In 1988 director Tim Burton was working on his second feature, Beetlejuice, at Warner Bros, when the director was offered a Batman film. For the first time in a decade, the project gathered real momentum. Bringing along his Beetlejuice star Michael Keaton, Burton’s Batman was the first appropriate big-screen incarnation of The Dark Knight. Furthermore, Jack Nicholson’s legendary Joker seized the limelight, but Keaton’s Batman/Bruce Wayne persona came under a lot of fire even before a trailer was cut. Fans bombarded Warner Bros with letters of protest in the belief that the actor (who was best known for his comic performances) would deliver a character who was similar to Adam West’s crime fighter. After a trailer was rush released for a comic convention to soothe fans’ worries, Batman media hype went into overdrive.
The film was a huge success, and Warner Bros, sought a sequel – giving Burton carte blanche and a phenomenal $80 million budget. What he delivered has to be one of the most astounding summer-blockbusters ever made: grotesque to the extreme, Burton’s Batman Returns was a German expressionist horror with a McDonald’s tie-in. Parent groups and promotional partners were horrified at Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s PVC clad Catwoman. Whilst not a strict Batman film in the traditional sense, it is a splendid comic book film in the tradition of Bizarro, or Elseworlds series. The cinematography and the breathtaking Germanic sets, coupled with the wintry setting and haunting Danny Elfman score, make Batman Returns a feast for eyes and ears.