Even if you’ve only seen the trailers for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power you know how important Catra is to the series. Formally Adora’s best friend before she defected to the resistance, the pain of that betrayal fuels every action she takes. Catra is a tragic character but she wasn’t always envisioned to be quite so serious.
While executive producer Noelle Stevenson always planned to give Catra a tragic arc of being pushed farther down the path of villainy, originally she had a recurring joke for the character. One that could have undercut the more serious aspects of the character.
“We were going to make so many cat puns,” Stevenson says. “She sleeps under a refrigerator. They’re going to spray her with water bottles and stuff. You know, cat jokes.”
However, Stevenon credits the performance of Catra’s voice actress AJ Michalka for changing the way she thought about the character. (You can read an interview with both them here.)
“AJ just brought such an empathy to her,” Stevenson says. “We just really started writing the character to play to AJ’s strengths.”
Thanks to this Catra became a lot more empathetic and a lot more tragic than Stevenson ever expected. It was part of her plan to take Catra down that path but without Michalka’s performance it wouldn’t have had the same emotional depth.
We at Den of Geek are grateful for that, since Catra’s broken friendship with Adora was easily one of the highlights of the first season. It formed the emotional core of Adora’s story and took what could have been just a big war and made it personal. Catra is everything Adora lost.
“I think that’s part of the reason why Catra’s such a powerful character. AJ brings so much heart to her.”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is now streaming on Netflix.