Carwoman: Hunted is the new animated film from DC, and is the first done very deliberately in an anime style since Batman: Gotham Knight. It’s also the first feature-length animated Catwoman film. The film’s director, Shinsuke Terasawa, was the visual effects person for the long-running anime series Lupin III.
It’s actually one of the more fun DC animated offerings in a while (probably the best since Superman: Red Son). Catwoman is after stealing a cats-eye emerald, and ends up being hunted by loads of baddies, including Black Mask, Cheetah and a terrorist organisation. Eventually she has to reluctantly team up with Batwoman to stop the Leviathan crime syndicate.
The story falls apart as always with these things, but the animation is pretty good—it has a Cowboy Bebop look to it—and it’s a lot of fun. The interplay between Catwoman and Batwoman is what makes the film pop, including some sexual tension as Catwoman uses her sexuality to get what she wants from Batwoman. Both characters have been queer in the comic books for some time. In the end, Catwoman: Hunted is a jewel-heist caper gone wrong, with Catwoman on the run from baddies who want the jewel back. There’s plenty of humour, and the depiction of Cheetah is about as different from the way it was done in Wonder Woman 1984 as is humanly possible.
All the voices are great: I believe Batwoman voice actress Stephanie Beatriz lobbied herself or maybe just the fans to replace Ruby Rose on the live-action CW Batwoman show. To their credit, either actress would have been great in a live-action version of this film. They both kind of kill it, so even if the plot could have been tighter, at 78 minutes it’s fine. I’d much rather see a sequel to this than some half-assed Batman animated film. It’s certainly much better than the awful Batwoman live-action show!
The ’60-style opening sequence is also really good, followed by a really playful first 20 minutes encompassing a jewel heist at a DC villains fancy-dress party where Catwoman comes as, of course, herself. It also has a retro jazzy score that works well with the action.
Not many comic storylines have been done with Kate Kane (Batwoman) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman), so new stories are nice to have and easy to come up with. And even though the storyline here is nothing special, the dialogue is well-written—which isn’t always the case with these kinds of animated films. It ends up in a weird sort of middle ground: good, but it should have been a bit more raunchy, like the Harley Quinn TV series. You can tell they wanted to do something slightly more “adult,” but they weren’t willing to go that far with it. It’s rated 15 in the UK anyway, so they might have well just gone there.
The villains are bit meh, although Black Mask is perfectly fine. You wish there was a slightly more memorable bad guy involved, though. So to sum it up, the two leads are good, it’s enjoyable, and it’s probably the horniest Batman-related film since Batman Returns.
The disc extras include two documentaries: When the Hunter Becomes a Hunted (an overview of the making of this film plus a little of the back story of Catwoman), and Catwoman: The Feline Femme Fatale, telling the story of Catwoman in the comics and on the screen. It includes an archival interview with my friend Daniel Waters from Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight, edited in with some additional interviews, including various writers, filmmakers and actors related to Catwoman over the years.