Ricky Church chats with Greg Weisman about writing Catwoman: Hunted…
It is without doubt that Catwoman is one of the most iconic comic book characters ever since she was introduced in the first issue of Batman over 80 years ago. Since then, she has been played by several actresses beginning with Julie Newmar in the classic ’60s television series Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Halle Berry in Catwoman and soon by Zoe Kravitz in the upcoming The Batman. Despite her popularity and the number of DC Animated Movies, however, Catwoman has never been given an animated film all on her own.
That has changed with the upcoming release of Catwoman: Hunted, the feline anti-herione’s first animated feature. The film sees Catwoman attempt to steal a priceless jewel from some of the world’s most deadliest criminals, forcing her into a reluctant alliance with Batwoman and Interpol agents as they attempt to bring down an evil international organization, all the while being hunted by deadly assassins. We spoke with writer Greg Weisman who has worked decades in animation on shows like Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He spoke about writing Catwoman’s first animated feature, the character’s 80 year legacy, the female-centric story and the mini-Gargoyles reunion with Hunted stars Keith David and Jonathan Frakes. Check out our interview below…
Ricky Church: Catwoman is one of the most popular combo characters ever, but Catwoman: Hunted is actually her first solo animated film. Were you intimidated at all to write her first animated feature?
Greg Weisman: Intimidated isn’t really the word I’d use. I was incredibly excited. I didn’t really focus, I don’t think, on it being the first so much as “okay, I just gotta do justice to the character.” I might have been intimidated if I focused on it being her first, but I didn’t figure it that way. I just wanted to tell, you know, a great yarn that was sort of light and frothy, but had serious undercurrents that reveal themselves periodically. Selena just felt like the perfect character to pull that off.
Now Catwoman’s always been known for her frenemy/romantic relationship with Batman, but in Hunted she’s instead paired with a Batwoman. What made you think of Batwoman and what opportunities did their pairing present?
When I came in and pitched it, one of the things I said right off the top was, and everyone agreed, was no Batman. Batman would sort of loom, it’s not like he doesn’t exist, he is in everyone’s minds here and there, but, the moment you put Batman in it it becomes a Batman movie and Salina’s sort of reduced to being a foil or a love interest or an opponent. We really wanted to make sure this was a Catwoman movie, not a Batman movie. And in that first pitch meeting Aiims Kurshton at DC suggested including Kate. I want to credit him because I didn’t walk in the door with that idea, but immediately I’m like “oh my, yes, that’s perfect!” because stylistically, you couldn’t find two more diametrically opposed characters.
Kate is all military. She is pragmatic. She is to the point where Selena is all about style, obfuscation and plans within plans. I just thought putting them up against each other, both as foils but as partners in essence out of necessity, was just gonna be tons of fun. And then the thing that was particularly cool for me is, as different as they seem, if by the end of the movie I’ve done my job right we kind of reveal that they’re really not as different as each of them would like to believe. When it comes down to the core of them, you get past the stylistic differences, they actually have a lot more in common than you think. To me, having that peak out here and there throughout the movie and then revealing that by the end, that was really part of the fun for me, taking them on that journey.
For sure. One of the fun aspects to Hunted as well is it’s a mix of genres. It’s part superhero adventure, part spy film and part heist. What made you want to play with all those genres together?
A) I view the superhero genre as a mutt genre. It encompasses science fiction. It encompasses the occult, detective fiction, spy fiction, as you said it can be a heist thing. Superheroes were born out of all these pulp genres and just sort of said ‘we’ve got so many stories to tell, we’re gonna throw all these ingredients in the pot.’ So that’s A, but B) specifically, this was conceived from top to bottom as an anime film. Specifically the biggest influence on it, biggest single influence on it, I should say because there are a lot of influences, but the biggest single influence on it was Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. This kind of international high thriller was something that Selena would just plug into perfectly. You know, her style, her seductive qualities, her skills, her chops, all that just really fit that kind of tale. The idea of that it was sort of inherent when I pitched the very first day.
One of the interesting things about Catwoman is that she’s now over 80 years old, she was introduced in like that very first Batman comic.
And she doesn’t look a day older! (Laughs)
For sure! (Laughs) Why do you think she’s remained so popular after all these decades?
You know, there’ve been so many interpretations of her, but I think ultimately what it comes down to is that, again, when you get down to the core of who her character is, there’s depth and yet it’s a depth that she herself strives to hide. You can have all the fun, whether it’s a wacky adventure or whether it’s a more serious one or whether like this it’s a heist thriller, and yet feel like there’s something worthwhile underneath. Something that goes deeper. And, you know, her relationship with Batman is complex and rich and her emergence as a protagonist in her own right, whether as an anti-hero or thief or whatever, I think has just brought her into an interesting and somewhat unique area in comics that allowed her to tell her own stories.
Awesome. Not only does Hunted feature a who’s who of characters from across the DCU, but most of the cast is made up of female heroes and villains. What was your process in selecting the characters for this female-centric story?
Well, it started with that. The notion that I wanted this to be female-centric. We had Batwoman and Catwoman. The idea of a cat fight, but taken seriously, was significant to me so it seemed natural to bring in Cheshire and to bring in Lady Barbara Minerva in there and to bring in crime bosses, some of them are male but they didn’t all have to be so we have La Dama in there, we have Nosferata because I wanted not another Batman villain, but another bat-themed villain. You have these men who sort of seek to oppress and assert their dominance, but what we’re showing in this film is the women are not just holding their own, they’re actually way more dangerous than these guys are. Ultimately behind it all you have Talia al Ghul, the most dangerous of all. To me that’s just a rich, fun group of characters to bring forward.
For sure. And There’s a bit of a mini-Gargoyles reunion for you here as Keith David and Jonathan Frakes star in the film. Did you write those parts for them or was that just pure coincidence they like ended up in this?
Neither. I mean, I didn’t write specifically for them. I wrote Tobias Whale and I wrote King Faraday and then sat down with Jamie Thomason, our voice director who was also the voice director on Gargoyles way back in the day so it isn’t surprising or an accident or coincidence that we wind up with Keith and Jonathan given who Jamie and I are. But I didn’t specifically write them with that in mind, but it’s not a long distance when you’re doing Tobias Whale to go from there to Keith David! (Laughs) Calling it a coincidence I think is disingenuous, but I didn’t sort of set out to say “Hey, how can I write for some of my old buddies?” It’s not that I don’t love them and we have many people who I’ve worked with before like Kelly Hu, Zehra Fazal, Steve Blum, Eric Lopez and others. Then quite a few who I never worked with before, but I was a huge fan both before and after I heard their work in this movie were movie Elizabeth Gillies as Catwoman and Stephanie Beatriz as Batwoman. I was already huge fans of theirs, but I never actually worked with them before this.
Thank you to Greg Weisman for speaking with us!
In the all-new original Catwoman: Hunted, Catwoman’s attempt to steal a priceless jewel puts her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman. It might just be enough to contain her. Or not.
Catwoman: Hunted is set for release on Blu-ray, DVD and Blu-ray Steelbook on 7th February 2022 and on Digital Download on the 8th February 2022.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.