Batman Returns – Secrets and curiosities of Tim Burton’s cult

On 19 June 2018 Batman Returns (Tim Burton’s second film dedicated to the Dark Knight) turned 26: the protagonists tell us about what happened on the set of a film that has now become an immortal cult

Yes, it’s been 26 years since the release of Batman Returns, second film directed by Tim Burton about the alter ego of Bruce Wayne with Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken. We are getting old, no need to hide that (even if 26 years ago I was really young).
On the anniversary of one of the most beloved cinecomics of all time, The Hollywood Reporter has interviewed the original cast, which has revealed secrets and curiosities about the film …

Let’s start with Michelle Pfeiffer: the sexiest Catwoman ever appeared on the big screen (with all due respect to Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway) said she was obsessed with the character since she was a child. She was really unhappy when Tim Burton assigned the role to Annette Bening, who was forced to give up the part because of her pregnancy. The director then called (finally) our Michelle, who clearly accepted with great enthusiasm the role of the sexy enemy of Batman, working a lot (even from a physical point of view) to be ready right from the first day of shooting the tough fight scenes that would have seen her protagonist. During one of the tests with the whip, Michelle inadvertently hit his instructor (causing him to bleed) and discovered that using  such object, with the lights shot in the eyes, is not exactly the easiest thing in the world… later she gained confidence with all his weapons and the result was so good, that even today, after 25 years, anyone who utters the name “Catwoman” immediately thinks of her.

The only discordant note of the experience in this film seems to have been the iconic suit: «It was the least comfortable that I have ever worn – said the actress -. They had to cover me with talc, help me to wear it and then put it in a vacuum. They had painted it with a paint that looked like silicone and made it more polished. I had those claws and they got entangled everywhere. The mask was choking me… we had a lot of problems to solve!». The actress further stated that she could not even go to the bathroom with that costume…  absolutely not a secondary problem!

Michael Keaton also managed to get into Batman‘s role quickly, still today he is considered one of the most convincing actors in the role, like Christian Bale): in his second consecutive film in the role of the protector of Gotham, he independently decided to cut many of his character’s jokes, especially when he wore the costume: choice fits perfectly, showing that the Dark Knight is not a type of person that uses many words… Tim Burton greatly appreciated the choice to streamline the dialogues that saw Batman protagonist, admitting that the costume transmitted a very powerful image without the need for too many words. Costume that was also a problem for Keaton: he, like Michelle Pfeiffer, had some problems, but of a different nature. Batman’s uniform was far too stiff, so that the actor could not move his head: «Initially it was a practical choice because they had not finished the costume work and it did not work the right way. He forced him to make the most exaggerated, brave and strong moves from the torso up, and it worked»,  said the director.
Burton also said that in the original script, Batman should not have killed the clown by throwing a bomb on him: «At the time, it seemed like we were exploring a new territory and it is probably very light compared to what is currently seen in the cinemas. I think everyone in the studio agreed that it was going to be a different superhero movie. At that moment it seemed new and therefore no particular comments were made». According to the director, Batman should have killed one of his enemies only if the scene had a really important meaning.

Among the various “secrets” recently revealed by Burton, there is a curiosity about Catwoman, true co-star of the film. Remember the scene where Michelle Pfeiffer “eats” a canary? Well, there was no special effect: the actress really had a little bird in her mouth for a few seconds: of course, the scene was shot only once…


The character of Selina Kyle really got everyone’s approval, during the private visions of the film. People liked it so much, that production decided to add new scenes to the finale: they wanted the audience to see that Catwoman was somehow still alive. They still did not know if there would be a third film directed by Tim Burton and the choice to keep such a powerful character alive was undoubtedly strategic: it could come back at any time and the audience would welcome it with open arms. Unfortunately, we know that after this film the Batman franchise passed into other (not so good) hands…


But Selina Kyle/Catwoman was certainly not the only villain in the film:in fact there was an amazing Danny DeVito playing the Penguin role, ready to steal the show to everyone every time he went into action. Speaking of his character, Tim Burton admitted that McDonald’s (Warner Bros. trading partner) did not appreciate the dark saliva that came out of the mouth of the Penguin, an idea created by Danny DeVito and the makers of make-up, who have mixed the colorant with a mouthwash. To complete the transformation in the villain, moreover, it took four hours to  complete the make up, which became, at the end of the shoot, three and a half hours. Another interesting fact concerns the sequence in which DeVito must walk among real penguins: to realize it , the set was kept at very low temperatures. Only the actor did not particularly suffer from the cold, thanks to his particular costume and prosthetics that somehow sheltered him from the cold they had created …


Another absolutely fundamental character in the film is undoubtedly the great Christopher Walken, who plays the role of Max Shreck, an unscrupulous businessman ready to do anything to bring Gotham to his knees. The actor recently revealed that the source of inspiration for his character was Vincent Price in an old film. He then praised the great work done by the production, which paid a maniacal attention in  every phase of the film’s production.

Batman Returns is definitely one of the icons of cinecomics, as well as of the fantastic cinema in general. It definitely raised the quality of the genre, showing everyone that it is possible to make a great film with characters taken from comics … too bad that at the time it was the Warner Bros. to back down. Despite the excellent results(266 million dollars worldwide), the production company owner of DC Comics has chosen to make the saga more suitable for families because of the protest letters of many parents who were complaining about their children being scared during the vision.

WB Studios has therefore decided to give the reins of the project to Joel Schumacher, leaving in Burton a great sense of bitterness. The director explained: «I understood halfway through my meeting with Warner Bros. that they did not really want me to make the film. They kept telling me, ‘You do not want to go back and shoot a movie like Edward Scissorhands? Something smaller? ‘. I replied: ‘You do not want me to make the film, do you?’ “.
Makes us think what a great job he could have done with a third chapter…

 

 

 

 

Article translated by Kevin Flynn

Mr. Kent

Appassionato di fumetti, curioso per natura, attratto irrimediabilmente da cose che il resto del mondo considera inutili o senza senso. Sono il direttore di MegaNerd e me ne vanto.

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