Batman Returns Turns 25 - Here Are 10 Fun Facts You Didn't Know
This year marks the 25 Year anniversary for Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, the sequel to his 1989 film Batman. Both of these films are fantastic additions to the Batman film collection and rank pretty high on the list of greatest Batman movies. Unfortunately, this was the last Tim Burton Batman film and we all know how the Batman pictures faired after his exit. But, Bat-nipples aside, here are a few awesome facts about the movie that you may not have known before in honor of its anniversary!
#10 Harvey Dent
First and foremost, in the 1989 Batman film, Billy Dee Williams plays district attorney Harvey Dent. This was a pretty clear sign to fans that, despite his not becoming Two-Face in the first film, if there would be a sequel, we could be pretty sure who would appear in it as a villain. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons Williams signed up in the first place. Then Batman Returns came and went and no Two-Face due to rewrites. The plan was for him to finally come to light in Batman Forever but with Burton gone, Schumacher cast Tommy Lee Jones.
It only took 28 years for Billy Dee Williams to finally act as Two-Face, where he provided the voice for the character is The Lego Batman Movie.
Speaking of characters that never made it to be in the film, Burton had an idea of casting Marlon Wayans as Robin in the sequel. In fact, during an interview, Wayans says he was cast, paid, and still gets residual checks but never filmed a single scene. Schumacher again cast another actor once he took over in Chris O’Donnel. Interestingly enough, Kenner still released a Robin figure for the toy line but it does not resemble Wayans.
#8 Record Breaking Weekend
The hype and reception of the first film definitely would have spilled over into the sequel. In fact, Batman Returns broke the record for highest opening weekend ever in the US at the time. It has since lost that record to many, many films but at the time, it made over $45M! It currently sits at #245 for all time opening weekend but at the time, it was #1.
#7 Michelle Pfeiffer Wasn’t 1st Pick
Catwoman was the sexy, femme fatale that had Batman, and the audience, enthralled by her performance and it’s hard to imagine anyone else bringing the character to life other than Michelle Pfeiffer. Yet, the truth is that she wasn’t even the first pick as Catwoman. Cher, Madonna, and Susan Sarandon (at 47 years old!) were among top contenders. Annette Bening was the original choice for the role but got pregnant and could not continue. Reportedly, Pfeiffer decided on accepting the role even before reading the entire script and we are so glad she did!
#6 Stolen Posters
Leading up to the film, Warner Bros. launched a bus stop poster line that was so popular, people were breaking into the plexiglass displays and stealing the poster. This led to the studio having to produce more and more posters to replace the ones stolen. Ironically, most of them were of Pfeiffer as Catwoman, a master thief herself. Because of the thefts, police were asked to monitor bus stops that had the posters in order to catch the thieves. Even until today, the bus posters are worth hundreds!
#5 Catwoman Spinoff
At the end of the film, the Batsignal is illuminated and we see the back of Catwoman rising to stare at it. Fans were so excited to see the return of Selina Kyle. However, what fans didn’t know was that she was supposed to appear in a spin off film. This, of course, didn’t happen until 2004 with Halle Berry (winces). However, Warner Bros. was so dedicated to setting up the sequel they added the final scene. This was only done weeks before the premiere and they allegedly spent $250,000 to make the scene, including hiring a body double for Pfeiffer.
#4 Penguin’s Makeup
If Catwoman is the beauty, Penguin is definitely the beast! Many people were turned off by Danny DeVito’s grotesque performance but, despite DeVito dedication to not breaking character during scenes, it was the makeup department that really brought out the disgusting aspect of the Penguin. It apparently took DeVito 2 hours every day to prepare have his makeup done and he was not allowed to let anyone know what he was supposed to look like during filming. The makeup designers did receive their fair share of credit, being nominated for both and Oscar and BAFTA for makeup design.
#3 Burgess Meredith Cameo
Burgess Meredith, the original Penguin from the 1966 series, was supposed to appear in the film’s opening scene which shows the birth of the Penguin. He was to be cast as the Penguin’s father but because of complications to his health, he was unable to be a part of the film. Instead, Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) played the role instead. Still, it would have been a great nod to have seen him in this role!
#2 McDonald’s Pulled Happy Meal Toys
Some fans weren’t the only ones turned off by the aesthetics of the film. McDonald’s, who always capitalized off of big films by making Happy Meal toys, decided to cancel their promotion of Batman Returns because of parental objections. The film was supposedly inappropriate for children because of its violence and sexual nature. Instead, they ran more kid-like toys related to the same characters in the film but supposedly not related to the film. Some even claim this was the first in a series of events that lead to Burton parting ways with Batman over the criticism of the film’s tone. Clearly, Schumacher brought the lighter (neon light) tone some people wanted…whoever those people are.
#1 Burton and Keaton Weren’t Initially on Board
Batman Returns wasn’t necessarily something that was placed after the first Batman film and it took some coaxing from the studio to bring back both Burton AND Keaton. Burton has been somewhat critical of some of the editing choices the studio had regarding the first film and only can back after the script met his requirements. Still, Burton had to make significant cuts to get the film to meet the PG-13 rating they needed when it had originally been given an R rating.
The next fact is one that fans hate to hear but I’m sure happens more often than not. Keaton only came back because of the money. We tend to think the actors love the characters as much as we due but the only reason Michael Keaton decided to come back was due to the fact that, supposedly, he needed to money for a real estate deal and was paid a whopping $10M to reprise his role as the Dark Knight but maybe more importantly, a zipper was added to the suit to make it easier to take off and on.
I hope you enjoyed these fun facts about the film and keep them in mind as you rewatch the film for its anniversary!