Tim Burton began production on the sequel to his blockbusting superhero film in 1991. He wasn't keen on the idea of a sequel at first, since he didn't feel as close to Batman as his other films. However, his initial reluctance was overcome when Warner Bros., eager to bring him back into the fold, gave him carte blanche to make the sequel his way. This time Burton decided to film the production in L.A. rather than reuse the sets that had been kept at Pinewood. His reported reasons for this were to give the film a different feel and so he could use more American actors that he liked.

Burton wanted to resist making the typical sequel in nearly every way, including not having a number two in the title. As he said in the introduction to the making of book, "Batman Returns is not really a sequel to Batman. It doesn't pick up where the first film left off . . . The point was to make it all feel fresh and new."

To aid him in this, Burton replaced the original film's screenwriter, Sam Hamm (who would still receive a story credit), with Daniel Waters - best know for scripting the superb black comedy, Heathers (1989). Waters script was so bizarre and out there it later required "normalising" by another writer, Wesley Strick.

Michael Keaton was now well established in his role as Batman, so all the attention was on the casting of the villains. It was no surprise that Danny DeVito was the first choice for the Penguin, but there were some problems with the casting of the third main character, Catwoman. Annette Bening was originally cast in the role, but when she became pregnant she had to bow out of the film.

Pretty much every actress in her 20's or 30's wanted the role. One actress who felt she was perfect was Sean Young, especially as she had lost the role of Vicki Vale in the first film. She famously snuck onto the lot in a homemade Catwoman costume to try and audition for Burton. While she didn't find Burton (there are rumours he hid under a desk) she did find Keaton and producer Mark Canton and announced, "I am Catwoman", before being ejected.

Young later went on the Joan Rivers Show in costume to talk about the incident and demand an audition. Not surprisingly, her request was not met, and Michelle Pfeiffer (who had been a fan of Catwoman since she was young) was cast in the role instead.

Robin was once again a victim of last minutes cuts. His character, played by the young Marlon Wayans, was to be introduced as a mechanic who helps Batman in the last act. However, these scenes were abandoned before shooting as the film was already overcrowded.

The production went fairly smoothly though studio secrecy meant the characters, especially the Penguin, had to be constantly hidden from prying eyes. Burton couldn't help being amused at everything the actors had to go through, especially their uncomfortable makeup and costumes. The hype for Batman Returns was slightly less extreme than for the first film, but audiences still eagerly awaited Burton's tale of The Bat, The Cat and the Penguin.

Batman Returns was the first Burton film to feature a pre-credits sequence. The Penguin's birth is depicted in a stunning sequence that, aside from Danny Elfman's lush score, is almost silent.

The baby Penguin grabbing a cat and pulling it into his crib/cage foreshadows the future relationship between him and Catwoman.

As the unfortunate infant is thrown into the sewer, the main titles appear. The title unfolds like a pair of batwings as a swarm of bats fly into the camera. The baby carriage's travel through the sewer tunnels is played like an epic journey, before it finally comes to a rest at the feet of several real penguins. The sequence is so perfectly realised and takes the viewer so deeply into Burton's world that it's easy to forgive the rather perfunctory scenes that follow.

The early scenes of Batman Returns, while stylish and not without wit, feel rather flat. Burton is clearly setting up the plot and characters for greater things, but the scenes lack spark. When Selina realises she's forgotten to give Shreck his speech at the beginning there's a shot of various pictures on the wall featuring Shreck with real life celebrities, including Sammy Davis, Jr.

Things improve once the Penguin launches his attack on Gotham, causing Batman to be alerted (guess they only call him for the really weird criminals).
The opening action sequence is chaotic with some hellish imagery (such as Gothamites on fire) but it's not as exciting as it could have been.

When we see Bruce Wayne sitting in his dark study waiting for the signal, it's almost as if he no longer has any life outside of Batman.

With the first action sequence out of the way, the characters are drawn together as Burton weaves a dark fairytale about a group of animalistic freaks running amok in Gotham City.  

The chilly location of Artic World is the perfect setting for the nefarious meeting between Shreck and Penguin. When the camera flies through the spectacular miniature of Artic World it travels through a tiny gap in the gate. The top of the gate was actually computer generated, which meant this previously impossible shot could be done in one take.

The creation of Catwoman is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film. The scene where Max Shreck toys with his secretary, Selina Kyle, after she finds out about his crooked dealings is a brilliant mix of humour and menace. Shreck convinces her he is going to kill her and then laughs it off. Then he decides to push her out the window anyway, in a genuinely shocking moment.    

The sequence that follows, like the birth of the Penguin, is played almost entirely without dialogue, and is all the stronger for it. Selina is raised from the dead by a pack of alley cats and returns to her apartment, where she promptly flies into a rage and trashes everything cute in her apartment (after a message on her phone suggests she get Gotham Lady Perfume to impress her boss).

She makes her costume and the sequence ends with her declaring, "I feel so much yummier". The neon sign in Selina's apartment originally reads "Hello there" but after her transformation is broken so that it reads, "Hell here".

The scene is Burton at his finest, and the people who complained there was no logical reason for Selina becoming Catwoman are missing the point.

Like Edward being made out of a robot with a cookie heart, it's a fairytale origin, not one that’s meant to be taken literally.
There's a goof in the film where the Penguin visits his parent's graves and brushes past a tombstone that wobbles like cardboard. An unintentional mistake or Ed Wood homage? You decide.

As Catwoman joins the menagerie the characters begin their struggle to earn either acceptance from Gotham or gain power over it. In the case of Batman, he has to prove his innocence after he is framed for the murder of the Ice Princess (the rather dim police and public of Gotham turn against him very quickly despite all the good he's done). The Penguin, who runs for mayor at Shreck’s urging, briefly seems genuine in his desire to be loved.

Catwoman, meanwhile, is just as tough on the victims as she is on the criminals (even though she herself was saved from a criminal by Batman).

After she plays tic-tac-toe with the face of a mugger/rapist, she berates the woman for always expecting some Batman to save her and announces, "I am Catwoman, hear me roar."          

As with Edward Scissorhands, there's an attempt to "normalise" the Penguin when the image consultants give him a cigarette holder and gloves because research shows "voters like fingers".

He shows the most animalistic behaviour of the main characters, even biting people who offend him, such as the annoying Josh.

The vampiric Shreck just wants to suck the city dry and when the Bat, the Cat and the Penguin finally meet up outside his department store, the results are literally explosive.

The plot takes a backseat for the rest of the film as it becomes a study of how the four main characters react to each other and loyalties keep shifting.

Batman and Catwoman switch between fighting and flirting with dizzying speed. The scene where Bruce and Selina are making out and almost reveal each other's injuries from their costumed fight is particularly interesting.

The later scene where Catwoman licks Batman's face is very memorable.     

The sequence with the out of control Batmobile delivers on spectacular destruction at the expense of logic (Batman punches through the armoured Batmobile like its made of wood). The Penguin has an amusing line after Batman escapes his sabotaged Batmobile: "He didn't even lose an eyeball, a limb, bladder control."

He also comments on the absurdity of movie clichés when, after his speech goes wrong, the Penguin says, "Why is there always someone who brings eggs and tomatoes to a speech?". Composer Danny Elfman was one of those hurling fruit and vegetables offscreen.

In the end, the relationship between Batman/Bruce and Catwoman/Selina turns out to be the most interesting part of the film. It's appropriate that, at Shreck's Maxsquerade ball they're the only two not wearing costumes.

