Michelle Pfeiffer has been acting since the late 1970s and became a star in the early 1980s thanks to Scarface. In her long career, she’s played a wide range of characters, including several rather fantastical ones. To celebrate her latest Marvel turn in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, here are our 10 favorite of Pfeiffer’s genre roles so far.
Batman Returns (1992)
In Tim Burton’s sequel to 1989 megahit Batman, Pfeiffer made an indelible impression as frumpy Selina Kyle, who survives being pushed out of a window and rises anew as a not-so-frumpy Selina, who starts dating Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton)—as well as the sleek, villainous Catwoman, who becomes a vexing foe for Keaton’s Batman.
In Richard Donner’s epic tale, a young thief (Matthew Broderick) befriends a striking couple with a serious relationship quandary: the warrior (Rutger Hauer) is a human by day and a giant wolf by night, while his beloved (Pfeiffer) is a hawk by day and a human by night. The curse is eventually broken thanks to an eclipse, but there’s a lot of battling, scheming, and fantastical longing to get to that point.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) assembled a dream cast for this dark fantasy adaptation of John Updike’s novel, with Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Pfieffer playing the small-town witches who first fight over the mysteriously devilish Jack Nicholson—then unite to take him down.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
In this Robert Zemeckis thriller, Pfeiffer plays a Vermont woman whose husband (Harrison Ford) has a wandering eye and secret murderous tendencies—details she only discovers when the ghost of his mistress reaches out for help with getting justice from the beyond.
Matthew Vaughn’s whimsical Neil Gaiman adaptation again cast Pfeiffer as a witch. This time, however, she’s of a far more wicked variety, setting out to capture a fallen star that’s taken a human form (played by Claire Danes) for the purposes of devouring the girl-star’s heart and replenishing her powers.
Dark Shadows (2012)
Unlike Batman Returns, this Tim Burton movie is terrible. But as ‘70s-glam Collins family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard—taking over from the great Joan Bennett, who played the character on the long-running Dark Shadows TV series—Pfeiffer is one of few who doesn’t embarrass herself. (Looking at you, Johnny Depp.)
Pfeiffer re-teams with Jack Nicholson for Mike Nichols’ horror fantasy about power plays in the New York book publishing world... and, y’know, werewolves.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
DreamWorks called upon Pfeiffer to play the feisty Zipporah in this animated Biblical tale; she eventually becomes the wife of Val Kilmer’s Moses, but not before bringing a little feminist resistance to ancient Egypt.
Amazon Women on the Moon (1987)
This goofball homage to the brain-warping experience of watching sci-fi movies on late-night TV came together thanks to five directors (including Gremlins’ Joe Dante and An American Werewolf in London’s John Landis) and a huge ensemble cast. Pfeiffer, starring opposite her then-husband Peter Horton, plays a mom-to-be dealing with a very far-out doctor played by American Werewolf’s Griffin Dunne.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)
Michael Hoffman directed this Shakespeare adaptation that boasts an especially sparkly Pfeiffer and Rupert Everett as fairy royals Titania and Oberon, as well as Stanley Tucci as Puck and Kevin Kline as Nick Bottom.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
First introduced in Peyton Reed’s 2018 Ant-Man sequel, Pfeiffer’s smart and badass Janet Van Dyne has a much bigger role to play in Marvel’s latest, as the characters travel to a place she knows very, very well: the Quantum Realm.
Bonus: Grease 2 (1982)
You can almost call Grease 2 a fantasy because, let’s face it, it takes place in a world that barely resembles reality. Pfeiffer might not go around talking up her debut as a big-screen leading lady, but her performance is the endearing heart of an often head-scratchingly weird production. “Cool Rider” forever!
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