When I was a kid I loved Batman Forever. Admittedly, I still have a soft spot for it in my heart, despite its obvious flaws. Looking back at the film now, I realize what Batman Forever actually represents: Happy Meals. Batman Forever was made to sell Happy Meals.
After Tim Burton directed the 1989 film Batman, he considered himself done with the Caped Crusader. It was only when Warner Bros. convinced him he could make a sequel more in tune with his own sensibilities and with complete creative control did he become interested in returning to the character. The resulting film was 1992′s Batman Returns, a very dark and often disturbing horror film (there is no other way to describe it!) that opened with the Penguin’s (Danny DeVito) parents dropping him in the sewer. In this film the Penguin isn’t the distinguished criminal mastermind from the comics or the 60′s TV show- but instead he’s deformed and grotesque but oddly sympathetic- the quintessential Burton outsider.
After Burton’s Batman Returns was released, many parents were furious at how violent and overtly sexual the film was. Warner Bros. then decided they needed to go in a more kid friendly direction and Joel Schumacher, a fan of the more fantastical version of Batman, was hired to direct the franchises’s third movie Batman Forever over Burton. But before Schumacher was hired on, Burton was interested in directing a third Batman movie and despite not enjoying his time on the sequel so much, he was going to deliver a third movie. That movie never got to the script stage. If it was made, it would have been a more consistent sequel to the previous two films than Batman Forever.
Michael Keaton would have returned to play Bruce Wayne/Batman for a third and final time, and Michelle Pfeiffer would likely have reprised Catwoman. Michael Gough and Pat Hingle would have returned to the roles of Alfred and Commissioner Gordon, respectively, just as they did in the Schmaucher films. Keaton apparently walked out when he realized the film was going to be lighter in tone and Burton wouldn’t be involved and Pfeiffer went the same way.
In Burton’s version of the film, The Riddler would still have been the villain. Robin Williams was reportedly offered the role and the character would’ve had a question mark shaved on his head. This sounds like an awesome visual idea. Burton would no doubt play up the psychopathic angle of the character more than Jim Carrey’s take, which took inspiration from Frank Gorshin’s comedic performance in the 1960s TV show. Burton’s interpretation Riddler may have been close to Christopher Nolan’s sensibilities, actually.
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