Perhaps due to rewrites on the script, the Penguin keeps changing plans, going from wanting to be mayor, to capturing and drowning the first born sons to eventually deciding just to blow up Gotham with his penguin army.

The sight of penguins with rocket launchers is twisted genius, though again some found the notion too absurd.

The final confrontation and eventual fates of the characters is surprisingly moving. Bruce unmasking himself to Selina (while upsetting for comic book purists) works emotionally, as does his plea, "We're the same. Split, right down the center." Unusually for a Hollywood blockbuster, there are no real winners at the end. All of the main characters are either dead or emotionally damaged.

Selina rejects a fairytale ending in her desire for revenge and leaves Bruce alone. The funeral of the Penguin is bizarrely moving, with the Penguins sadly carrying their fallen master into the water.

The last scene of Alfred and Bruce in the car is a much more somber conclusion than the first film. It ends with a similar shot of the camera rising up above Gotham, this time to show Catwoman looking at the Bat symbol.

The impressive last shot manages to mix live action footage projected into miniatures seamlessly. The final shot of Catwoman was added late after audiences were confused over whether her character survived. Originally an animatronic puppet of Pfeiffer was created, since the actress was no longer available. However, this proved unsatisfactory and a stand-in was used instead.

Unusually for a blockbuster, Batman Returns is character-driven, not story-driven. Burton even said in an interview in Entertainment Weekly, "Haven't you heard? There is no plot." That's a little harsh, but it's true the plot is not what makes the film interesting. It's a fascinating exploration of animalistic personalities (it’s no accident that “the bat, the cat and the penguin” was used as a slogan on much of the advertising). The fact that Batman faces three enemies may seem like overkill but each one represents a different facet of the Caped Crusader's personality (that's my pretentious take on it, anyway).

Burton's drawing of Jimmy the Hideous Penguin Boy          The comic Penguin had no "psychological profile" according to Burton, so his character would be the most radically changed in order to fit into Burton's world. Indeed, the inspiration for this new version of the Penguin was a character Burton had already created in a sketch, "Jimmy, the Hideous Penguin Boy" (and who would later turn up in his book "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories"). In the film, the Penguin is the orphaned and bitter outsider/freak that Bruce Wayne could have become under other circumstances. As the Penguin says to Batman at the end, "You're just jealous because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask".

The perverted mutant is a perfect role for Danny DeVito, who even manages to bring some pathos to the role, which was what the Joker lacked. DeVito reportedly stayed in character throughout the shoot, even eating raw fish and scaring some of his co-stars.

He clearly relished the character's perverted lust, no doubt a side effects of being stuck down in a sewer with little female company. The makeup by Stan Winston banishes all thoughts of the rather effete character portrayed in the comics and TV show. The character is a genuine freak, and the makeup allows DeVito to vanish in the role. The amount of bile he spews reportedly disturbed the studio.     
Since the film begins with the birth of the Penguin and ends with his death, it could also be read as a subversion of the classic hero's journey, with the Penguin as the main character. In many ways the character could be seen as the dark side of Edward Scissorhands.

Catwoman is the dark side of Batman, a costumed crime fighter whose basic goodness is undermined by her violent nature, showing how close Batman is to going over the edge in his vigilante escapades. She also represents his perverse relationship with the opposite sex, and makes a far more fascinating romantic interest than Vicki Vale.

The feline aspects of the character are played up, including the nine lives (Batman, Penguin and Shreck all take some of her lives away). Selina Kyle actually has three different personalities in the film - Selina pre-accident, the more confident post-accident Selina and, of course, Catwoman.

Writer Waters played up the feminism aspect of Catwoman and though Burton toned some of that down in the final film there is still a lot of feminist rage in the character, who wants to get back at all the men who have mistreated her. From Selina's very first scene we see the casual sexism and patronising attitude the men around her have. There's also a sadomasochistic element in her relationship with Batman in both their costumes and their violent encounters. When they finally discover each other's secret identities Selina even asks, "Does this mean we have to start fighting?"

Pfeiffer really threw herself into the role, which was far removed from any of her previous performances. She manages to be believable as a mousy secretary who becomes a sexy, feminist avenger. She convincingly portrays the emotional breakdown of the character, laughing hysterically when she dances with Bruce and completely unraveling in her final confrontation with Shreck.

The fight scenes between Batman and Catwoman are impressive. Michelle Pfeiffer trained to do pretty much anything with a whip, and her enthusiasm adds a lot to these scenes. Pfeiffer even did the scene where she whips the heads off the dummies in Shreck’s department store for real. The fact that she and Keaton did a fair amount of their own stunts added more intensity to the fight scenes.

Finally we have Max Shreck (another wonderfully menacing performance from Christopher Walken) who is the true villain of the piece. Beloved by Gothamites, he is Bruce Wayne without the conscience, despite his claims that he wants to hand out "world peace and unconditional love, wrapped in a big bow". The character’s name is one letter away from Max Schreck, the actor who played Nosferatu.  

Aside from emphasising the German Expressionist feel of the film, it also fits with Shreck's vampiric plan to suck power from Gotham City. The only moment the character ever shows any humanity is when he sacrifices himself by convincing the Penguin to take him instead of his son, Chip.

As for Keaton, he brings more humour and introspection to his dual-character this time. It took him a while to find the voice for his character again during filming (he found himself almost imitating his own performance), but in the end it seems effortless. The depiction of the character is bleaker than in the first film. When Bruce tries to save himself and Selina and she rejects him, the result is devastating.

Bruce is also clearly jealous of the attention the Penguin receives (as Alfred asks, "Must you be the only lonely manbeast in town?") though he also seems to feel some empathy for him as a fellow orphan at first. As in the first film Bruce is somewhat unsure of his own identity - when he first meets Selina in Shreck's office he says they've met before and then quickly corrects himself by saying, "I mistook me for somebody else".

Michael Gough is given better comedic material this time as Alfred. Bruce's faithful manservant is always on top of things, being the first to sense the Penguin's presence onscreen and later showing he's something of a computer wiz.

It's also nice to see Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger (Pee-Wee and Simone in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) cameo as the Penguin's parents.

The Red Triangle Circus Gang (which includes the late, great Vincent Schiavelli as the organ grinder) are appropriate henchmen for the Penguin, though after the clown henchmen of the Joker in the first film, some may tire of the circus motif. The Ice Princess and Chip Shreck are pretty much stereotypes of bimbos and male machismo respectively.

Waters’ script mostly improved on the dialogue in the first film, though Burton wisely cut back on some of the more lengthy dialogue that would have taken away the characters' mystery. The script even pokes fun at the first film and Vicki Vale's rather vapid character, with Bruce rather testily asking Alfred at one point, "Who let Vicki Vale into the Batcave?"

There's a lot of innuendo, especially in the Penguin's dialogue, both scatological ("I was their number one son, and they treated me like number two") and sexual ("Just the pussy I've been looking for"). There're also some political and pop culture references in the dialogue, such as when the Penguin and Max discuss how to start a recall vote and Bruce worries that Selina will think he's a Norman Bates/Ted Bundy type (prompting the witty response, "Sickos never scare me. At least they're committed").

Burton was clearly more prepared for working on a big blockbuster this time, and his confidence shows. Aside from the somewhat slow first act, the films moves quickly with all the dead weight from the first film (cough, Vicki Vale) cut. The action scenes, while still somewhat formulaic and lacking in tension are generally better executed than in the first film.

Burton manages to infuse a silent film quality into many of the scenes, particularly the opening sequence, the birth of Catwoman and the Penguin's visit to his parent's grave. The film also has a much better paced and more satisfying conclusion. Unlike the first film, Batman Returns bears Burton's directorial stamp from the first frame to last.

