Batman Returns ★★★★★

Selina...Selina...Selina, Selina—
That's my name, Max-a-millions, don't wear it out or I'll make you buy me a new one.

The Transsexual Catwoman, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Feel So Much Yummier [X] .

Whenever people ask how I knew that I was a transsexual woman, I feel like they're expecting some kind of story about a lifetime of dysphoria or a childhood spent playing with dolls. So, I've come to accept their surprise, and even their concern, when I answer very specifically on December 18, 2017, I saw Batman Returns at the Music Box Theater in Chicago on 35mm, and assuming that the show started right on time at 9:30 P.M., Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman said "I feel so much yummier" at exactly 10:03:40 P.M.. And that's when I knew.

Well, I suppose that I didn't actually know at the time. That came later. My original takeaway from the film was one that was a lot more class and revolution based, focusing on the relationships between the bat, the cat, and the penguin to Gotham's corrupt capitalist establishment. It was, essentially, the first "serious" review that I had ever written about a film and while the immaturity of my writing style shows, the sentiments are still quite interesting. Although I didn't mention it as much then, my immediate, unshakeable, visceral appreciation of and kinship with and fixation on Selina Kyle from that night—she may not know exactly who Catwoman is, or how to really comprehend her new anti-identity, but it's better than being the powerless person she once was—would metamorphose inside of me until eventually, I realized that wanting to be her...just meant wanting to be her.

Selina Kyle is meek. She is directionless, listless, afraid, nervous, and completely unsure of who she is. She has been told countless times by bosses and advertisements and men exactly who the person that she needs to be is, but she cannot be that person and she is not that person and worst of all, she feels stuck in this endless torment of trying to be that person anyway.

But then she is killed. She dies. She has a moment in which one life exits her body and another one enters. And this new life knows better. It is better.

She goes home and enacts a parody of her normal domestic routine. An advertisement tells her to be the person that she's supposed to be again and she screams and destroys her entire apartment, unable to tolerate or stand all of these relics and artifacts of her previous life anymore. They need to be eliminated and erased and re-tooled to suit her new self. She needs to suit her new self—her entire wardrobe is not only inappropriate to her needs but outright hostile reminders of prior tastes. And when everything is said and done and she has created the form of her new persona, decided and determined who she is and who she is going to look like, a perverted and fucked-up abject ghoul of a woman with a secret identity and grudge against society and the vindictive willingness to rage against it—she feels so much yummier.

Catwoman was mistletoe, deadly if you eat it, and I let the poison course through my body to kill me and make me new, to make me just like her. And as I pass my second year of being out as transsexual and approach my 243rd day of hormone replacement therapy, I feel so much yummier, too.

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A Roughly Chronological List of Other Things That I Love About Batman Returns That Aren't Necessarily Related to its Role in My Transsexual Awakening

🐧 The first five minutes of Batman Returns blow away the entirety of Batman. The second shot of Cobblepot Sr. gazing out the window, then panning right to show him scuttling down the humongous hall of his mansion to an off-screen scream at the sight of his child, displays a heightened sense of direction that is totally absent from the first film right out the gate.

🦇 The timelessness of Gotham City, including its hollering newsies and the fact that a full-size newspaper still costs mere change, and that everybody reads it while walking in a bustling crowd.

🐧 The guy with the monkey and the organ-grinder machine gun. Out of all of the creative goons from the Red Carnival Gang, this guy is the breakout star and for good reason.

🦇 Bruce Wayne spitting out Alfred's soup because he doesn't realize it's supposed to be cold. Batman Returns is full of little moments like like this that add levity and character to an otherwise straightforward exchange, but my favorite is...

🦇 ...Bruce Wayne perfectly chucking his report on Max Schreck's power plant across the table to him during their meeting and Shreck catching it out of the air flawlessly like it's nothing.

🐱 The sway in Selina's step and assertive personality when she returns to Max Schreck's office for the first time after he "kills" her (immediately following the report chuck). It's mysterious, intimidating, and extremely hot. The way she wraps Bruce Wayne around her arm makes me giddy!

🐱 Bruce awkwardly and abruptly ducking out on Selina during their date at Wayne Manor, and a flustered Selina just as awkwardly and abruptly asking Alfred if he could write Bruce "a sonnet, or a dirty limerick" on her behalf as she suits up, too. Alfred's reply that "one has just come to mind" is perfect.

🦇 Bruce keeping an array of Batsuits hanging in coat hangars in his closet like they're blazers. There's a funny banality to the Batcave that wasn't present in the first movie.


🐱 Selina's glass-shattering scream of death when she falls through the roof of the greenhouse.

🐧 The little Batmobile-shaped arcade ride that Penguin is controlling the actual Batmobile from. I assume it's a recycled bit of Bat-branded amusement from the wake of Batman; it tickles me that either it exists in-universe or the Penguin had his custom-built just for the occasion.

🐧 To that end, Penguin's outraged, animalistic screaming every time one of his plans are foiled.

🦇 Bruce giving Alfred sass about how he let Vicki Vale into the Batcave in Batman. The only real explicit continuity in this movie seems to be Bruce moping about what happened with her.

🦇 Speaking of the first movie, you know what I'm really glad returns in this movie? Bruce Wayne's iconic eyeglasses and slouchy normcore fashion for working casually in the Batcave. I don't think any actor but Michael Keaton could or has pulled this off since.

🐧 The crowd throwing rotten produce at Penguin after Batman plays his recorded comments ("Why is there always someone who brings eggs and tomatoes to a speech!?" Penguin hisses as it pelts against his umbrella).

🐧 The aw-shucks, Jake-from-State-Farm cadence of the henchman who asks Penguin if his plan is a little, uh, extreme.

🦇 Michael Gough relishing Alfred's delivery of reminding Bruce Wayne of "the loathsome party hosted by the odious Max Schreck."

🐱 Selina at the masquerade party, all of it: looking just fucking jaw-dropping in that dress with that hair and that make-up, the way she laughs so adorably when Bruce asks her about "her and Max," the way she cries when Bruce asks her who the hell she thinks she is and she says she doesn't know anymore, and kisses him and laughs and kisses him and laughs.

🐧 When the Penguin bursts through the floor of the masquerade party on his duck boat lift, and he places his top hat on the duck's head with a grand little flourish and a sharp, satisfying *tap*.

🦇 Batman stopping the Penguin's entire kidnapping plot off-screen, giving us the incredible, necessary scenario in which he beat up everyone except for the monkey, the monkey stuck around anyway, Batman wrote the monkey a note, signed it with a large drawing of the Bat-symbol, somehow told the monkey to take it to the Penguin, and then the monkey did that in a timely manner.

🦇 Michael Gough's extremely professional delivery of "The penguins are moving above ground...The penguins seem to be converging on Gotham Plaza."

🦇 Michael Gough as Alfred in general; I didn't realize it until this viewing, but all of his dry commentary is subtle but extremely effective comic relief in a movie that's already playing out like a fucked-up carnival farce.

🐧 The final moments of the Penguin, rising from the slime of his own tomb to survey his crumbling, burning hideout, his gaze dead and fixed and his pallor degenerated into something even more ghoulish than before. He shambles towards his weaponry for one last attempt at petty, cruel, vindictive vengeance only to receive one last humiliation, then chokes on his own spat-up black bile before face-planting harshly and pathetically onto the concrete floor of his castle, where his penguins give him a weirdly sentimental send-off to the waters below. It's a wretched and almost-tragic end for a wretched and almost-tragic character.

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DVD Shelf Clean-out 7/?.

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