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Batman Arkham City: Does Catwoman’s Kiss Tell Too Much?

Way back when zombies weren’t just reruns on AMC’s The Walking Dead, I ran into Bex of The Feminine Miss Geek.  She recently posted a nifty and commonly forgotten (or merely ignored) point of view in videogaming that hardly gets any attention.  The idea that girl gamers are repeatedly informed that they are definitely not the target audience.

In this edition, she reports that the teaser reveal of Catwoman being a playable character in the upcoming Batman Arkham City game is… well here’s the video.  Watch it, get a feel for it, then continue readin’.

Wabi sabi?

What do you think?  Likey?  No likey?  Why?  Keep it there!  Keep it right there in that noodle of yours!  I don’t wanna ‘corrupt’ your thoughts on it.  Okay?  Excellent!

Bex takes issue with the video for several important reasons.  Namely the gratuitous closeups, the slide under the truck, the kissing bit, and the leg-lock manuever at the end.  Originally I typed most of the following as a comment on her post, but it started getting long so I’m repurposing it here, and here it be!

First off, FMG not only brought up excellent points, but did so in a very tidy way.  She understandably feels strongly about this issue, but still was able to make an educational post without resorting to simply raging, which I know takes quite an effort when something really bothers you.  It’s like trying to politely ask the one-ton blind guy to get off your foot.  What normally would be an easy task gets drastically more difficult as you are experiencing intense pain while still trying to remain civil.

While I can see her points and even see the exact bits that bother her and why, I think all of the issues stem out from one or two key problems.  Just before I get to that though, I am greatly perplexed as to why WB Games decided to keep Batman and Joker’s voice actors from the (only good) animated series, yet they left Catwoman and Harley go.  I mean… come on!  You’re going to play as one of them, for goodness sakes!  Do you think we’d miss that she sounds one way in game 1, then completely different in game 2 when we spend one-on-one time while *playing as her*?  The game is huge and has a big following.  It is very successful and the sequel is growing the series in massive way.  Did they ask for outrageous salaries?  You got Luke Skywalker and the guy doing the titular character still there, why no love for the ladies?

Back on topic, the two main issues of what’s wrong in this video are rooted in bad editing decisions, which is related to the second, possibly all-encompassing problem of a failed developer thought processes.

Let me start with the good.  From what I played in the first game, Batman was very stilted, very rigid.  Even when he flew around it was strongly and in one direction.  Everything about him was like a samurai’s fighting technique.  They don’t do much most of the time, but man-alive when they do, huge bursts of energy.  Overall he felt sluggish and bogged down, possibly by all the bullet-proof latex he had on.  (If this was a video review, this would have been the most awesome time to blare the “Trojan Man!” audio clip.)

Catwoman is the opposite.  Lots of movement, lots of flourish.  But she’s more than that.  She’s very good at what she does, and she knows that.  She knows it so confidently that she likes to flaunt not only her battle prowess, but her curves as well.  From what I’ve seen of the brand, Catwoman is all about action and flair.  This is precisely what the video showcases the whole way through.  The video is high on energy the moment she appears and remains that lively till the end.

Unfortunately, the editors didn’t quite know where to quit.  There is a bit of redundancy on the butt shots, for example.  (I’m not even touching on the objectifying can of worms here.) Solely based upon the editing job, it was sloppy.  Not only did they run two simultaneous buttshots side-by-side (not that it was exactly a bad thing :P), they even ran the identical close-up of the pleather and lace or whatever design it was on her shiny behindy twice in a row!  Sloppy, sloppy!

They definitely could have reorganised a few things and cut out some entirely.  I’m not knocking them too hard though.  This teaser was just that, something to whet the appetite and keep you buzzing so you tell your friends just how cool the game is so that when the game goes live you all buy your own copy and gobble it all up.

