Traditionally, Selina Kyle has been classified as a villain. She is a cat burglar and therefore breaks the law by stealing to fulfill whatever desire she has. This obviously puts her into conflict with the justice-seeking Batman. She has also used her deadly fighting skills against the intrepid Dark Knight, who is clearly defined as a hero in and out of the comic book world. In The Long Halloween, she briefly sided with the villains when Batman confronted Two-Face. Perhaps what really cemented her status as a villain was the 1966 TV series. Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt played the character as an outright villain. This Catwoman stole from museums and put the Dynamic Duo in various death traps. Though not the main mastermind of Gotham’s turmoil in Batman Returns, Selina did side with The Penguin to discredit and destroy Batman. The 2008 – 2011 cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold took the Silver Age route and had her be the villain, thus being the latest released medium to portray Kyle as a baddie. But what makes Catwoman as a villain interesting is that Batman is attracted to her and her to him, but they are torn between their two lifestyles.
Catwoman as an antihero can be a good thing. She’s not nearly as psychotic as the other costumed denizens of Gotham not on the side of the law. She has her own code of ethics and has done some good. Not much, but she has teamed with Batman before. More recent portrayals outside of the comics have done the same, including Batman: TAS, The Batman, and she appears to be on Batman’s side in what little footage we have of The Dark Knight Rises. Certainly, she teams up with the Caped Crusader for her own ends, but Selina isn’t without a heart.
I may have been indoctrinated, but I tend to side with Catwoman being on the bad side. Gotham has enough costumed do-gooders and it’s nice to see Batman have conflicting feelings for a sexy cat burglar, one whom he knows he must turn in despite being turned on.