The Riddler’s grand scheme in The Batman entangled the story’s heroes in a deep-rooted conspiracy of Gotham City, whether they actively participated in it or not. The Dark Knight himself and Selina Kyle especially so, as this gruesome string of murders brought two people together who probably wouldn’t have anything to do with each other otherwise.
Selina may not have been directly implicated in Gotham’s corruptive system of power, but the city’s criminal underworld hierarchy being uprooted gave her plenty of danger in a life that was already punishing as is. With mob boss Carmine “The Roman” Falcone being her father, she had to navigate a web of hazards to find justice for the death of her girlfriend, Annika.
Though it was a moment of weakness for her, it was simultaneously a great off-screen moment of sleuthing on Selina’s part as well. Batman and James Gordon have been running around Gotham City chasing clues on who the villain’s “rata alada” is — which was one of the most cunning tricks the Riddler pulled off — when they both discover someone else called the Dark Knight with the Bat-signal. As it turns out, Catwoman turned the signal on with a beaten and bound officer Kenzie at her mercy.
The cleverest thing she pulled from this, however, was that she rooted him out and got a phone recording of when — and who — murdered Annika. Selina caught the smoking gun as clear as a phone recording could be, revealing that Falcone himself strangled her to death. Of course, Kenzie himself wasn’t the informant, but apprehending him there led to the revelation behind Falcone being the “flying rat.”
It was certainly a team effort by Batman and Catwoman, but the latter’s part in this shaky alliance the two forged helped bring to light some of the dirty secrets being hidden by Gotham’s corrupt bureaucracy. Part of their deal was having Selina Kyle wear the Batman’s “detective vision” lenses on her next shift working at -44 Below — the “club within the club.” Her role was particularly important in this plan since Bruce couldn’t dig this information up hands-on as Batman.
It was a dangerous and uncomfortable endeavor for her to deal with, but her wits helped Batman expose and ID several of the city’s dirtiest players. Appealing to people like District Attorney Gil Colson’s weak, baser instincts, Selina discovered for both her and Batman that GCPD Commissioner Savage and the D.A. were on Carmine Falcone’s payroll. These were early and smaller steps in unraveling the Riddler’s motives, but crucial nonetheless toward putting an end to this bloody game.
Being one of DC Comics’ best and most iconic street-level heroes, it was both expected and welcome to see Catwoman pull off some sort of heist amid the Riddler-induced chaos. Granted, this particular heist didn’t go as planned, but Selina ended up making a big score off Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin’s drug trade regardless. Batman and Lieutenant Gordon discover that the famous Salvatore Maroni drug bust made years ago was a farce, as Carmine “The Roman” Falcone simply swooped in and took over the drug trade now that his competition was conveniently taken off the board.
And given Falcone’s unknown parental ties to Selina, murdering her mother, and abandoning her as an orphan, the proto-Catwoman was ready to take full advantage of collecting what’s owed to her. The bust didn’t go smoothly since Catwoman didn’t plan for the Dark Knight or Gordon’s sudden appearance, but she certainly stole back that duffel bag of money in slick fashion once Batman went off to chase the Penguin.
Selina doing a reconnaissance mission deep in -44 Below was eye-opening for Batman, as it revealed to him how deep Gotham’s rot truly runs. Though, her going rogue partway through this recon endeavor was also important for Selina uncovering the mystery most personal to her. While she’s manipulating the corrupt D.A. Colson to give Batman intel on him and Commissioner Savage, she notices one of the women with them knows something about Annika’s disappearance.
It impeded the broader goal of uncovering the Riddler’s plans and pulling him out of the shadows, but it was a catalyst for Catwoman to find out what happened and who did this to her. The climax of Catwoman’s character arc in The Batman centered around her discovering that Falcone, her father, murdered Annika, was a cruel but major milestone in the development she’ll surely experience going forward in this Bat-verse.
In a turn of events seemingly inspired by Batman: Zero Year, the culmination of the Riddler’s master plan was to flood Gotham City and have it descend into its resulting chaos. The floodwaters were far too fast for any evacuation to be planned or executed, forcing any survivors on the streets to take shelter at mayor-elect Bella Réal’s acceptance speech venue. From there, Edward Nashton’s acolytes would finish the job and pick off the stragglers.
The Caped Crusader manages to make it just in time to stop them dramatically, but it wouldn’t have panned out were it not for Catwoman’s quick thinking. She sought initially to make this her chance to leave Gotham for good but noticed Batman with his hands more than full with the thugs above the indoor arena. He was nearly killed by the second-to-last Riddler follower until she snuck up saved Batman at the last second, giving the brooding hero time to recuperate. In several ways, Catwoman could represent both her and Bruce’s next big step in letting people in.
The finale of The Batman leaves the movie’s complicated duo in different places mentally. For much of these two years that Batman has been operating in Gotham City, he channeled all of his anger into brute-forcing his way through the city’s criminal underworld. The World’s Greatest Detective wasn’t seeing that unfiltered vengeance inspires more vengeance, and he isn’t scaring the right people. Meanwhile, Catwoman has been living her life in survival mode.
With the cruel upbringing forced onto her by Falcone, all she could afford to do was worry about herself and Annika. Now with the city in tatters, and Annika gone, it leaves Selina understandably cynical of the city’s future. Ironically, it’s the perspective she gave Batman that inspires him to grow and persevere for Gotham, but leaving (for now) might be the smart thing to do for the Cat Burglar. The money she stole from Penguin and Falcone will provide a good cushion to let her start again before she and the brooding Dark Knight inevitably make their way back to each other. It’s unlikely Matt Reeves will keep one of Batman’s best relationships from the comics away for too long.
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