The second problem, and single biggest issue with the whole video by far is the kissing scene.  Not only does it come out of “WTFBBQSAUCEANDBISCUITS Left Field”, it makes absolutely no sense!  She’s in the process of flipping the guy.  She slips him over her shoulder, then slips him the tongue?  I just don’t get it.  It does not appear to be a cinematic, just a regular throwing/juggling manuever. Not that the cinematic part would make it all-better, but at least it might make sense, as it certainly does not right now.

If she was a vampire and was taking a nibble out of his neck, it might just be passable (easy way to keep health up mid-combat, etc.).  But this is a famous cat burglar.  She robs banks of people that destroy kitty litter factories and catnip toys.  She does not get her rocks off by making out with every passer-by she happens to fisticuffs.

That throwing animation is only existent so every guy playing it can swoon and giggle to himself  (at best).  It is in bad taste and nonsensical in every way.  Looking at it objectively and, ironically leaving out the objectifying aspects of this yet again, it is still a terrible design decision by the developers.  Why would anyone, even those giggling (or worse) wish to see this move again and again?  It should not be such a common fighting animation.  It shouldn’t even be an uncommon fighting animation, and honestly, it never should have made it this far into the development cycle if only because that is so out of character.

The cut and dry of it all, to me anyway, is simple.  Get rid of the nearly crowding amounts of buttshots to not make the lady’s watching uncomfortable and delete all files linked to that kissing abomination.  Do that and everything else is kept in check.  This is my opinion, of course.   To me, the only bit that blatantly crosses the line is the kiss.  (The other stuff treads the line, but doesn’t quite pass it.)  Add in the kiss, and everything else that was questionable automatically gets ‘upgraded’ to offensive to the female fans. 

Lop off the kiss, the rest of it is wavvy gravy.  She will remain competent and attractive without watering down her appeal by simply being the town bicycle.  Edit out the tonsil twisting and she’d be a real sexual spitfire; just edgy enough to retain maximum levels of hawt while not being full-blown whore-esque.

At this point you get my idea of the video, but just to be thorough…

As for the backwards slide move, that’s just part of the outfit.  Catsy likes it sassy, so that’s her own doing/editor’s fault for highlighting the skin so much.  Also, if she slid the opposite way, like a baseball player going to home base, the ‘frontal goods’ would be even more exposed than they are here, or if she slid legs first that would lead to even more problems than the ‘crotch of death’ attack previously mentioned.  Speaking of which..

The leg grapple move isn’t a problem not only because has Sonya Blade been doing a standing version of that for yeeeears, but the dude’s skull is nowhere near her prives’.  Check out his placement.  Her right leg is straight up boa-constricting that guys esophagus.  His shoulder area is resting on her left leg, which is only adding more pressure on his spine.  It’s actually not sexual at all.  (Again, after seeing the kiss and getting riled up, I can see the confusion.  It’s like the act of a lesser known comedian or band warming up the crowd before the real deal arrives.  By the time the actual show begins you’ll love whatever they do… only in this case it is the reverse.) 

Keeping on topic with the leg-lock, Kratos gets far more touchy-feely with undead centurions when he’s scaling across a rope.  He generally grabs onto them with his legs, locks around their waist, pulls down against them till they loose their grip, then tosses ’em aside.  But that series took a dive after the first game so I don’t really even want to go there, but it is a similar combat position so I brought it up.  Also, Solid Snake gets waaaay more upclose and personal when he snaps some poor sap’s neck.  Talkin’ full on torso-on-torso ‘action’.  And did you see that wiggle/crawl move he had in MGS4?  They don’t make water hot enough to wash that off… 

What do you guys think?  Was the kiss too much, or too little?  Should they take it out, or should they add a quick time event make-out session mini-game to allow you to disarm the guards of vault witout actually fighting?  Maybe a pin the thong on the super villan bonus stage? (What, would you prefer to pin the thong on a super hero? Yeah, how’s that for a mental imagery nightmare.  Won’t be able to think about Batman the same for a month, at least.) 

Lemme know below! ^_^

11 responses »

  1. I don’t know about other women, but when I saw that trailer, I was psyched. I want to play this game now more than ever.