The cinematography by Stefan Czapsky is stunning. There's a memorable shot where the camera hurtles into the Penguin's black mouth. Only some slightly clumsy focus pulls (such as when Bruce and Alfred are watching the Penguin on TV for the first time) mar the camerawork.

The sets by Bo Welch are far more Burtonesque than the ones in the first film. The Penguin's lair in particular is stunningly realised through sets and miniatures. While the sets are fantastic, the small number of extras used to populate them does reveal some cost cutting in the film's budget. Batman Returns came out just before digital crowd scenes began to be used frequently. The sets were air conditioned both to show the actors's breath and to keep the penguins comfortable. This led to the unusual sight of people emerging from the sets into the hot LA summer with thick coats on.

The Penguin's various umbrellas, which feature a flamethrower, a hypno-unbrella which makes a big bang, a Pied Penguin umbrella (which recalls Betelguese's carousel hat), a sword-brella and a mini-helicopter, are lots of fun.

The Penguin also rides a giant rubber duck, emphasising how his character takes childlike imagery and twists it.  

Costume designer Bob Ringwood returned to some of the original concepts for the first film to create a sleeker, more armour-like bat suit. Catwoman's costume was for many the highlight of the film, and it manages to be sexy without being sleazy. In a brilliant touch, her costume (stitched together like Sally the Ragdoll from The Nightmare Before Christmas) becomes more frayed and ragged as her sanity unravels towards the end.

The editing by Chris Lebenzon (who would go on to edit all of Burton's later directorial efforts), manages the difficult job of juggling all the characters and subplots. There were very few deleted scenes but the film fell victim to censorship in the U.K. A glimpse of nunchaku and the shot of Catwoman loading aerosol cans into a microwave was removed by the BBFC, making the subsequence explosion of Shreck's department store rather confusing.

The visuals are far superior to the first film, with the reported $80 million budget being well spent. The model work is less tacky, and early computer effects were used to enhance the film in subtle ways, such as creating digital bats and penguins and even allowing previously impossible shots.

Elfman's score is even better than his previous one. Aside from the return of the classic Batman theme, Elfman created a slinky, scratchy theme for Catwoman and a tragic, choral theme for the Penguin. The way the three main themes are juggled together is flawless. Another bonus of Burton being allowed more control is that instead of Prince music we have a Siouxsie and the Banshees song, "Face to Face", which fits well with the characters of Batman and Catwoman. There's also an instrumental version of Rick James hit "Super Freak".

The film is one of the more interesting Burton has made on a psychological level. As previously mentioned, each of the three villains represents a different facet of Bruce Wayne's psyche. Hence, the film could actually be read as an exploration of a man at war with his own split personalities, confronting them and defeating them until only he is left.

One theme that some people read into the film that the filmmakers definitely didn't intend is the claim that the Penguin is an anti-Semitic character. While there are some religious parallels with the Penguin resurfacing after 33 years and his plot to murder the first-born sons, the idea that the character was designed to be a caricature of Jews is both ridiculous and offensive.

The penguins in the film were created through a variety of methods. Most were real, but some were animatronic puppets and computer generated penguins were used for crowd scenes. The emperor penguins (the ones that carry Oswald to his watery grave) were little people in suits.

Robert Wuhl's character of reporter Alexander Knox was supposed to return for a cameo and be killed by the Penguin, but Burton reportedly told Waters that he doubted any actor would want their character to return only to be killed in an off-hand way. Max Shreck’s character reportedly started off as Two-Face (with Billy Dee Williams set to reprise his role from the first film) but was then changed to an original character. A subplot where Max Shreck reveals he is the Penguin's brother was also removed.

Overall, Burton's underrated sequel is one of the best superhero movies ever made. There are moments that drag, and not everything works, but you have to respect a summer family blockbuster that begins with a deformed baby being thrown into a sewer. Like Scissorhands it improves on repeat viewings and there are some interesting psychological statements amongst the gadgets and costumes.

It's a far more personal movie than the original and a rare example of a blockbuster that is actually an art film. The visuals and score are even more stunning than in the first film, and the characters and performances have far more depth. It is the interaction between the four main characters, all scarred or disturbed in their own way, that stays in the memory long after the action scenes are forgotten.

It's one of the few comic book movies where, despite the freakish look of the characters, they actually feel like real people. The films ends on a pretty downbeat note and it would have been interesting to see where Burton would have taken the Dark Knight next if he had completed the trilogy, but alas it was not to be.

Burton's eagerly anticipated sequel was released three years after the first film and scored an even bigger opening at the box office, earning over $45 million in three days. However, it was heavily criticised by some for being too dark and perverted for kids.

Critics were not particularly kind to the film - while some praised Burton's twisted vision (Peter Travers in Rolling Stone wrote, “But the best gimmick is neurosis: Everyone has one. Batman and Catwoman, unable to function without dressing up their psychic wounds in fantasy, are a dysfunctional Romeo and Juliet.”) others, such as Leonard Maltin, complained that it was a "nasty, nihilistic, nightmare movie" with a “dark, mean-spirited, and often incoherent screenplay” (as if that in itself made it a bad film). Burton himself was amused that some journalists thought the film was much darker than the first one while others thought it was lighter!

In the long run, Batman Returns was not as big a hit as the first film, earning around $160 million in the U.S. compared to the original's $250 million. Comic books fans were less happy with the film, especially with the changes to the Penguin and Catwoman's origins. The claims that Burton didn't respect the comic chronology were pretty feeble, though, since DC itself doesn't respect its own history, changing the origins of many of its characters in the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, for example. As Burton himself said when he was making the first film: "If you look at the Batman Encyclopedia, the fucking thing changes every fucking week".

The film also suffered a backlash from parents who considered it too dark and twisted for younger Bat fans. In particular, McDonald’s came under fire from parent advocacy groups for promoting the film with their Happy Meals. They cancelled the tie-in and it would be the last time the fast food company would promote a PG-13 film to tots.

Since Catwoman was the one aspect of the film that most people agreed was a success, it was no surpise that Burton was set to make a Catwoman spin-off movie with Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her popular role. But it got stuck in development hell before finally being made in 2004 with Halle Berry in an awful costume.

At the same time he was directing Batman Returns, Burton finally got to start production on a long-cherished project for Disney, around ten years after he first came up with the idea.
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making another blockbuster after Batman
Rather than jump into making another blockbuster after Batman, Tim Burton used his new clout to get an extremely personal project off the ground.

It would be based on a sketch of a man with scissors for hands that Burton had drawn years earlier. The project was greenlit by 20th Century Fox (Warner Bros. had passed on the idea, before the success of Batman). The film marked the first time Burton had full creative control over a project, having written the story and also produced the movie. Apparently, Burton wanted to do it as a musical at first, but later decided the story could stand on its own without songs. Burton formed Tim Burton Productions in 1989 with producer Denise Di Novi to oversee Scissorhands and his future films.

Writer Caroline Thompson was hired to flesh out Burton’s ideas into a full screenplay. The deal made with the studio was that they could either accept the script or not - no changes were to be made to the film. Once the project was a go, Burton began recruiting his cast and crew and scouting locations in Florida for the perfect suburban neighborhood. 

As Burton was the hottest new director in town, many actors were reportedly interested in the lead role, including Robert Downey, Jr., Tom Hanks and, most bizarrely, Michael Jackson. One actor the studio wanted for the role was Tom Cruise. Burton actually met with him, but the deal fell apart when the Cruiser reportedly wanted Edward to be made more masculine and given plastic surgery at the end.

