Tim Burton’s Batman Returns is celebrating its 30th anniversary and since its release in 1992, it’s remained a cult gem in the comic book movie subgenre. It’s strange, dark, and even a bit twisted which is what most audiences have come to expect from Tim Burton but not for a Batman film.
A lot of factors played into Batman Returns gaining cult status. Things that happened both in front and behind the camera led to Tim Burton’s sequel going from infamy to fame, from the creative decisions being made by both Burton and the studio to publicity stunts being pulled that somewhat hurt the film to even.
10/10 Sean Young Was A Problem For Tim Burton
After losing the role of Vicki Vale to Kim Basinger in the first film, Sean Young was determined to get the role of Catwoman. Perhaps a little too determined seeing how she dressed up in a homemade Catwoman suit and demanded the role at an audition.
She even went onto the Joan Rivers Show, as reported by Yahoo! Entertainment, in the costume in an attempt to guarantee that she’d be cast. Instead, it not only erased any chance of getting the role but damaged Sean Young’s career afterward as well as the reputation of Batman Returns.
9/10 Tim Burton Was Given Full Creative Control (And The Studio Regretted It)
Originally, Tim Burton did not like the idea of returning for a sequel, as stated in the Shadow Of The Bat documentary, but Warner Bros. convinced him to come back with the compromise that he would have full control of the movie. With that, Burton returned and audiences were given a much darker film with Burton’s hallmarks all over it.
This resulted in a sequel that would end up causing Tim Burton and Warner Bros. to disagree due to parents deeming Batman Returns too dark and disturbing for the whole family. This is what led to Burton’s third film being canceled and Joel Schumacher taking his place to make Batman Forever.
8/10 Annette Bening Was Almost Catwoman
Before Michelle Pfeiffer, several actresses were considered for the role of Catwoman. At one point, Cher and Madonna were even considered along with Bridget Fonda (via Entertainment Weekly) however, the actress who came the closest was Annette Bening.
In fact, Annette Bening was signed on for Catwoman until her pregnancy forced her to leave the role (via The Hollywood Reporter). This proved fortunate for Michelle Pfieffer who wanted the role before Bening, leading to her becoming an iconic portrayal of Catwoman.
7/10 Michelle Pfeiffer Was Vacuum Sealed Into Her Costume
There’s no denying that the Catwoman suit worn by Michelle Pfeiffer is an iconic costume in comic book movie history. However, even the best suits have their downsides for the filmmakers and/or actor.
In order to get the suit just right, Pfeiffer had to be vacuum-sealed into her leather costume, according to an interview relayed by Eighties Kids. This resulted in Michelle Pfeiffer being unable to hear anything to the point that she was accidentally shouting her lines.
6/10 Important Changes Were Made To The Batsuit
In addition to being paid ten million dollars, Michael Keaton was given an upgrade to his now-iconic Batman costume. With a bigger budget, the filmmakers were able to make a more comfortable suit that allowed him to move better.
One of the most important changes was that the Batsuit was given a zipper, according to Yardbreaker, which allowed Michael Keaton to take bathroom breaks. A similar function would be given to Robert Pattinson’s costume for Matt Reeve’s The Batman.
5/10 Arnold Schwarzenegger Is In The Movie
Towards the beginning of the film, there is a wall of pictures featuring Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck and one of them shows him standing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger. This can be taken two ways, either a fun little Easter Egg showing Shreck with a celebrity, or it can be soft canon that Max Shreck and Victor Fries knew each other before his transformation into Mr. Freeze.
4/10 Catwoman’s Whip Tricks Were Real
It would seem that Michelle Pfeiffer was a dedicated fan of Catwoman, she not only bore an uncomfortable costume but learned how to properly wield a whip for her scenes in Batman Returns.
There is even behind-the-scenes footage of Michelle Pfeiffer actually whipping off the heads of mannequins herself in one take. Mastering a whip is no small feat and that shows the dedication of Michelle Pfeiffer in this role when the filmmakers didn’t need to always use stunt doubles and special effects to get things done.
3/10 Michael Keaton Managed His Dialogue
Since Keaton was now a veteran of his portrayal of Batman, Keaton was even more involved with the script for Batman Returns. According to screenwriter Daniel Walters via CinemaBlend, Keaton went through the script and demanded changes.
Originally, Batman was going to have a much bigger presence with more dialogue. Instead, Keaton removed a lot of dialogue from certain scenes as well as added to others. This explains why Batman is not really the star of his own movie.
2/10 Max Shreck Is A Reference To Nosferatu
Since Billy Dee Williams could not return to play Two-Face, his character was replaced with Max Shreck (via Den of Geek) which allowed Christopher Walken to inject his unique style of acting and steal much of the film. For some, the name Max Shreck will seem familiar, and it has nothing to do with the ogre character from DreamWorks.
In silent movie Nosferatu, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, German actor Max Schreck starred as the vampire Count Orlok. Tim Burton has always been a fan of old-school Gothic horror, and it shows through all of his films, including his Batman films. So, it’s a nice homage to a classic vampire film that helped define the subgenre.
1/10 Tim Burton Set Up A Catwoman Spin-Off
The ending shot showing Catwoman looking up into the sky lit up with the Bat-Signal was an expensive scene to shoot, but Tim Burton got it done. Before cinematic universes were commonplace, this shot of Catwoman was meant to hype audiences up for a spin-off starring Michelle Pfeiffer as stated by Bloody Disgusting.
Both the Catwoman movie and the sequel titled Batman Continues were set to be directed by Tim Burton. Unfortunately, Tim Burton ended up disagreeing with Warner Bros., and the two movies were altered into new films. Batman Continues became Batman Forever and over a decade later, the Catwoman movie, now starring Halle Berry, would be released as one of the most maligned DC films.