    I see it another way. Arkham City is based on Batman. A comic book character. For this particular game, you gotta look at the original source here. Comic books are about tits and asses as much as they’re about capes, muscles and masks. I’d been reading comics for years, and while I’m no rabid DC fan (I prefer Marvel, personally) I’ve had a few arcs of Catwoman under my belt, and that’s pretty much who she is most of the time — sexy, sassy, confident — even when she’s fighting. Frankly, as a big fan of the Bats and the characters in his world, I’d be a little peeved if they had portrayed her any other way. Granted, I may be looking at this another way — I don’t deny they’re likely marketing more to gamers here, male gamers, sure. But I also see them targeting us comic book fanboys and girls too.

    • From what I gathered ’round the web, this is supposed to be sorta when Bats and Cats just started getting to know one another. Even with that in mind, I still think the making out throwing move is a bit much. Everything else was great though ^_^

      The pouncing and fighting moves, even the close-ups were all excellent. I just think they should have left the kiss move out as it really does not fit my idea of her at *all.* I know this isn’t the animated series, but at the same time I don’t think her character varied that much from the comics (unless Frank Miller completely changed her with his Dark Knight Returns stuff). Sassy and confident is good, but I don’t define confident as kissing every thug I throw on my way to the boss. Heck, she’s more restrained around Batman in the video than she is with random Red Shirt baddie. How does that compute? She takes awhile to warm up to the main love interest, but has no problem lip-lockin’ countless drones?

      As the Misses just said as I was reading my thoughts to her, “She can be sassy and sexy, but she’s not slutty.” Out of the mouths of babes…

      • I’ll be honest, I almost missed it the first time watching it. It was like .2 seconds and at the time I thought of it more as a distracting move before she whacked that guy on his ass, using a man’s weakness against him. Didn’t think much of it again after that, until reading your article. I can see how it can be gross, and even a little offensive, but there’s a fine line between using your sexuality as a weapon in your favor and using it to be a slutty cat :P I know I personally wouldn’t do it.

      • Haha, I gotcha! Yeah, distracting the baddies would be alright. (Flashing back to Heather Graham in Austion Powers 2, where she flashes the guy and he gets killed in a lava pit from her ‘distractions’.) I think the video either over-emphasized it, or they need to tone it down a wee bit to keep it reigned in.

        I know Bex was really bothered by a lot of the stuff shown, I thought it was entertaining for me to watch all the way though. But the kiss was a bit jarring. Not so much a “ew”, but more of a”did she just… wha? why?” sort of responce. She still ruled the roost (or I guess scratching post would be more accurate ^_^) and the music was a perfect fit with the atmosphere they were going for. I know when I saw it the first time I was like “Oh yeah, she’s workin’ it. And now she…uh… wha? …Weird. Anyhoo, continuing to stomp face…”

        We’ll have to see how they handle her in up-coming footage. Hopefully more butt-kickin’ than tongue wagglin’ is in her future. Other wise me thinks…

        kitty will be angry.

  2. It seems like the leg move is sexual regardless of the victim’s proximity to her junk; the act itself denotes sexuality and is mixing sex and violence. Catwoman becomes a sexual object because the objective of the game is to beat people up. Now if Batman was doing the same thing I might think a little differently but considering the makers are using gratuitously sexual poses for Catwoman’s moves I can’t help but think they’re trying to objectify her and market the game almost strictly towards a male audience.

    Video games are primarily marketed towards men but we live in a society where almost anything is. Most films are targeted to men; most television shows are too. It’s the remnants of a male dominated system which we’re still living in and it looks like it’s not going away anytime soon. I think FMG is right when she feels the game is a little insulting – I’m a man and find it a bit offensive. That doesn’t mean I don’t like women but I believe it’s possible to exude sexuality without objectification.

    • I still don’t see it as being sexual though lol Heck, just describe the character visually. Any version of Catwoman, not just this potentially too objective one.

