Fresh off her directorial debut on Netflix’s upcoming mixed martial arts drama, Bruised, Halle Berry is ready for her next bout. The Oscar-winning actress also stars in the film, but she is not undefeated in her onscreen record, and she wants a rematch. Berry wishes she could not only remake Catwoman, but reimagine it in a subversive turnaround. Catwoman would come out on top.
“I would love to direct Catwoman,” Berry told Jake Hamilton on Jake’s Takes. “If I can get a hold of that now, knowing what I know, having had this experience and reimagine that world the way I reimagined this story. Bruised was written for a white, Irish Catholic like 25-year-old girl, and I got to reimagine it. I wish I could go back and reimagine Catwoman and redo that, have a redo on that.”
While it has amassed an avid cult following, Catwoman was deemed a box office failure when it came out in 2004. Made for $100 million, it lost $20 million at the box office. It got awful reviews, and audiences stayed away in droves. It currently holds at 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert listed it as one of his most hated films. The movie was nominated seven Golden Raspberry Awards nominations, won Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. Berry’s part in it won her the Razzie for Worst Actress. It was a few years after her historic Academy Award win for Monster’s Ball.
Berry showed up in person to accept the award. She won it. She owned it. Her acceptance speech is hilarious, thanking Warner Bros. for “putting me in this piece-of-shit, God-awful movie,” and advising her manager, “if I get a chance to do another movie, maybe you should read the script. Just counting the zeros behind the one really isn’t enough.” She proudly held both the Razzie and her 2002 Monster’s Ball Oscar. They were both just as important. The Razzie spurred her to future victories, and informs how she would move forward on the femme feline.
“I would have Catwoman saving the world like most male superheroes do and not just saving women from their faces cracking off, y’know, make the stakes a lot higher,” she told Jake’s Takes. “And I think make it more inclusive of both men and women.”
Catwoman a hero? Has Halle been smoking catnip? Why not? As Billy Preston sang in his hit “Will It Go Round in Circles,” “Let the bad guy win every once in a while.” This has been the major key to reinvention of the antihero since The Sopranos.
Directed by Luc Besson, Catwoman was already a reimagining of the iconic DC Comics character’s mythos. Berry wasn’t playing cat burglar Selina Kyle, but a graphic designer named Patience Phillips. She is brought back from the dead by a magical cat and develops catlike powers. She has no connection to Batman. Her nemesis is a corporate cosmetics executive played by Sharon Stone. The film also starred Benjamin Bratt, Frances Conroy, and Alex Borstein. It wasn’t enough. The film was mocked.
But the 2004 film came out at the beginning of the superhero film craze, and was influential on the genre to follow. “Behind every Black Panther is a great Black Catwoman!” Berry said at the 2018 the GLAAD Media Awards.
While Zoë Kravitz is set to play Catwoman in Matt Reeves’ upcoming film The Batman, there is no other Catwoman solo film currently in the works. Catwoman has been played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Julie Newmar, Anne Hathaway, Lee Merriwether, Lili Simmons, Camren Bicondova, Naya Rivera, and Eliza Dushku, but Berry’s favorite is Eartha Kitt.
Catwoman didn’t bar Berry from further roles in superhero films. She played Storm in the X-Men universe through 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, and played the assassin Sofia in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Since her film debut as the junkie Vivian in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever (1991), Berry has always taken chances on screen and behind it. “Cats come when they feel like it, not when they’re told,” Berry says in Catwoman. If Berry feels like reimagining the film, it must be time.