Batman Returns

Max Shreck: “Bruce Wayne, why are you dressed up like Batman?”
Catwoman/Selina Kyle: “Because he is Batman you moron!”
I FINALLY watched Batman Returns as a follow up to Tim Burton’s first take on the comic book franchise. While I am early on in my revue of caped crusader movies in preparation for The Dark Knight Rises (this week!), I will say it’s tough to beat Michael Keaton’s approach to playing Batman.
Tim Burton’s fantastical influence over the story of bad and good powers at war in Gotham City and police calling on Batman to save the day fits well with Keaton’s humble hero performance.
With music reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands throughout Batman Returns, Burton stresses the faux reality of the risks in Gotham City being a sewer penguin and a crazy-haired Christopher Walken as greedy businessman Max Shreck.
And, it shows through the fact that the hero of Batman has weaknesses even when wearing his armor, mask and cape.
Nobody is perfect in Gotham City and sometimes it’s hard for even Batman to help.
Especially when he has a vigilante nemesis trying to seek her own revenge getting in the way.
Selina Kyle (a.k.a. Catwoman) is introduced in the film as a defenseless woman being attacked by a circus freak and Batman saves her.
But that doesn’t last long. After falling victim to the wrath of Shreck, her boss, Kyle comes back with her claws out.
It will be interesting to see the rendition of Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy cap this weekend. But I have to say the campy character by Michelle Pfeiffer and her chemistry with Wayne/Batman probably can’t be replicated. And, as Wayne/Batman says himself in the film, “Selena, don’t you see? We’re the same.”
I wonder if Nolan will interject a similar line by Christian Bale in his husky voice to Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. If he does develop a relationship between modern Catwoman and Batman, I don’t think it will be quite as strong as Burton’s character duo.
Nolan and Burton have done their own thing with Batman, as they should, but in the The Dark Knight Rises I see Catwoman as more of a one-track character.
It’s not to say Nolan doesn’t mix in the human side to his heroes and villains, but from what I remember those traits seem to be less of a focus.
I’ll pay attention to that as I re-watch Batman Begins and The Dark Knight this week.
Before I sign off I must say in addition to Keaton and Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito’s penguin character brought to life by Burton’s imagination was one of my favorite parts of Batman Returns.
Even with the penguin, Burton delves into his back story of being abandoned as a baby as the source of his revenge on Gotham City. But it makes sense to explain his motives and then let the viewer enjoy the penguin waddling around and traveling in a duck-shaped carnival ride car.
I am sure someone will take on Batman again now that Nolan is done. I wouldn’t mind if Keaton stepped into the bat suit one last time and if Burton brought back some of his other characters. And, based on Burton’s long working relationship with him, Johnny Depp would and should be cast in it.
Let the next countdown begin!

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