      -Tight leather outfit.
      -And a whip.
      -High odds of thick heels in her shoes.
      -Has a tendency to scratch her victims.

      She’s a shade away from being a dominatrix in the first place :D It’s nearly impossible to describe her without speaking about her sexuality, it’s part of what Catwoman is. (Mind you, just Catwoman, not Selena Kyle.) Catwoman knows what she has and flaunts it constantly and with finesse. That finesse is where her confidence is, she is capable in combat, and only when is her sexuality is too heavily emphasized does the balance start to topple the rest.

      To me, again this is just my take on a fictional character anyway, her actions for the most part are not overtly sexual in nature in this footage. Of the ones mentioned, barring the dreadful kiss stuff, that leaves the sliding under the truck bit, and the leg lock.

      The leg lock I already debunked in my eyes, but just a teeny bit more info in terms of sketchy popcorn-logic and movie reality here, is that chicks generally lack upper-body strength. The Misses and I talked about this in the car today, about this very topic lol We concluded that even if girls are capable of snapping a guys neck with their bare hands, it is not as visually digestible as a guy doing it. As women tend to be stronger with their legs, they use them. Kicks, jumps, all that. Guys are more meat and potato boxing stuff, generally. So for a lady to be using her legs to strangle a guy fits, as again, even if it is possible, it just will not look right on screen, especially not in an action game like this.

      This leaves the slide maneuver. And this, too, I’ll green light, based on the math. If you were to slide on your knees in such a way, you need to arch your back like that, odds are you’d do it naturally just to keep balance. Bending back further = pain or just not possible to maintain momentum, and not leaning back at all is like trying to swing by just sitting still with your legs stretched straight out. Ya need to lean into it to get anywhere.

      So the slide is ‘okay’, which leads to the dress being too short or unzipped, is that why the slide might be bad? No, that is ‘okay’ because she likes being sassy and you still cannot actually see anything. You can say they shouldn’t have had her slide at all, but I think it’s alright. I will say that the editor should not have chopped the footage up to highlight the chesticle region, though. It didn’t offend me, but perhaps four cameras on the same location was a bit much :P If that was not the editor’s bad, but is simply how the game displays that action, the devs at the top shouldn’t have suggested it. Or if they did not, they should have undone the decision as soon as they found out. (Which ropes in my two suggested faults of this footage in the first place. Bad editing, or failed dev thought processes ^_^)

  3. Hullo EC! Interesting discussion about using sex as a distraction in battle. But to me, that just seems like an excuse to show something sexy, and it insults men as much as it does women. It reduces women to the thought that the only power they have is sex, and that men are completely helpless against it. Both are untrue. As for saying, “Oh, well, that’s just how video games/comics are!” That doesn’t jive with me either. That just allows crappy situations to perpetuate without addressing any issues or striving for change for the better. And the sexy/slutty bit was something I thought of, too, but I avoid using the word slut. Is there a clear difference between sexy and slutty? Kind of not really? To me, like I said in my post, the difference is owning your sexuality. Catwoman is sexy, not slutty, because she owns it. In this trailer, she doesn’t. Her sexy actions and moves aren’t for her own enjoyment or under her control, it is for the male audience/red shirt thugs. It’s not, “Catwoman would do this move,” it’s “Catwoman should do this because it’s sexy as hell.” Does that make sense? I sometimes feel like I’m not wording it correctly.

    • Hiyas!

