporting role as Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever to be an alright role. Her performance as the damsel in distress was forgotten when paired up with Jim Carrey, Val Kilmer and Tommy Lee Jones. She played the role of the “smart” helpless woman who comes off as a groupie of Batman and Bruce Wayne. It was an overly lackluster performance, but like every other Batman flick, the love interest role is meant to be played by someone desirable and Kidman filled those shoes extremely well.
5. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes (The Dark Knight, 2008)
Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes was just bad casting to me. I’m not saying that Holmes shouldn’t have been replaced but Gyllenhaal was not the right person for this role, and because of that she gave one of the worst performances not only have her career but in such an epic film. I have been saying this since I saw The Dark Knight; Gyllenhaal is not the actress who plays the girlfriend or the damsel in distress; she is the strong woman who fights and doesn’t need a man. Having Gyllenhaal play the damsel in distress was just a poor move. I can understand they would want a talented actress such as Gyllenhaal to be a part of this big name movie, but she wasn’t the right fit and therefore gave a terrible performance.
6. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes (Batman Begins, 2005)
Well for one, Katie Holmes can’t act so the fact that she was even in this movie surprises me. Though, if she was a better actress her playing the damsel in distress/girlfriend character would have been just right. You can tell the performance was forced and when she speaks it’s only “blah, blah, blah, blah.” This role was definitely a step up from her previous roles, but not by much.
7. Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl/Barbara Wilson (Batman & Robin, 1997)
I’ve never thought much of Alicia Silverstone as an actress and after seeing her in Batman & Robin I didn’t think much of her at all ever again, until now. Silverstone was perfect casting for Barbara Wilson, but terrible casting as Batgirl. The story of Batgirl was so underdeveloped in Batman & Robin and while that wasn’t Silverstone’s fault, I felt she could have been less annoying in the role. Batgirl is a hero that we’re supposed to root for and Silverstone was plain out bad and corny. Silverstone was completely out-of-place in this movie. It’s almost like someone put names in a hat, pulled her name and she got the role. She gave the worst performance I’ve ever seen in the worst Batman movie… ever.
I wonder where we’ll find Anne Hathaway on our best & worst lists in a few short weeks!