Christopher Nolan for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director

Christopher Nolan had long resisted the idea of featuring Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in “The Dark Knight Rises,” wary that the character’s campy mythology might clash with the film’s intended tone. Eventually his brother/co-writer, Jonathan, persuaded him otherwise.

“It finally clicked that she’s just a femme fatale,” the director says. “And the femme fatale is a film-noir conceit that all my films have embraced in some way. Once I realized Catwoman could be a con woman, a grifter, I embraced it.”

The challenge, as with other elements of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, lay in rendering Bob Kane’s comicbook iconography in plausible real-world terms. For Catwoman, that meant developing a uniquely deadly fighting style and a sleek, functional costume that subtly incorporated feline characteristics (high-heeled boots equipped with defensive blades, mask goggles shaped like cat ears). But the puzzle wasn’t complete, Nolan says, until the casting of Anne Hathaway.

“I realized this is somebody who can give you the realistic dramatic characterization of this person. She has this incredible physicality, but she can also tell you who this person is.”