Looking Back at Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman

Catwoman Style Guide - Darwyn Cooke
Catwoman Style Guide – Darwyn Cooke

Catwoman is one of the most iconic villains in comics history, but she proved exceedingly hard for modern audiences to relate to — until Darwyn Cooke set the standard by which we measure modern costumes for female characters.

Cooke was known for his bold and colorful retro style. He worked as a storyboard artist for Batman: The Animated Series as well as Superman: The Animated Series. One of his most memorable achievements was the redesign of Catwoman in 2001 with writer Ed Brubaker.

Before Cooke and Brubaker were in control, Catwoman’s design was hypersexualized and impractical. Cooke’s redesign gave Selina her functional leather catsuit and aviator goggles. When looking at some of Cooke’s style sheets, it’s obvious that he wanted to highlight key aspects of Selina’s character, such as her practicality and her sleek style.

Selina Kyle Style Guide - Darwyn Cooke
Selina Kyle Style Guide – Darwyn Cooke

In an interview with the New York Times, Ed Brubaker stated, “I had been looking at all the previous runs of Catwoman, and I was horrified by how sexist all the art was. He made her classy and sexy.”

Cooke’s redesign was a monumental shift for Selina’s character and other female characters in the future.  Comic writer Vito Delsante referred to Cooke’s redesign as something that “all modern Catwoman designs get measured against.” This type of change is proof that females characters can exhibit both sexual aspects while maintaining a sense of class. His core design has remained unaltered for approximately fifteen years.

Darwyn Cooke passed away on May 14, 2016 in his home in Florida.

Cooke’s family has requested that donations be made to The Canadian Cancer Society and The Hero Initiative.