Halle Berry Eager To Dig Her Claws Into ‘Catwoman’

Comic book flick carries tentative July 2004 release date.

The upcoming “Catwoman” flick will likely do away with much of the established lore from the DC comic books and the 1992 blockbuster “Batman Returns.” And as far as Halle Berry is concerned, that’s just purrfect.

Having completed the supernatural mystery “Gothika” (see “Halle Berry Takes Horror Cues From Dear Old Mom In ‘Gothika’ “ ), Berry is bubbling with excitement to dig her claws into the role made famous by Michelle Pfeiffer and 1960s “Batman” TV actresses Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt.

“I am excited about it,” the Oscar-winning actress said recently. “I just finished ‘Gothika,’ so now my next job is to sort of dive into it and figure out who I will be as Catwoman. And what can I bring to it that all of the other great ladies of the past maybe forgot to bring? And I hope I’ll find something.”

Catwoman first appeared in the “Batman” comics back in 1940 and has since appeared in her own comic titles, as well as various “Batman”-related cartoons, TV shows and movies. A costumed jewel thief with the alter-ego of Selina Kyle, Catwoman has been both a nemesis and love interest for the Batcave-dwelling superhero.

The current script for the upcoming flick, which Berry took on after scheduling conflicts caused Ashley Judd (“A Time to Kill”) to end her long association with the years-in-development project, reportedly involves a new Catwoman named Patience Price who is granted cat-like powers. Batman is not expected to appear.

With a tentative July 2004 release date, “Catwoman” seems likely to be the first of the many in-development Batman projects to actually make it into theaters. The passionate reception a fan film called “Batman: Dead End” — in which the Dark Knight battled the Joker, a “Predator” and “Aliens” from the films of the same names — received at the San Diego Comicon convention this year was evidence that demand still exists for “Batman” movies.

Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream”) has expressed interest in adapting comic auteur Frank Miller’s classic “Batman: Year One” for the big screen, though director Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) is the latest name that’s been attached to the relaunch of the “Batman” franchise (see “Next Batman Movie In Hands of ‘Memento’ Director” ).

The once highly profitable series that began with Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” stalled after fans and critics panned Joel Schumacher’s “Batman and Robin,” which featured George Clooney in the cape and cowl. A proposed “Batman Vs. Superman” flick was placed on the backburner after Warner Bros. decided to move first on separate flicks starring the iconic characters instead (see “Batman And Superman Have To Wait In Line Behind Greek, Trojan Warriors” ).

“Catwoman,” with visual-effects-supervisor-turned-director Pitof at the helm, is scheduled to begin production at the end of next month. A source close to Berry said that start date could change, as the actress is still recovering from an arm injury she sustained while making “Gothika.”