In Tim Burton's Batman Returns, Max Shreck throws Selena out a high story window where she plunges to the ground. It's not quite clear to me if she dies upon landing or just knocking at death's door.

Regardless, cats come out of nowhere and start licking her and nipping at her fingers:

Selena screen capture from Batman Returns

Next thing you know, she's more assertive, confident and has quite the spring in her step (the back-flips and whatnot).

What role did the cats play making Catwoman?


The way I've always read that scene is that she fell, but did not die. She did however suffer severe trauma. The larger part of that trauma was to her psyche. An oft used story telling instrument in movies is the personality switching trauma. This happened to Selena when she fell, it changed her into a more assertive character. Having the cats around her when she woke up as the new Selena "impressed" on her mind a more feline personality. Not only is she more aggressive and independent, she also moves and acts more like a cat. You could say that the trauma to her head made her more than a little bit 'insane'.

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  • So OP's idea is basically Selina's interpretation of events as she wakes up; but it is not truly the case, she just thinks it is? I.e. Selina (consciously or subconciously) believes that the cats have a (potentially magical) importance; while that is not true in reality (i.e. the movie's reality). – Flater Jun 30 '17 at 7:59
  • What of her "other" lives when she fights Batman, Penguin and Max Schreck later in the movie? – m1gp0z Nov 2 '18 at 20:42

I have not watched Batman Returns but if it is like Catwoman; Patience (the Catwoman incarnation of this movie) died and cats make her alive again.

It is told by the old woman (who is slightly implied to be Selena Kyle) that cats have magical powers and revived her from the dead and gave her abilities.

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  • If the (implied) theory is that the old woman is Selina; then it's possible for her to come up with the explanation of magical cats because she woke up next to cats. I.e. cats aren't actually magical, but Selina believes that they are. Because she doesn't realize that she would have woken up regardless of any cat being present. – Flater Jun 30 '17 at 8:06

Of course cats have magic!

It's funny, I saw Catwoman before this one and thought the 'licked back to life by magic cats' thing was the stupidest thing in a hilariously bad movie. Turns out that was the one thing she had in common with the actual Catwoman from the Batman movies? Mind: blown! XD

However, someone (I can't find it now) pointed out that Selina hit several things on the way down and so never fell constantly for an unsurvivable distance, and that she wasn't immediately skilled, struggling a lot at first. Maybe she wasn't 100% dead and brought back to life with superpowers by magical cats after all, but just had a personality shift via head injury like Phineas Gage.

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  • Any source to support this answer? – A J Jun 30 '17 at 5:48
  • You seem to assume that the cats must invariably have been the cause of Selina's resurrection. Why can't it just be a coincidence, i.e. Selina would have woken up regardless of any cats' presence? – Flater Jun 30 '17 at 8:03

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