Whilst Richard Donner’s “Superman” was arguably the first major superhero film, filmmaker Tim Burton’s “Batman” film in 1989 is what really introduced the world to the concept of the superhero film as a marketing machine.
That’s partly why 1992’s follow-up “Batman Returns”, with its dark and subversive tone drew some divisiveness at the time even as it has critically aged better than its more commercial predecessor.
Daniel Waters, the “Heathers” scribe who wrote the screenplay for “Batman Returns,” recently told Indiewire he’s not a fan of the first Burton “Batman” film, saying that it “sucks”.
In a separate interview with World of Reel, he goes on to explain how it wasn’t just him who had issues with it – even Burton did as well:
“[Tim Burton] was not crazy about Batman. And I wasn’t crazy about it either. It had great production design and all that, but I didn’t like the movie…That scene where Jack [Nicholson’s] going up the stairs to a s— Prince song, spray painting art is the height of anti-entertainment.”
In fact, Waters said his original plan was for the opening of “Batman Returns” to take a shot at the merchandising juggernaut the first became by having a Gotham City store selling Batman merchandise. The film’s star Michael Keaton ended up convincing him to cut it.
Waters also shared that Warners gave Burton the go-ahead to develop a spin-off of ‘Returns’ focusing on Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. What Burton wanted to do was a homage to Jacques Tourneur’s “Cat People”:
“He wanted to do an $18 million black and white movie, like the original ‘Cat People,’ of Selina just lowkey living in a small town, and I wanted to make a ‘Batman’ movie where the metaphor was about ‘Batman.’ So I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City, and it’s run by three asshole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ But he got exhausted reading my script.”
Needless to say the film never got made and Pfeiffer never reprised the role. Both “Batman” and “Batman Returns” are on digital platforms everywhere.