Eventually Johnny Depp was chosen for the role. He was best known at the time as the kid who gets eaten by a bed in the first A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and as the star of popular teen cop show 21 Jump Street. Though he had already tried to spoof his teen heartthrob image by taking the lead role in John Water's Cry-Baby (1990) no one really took him seriously as an actor. Once again Burton would choose an unlikely actor that no one else imagined in the role and turn it into one of the film's main strengths.

The eclectic supporting cast included Dianne Wiest (who was one of the first people to lend their support to the script) and Alan Arkin. Returning to work with Burton were Winona Ryder (in a very different role from Lydia in Beetlejuice) and Vincent Price.

The production took place mostly in Tinsmith Circle, Florida. The real neighborhood houses were given a makeover with pastel color schemes and smaller windows. The redesign of the suburban neighborhood gave it a generic small town feel, making it seem even more real than the reality and also shows how Edward views the bland suburbia as some kind of wonderland. One house in the film is getting fumigated and appropriately looks like a circus tent. 

The heat and bugs proved a problem throughout the production, especially for Depp who was sweltering inside his leather suit. Despite this it was a much easier shoot than Batman, with Burton clearly more at home. The film was completed in time for a Christmas release. Some people were predicting the film to be Burton's E.T. but the studio decided not to oversell it, giving the film a modest release.

Starting with the snow falling on the Fox logo the film lets us know we're in for a magical experience. The main titles are slightly more abstract than in Burton's previous films. The title opens like a pair of scissors as the camera travels inside a gothic castle. We then see a series of images - cookies, scissors, hands, and even Vincent Price's face - that will take on more relevance later.

Finally the main titles end as we pull back from the mansion through a window and into a little girl's room. It's telling that the first line of the film is, "Snuggle in sweetie, it's cold out there". The line doesn't just refer to the weather. The storybook opening sets the tone for the film as the little girl asks her Grandma where snow comes from.

As she begins the tale we see Edward, like Batman, watching over the town from a lonely point high above. So begins the story of Edward in flashback. Following an amusing sequence where Peg Boggs tries to sell Avon products to people she knows never buy from her, she decides to visit the gothic castle which just happens to bet at the end of the road.

There she meets Edward, the unfortunate boy with scissors for hands who lives alone in the fireplace of the attic. She takes pity on him and decides to bring him to a colourful and romanticised suburban neighbourhood. There's a lovely scene where Edward is touring his new home for the first time and falls in love with Peg's daughter, Kim, after only seeing her photo.

Edward is given new clothes (a way of "normalising" his outlandish appearance) while the housewives all come out onto the street to gossip about him until their husbands return home.
The first half of the film is full of subtle physical comedy and gentle satire on suburban life. Edward has trouble with nearly everything, from getting dressed to trying to eat dinner. As for waterbeds . . .
Edward soon brings his artistic skills to the town and the people almost ignore his bizarre appearance. Indeed there is something fairly patronising about his treatment, with an old war veteran telling Edward not to let anyone tell him he has a handicap and the audience on a TV show offering Edward all kinds of assistance with nothing ever coming from it (a touch of Hollywood allegory there).

There are some wonderfully composed shots that have an almost animated feel, including the one where Kevin takes Edward to show and tell and he points his blades at the students.
The celebrity adoration of Edward soon turns to him being exploited by and then violently rejected by the townspeople.

Jim gets Edward to rob his own house and the alarm goes off, trapping Edward inside (one wonders if Jim knew this would happen and wanted to get rid of the competition). One of the most subtly amusing scenes occurs when a psychologist runs off a long list of mental problems Edward has. When a concerned police officer asks if he'll be okay out there, the disinterested psychologist just says, "Oh yeah, he'll be fine."    
No one seems to want to have anything to do with Edward after that, and even Kim's brother Kevin grows tired of always winning when he plays rock, paper, scissors.

Edward continues to long for Kim, and eventually wins her love through his devotion, culminating in the beautiful ice dance scene. As Kim dances in the snow the scene becomes the ultimate representation of the artist communicating his feelings through his work.
Unfortunately it is cut short by Jim and things don't improve for Edward after that.

The scene where Kim asks Edward to hold her and he replies, "I can't" is wonderfully touching. Once again their intimate moment is interrupted, this time by Jim almost running over Kevin.
A sympathetic cop chases Edward off rather than arrest him. However, Kim and Jim don't think he's dead and both follow.
Some would later say that the violent ending was unnecessary, but without it the film would literally have no point. Edward is the most normal person in the movie and it is the twisted townsfolk who are the true monsters, resulting in his loss of innocence. Kim and Edward share a final kiss and then she leaves, telling the townsfolk he died along with Jim. 
While some may have preferred a happily ever after ending, Burton ends the film the only way it could have, with Edward alone but still sharing his artistic gift with the snow he creates from his ice sculptures. 

Some viewers may ask why Kim didn't go up and join him earlier, but that would have taken away from the bittersweet fairytale quality of the story.

Every performance in the film hits just the right note. Johnny Depp, in what may still be his finest role, brings a feeling of tortured emotion to his almost silent character that lingers long in the memory. No one can stare longingly better than him. It's easy forgot who's playing the part, even now. Depp reportedly based his performance partly on a dog. 

He is also adept at the rapid switches from pathos to humour, such as when he stares wistfully out of the TV screen (knowing Kim is watching) and then accidentally cuts the microphone wires and gets a shock.
The makeup on Depp subtly transforms him into the character. The scratches on his face add sympathy and the removal of his eyebrows opens up his already expressive face.

His wild hair has of course been compared to Burton's own, adding to the autobiographical feel. The Scissorhands designed by Stan Winston look and act like real blades. It took Depp quite some time to get used to his scissorhands. He even accidentally stabbed Anthony Michael Hall in the arm at one point. Though he operated them himself in many shots, closeups were performed by puppeteers. 

Dianne Wiest and Alan Arkin are, respectively, touchingly real and hilariously blank as the parents who adopt him. Peg is one of the few sympathetic suburbanites who finds her good intentions hurt more than they help. Her sunny disposition (in a town where no one buys her Avon products) is infectuous. Burton apparently saw a lot of his own dad in Arkin's performance.

The talk Bill Boggs gives Edward about teenage girls (before getting him drunk for the first time) is particularly amusing, as is his total lack of reaction when Edward announces that Joyce took him in the back room of his new barber shop and took her clothes off. His nonchalant attitude and meaningless sayings are always amusing ("You can't buy the necessities of life with cookies").    
Winona Ryder brings warmth and beauty (in a blonde wig) to her supporting role as the object of Edward's affectations, who comes to love him for his artistic vision. The fact that she and Depp were dating in real life during the filming only added to the chemistry between the characters. 

While some found Kim a little one-dimensional, there are hints that she has more depth than first appears, such as the fact that she (like Edward) cuts out pictures from newspapers and magazines and puts them over her bedside mirror, a subtle connection between the characters. 

The makeup used to transform Ryder into an old granny is also quite impressive.

Anthony Michael Hall is suitably menacing as the jealous jock who eventually gets his come-uppance. Burton apparently considered Crispin Glover for the role of the bully played by Hall, but he had too much in common with the Back to the Future actor. Jim's character is a direct comment on the jocks Burton saw in high school. Burton was horrified that these guys, no matter how unpleasant they were, always had girlfriends. The choice of both Hall and Ryder shows how Burton likes to cast against type (Ryder being famous for playing dark roles previously and Hall best known for playing nerds in John Hughes films).

