When news of Catwoman coming to the DC Universe's Harley Quinn animated series, excitement was in the air. Later, news came of the voice actress to take on the role. Sanaa Lathan will be lending her voice to everyone's favorite feline fatale. Right away, the name was unfamiliar and did not sound traditional in the American vernacular. A quick search finds her first name translates to art in Swahili. Furthermore, Sanaa Lathan is a black actress. Why of all possible characters, do they decide to make Catwoman black?
Die-hard fans know of Batman's stringent no kill rule. Time and time again you will hear fans quick to mention this, when skeptics ask why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker. They are vocal with the films as well, when Batman kills under the likes of Tim Burton and Zack Snyder. Christopher Nolan reassures these same fans when Batman asserts that he will not take a life. However, Batman was not originally born with this moralistic view of not killing his enemies. Believe it or not, in his first year of publication of Year One as some Bat-fans may want to call it, he has something of a lucrative body count.
Everyone remembers the first time they saw Catwoman. The baby boomers most likely remember Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt from the sixties Batman television show. Later on, their kids probably remember Michelle Pfieffer’s from Batman Returns or her incarnation in Batman: The Animated Series. Today's generation may think of Anne Hathaway from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. All of these make up the general, mainstream depiction of Catwoman...at least outside of the comics. We can discuss all of the differences with these various depictions of Catwoman. Yet, we can all agree on their base, surface level similarities of a costumed attire, athletic prowess and ableness to go toe-to-toe with the Batman. What if in her first ever story Catwoman was nothing like that? Oddly, it is true but do not let that detract you.
The Joker first debuted in April 1940 in Batman #1. In fact, this was roughly a year after the Dark Knight’s debut in Detective Comics #27. Believe or not, The Joker first’s appearance has gone on to define the character for years to come and not come off as a one-time event. Numerous stories would go on to take some inspiration from Batman’s first foray with The Clown Prince of Crime.
Detective Renee Montoya hardly has it easy in Birds of Prey. Historically speaking the character has always come from a place of adversity. Here we have a female, Latina cop mind you. Traditionally, the police are a male dominated career group. Add Latina and gay to this, you have a recipe for trouble for Detective Montoya. Already, Latina women make roughly 60 cents for every dollar a white male is paid. Fall back on gender stereotypes and age-old racism, Latina women do not clean up crime, they clean your house, office and or room. What is Montoya looking for?