‘Dark Knight Rises’ Femme Fatales: An Appreciation

We take a close look at Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle/ Catwoman and Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate/ Talia al Ghul.

If you’re one of the millions of fans of “The Dark Knight Rises,” it’s very likely that after viewing the summer blockbuster, you still have the Bat on the brain. While one cure is to go see the movie again (before you do so, check out the handy “Rises” repeat-viewing primer written by my colleague Josh Wigler), a second option is to take some time to yourself to overanalyze favorite plot points and/or characters .

Warning: “Dark Knight Rises” spoilers ahead!

The movie is full of so much action and emotion that there is a lot to like and dislike. One of the most unexpected and pleasant surprises for me was that writer/director Christopher Nolan finally created interesting female characters and cast actresses worth watching. They are not perfect, of course, but the femme fatales played by Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard are a vast improvement over the leading ladies in Nolan’s previous two Batman movies. It is an improvement that I was not at all expecting and one that has forced me to eat a lot of judgmental and negative comments I made prior to seeing the film, particularly about Ms. Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Thankfully, I am a changed woman and have broken down my appreciation thusly:

Sorry for Doubting You, Anne Hathaway!
Oh man, I had so much dislike for Hathaway-as-Kyle before I saw this movie. Not that I had problems with Hathaway as an actress — I’ve enjoyed the majority of her work — my concern was based on the fact that the lady in Nolan’s previous films (played by Katie Holmes and then Maggie Gyllenhaal) was so frustratingly underwhelming and undeserving of being Bruce Wayne and Batman’s love interest. And both versions of the character were so boring and annoying and distracting. It was wrong for me to assume the worst with Hathaway’s version of Selina Kyle. I should have been more cautiously optimistic.

Anyway, Hathaway was wonderful to watch in this film. She exhibited all the right amounts of sex appeal, smarts and sarcasm. Even if at times those things veered into clichéd territory, they were an appropriate fit for the often stereotype-ridden landscape of a comic book movie. And that last scene! Did you see how truly happy Bruce Wayne looked?!? He finally found the perfect foil. For a while at least.

Thanks for Making Me Cry, Marion Cotillard
Technically, it was Bane’s solitary tear that made my eyes well up with multiple tears that spilled down my face, but we (Bane and I) did so because of Cotillard’s moving-yet-chilly monologue/revelation as Talia al Ghul. Contrary to my pre-judgment of Hathaway, I was all in when Cotillard’s casting was announced because I already knew from her work in “Inception” that Nolan knows how to properly maximize her screen time. It didn’t even matter what character(s) she played, she has the acting chops and that big-eyed femme fatale look about her that fits perfectly into this version of Gotham.

As Miranda Tate, Cotillard was a perfect foil for Bruce Wayne the businessman. That the attraction proved to be both intellectual and physical was intriguing and (finally) believable. Plus we needed a momentary bit of sensuality in there to give us a break from all the headiness. Back to Cotillard as Talia al Ghul and that moving reveal … how great is that moment? While she reveals her true self as the cold, calculating killer maestro behind the madness, she is doing so whilst lovingly fixing Bane’s busted mask, causing that aforementioned tear. What a great moment. It’s too bad Talia’s exit doesn’t equal her reveal, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Dark Knight Rises.”
For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.