Kathy Baker is very funny as Joyce, the sex-starved, Tom Jones-listening housewife with creepy fingernails. When Edward cuts her hair, it is clearly an orgasmic experience. 

The scene where she attempts to seduce Edward is amusing and disturbing (especially as she seems to be wearing some kind of dominatrix underwear).            

Esmeralda is creepily portrayed by O-Lan Jones (who also did her own keyboard music) and her character seems to be a commentary on religious fundamentalism. Finally, Vincent Price, in his last feature film role, brings extra resonance as Edward's inventor. 

He has many charming moments, such as when he moves Edward's new hands in tandem with his scissorhands before he dies. The three flashbacks to the Inventor are spaced throughout the film and each one reveals new information about Edward. He starts out as a salad cutter with a cookie heart, learns about etiquette and poetry and then witnesses the death of his Inventor who he can't touch without drawing blood.
In this final flashback Edward's new hands are destroyed (one of the hands points to a severed finger accusingly). 

During the production and following the release of the Edward Scissorhands, Burton filmed interviews with his Price, for a film titled Conversations With Vincent. Tragically, the film was incomplete at the time of Price’s death in 1993, and is unlikely to ever see release.    

Price's daughter, Victoria, plays the reporter who tries to get a comment from Edward after his arrest. 

The film featured Burton's finest directing to that date. Taking the comic sensibilities of his first two features and his experience of directing a big budget epic, Burton was able to create a film with the perfect balance between comedy and drama. He also got uniformly great performances from his cast, showing that Kim Basinger was an anomaly in Batman.

The cinematography by Stefan Czapsky has a beautiful storybook feel. The scenes of Edward making his ice sculptures are wonderfully shot in particular. Some of the outdoor scenes do have a rather muddy look, but this was probably due to the large amount of bugs plaguing the production in Florida.

The sets for Edward's castle are very impressive, especially the long staircase. The topiaries, which include a squirrel, the Loch Ness Monster, dinosaurs, a teddy bear and, symbolically, a giant hand, are beautiful. They were created with chicken wire frames. 

The film also makes good use of real 1960's style locations such as the Southgate Shopping Center in Lakeland, Florida. 

Edward's costume is a work of art, though at first glance it does somewhat resemble bondage gear. The costumes for the townsfolk are wonderfully tacky. Joyce in particular displays some outlandish fashions, including a mermaid body apron.

The editing is competent throughout, though one wishes the final shot had been allowed to linger longer before the end credits start. The film fell victim to censorship in the U.K. where several shots of Jim beating up Edward at the end were removed to retain a PG rating. Ironically, the softening of the attack on Edward has the effect of making his retaliation against Jim seem more extreme than it did in the uncut version.

The haunting score by Danny Elfman adds to this film's status as an all-time classic. While the suburban suites recall his earlier work (adding element of muzak and even gypsy music), the music used for the more emotional scenes, especially the ice dance and grand finale, are some of the most beautiful compositions ever heard in a film. Without the score, the film wouldn't have been even half as moving as it turned out to be. It also emphasises Edward's gentle side even when he is cutting people by mistake. The fact that it wasn't even nominated for an Oscar beggars belief.

The Tom Jones songs are also used well, acting almost as the soundtrack for suburbia. At other points the radio acts as a commentary on the action. When Edward cuts the hedge in the Boggs's yard into a dinosaur, a sportscaster on the radio can be heard saying, "It's gone, it's out of here, it's history," commenting not only on what Edward is doing to the hedge but the character's eventual fate.
There is so much to be got out of this film that it's hard to describe it in one review. More than any of Burton's other films it improves with each viewing, as the viewer discovers more and more details. Burton wanted to contemporise some of his favourite fairytale themes and make the link with real life closer, and he succeeded admirably. Like the best fairytales, the story can be read many ways, from a comment on the patronising of handicapped people, to an exploration of the tortured artist at work. 

Semi-autobiographical themes are worked in by Burton and screenwriter Caroline Thompson, but not overdone. Many people saw Burton in the main character (Vincent Price even said that Edward is Tim) but Burton later tried to downplay the connection, saying the character was based as much on Depp as himself. Edward represents, among other things: the unconditional love of an animal; a childlike sense of wonder; an adolescent's clumsiness and someone who longs to touch others without hurting them. 

Many critics commented on the timeless nature of the film. Though the neighborhood feels like a 1960's community, there are references to modern technology throughout. As in Batman, this blurring of time periods, while confusing to more literal viewers (some have even claimed the wrap around story is set in the 21st century, based on Kim's age) helps the fairytale theme of the film.

Burton's view of the suburbia he grew up in, where there is no sense of history and no real reason for things being the way they are other than conformity comes through strongly in the film.

The film shares similarities with many classic tales, most obviously Frankenstein, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera and Pinocchio. Some also saw influences in the 19th Century German book Struwwelpeter, which features a shock-headed boy with very long fingernails (though Burton has said he didn’t see this until after the film was made).

Edward Scissorhands is Burton's masterpiece and arguably his most personal film. It's a moving portrait of an artistic outsider who cannot touch what he desires without destroying it. While he may have made more technically adept films since, none of his other work comes close to the emotion of this deceptively simple story. Burton mixes classic fairytale themes to create an original and touching character in Edward. 

Despite some occasional clumsiness the film is almost perfect in its own way. Unlike most Christmas fairytales, though, this is refreshingly free of schmaltz. It manages to take themes from existing stories and yet still feels completely fresh. It's hard to imagine Burton will ever make anything approaching the depth and emotion of this wonderful film again, since it was fuelled by an adolescent angst he clearly no longer has. It's funny, sad and visually striking. What more could anyone want from a movie?

Upon its release, the film received mostly positive reviews. Many critics couldn’t resist using puns in their review, such as “a cut above the rest” (Peter Travers in "Rolling Stone") and “shear heaven” (Richard Corliss in "Time" magazine).

Roger Ebert was one of the critics at the time that completely missed the point of the film, though. He rather bafflingly states that Edward is “is intended, I think, as an everyman, a universal figure like one of the silent movie clowns”, then complains “that the other people are as weird, in their ways, as he is”, not seeming to realise that the purpose of the film is to show how the "monster" is the normal one and it's the townsfolk who are scary. 

Some criticisms of the film also pointed out the supposed plot holes - such as why does he have scissors for hands and where did he get the ice? They missed the point, as this fairytale bears no relation to the real world, except in its themes. You have to suspend your disbelief. 

As Caroline Thompson said in an interview for the making of the film, "It's a fable. A fable is a story that people don't necessarily believe but they understand." Burton was more direct in his response, saying that people who had a problem with the logic of the film should just go and see films like Pretty Woman.

Despite some people not being able to accept the timeless fantasy of the film (during one preview, some audience members actually sided with Jim for wanting to beaut up that "fag" trying to steal his girl), it was a fairly big hit with moviegoers, earning over $55 million. It marked the beginning of Burton being taken seriously as an artist. Though he was free to make pretty much any film he wanted, the spectre of the Bat still loomed . . .
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"What you will have is a very interesting, surprising action stoy, with a bunch of weird characters running around."

Burton in the introduction to the official making of book
Tim Burton’s third feature would be less a movie, more of an event. A new big screen version of the classic DC comic book Batman was first planned following the success of Superman: The Movie (1978), but producers Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan surprisingly found the studios weren't interested. It would take over ten years to finally reach the screen (conveniently just in time for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the character by Bob Kane and Bill Finger). 

Many directors and stars were rumoured for the film over the years, including director Joe Dante, and the Ghostbusters team of Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray. When new producers Peter Guber and Jon Peters came aboard, they virtually shut the original producing team of Uslan and Melniker out of the production (though they retained executive producer credit).