      “Kind of not really” is going on my wall of memorable quotes ^_^

      I get what you’re sayin’. Admittedly I’m looking at it from a different perspective, but I can still ‘speak your jive’ as it were :D

      I think that individually, her ‘infractions’ in terms of character can be ignored for the most part, as it is not until you compile them all that they begin to coalesce. To me, while they could very well be belittling both women via objectifying and men by forcing us to believe all it takes is a wiggle of her ‘tail’ to pacify, they hid that ‘agenda’ of sorts well enough. The kiss is my main point of contention as it is so zomgwtf out there on all fronts that it not only drags the rest of the piece down, it kills the suspension of disbelief and thus the entire atmosphere and universe they were trying to put in place around it. (Then the nerd ragers start getting uppity: “Catwoman wouldn’t do that!” and someone else (a troll) does the “Since pleather can stop bullets, herp-derp.” The nerd continues with “But she can dodge them!” and the troll rebuttals with “And Keanu Reeves knows kung-fu. And act. >.>”)

      In short, you reach the straw breaking the camels back phase a bit before I. I can see the little things potentially adding up to shenanigans, but, to me, it isn’t quite official just yet. (Also, my negative situation isn’t *that* terrible. Women being objectified is worse than thinking a guy is easily distracted by boobs. That’s like a random super model flashing a guy on the street, then laughing at him because they are fake.) I’ll need another video or actual gameplay experience (at least a Let’s Play of it) to weigh in ‘officially’. It is in grey territory, I’ll give ya that!

      As for the question of “Is there really a difference between sexy and slutty?”, I’m-ma have to say that they are opposite ends of the same slider bar ^_^ Sorta like in a video game when you can make someone taller or lighter in complexion? Only in this case the skirt shrinks, the press-on nails start to put Wolverine to shame, and the makeup gets caked on as the slider approaches the Slut half of the bar.

      At least the music in the trailer was a nice track, right? :D

      • I’d say the other end of the spectrum from slut is virgin, and that’s a whole other can of worms in feminist theory in that a woman can either be one or the other. As far as defining a slut as to how she’s dressed, well, that’s hinky, too. Is “slutty” is presenting ones self for the male gaze or to snag a man, rather than dressing a way because you enjoy looking sexy and feeling confident, regardless of wanting to attract male attention? But what’s the difference and, more importantly, how can you tell? Thing is, men (and catty women!) just have to assume that all women are dressed a certain way because that is how they feel comfortable looking (or it’s just hot out, or it’s laundry day), and assuming a woman dresses like a slut because she “wants it” is very very dangerous territory.

        And I did dig the song, yeah. ;-)

  4. Oh, man, as an avid fan of Catwoman (I have been, my entire life, compared to her even when I was a child) I have to say, I was extremely happy to see this trailer. They even used a Lykke Li song, whom I’ve been a fan of for a while now, but that’s just an added bonus for me. :P

    To be honest, I smirked when she kissed the goon and then owned his sorry arse. To me, it seems more like a playful action that I could seriously see myself doing (if I had everything that Catwoman/Selina has going on for her, that is ;]). But truly, I can see where other people would argue otherwise. Just personally, it embodied that catty nature that I tend to exhibit because of and associate with this character. And of course it was eye-candy! I think that goes without saying, but I don’t find anything wrong with it.

    Plus, I was going to be Catwoman for Halloween last year but time did not permit me: this year, oh, I am so definitely going for it.

  5. Lykke Li? Is that a punny name? She sounds familiar (not the name, the sound :) I’ll have to youtube her up.

    Just saw live gameplay footage from E3 and zee kiss *is* just another move you can do. Eh. I’m still a bit torn on it. While I’m more a fan of Joker and can thus put myself in the shoes of one of his thugs, in that scenario I wouldn’t mind getting a peck from the fiesty kitty before I was promptly knocked out. But even so, I still can’t really see her doing it in the first place. That makes it more of a “That looks awesome, though it’d never happen” ‘argument’ than what I originally thought.

    The other aspect is, while actually playing the game you barely see it. The kiss in the *trailer* was easily twice as long as it is in *game*, and honestly I couldn’t hear if she added that moan to it during the E3 footage as it was really loud in the background. This goes right back to the issue being the emphasis the editor of the footage placed upon it. If he didn’t show the kiss at all, I wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest as everything else screams Catwoman from what they showed. I might even have (theoretically here) played the game and stumbled on it. I don’t know how I would have reacted, either laugh it off or be confused as to why she did.

    Either way, I’m glad ya enjoyed the promo!


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