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How One Actor's Bold Catwoman Campaign Became A Huge Batman Movie Controversy

Michelle Pfeiffer's take on Selina Kyle in 1992's "Batman Returns" is one of the best versions of Catwoman ever seen. She's unpredictable, seductive, and cunning, making her a fascinating secondary antagonist alongside the Penguin (Danny DeVito, keeper of a treasure trove of props from the film) and Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). However, before Pfeiffer landed the role in director Tim Burton's "Batman" sequel, another actor tried to prove herself as the right one for the part in a bold way. Not only did she fail to land the job, but her publicity stunt soon wound up causing quite a stir.

Sean Young, who had previously starred in arguably the best sci-fi movie of all time, "Blade Runner," narrowly missed out on the part of Vicki Vale in 'Batman." She made it clear that she wanted the Catwoman role, driving that point home in a big way. Wearing a Catwoman suit from the 1960s "Batman" TV series, she appeared on "The Joan Rivers Show" in 1991 to put on an in-character performance and take less than subtle jabs at Burton. While she seemed to have a blast doing so, those in the audience, watching at home, and in the entertainment industry were divided on the situation. Some found it fun, while others believed it to be brash and strange. In hindsight, it became incredibly awkward to watch once she lost out on the role.

In the years since this failed attempt to become the big screen's next Catwoman, Young has reflected on her unorthodox and controversial "Joan Rivers Show" appearance.

Young doesn't seem to regret her Catwoman stunt

With over 30 years having passed since "Batman Returns" premiered and Sean Young publicly tossed her hat in the ring to play Catwoman, her head-turning "Joan Rivers Show" appearance has remained a widely-discussed topic. It has been talked about in Batman fan circles and on online platforms such as Reddit, while Young herself has continued to be asked about it. During a conversation with The Spectator in 2023, she made it seem as though she doesn't have any regrets. In fact, she believes that the chatter surrounding it should've been capitalized on better than it ultimately was.

"Honestly, I thought it was funny! I thought it was really, really funny, but these, these insecure d******** at these studios, they just didn't see the humor. They really didn't. And I did not realize that they were so humorless," she told the publication of her perspective on the stunt. Young went on to attest that she should be allowed to play Catwoman, especially considering how buzz-worthy her in-costume TV appearance turned out to be. "It was so perfect, but they're not really good businessmen...They're not very intelligent," she said of those who could've been behind such a decision.

Sadly, despite her passion and willingness to go out on a limb to plead her case, Sean Young never became Catwoman. With the DC media landscape always shifting, perhaps someday she'll get a shot at the character, or her on-camera work as Selina Kyle will forever be limited to "The Joan Rivers Show."