Burton and screenwriter Sam Hamm had actually been developing the film while he was making Beetlejuice, but it wasn't until the first weekend’s box office results for that film were in that Warner Bros. felt safe entrusting the property to Burton. Even with the success of his first two films, however, Burton was a risky choice. 

Once greenlit, the film would move rapidly into production, partially to avoid the upcoming writer's strike. The late Warren Skaaren would later rewrite much of the third act. Some of these changes, such as the Joker being made the killer of Bruce's parents, didn't sit well with Hamm. 

The project sparked controversy from the beginning with the casting of Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight, which was actually suggested by Jon Peters. The smart money was on a square-jawed hunk being cast in the role (actors considered for the role early on included Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen and Pierce Brosnan) and Keaton certainly didn't fit that mould in most people's eyes.
Thousands of comic book fans flooded Warner Bros. with letters of protest at the non-muscular funnyman being cast as their imposing hero. One letter to the Los Angeles Times read: "By casting a clown, Warner Bros. and Burton have defecated on the history of Batman".
One can only imagine how much more hysterical the response would have been if the Internet had been in use by the general public back then. If it had, the backlash would have been so huge it might have stopped the film being made.

Holy 40-year-old virgins, Batman! It's angry comic book geeks!

Burton did his best to ignore the unhappy fans, because he knew he wasn't making the campy Adam West style film that they feared. He recalled reading an early version of the script that had the same light, tongue in cheek tone as Superman and felt it didn't explore the character's psychological makeup.
Burton wanted to examine why a seemingly normal guy would put on a bat suit to fight crime, and Keaton would help him explore that. The fact that Burton resisted the movie being called Batman: The Movie, showed that he was interested in developing the character, rather than creating a product.

Burton was well aware of the passionate nature of comic book fans from personal experience. He had attended a comic book convention in 1978 where the makers of the first Superman movie were promoting the film. One irate fan had stood up and screamed, "Superman would never change into his costume on the ledge of a building. I'm going to boycott this movie and tell everyone you're destroying the legend!"

In contrast to the controversy over Keaton, the casting of Jack Nicholson as the Joker met with more fan approval. He was the actor most people had in mind from the start, "almost too perfect" as Burton would later say. Much of the $50 million budget would go towards Nicholson's wages, and the actor would make even more money later on thanks to his percentage deal. With Jack on board, the balance of the film would unsurprisingly shift from Batman to the Joker. Indeed, Nicholson would get top billing on the finished film.

The shooting took place at Pinewood studios in England and was not without problems. It was a six-day a week shoot, mostly at night, that was physically draining for the cast and crew. The original actress playing romantic interest Vicki Vale, Sean Young, had to be replaced at the last minute when she was injured in a horse riding accident (training for a scene that was later cut from the film). Kim Basinger had to fly out to London pretty much the day after she was offered the role.
More alarmingly, the script was still being rewritten as the film was shot (the writer of Brazil, Charles McKeown, reportedly did an uncredited rewrite), meaning that Burton and the cast pretty much had to make the ending up as they went along, which was most apparent when the Joker climbs a cathedral at the end of the film. When Nicholson asked Burton, "Why am I going up the stairs?" Burton recalls telling him, "I don't know Jack, I'll tell you when you get up there". The improvisational attitude was unusual for a film of that scope.

Robin (who, rather bizarrely, Eddie Murphy was once in the running to play) had made an appearance in the early script, but he was removed by the time shooting began. Burton later admitted that, like a lot of people, he never cared for the character.

To try and placate the fans, a trailer was hastily cut together from rough footage. There was incredible demand to see the short teaser. The dark look and imposing Batsuit went some way to reassuring fans that this wouldn’t be another mocking interpretation of the character like the 1960's TV series. The iconic poster was also a hot item, even though some people saw it as a mouth rather than the Bat logo. Many of the posters were stolen from bus stations.

Burton's take on the Dark Knight finally came to the screen with a level of anticipation and hype that was totally unprecedented at the time. Everyone knew the film was coming, and expectations were though the roof. Theater owners were worried the film was too dark, but the people camping outside a movie theater in Westwood in L.A. several days before the release were an early indicator that the film would be a cultural phenomenon.

As the film opens, The Warner Bros. logo appears and then the background fades to a cloudy night sky. It was the first time one of Burton's films would alter the opening logo, albeit subtly.

The tradition would be carried on in all his subsequent films except The Nightmare Before Christmas and Sleepy Hollow. The ominous main titles navigate what appears to be a series of tunnels, as Elfman's theme builds in intensity. Finally the camera pulls back to reveal we have actually been traveling around the Bat logo, carved in stone. Once again the main titles draw the audience into Burton's world from the very first frame.

The film sets out its intentions right from the beginning, with a view of Gotham City as if "hell had erupted through the pavement". The opening scene nicely builds the mystery, as a family (desperately trying not to act like the tourists they are) fall afoul of muggers after stupidly wandering down a dark alley at night. This scene foreshadows what we later learn about Bruce Wayne's parents.

A gargoyle high above comes to life at the sound of the wife screaming. This gargoyle watching over Gotham is, of course, the Batman. The shot of Batman lowering himself down behind the muggers seems to be influenced by a similar shot in Alien (1979) of the titular monster lowering itself down behind Harry Dean Stanton. Keaton's iconic delivery of "I'm Batman" in this scene has been often imitated, but never bettered. 

Following some rather slow scenes setting up all the characters in Gotham, we finally come to the action scene where Batman stalks several hoods at Axis Chemicals. Jack Napier falls into toxic waste, but of course that's not the end of his story.
There's a shot where Batman stands under the Axis sign, which could be subtly mocking the rather fascist aspect of vigilantism.
The muddled plot then follows Bruce Wayne as he romances Vicki Vale (the sight of him hanging upside down after he sleeps with Vicki is a memorable image), tries to keep his secret identity under wraps (which is treated as a mystery even though every viewer already knows he's Batman) and faces a new menace in the Joker.

The Joker's first scene, following a botched plastic surgery operation, is a classic that has often been parodied. The scene where be blows away Boss Grissom also mixes menace and humour well. The Joker is symbiotically linked to Batman in more ways than one. The two characters’ battle for the hearts and minds of Gotham is contrasted with the city's upcoming 200th anniversary celebrations.

Vicki investigating Bruce makes for some good scenes, though you'd think the fact that a millionaire socialite had both his parents murdered when he was a child would be common knowledge. While there's usually enough going on to hold the viewer's interest (including a memorable scene where the Joker joybuzzes a rival to death and chats to the corpse), the plot unravels more and more.

There's a memorable action/rescue scene at the halfway mark. When Batman tells Vicki to get in the car after rescuing her, she rather humorously asks, "Which one?" There's no mistaking this Batmobile for any old jalopy. One of the best scenes of the film follows, where Batman takes Vicki to the Batcave. The scene is virtually dialogue free and relies on the stunning “Descent Into Mystery” cue for its impact.

Later, Bruce Wayne goes crazy on the Joker when he meets him in Vicki's apartment. When Bruce and the Joker first see Vicki's apartment they both comment that it has "lots of space". Bruce gets shot (luckily he was wearing one of those bulletproof meal trays), then both characters leave without explanation. The fact that this scene was originally supposed to be followed by a horse chase, doesn't excuse the way it just ends flatly.

However, the most criticised scene comes later where Alfred lets Vicki wander into the Batcave. On the plus side, there's a great moment after Vicki has learned his identity where Bruce tells her he has to go to work and his voice slowly lowers as he gets into his Batman persona. This is followed by some iconic graphic novel shots where Batman suits up before the final confrontation.

