After Tim Burton’s “Batman” was released in 1989 becoming the highest grossing film of the year, a sequel titled, “Batman Returns” was in the works with Michael Keaton reprising his role as Batman & Tim Burton back in the director’s chair.
Batman Returns was released in 1992. (same year Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series aired) It received reviews from critics, fans and movie goers alike. Although it made enough money to recoup its budget, it made less money than the first film.
The film generated controversy when parents complained about its dark tone and violence. In response to the parents’ outcry, Warner Bros. (WB for short) they booted Tim Burton not direct a third installment. He was replaced by the late Joel Schumacher. Michael Keaton called it quits so he was replaced by Val Kilmer in “Batman Forever.” The reason why WB wanted to make a lighter film, is because Batman Returns made less money than the first film, so they wanted to make Batman Forever and the lackluster follow up “Batman & Robin” kid friendly and rely on selling toys to compete with “Power Rangers.” To put salt in the wound, a “Catwoman” spin-off with Michelle Pfeiffer was cancelled. Then that god awful Halle Berry film tarnished Catwoman’s image. Thank goodness Anne Hathaway managed to knock it out of the park in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Michael Keaton will reprise his role as Batman for the first time since 1992 in The Flash’s solo movie, “Flashpoint” set in the DC Extended Universe. (DCEU for short) Ben Affleck is also coming back as the DCEU Batman in Flashpoint. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, War For The Planet Of The Apes) will direct an upcoming Batman film not set in the DCEU starring Robert Pattinson as The Caped Crusader, Paul Dano as The Riddler, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman & Colin Farrell as Penguin.
This review contains no SPOILERS. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article.
Positive & Negative Aspects
Positive: Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman. He did a fantastic job for his performance.
Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer & Christopher Walken all did a decent job for their performances as Penguin, Catwoman & Max Shreck.
Fun Fact: Michael & Danny later reunite in Tim’s underwhelming live action “Dumbo” remake with Colin Farrell as the new Penguin.
Pat Hingle & Michael Gough reprise their roles as Commissioner Gordon & Alfred Pennyworth. They both did a good job for their performances.
Tim Burton did a decent job directing his last Batman movie. He also produced it.
Action Sequences were good. My favorite one is when Penguin takes control of The Batmobile with Batman trapped inside as he must use his brain to outwit Penguin.
Cinematography never had any technical issues throughout.
Danny Elfman orchestrated the music as he did with the first film. Whenever I hear both soundtracks from the 1989 version and its sequel, I automatically picture the Lego Batman video games.
The late Stan Winston (The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Jurassic Park, Iron Man) relied on Practical Effects were heavily used to create Set Pieces like Penguin’s Lair, The Batcave & Gotham’s districts. Miniatures brought The Batmobile to life. Penguins’ minions who are based on actual penguins were made thanks to combination of stuntmen in penguin costumes, animatronics, and real life penguins. Don’t worry, no animal or mammal was harmed in the making of this film.
Costume Designs felt authentic. The Batsuit was modified so we can witness more new gadgets. Catwoman’s costume was made with latex. Prosthetic Make-Up and a custom made fatsuit transformed Danny into Penguin.
The sequel is set during Christmas season. Other superhero films like “Iron Man 3” & “Shazam” are also set around Christmas time.
Speaking of Christmas, this is Tim Burton’s first Christmas movie a year prior to “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
A “Wilhelm Scream” is heard when Batman tosses a thug.
Penguin’s tragic origin story shows us how he became one of Batman’s foes. His goal is to use his penguin army against society mistreating him. You thought Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker had a rough time with society? Well, Oswald Cobblepot is not alone. Wait a second? Penguin’s tragic backstory is a blueprint to the aforementioned Joker movie. What a co-inky-dink. In the words of George Costanza: “You know we’re living in a society!”
Catwoman’s motive is to seek revenge against her former boss Max Shreck for attempted murder. She’s not painfully awful saying innuendos like Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy. Catwoman is an actual vigilante who wants vengeance.
Max Shreck’s villain goal is forming an alliance with Penguin to organize their criminal activity. Think of it as cheating while running for mayor.
Chemistry between Batman & Catwoman is one of the main highlights. Like the comics, their on and off again relationship is complicated.
If you’re scratching your head why Vicki Vale isn’t around. Her absence is addressed.
Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) appears as Penguin’s father. He later played The Spleen from “Mystery Men.” Also voices Bat-Mite in “Batman: The Brave & The Bold.”
Negative: Batman continues to kill criminals. What ever happened to his no killing rule from the comics? He’s not The Punisher using lethal tactics. Thank goodness Christopher Nolan redeemed Batman’s moral code.
How the actual heck did Selina survive from falling several stories high? Doesn’t make any gosh darn sense at all. She’s not Wonder Woman’s archenemy Cheetah. Even Halle Berry’s lackluster version of Catwoman’s origin story didn’t make any sense as Michelle’s iteration.
The Final Verdict: B, FOR BRILLIANT!
Despite my two main gripes, Batman Returns is a good follow up to Tim Burton’s 1989 film. It’s equal to the first installment as I’ve given both Batman 1989 & Batman Returns a B. If you want to get ready for Flashpoint & Robert Pattinson’s Batman, go ahead and refresh your memory before they both come out in the future.
I hope Flashpoint resolves Batman Returns’ ending. I’m counting on the DCEU to wrap it up. Pretend Batman Forever and Batman & Robin never existed.