Spoilers follow for The Batman.
Straight out of Gotham and right into Blüdhaven. The conclusion of The Batman finds Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) packed up and heading “up north” for Blüdhaven, a city familiar to those who have followed the Bat-mythos across the comics for the past 25 years. The New Jersey to Gotham’s New York City, Blüdhaven is best known as the base of operations for Batman’s first sidekick, the former Robin turned Nightwing, Dick Grayson. Catwoman’s association with the town has been minimal until now. But as Matt Reeves builds out the world of The Batman across proposed sequels and HBO spinoffs, Blüdhaven could easily serve as the setting for Catwoman’s continuing adventures. And who knows what strays she might pick up along the way?
Introduced by Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel in their 1996 Nightwing series, Blüdhaven began as a means to allow Nightwing a chance to grow on his own, beyond the watchful eyes of his mentor but not so far away that he couldn’t lend Batman a hand or cross over into Bat-family events when the need arose. Grayson described Blüdhaven as worse off than Gotham, a place where many of that city’s criminals (especially those not driven by a vendetta against the Bat) fled or washed up. These burnouts were organized into a more effective threat by Roland Desmond, a.k.a. Blockbuster, a crime lord with superhuman strength and genius-level intellect who became Nightwing’s nemesis over the years. Think of him as DC’s answer to Marvel’s Kingpin.
Catwoman’s only notable comics appearance in Blüdhaven came in a 2001 issue of Nightwing titled “Modern Romance” by Dixon and artist Greg Land. She comes looking for something to take her mind off Batman, decides a jewel heist is in order, and sets her sights on a new casino in Blüdhaven. Her plans quickly unravel with the arrivals of Nightwing and a crew of armed burglars working for the Vietnamese mob who pose unwanted competition. The issue is slight on narrative, largely focusing on Catwoman working with Nightwing to defeat the burglars and her plans to then double-cross him and steal the jewel for herself. She tries to seduce Nightwing (hey, it worked on Batman), but he resists her charms and she leaves empty-handed — though not before landing a good sucker punch on Nightwing before she leaves.
There’s not much in the issue that suggests it might play heavily into Reeves’s plans for Catwoman. And given the strained mental state of the young Bruce Wayne we meet in The Batman, it’s a stretch to suppose he might adopt a mentee on his own at this stage. But Blüdhaven’s connection to Dick Grayson still holds tantalizing possibilities for the screen.
Recently, in the pages of Ram V and artist Fernando Blanco’s 2020 Catwoman series, Selina took in a group of young street thieves called the Alleytown Kids on Gotham’s East End and mentored them in the art of burglary. Her crusade on their behalf mirrors Bruce Wayne’s own emotional investment in orphans like Grayson with just a few added shades of moral gray. Perhaps within Reeves’s universe Selina might discover an angry, wayward young pickpocket named Dick Grayson in Blüdhaven and come to believe Batman could help him better than she can. Their fractured family has always been one of the most fascinating elements of the Batman comics’ history, and it hasn’t really been explored in a serious and meaningful way onscreen. That’s not to say Bruce and Selina need to play at being a nuclear family. But a Robin who exists as a product of Batman and Catwoman’s teachings would be an interesting twist on the mythology.
Aside from Dick Grayson, Blüdhaven poses a chance for Catwoman to thrive on her own, build up her own rogues’ gallery, and perhaps, as she’s done several times in the comics, make a play at becoming a crime lord herself, especially since it runs in the family and she is now the rightful heir to the Falcone crime family (at least if there aren’t any “legitimate” children waiting in the wings). While general audiences may see Catwoman as a supporting character, her decades of solo series prove that there’s enough material for Selina Kyle to take a leading role onscreen. Matt Reeves may have found just the right way to revitalize Catwoman’s potential by taking her to Blüdhaven and letting her carve up the territory as she sees fit.
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