The Joker calls Batman out on TV and wins over Gotham with the promise of a big pile of money.
Batman blows up Axis Chemicals in a spectacular setpiece, though one could ask why he even needs to go anywhere if he has a remote controlled Batmobile to do his dirty work.

The attack of the Batwing sequence that follows is impressive, especially the iconic image of the Batwing swooping up in front of the moon to make the perfect silhouette of the bat symbol. However, many were confused how the Joker manages to bring it down with one shot from a gun. Once again Burton used a cheesy joke that didn't sit well with some blockbuster audiences.

The big showdown is spectacular and satisfying on the level of a gothic opera, but makes little sense. It's never explained why the Joker takes Vicki up to the top of an impossibly tall cathedral. There's also a standard fight scene with hired goons at the end, presumably thrown in because the Joker is a weak physical opponent for Batman. The film finds a way for Batman to kill the Joker without being directly responsible.

Batman and Vicki fall to their seeming death but of course the Batrope saves the day again (though the sudden stops looks like it would have given them hernias at the very least). The Joker's body looks remarkably intact for someone who fell hundreds of feet. It might have been better to add some mystery and have his body disappear before the police arrive.

The film ends on a high note, with Batman giving the city its first Bat signal and standing up Vicki so he can once more watch over Gotham City from above.

The controversial casting choice of Michael Keaton turned out to be one of the movie's greatest strengths. Keaton apparently wasn't interested in the role at first, but was eventually won over and created the character from the outside in (the opposite of method acting). He managed to successfully capture Batman's darkness and duality better than any other actor before or since. Keaton plays both sides of the character, the menacing vigilante and confused playboy with ease.

The fact that the film is weighted more towards the villain meant that Keaton's performance was criminally underrated.
However, the Batman's big entrances are all the more impressive for being used sparingly. He appears and disappears as suddenly as the creature of the night he is, dropping through the skylight in an image that became popular in other superhero movies.

The moral ambiguity of the character is also played up. It's unclear in their first meeting if Batman intentionally drops Jack or just loses his grip. There are also several moments where he almost seems to recognise Jack as the spectre from his childhood, but these are nicely underplayed. Despite the claims of some comic book fans, we also get to see his detective side at work when he unravels the Joker's poison scheme.

While Batman is portrayed fairly close to his dark routes, Bruce Wayne is more of an absent-minded character than the one found in the comics or previous screen versions. He misses an important city meeting at the beginning because of his nocturnal activities (there's a telling shot of his name plaque in front of an empty chair) and when he first meets Vicki Vale he tells her he's "not sure" which of these guys is Bruce Wayne.

There's also something of a little boy about him in the way he first avoids Vicki rather than have to confront her and then later tries and fails to confess his secret to her (mouthing, "I'm Batman" silently when she is out of the room).

Contrasted with Keaton's wonderfully subtle performance, Jack Nicholson is never less than entertaining as The Joker, but he does lose some of his menace by capering around so much. He's also slightly too old for the role, and doesn't bring out the pathos of the character that much compared to the way the Joker was portrayed in, for example, Alan Moore's “The Killing Joke”. Part of the problem is that, even before he gets dunked in toxic goo, Jack Napier is already a self-obsessed psychopath, so not much changes afterwards apart from his skin tone and added rigor mortis grin.

The makeup on the Joker is impressive, though some found the fake cheek muscles somewhat distracting. Burton cleverly delays the full reveal of the Joker until quite late into the film, keeping him in shadow for most of his first two scenes. Of course the trailers and other advertising ruined this surprise. When The Joker later appears wearing pancake makeup (to try and appear "normal") it's actually even more unsettling.

Many of Nicholson's funniest lines have the feel of improv (even those that were scripted) such as when Bruce starts telling the Joker about a guy he knows who was "a mean kid, bad seed, hurt people" and Jack replies, "I like him already." His random line where he asks Bruce if he’s ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight has been often quoted. There's also a fun scene where he imitates Jack Palance's distinctive delivery, calling Bob his "number one guy".

The film plays up the relationship between hero and villain (described by many as two sides of the same coin) even more so than the comic.
Indeed, a major change to the existing continuity has the Joker as the mugger who kills Bruce's parents (a younger actor plays Jack in this scene and does a pretty good imitation Nicholson grin).

This allows Batman at the end to say to the Joker, "I made you, you made me first". While this works well for the movie, since the climax resolves the conflict between hero and villain, it was another element that angered some comic book purists. In the comic it was a petty thief called Joe Chill that killed Bruce's parents (although, it can be inferred that Chill was Jack's accomplice glimpsed in the mugging).

The rest of cast is a mixed bag. Kim Basinger, who is only required to look pretty and scream, is very annoying. While there's not much any actress could have done with such a damsel in distress role, Basinger fails to demonstrate why Bruce would connect with Vicki on anything more than a physical level. It's hard not to see her presence in the film purely as a box office decision - she even got a box around her name on the poster!

There is something of a love triangle between her and the hero and villain but this isn't really developed. The other significant female character in the film, the gangster's moll Alicia, fares little better. The makeup on Alicia after the Joker gives her a "makeover" isn't as scary as the buildup suggests. Either the PG-13 rating played a part or Jerry Hall just didn't want to look too ugly.

The late Jack Palance is better as Boss Carl Grissom. His presence is so overpowering he actually manages to make Jack Napier seem like a kid at points. Robert Wuhl is likeable in the role of comic relief reporter, Alex Knox, who has some amusing innuendo-laced dialogue with Vicki Vale. Of course the irony of his character is that he's searching for Batman and finds Bruce Wayne an annoying distraction.

Genre favourite Tracey Walter makes a welcome appearance as the Joker's right hand man, Bob (who the Joker nevertheless casually blows away when things go wrong) and William Hootkins (who had small roles in both Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark) is suitably creepy as corrupt cop, Lt. Eckhardt. There's another Star Wars connection in the presence of Billy Dee Williams as D.A. Harvey Dent (destined to later become the comic villain Two-Face).

The Mayor was reportedly based on real New York Mayor Ed Koch and is played by the very similar looking actor Lee Wallace.
However, the best performance among the supporting cast comes from the wonderful Michael Gough, as Alfred. The Hammer Horror movie veteran would go on to appear in a number of other Burton films. He apparently based his performance on a real "batman" - a military butler he knew.

Burton was somewhat out of his depth on his first major film, so it's remarkable he managed to hold it together as well as he did. The more experienced cast and crew were very supportive of the young filmmaker, and Jon Peters reportedly took a paternal role with Burton, even coaxing him back onto set after particularly traumatic incidents. 

On the first day of shooting, after Jack Palance missed his cue, he reportedly shouted at the terrified director, "Who are you to tell me what to do? I've done over a hundred movies!". Most of the rest of the cast were impressed with the young director, though Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon) amusingly commented that Tim isn't one of us Earth people.

Burton has said in interviews that he's not technically proficient enough to cover the flaws if he's not totally committed to a movie, and Batman may be the most glaring example of that. Many of his other films have narrative problems (Burton has admitted he doesn't care about narrative logic) but Batman is probably the film that suffers most in that area, because of the conflict between the more personal film Burton wanted to make and the studio blockbuster that was required of him. The big setpieces in Batman are serviceable, but lack the tension and thrills an experienced action director would have brought to them.

