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Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 07/18/2012

In praise of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’


Meow. (Ron Phillips - Warner Bros. via AP)

When Warner Bros. announced in early 2011 that Anne Hathaway had been cast as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, in “The Dark Knight Rises,” some fans deemed it a huge mistake.

It turns out they were wrong.

Hathaway gives one of the best performances in the new, hyperbolically anticipated Batman movie. In the words of the Post’s Ann Hornaday, “Hathaway is the sensational secret weapon of this production, a tart, leggy operator who can turn on a dime from damsel-in-distress to canny kitten-with-a-whip.”

Indeed, in one of the early scenes in the film, when she flips the switch from vulnerable victim to smooth operator, it is a moment both shocking and utterly delicious. At various points in the film she has to be both duplicitous and desperate; bold, as well as beaten-down; and she pulls that off in a way that makes us want to study her every sauntering move.

Yet some skeptics still remain regarding Hathaway’s inclusion in the biggest movie deal of the summer. And that’s because some people, at least some of the ones who spend time sharing their opinions about such “important matters” on the Internet, simply do not like her.

The anti-Hathaway contingent had a field day, for example, when the first trailer for “Les Miserables” — her other highly buzzed-about 2012 project — arrived online in May, pointing to her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” as proof that she would ruin the adaptation of a cherished musical the same way they presumed she would destroy the entire Batman franchise as we know it. Never mind that Fantine’s voice may be weak in the clip because, I don’t know, she’s starving and stuff.

Honestly, sometimes it seems as though blog commenters treat Hathaway as their back-up when they’ve run out of smart-alecky things to say about Gwyneth Paltrow. Truly, if we could somehow harness the snark that has been lobbed online at both Paltrow and Hathaway and convert it into fuel, there would never be another energy crisis — in Gotham or the real world — again.

Sample tweet, offered as exhibit A:

Further proof that this is a thing: It’s crossed over into satire, courtesy of an Onion article entitled “Area woman’s baseless hatred of Anne Hathaway reciprocated.” (Excerpt: “Actress Anne Hathaway admitted to reporters Thursday that she feels the same baseless hatred for a Massachusetts woman that the woman feels toward her. ‘You can tell Cathy Lerro’s totally in love with herself, even though she’s really just [expletive] annoying,’ Hathaway said in reference to the 36-year-old Sudbury resident, who the Devil Wears Prada star grudgingly acknowledged was decent that one time as an office manager but hasn’t done anything nearly that good since.”)

Seriously, what did Anne Hathaway ever do to any of us regular people to merit such scorn, aside from her admittedly misguided decision to star in “Bride Wars”? Or, to put it another way:

I can’t venture a guess on the turkey bacon. But based on conversations with people who don’t care for Hathaway as well as a cursory survey of social media comments, the explanations are as follows:.

Some think she’s a bad actress (I disagree) and took particular issue with her less than convincing British accent in last year’s less-than-well-received romance “One Day.” (Okay, the accent thing I get.)

One poster on a Facebook page entitled “I hate Anne Hathaway” attributed her dislike of the “Rachel Getting Married” star to the fact that she often acts “like a try hard.”

A number of non-fans have tweeted about how they simply do not like her face, which I assume is the gist of the conversation that happens regularly in the Facebook group, “I hate Anne Hathaway and her face.” I can’t say for sure, though; it’s a closed group.

Some do not find her sexy, which was a key complaint about her Catwoman casting.

And then there are those whose dislike of Hathaway is inexplicable even to them. As a former colleague told me, “She emotes in a way that bothers me. Can’t describe it.”

Sometimes we all have visceral reactions to people, both ones we encounter in real life and the celebrities we see on movie screens and magazine covers. It’s not exactly the most laudable aspect of human nature, but it is human nature: we see someone and have a knee-jerk negative response. You know, like the way some people decide they don’t care for turkey bacon.

But Hathaway doesn’t deserve so much harshness, in my book. Clearly I don’t know her at all. She could be a delightful person, or she could be a total diva. But based on her body of work, she is enormously talented and a compelling presence onscreen. And as a film lover, I want as many of those kinds of people as I can get in major summer blockbusters.

Contrary to the complaints about the “Les Miz” trailer, she can sing, as she proved with Hugh Jackman during the 2009 Oscars.

As she demonstrated last year on “Conan,” she also can rap.

She was fantastic in “Rachel Getting Married,” the movie that earned her an Academy Award nomination.

She delivered the best impression of Katie Holmes I’ve ever seen on “Saturday Night Live.”

And, for the record, her “cat ears” (which aren’t really cat ears) in “Dark Knight Rises” are totally fine.

Look, I’m not going to tell you to like her. If I start doing that, someone is going to try to convince me to love recent Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. And I can’t because his face just bothers me. (Hi, kettle. I’m a pot, and I too am black.)

So snark on Hathaway if you really can’t help yourself. But after you see “Dark Knight Rises,” concede at least this: You were wrong about her playing Selina Kyle. Because as Catwoman, she’s just right.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 07/18/2012

Categories:  Movies | Tags:  Anne Hathaway, Dark Knight Rises

 
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