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Dec 05 2011

Indie film does Catwoman fight scene as good as Arkham City

Back home, and already missing Minneapolis and the wonderful people therein. Got in at 1:30am last night, had to work in the morning, so I didn’t have time to schedule anything for this morning. I’ll post now the two items I’d prepared on the plane last night.

If you haven’t had a chance to play Batman: Arkham City, you really should. The combat, exploration, plot, graphics, controls, basically everything is perfect. Except… there’s one little problem I have with it. The blatant oversexualization of, and sexist slurs cast by thugs about, Catwoman. I’ll need to post something about it some day, probably the next time I play the game and hear a random thug mention “having fun with” her. The non-consensual kind of fun.

So, seeing a choreographed fight aimed at mimicking Catwoman’s fighting style in Arkham City, sans the extra sexist nonsense, e.g. the “catcalls” or ludicrously unzipped-to-her-navel catsuit (how’s that supposed to block out all the visible flesh as a matter of practicality when she’s trying to lurk in shadows exactly!?), was pretty nice. Many kudos to the Thousand Pounds Action Company for kicking so much ass. Video below the fold.

I’m not seeing anything to contradict my hypothesis that every fight scene is instantly made awesome by slowing down and speeding up the film during the big strikes.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Michael Swanson

    I love her.

    (Though I’m not seeing anything to contradict my hypothesis that every fight scene is instantly made stupid by slowing down and speeding up the film during the big strikes.)

  2. 2
    karmakin

    Well, it works well in video games as it gives the combat a better flow and beat rhythm and makes follow up attacks easier to string along.

    I found the dialogue in AC really…striking in that way as well. It’s not just Catwoman either, the same sort of dialogue is also made towards both Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Mind you, it just gives me an excuse to swoop down and kick the shit out of the punks talking that way.

    I think in this case it’s less about dehumanizing the women as much as it is about dehumanizing the inmates, more or less.

  3. 3
    Tony

    I agree that the costume is idiotically impractical and should have been toned down, simply zipping it up would have been mostly sufficient. It could also do without the ludicrous level of hip swiveling in the walking animations.

    I approve of the thugs’ portrayal. It would be insane to think that a crowd of hardened criminals getting their asses handed to them by a woman wouldn’t result in a plethora of sexist expletives. The fact that slurs don’t get worse than “bitch” is toned down from what I’d expect in an analogous real life situation.

    In addition to the mentioned dialogue, there’s a scene where Batman saves a female doctor from a group of thugs who are arguing over which of them “gets” her. The disturbing fact is that a woman in that city without a comic book level of self defense capacity stands almost no chance of avoiding rape. That the writers don’t sweep this under the carpet is, in my opinion, a good thing. It makes me uncomfortable but I find it somewhat consciousness raising.

    I do think that this stark level of realism should have warranted an M rating for the game, as if such things matter at all.

  4. 4
    michaelswanson

    If you put an attractive, curvy, athletic woman in a black bodysuit, she is going to look amazing. Imagine that Halle Berry’s costume had been nothing more than a black suit and a mask. She would have been drop dead sexy. So ripping it up or unzipping it down to her crotch can only mean that she is supposed to be only a sex object, and usually a degraded one, and not a real woman who is also sexy.

    I’m okay that media wants to make our heroes handsome and our heroines beautiful — Bruce Wayne is handsome, Selena Kyle is beautiful, Batman and Catwoman are powerful and sexy — but not to the exclusion of all other traits.

    Look at how amazing the powerful, beautiful woman in this video looks in a simple black outfit. Oh my gosh…it’s not even skin tight!

  5. 5
    Martin

    Very nice. Good choreography, foley and editing. And no top heavy/partially dressed sex-object heroine.

  6. 6
    Bruce Gorton

    Actually, it was the treatment of Harley Quinn that pissed me off more.

    Harley is a post-doc who, when motivated, has demonstrated the ability to beat batman to the point that he needed to get the Joker to save him. Being intelligent is a huge part of her character.

    The thugs dismissing her intelligence is understandable – but when it is Batman, and it isn’t used to lead to a “come-uppance” scene, it highlights something ugly.

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    Tony@3: it gets worse. They recycled Catwoman’s walking animation for Talia al Ghul. The least they could have done is given her a unique one, given how obviously over-sexualized the Catwoman representation was going for, and how Talia is a damned ninja, not a sex kitten.

    I’m of two minds on the criminals’ nastiness. Yes, it’s great that when you hear an asshole go on about how he’d love to get Catwoman alone for a while, you can sweep in and kick his ass (as either Batman or Catwoman, no matter), and it’s probably seriously toned down in that the worst swear you hear is “bitch”, but they really overused that word. You can hear it a dozen times in a single encounter if you’re racking up a good combo. And tying sexism so heavily to hardened criminals is rough too.

    Additionally, the only three females in Arkham City are Harley, Ivy and Catwoman. In the comic that accompanied the game, Batman saved a common female criminal from being locked into the megaprison before the doors shut, and the point of the prison was to store every single criminal in the city. Presumably, there would be SOME female prisoner population. And that population would presumably have to endure repeated rapes. By not including any women, they whitewash the whole rape situation. Never mind the idea of prison rape existing in all male populations too.

    I think I have a lot of thoughts I need to unpack properly into a post at some point.

    Bruce@6: Harley is very inconsistently written. She often comes off as so single-mindedly fixated on Joker that all actual intellectual thought is wholly suppressed by her ever-downward-spiralling into insanity. But Jodi bought the first two issues of Gotham City Sirens, and something I noticed in issue 2 — she said a number of things about the possibility of multiple Batmans that sounded very much like a holdover from her psychology days. I suspect that she adopted a personality of a bubble-headed ditz as a way of not overshadowing Joker’s own ruthless (but otherwise mediocre) intellect. And the descent into madness that accompanied following Joker around probably sealed the deal.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh, and (not to spoil anything) — Harley got to the safe’s contents before Batman in a very sneaky and surprisingly smart way. It surprised both Batman and Alfred.

  9. 9
    Tony

    @Jason:

    I hear you on the repetition but that’s a problem with the game largely unrelated to sexism as ALL of the generic criminal banter is repeated far too often. Given the amount of time you spend in fights and overhearing conversations they really should have recorded a larger pool of dialogue. Perhaps the bitch line should have been left out of the combat rotation to avoid the problem you mention, or just numerically weighted to come up less often.

    Based solely on what’s in the game itself, I assumed the city was populated by the denizens of Blackgate and the supermax areas of the asylum, plus whatever poor souls became politically inconvenient for the people in charge. I saw no indication in game that it was ever intended to include nonviolent offenders or women’s prisons.

    That this is different from a comic treatment isn’t a whitewash, it’s a rational change that, at least to me, makes the ridiculous setting slightly more plausible. By video game standards, the “get her alone” monologue and the doctor rescue addresses the rape issue exceptionally. Most games completely omit such things even in situations where it would realistically be a concern.

    Re: Harley: who’s to say that the ruse near the beginning that results in severe consequences for Batman wasn’t her idea?

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