One can tell those aren't the parts Burton had his heart in. A stuntman was used for most of the fights, so we very rarely get any close-ups of Keaton to draw the audience in. There is some humour in the fights, such as Batman casually stepping out from behind a wall to knock a goon out with one punch, or when he beckons to Bob to fight him, and the head goon drops his knife and runs.

Despite the technical flaws, the film has a strong vision and Burton's directorial choices in the sets, costumes and camera angles would influence many later superhero movie directors. There are also some good "jump" moments (such as the Joker's boxing glove smashing a TV screen) that strangely work better then similar moments in Burton's later horror film, Sleepy Hollow.

The cinematography by Roger Pratt is impressive, with lots of Dutch angles used. The noir style of the film almost makes one wish certain scenes had been shot in black and white, such as the flashback to the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents.

The sets by Anton Furst are stunning, as they should be considering the $5 million plus spent on them. They depict, in his words, a New York City with no zoning laws. The talented production designer, who had also transformed London's docklands into Vietnam for Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket (1987), tragically committed suicide just a few years later. The color scheme of the lighting and sets favours browns and blacks over the blues that are Burton's signature style, giving it a different look from his other films.

Wayne Manor was a mix of real locations in England and sets. The set dressing, such as the armour room, is very indicative of Bruce Wayne's personality. The sets are also used to show the alienation of the characters, such as when Bruce and Vicki eat dinner separated by an immensely long table. Furst also designed the Batmobile, which is as stylish and phallic as anyone could wish for.

Batman's suit was successfully updated for a new age, replacing the blue and gray tights the character is known for with a black, moulded rubber muscle suit that transforms Bruce Wayne from an unprepossessing businessman to a terrifying creature of the night. The other costumes have a very 1930’s gangster movie feel.
The editing is frankly all over the place. There weren't many scenes cut out, though one part that was seen in publicity materials but not in the film is where Batman saves a little girl from the Joker's goons and she asks him if it's Halloween.

Most of the visual effects are quite well done, but there are some effects that are rather cheesy. The model work is very obvious, especially when puppet figures start flying up and down ropes. The late Derek Meddings worked on the classic puppet TV series Thunderbirds, and it shows in his cheap yet cheerful models.

The first appearance of Batman is clearly an animated drawing, as is the shot of the Joker falling to his death. Burton himself has even admitted he tried to use many of the same low-tech effects he used on Pee-Wee and Beetlejuice. However, on a big budget movie these previously charming effects just come across as rather tacky.

Danny Elfman's much-imitated score helped raise the film above the level of most comic book movies. Some thought Elfman was too inexperienced to score a big action film, but he rose to the challenge admirably. The main theme is one of the great heroic themes in cinema, and Elfman shows his more playful side with the rest of the score, including the use of the song "Beautiful Dreamer". The only problem is that the sound effects somewhat drown out the score in parts.

Prince's songs, on the other hand, are a pointless intrusion. The only one that is even slightly effective in the film is "Partyman", used when the Joker trashes the art in the museum. The album was a big hit, but it was definitely not the talented musician's finest hour.

Batman had a lot of baggage from his 50-year history in various mediums, so much of the psychology of the character was already there. Burton has admitted he was not a comic book fan (aside from “The Killing Joke”, which was the first comic book he could actually read with no problem) and most of his Batman knowledge came from the Adam West show. The film is almost like an amalgamation of all the major depictions of Batman, distilled into a two-hour movie. Even the campiness of the TV show is paid homage to with the various gadgets and the Joker's capering. There also seems to be an obsession with TV screens in the film.

Bruce watches the occupants of his manor on secret cameras, and the Joker almost constantly seems to be either watching or appearing on TV. Batman is a film of the media age and very conscious of it. This is best demonstrated in the darkly comic scene where, following the news that the Joker has tainted hundreds of cosmetic products, the two newscasters appear on air sans makeup and looking awful.

The film has an interesting view of art. The Joker considers himself a "fully-functioning homicidal artist" who creates art by destroying people and objects. The scene were he defaces the art in the Flugelheim Museum is quite subversive (the only one the Joker leaves alone is "Figure with Meat", a Francis Bacon piece which he clearly relates to).

The only photographs of Vicki's he likes are the ones featuring dead war victims. As bright and cheerful as he looks, the Joker can only truly be happy as an artist when there's misery and death around.

The artist who hands Knox a drawing of the "manbat" has the signature of Bob Kane. Originally Kane was supposed to have a cameo in this role, but there were scheduling conflicts.
Adam West was also offered a cameo role in the film but reportedly declined, since he thought he should have been offered the role of Batman.

There are a number of obvious goofs in the film, especially in the museum sequence where a painting is defaced by a goon and then appears unmarked in the very next shot! While not technically a goof, it's amusing that Batman almost lets Vicki walk off the edge to her death before he turns the lights on in his Batcave.

Burton's first big film is remarkable in that, despite all the problems during production and creative differences, the end result was not only an interesting film but also a successful one. Clearly influenced by graphic novels such as “The Killing Joke” and Frank Miller’s seminal “The Dark Knight Returns” (which made a dark depiction of the character viable), the film brings the power and gothic mystery back to the Caped Crusader. It eschews the origin story approach of most previous superhero movies to make the story more of a mystery, which works in its favour.
In many ways, despites some comic fan's protests, Burton's film is closer to Bob Kane's original vision of the character, a lone crime fighter who has no problems with killing his prey. This makes the claims of comic book fans that “Batman shouldn’t kill” a particularly hollow criticism. Kane himself said he preferred the darker vision of his character.

The film has many flaws and hasn't aged as well as some blockbusters, but it's still an interesting counterpoint to Superman: The Movie. Despite all the hype and studio interference, Burton managed to create one of the most influential Hollywood movies of the last few decades (even more so than Superman). While it could be argued that it was the least "Burtonesque" movie the director has made (as Bruce Wayne says in the film, "Some of it is very much me. Some of it isn't"), its success gave Burton the clout to get more personal projects made. Without it, his career might have been very different.

1989 was the summer of the Bat - some people in America even shaved the Bat logo into their hair. The film set records at the time with its opening weekend box office of $40 million and its total gross of over $250 million in the U.S. and $411 million worldwide. It was the highest grossing film in Warner Bros.’ history, until The Matrix and Harry Potter franchises came along, and remains the most successful of the five (and counting) Batman films the studio has produced. It created a new model for superhero adaptations (and the resulting merchandising blitz) that is still seen today with movies such as Spider-Man (2002).

The film was unable to please everyone, though. Critics seemed to either love it or hate it, while those only familiar with the TV series were shocked by how dark and violent the film was. Conversely, some comic book fans thought the film wasn't dark enough!

Even before its record-breaking success, there was talk of a sequel. Robin Williams was pitched as The Riddler and both Danny DeVito or Dustin Hoffman were rumoured for The Penguin. For his part, Burton initially said that he didn't want anything to do with a sequel, clearly burnt out from the difficult production.

Despite being one of the highest grossing films in history, Warner Bros. would later claim that Batman didn't make a profit. Indeed, the studio was so greedy they even pulled the film from theaters while it was still making money so they could release it on video before Christmas. Aside from Jack Nicholson, who had a large cut of the box office gross (and merchandising and sequel earnings, whether he was involved with them or not) most of the creative personnel, including Burton, did not profit from the film's massive success. It was an example of Hollywood's creative accounting at its finest.

In later years, some would downplay the success of the film, claiming it was all a result of hype, and comic books geeks (fickle bunch that they are) would increasingly claim it was a poor Batman film, even though its take on the character was just as valid as any other writer who has reinterpreted the character over the years. As for Burton, he would next turn to a smaller, far more personal film.
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