Catwoman: Hunted, 2022
Directed by Shinsuke Terasawa
Featuring the voice talents of Elizabeth Gillies, Stephanie Beatriz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Lauren Cohen, Jonathan Frakes, Jonathan Banks, Kelly Hu, Zehra Fazal, Keith David, Jacqueline Obradors, Ron Yuan, Steve Blum, Andrew Kishino and Eric Lopez.
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 is undoubtedly one of the most iconic comic book characters ever, but it is interesting that over the course of her 80-plus year existence she has never had an animated feature film all on her own despite appearing prominently in several Batman films, even getting her own DC Showcase short years ago. Now that has changed with Catwoman: Hunted, a feature-length anime that is highly entertaining with its blend of genres, character driven story and detailed anime.
Catwoman: Hunted sees Gotham’s resident cat burglar travel across the globe after an attempted theft of a rare jewel from an international crime organization and is blackmailed by Batwoman and Interpol agents Julia Pennyworth and King Faraday for assistance in bringing the organization down. It’s a pretty simple story that is well paced, providing a lot of a lot of exciting sequences yet never loses sight of the characters and Catwoman and Batwoman’s dynamic in their reluctant partnership. The idea of utilizing Batwoman instead of Batman opens up many opportunities and thankfully screenwriter Greg Weisman and director Shinsuke Terasawa take full advantage of the potential by exploring a different side to Catwoman than the romantic and sexual tension usually reserved for Batman. Hunted‘s focus is also squarely on Catwoman’s status as an anti-hero with the characters (and the audience) unsure what exactly she’ll do beyond looking out for herself while the film plays with genre as part-heist, part-spy and part superhero adventure.
Elizabeth Gillies’ performance as Selina Kyle/Catwoman is arguably the film’s best aspect. She captures her essence with Catwoman’s playfulness, charisma, intelligence and, in a few moments, seriousness. Gillies puts a lot of range in her vocals which delivers a nuanced portrayal of Selina, whether its her feelings on working reluctantly with Batwoman or the way she toys with the various villains she comes against, and shows there is much more to Catwoman than the daring and playful burglar most people know, especially when it comes to those she considers her friends or helpless.
Stephanie Beatriz by contrast is a very nice foil for Gillies as she remains stoic for the most part but has fun getting under Catwoman’s skin while also being extremely irritated by Selina’s own antics. There are some moments where she drops her guard and shows Kate’s vulnerability, namely a hilarious bit where Selina is seemingly opening up to her. Some comparisons are made in the film about how Selina is with Batman versus Batwoman, such as a moment where Selina is very upset at a nickname reserved only for Batman, but Batman’s shadow does not loom large. Hunted thankfully sticks with Batwoman and doesn’t make her just a carbon copy of the bat with a gender switch, showing Batwoman has her own personality, skillsets and relationship with Catwoman. The pair’s growth from reluctant partnership to mutual respect is well developed and both Gillies and Beatriz’s performances play a huge part in that success.
Kirby Howell-Baptiste provides a nice menacing spin on Barbara Minerva in a different take on Wonder Woman villainess Cheetah. She gives off an air of snide sophistication as the socialite/criminal leader while Jonathan Banks easily switches between slightly charming and very threatening as Black Mask. Lauren Cohen and Jonathan Frakes don’t have too much to do as Julia and Faraday, but they have a few good moments with Selina and support for Batwoman where they share her exasperation with Selina’s tricks. The rest of the supporting cast with Kelly Hu as Cheshire, Zehra Fazal as Nosforata and Talia al Ghul and Keith David as Tobias Whale add a lot of fun to the mix, especially with David’s wild moments as Whale and Hu’s literal catfight with Catwoman.
The film’s anime visuals are a nice departure from the usual DC Animated Movies look, allowing Catwoman: Hunted to have its own distinct style. It really fits Catwoman’s character and world, from how she bats her eyes to entrap unsuspecting people, hers and Batwoman’s fight styles and the bright and glittery settings they usually find themselves in. There is plenty to remain in the anime genre as well like stylized character transformations and body horror, demonic monsters, close-ups on a pair of character’s eyes to exaggerate tension and more. The anime is richly detailed with the character movements, facial expressions and action sequences which makes it very re-watchable just to find hidden details. For Catwoman’s first animated feature, the decision to make it an anime was absolutely the right way to go.
Catwoman: Hunted is a more than worthy adventure for Selina Kyle’s first animated feature. The animation is rich, the cast is great with Elizabeth Gillies and Stephanie Beatriz being the standouts and the story is highly entertaining and well paced. The film hits all the right notes for fans of Catwoman, Batwoman and anime with a tight script from Weisman and direction from Terasawa. Even if this is your first introduction to Catwoman, Hunted captures everything that makes her such an enduring pop culture figure and character within the comic medium.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
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.