Matchup of the Day: Kill Bill Vol. 2 vs. Batman Returns
It’s a belated matchup! Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman share an April 29 birthday. Let’s celebrate with a couple of films where they portray lethal ladies.
Both films involve a woman seeking vengeance after being wronged by a man. In the case of the Kill Bill movies, Uma Thurman plays The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo, a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. When she ditches her murderous lifestyle to marry a record store owner, Bill, the leader of the Squad, comes looking for her. Their reunion ends in a bloodbath as Bill and his crew massacre everyone at the marriage rehearsal. Beatrix is left in a coma for several years. In Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Kyle is a doormat both in her personal and professional life. Her boss, the corrupt businessman Max Shreck, constantly belittles her. When she uncovers one of his shady schemes, Schreck pushes her out a window. A clowder of cats lick her back to life as she lay unconscious in an alleyway.
Batman Returns is actually about a trio of damaged individuals – Bruce Wayne/Batman, who, as most are aware, became a masked vigilante after his parents were murdered; The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot, who became a criminal mastermind after his parents cruelly abandoned him; and Kyle, as previously mentioned. As Catwoman, Kyle’s only real motivation is to get back at Shreck, who probably represents a lifetime of rejection and disappointment in one evil package. She initially sides with The Penguin as a means to carry out her revenge, but discovers that he is too diabolical for her taste. Batman, who she considers an obstacle, is the preferable ally. Unfortunately, Kyle has been beaten down so much that she fails to recognize a good thing when she sees it. Like she says, “Life’s a bitch, now so am I”. (NOTE: Not to say Batman is a catch, exactly. He just has a more organized system for masked vigilantism than Kyle does. He’d be good for start up advice.)
The whole point, from what I gathered, of Batman Returns is that each of the three characters want to be normal but can’t. They have too many issues. Kill Bill 2 has a similar point, except that Bill believes that being normal is the wrong way to go. Instead of seeing himself and Beatrix as damaged individuals, he believes that they are superior and incapable of leading average lives. In a speech near the end of the film, Bill explains that Superman was born a superhero, and his Clark Kent alter ego was how he viewed regular people. Clark Kent was his costume in order to blend in with the masses. In Batman Returns, Wayne, Kyle and Cobblepot want to be a Clark Kent to an extent. This is also true of Beatrix, though Bill insists that she is natural born killer, and her desire to get married and work in a record store was futile.
The trio in Batman Returns became what they were because of circumstances. Beatrix, if Bill is correct, was always what she was – a killer. In the end of Kill Bill 2, she uses her killing skills to reclaim her life once and for all. What the two films say about human nature is probably worth considering.