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Catwoman's Arkham City debut


Much of the publicity for Catwoman's inclusion in Arkham City, the sequel to Rocksteady's hit Batman game Arkham Asylum, has revolved around her sex appeal. The new Arkham City trailer above features the pounding drums of Lykke Li's "Get Some" while Catwoman does some unforgettable Bayonetta-esque acrobatics.

I almost didn't notice all of Catwoman's posing because I was distracted by the fact that Li's song in the trailer is missing its most memorable line. When the drums cut out for the last line of the chorus, Li usually croons, "I'm your prostitute" before she says "you gonna get some" (listen for yourself). In this trailer, the line about being a prostitute gets the axe.

Rocksteady probably just wanted to keep the video family-friendly, right? ... except for the fact that Catwoman spends her entire appearance murdering people in ways that aren't rated E for Everyone. But including a line where Li comes right out and says she's a prostitute? Nope, that's too far.

Leaving aside that Li's song does manage to get played on public radio with all of the lyrics intact, Catwoman literally is a prostitute -- or, at least, she has a history of sex work in the comics. Frank Miller introduced this as a plot point in 1986 with Year One; it's been in and out of Catwoman's canon ever since then. And so, Catwoman's theme in this trailer would appear to  be unexpectedly perfect (purrrrrfect? ... I'm sorry).

Lykke Li has actually stated that she didn't write "Get Some" about prostitution or sex; the lyrics are a metaphor for her relationship to the music industry. Most people still interpret Li's song as being about a woman who uses her sexuality to dominate her partner, rather than about a singer who uses her music to dominate her audience. Meanwhile, Catwoman uses her sexuality to distract and dominate her foes, and she even has a history with sex work; Li's true lyrical intent comes into play here because of how Arkham City has used Catwoman as a marketing tool. Selina is selling Arkham City on her back, literally (go to 1:15 of the trailer; that backslide across concrete does not look comfortable).

Catwoman will only be in about 10% of the game, so we won't have much chance to think about any implications beyond superficial attraction. And thank goodness, because Catwoman's backstory is downright depressing compared to Bruce Wayne's privileged past (she was orphaned at a young age, became a prostitute, escaped an abusive pimp, turned to a life of larceny -- the list goes on). If anybody has a right to gloomy brooding, it's Selina Kyle, but she sure seems a lot less light-hearted and sexy when you think about her a human being, doesn't she? And if these T&A-heavy videos are any indication, Rocksteady has no intention to delve beneath Catwoman's sexy surface, which is almost as cowardly as taking out that "prostitute" line. If you're going to give us Catwoman, don't pull your punches. Give us the entire multifaceted woman, please. Or at least give her some good one-liners.

Christopher Nolan's upcoming Batman film will also be adding in a Catwoman, and if the other films in that series are any indication, The Dark Knight Rises will likely tell a Catwoman story that goes beyond her sex appeal ... so, at least somebody's thinking about it. And hopefully both Rocksteady and Nolan will resist making a bunch of terrible cat puns.

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