Batman Returns

Batman Returns is a 1992 action film distributed by Warner Bros.  It stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Selena Kyle/Catwoman, and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck.  The story is written by Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters.  Tim Burton directs.

The film opens at the Cobblepot residence where a horribly-deformed baby has just been born.  His parents decide to throw the newborn into the river.  About 33 years later, that child is still alive and living in Gotham sewers.  He is the rumored “penguin man”.  The Penguin captures Max Shreck and forces him to set up an operation where he is finally revealed to the people of Gotham City.  He also finds out his human identity and visits the grave of his parents.  Meanwhile, Selena Kyle, Shreck’s secretary, has discovered his secret plans for a new power plant to be built.  Max, releasing that Selena now knows the truth and may talk, pushes her out a window.  But she is revived by some alley cats.  She returns home and designs a cat suit, thus Catwoman is born.  Also, Shreck, seening an opportunity to get his power plant built, urges Oswald, the Penguin, to recall the current mayor and run for mayor himself.  So Oswald agrees to let the Red Triangle Gang, the gang he controls, to wreak havoc on the city.  It is during this chaos that both Batman and the Penguin discover the existence of Catwoman.  Catwoman sees an ally in Oswald, so they team up to frame Batman by making it look like he kidnapped the Ice Princess and pushed her off a roof.  At this same time, the Penguin’s gang rewires the Batmobile so he can control it.  While Batman would desparately try to regain control, Oswald would make it look like he was driving recklessly through the busy streets of Gotham, hurting anyone who gets in his way.  Much to the chagrin of the Penguin, Batman regains control just in time.  But now he has a plan to kidnap and kill all the first-born sons of Gotham City.  The Batman foils this plan as well.  But Oswald still has something else up his sleeve.

What many viewers of this film and its predecessor may not know is that Michelle Pfeiffer was originally cast in the 1989 film as Vicki Vale.  But Pfeiffer had been in a relationship with Michael Keaton at the time and the studio felt it would be too awkward for the two of them to work together then.  So, instead, the role of Vicki Vale went to Kim Bassinger.  Michelle Pfeiffer’s appearance in the Batman films wouldn’t come until this film, Batman Returns, became a reality.  She was cast as Max Shreck’s secretary and the sensual Catwoman.

Also, many critics at the time negatively compared Danny DeVito’s Penguin to the villain of the previous film, Jack Nicholson’s Joker.  They felt that DeVito’s talent as an actor had been overshadowed by the type of role the Penguin required.  But, I believe, that these critics missed an incredibly important feature of DeVito’s Penguin that competitively rivalled Nicholson’s Joker.  As we all saw in Batman, Jack Nicholson’s personality fit in perfectly with the role of the Joker.  Many people see him as naturally crazy anyway!  Danny DeVito’s personality may not have fit into the Penguin’s role as well as Nicholson’s did, but he made up for it with the physical features.  As many of us realize, DeVito is not a tall man, which served him well here.  He also developed the Penguin’s limp and his unique voice very well.  In addition, since his personality didn’t fit in as well, that makes it all that much more impressive of a performance for Danny DeVito as the Penguin because of these physical traits.

To wrap, Batman Returns is an appropriate sequel to the 1989 film and will keep you entertained throughout!

1 thought on “Batman Returns”

  1. Who knew Batman Returns would be the last solid sequel in this set of Batman films? I agree with you on Danny Devito’s performance. He did take the Penguin in a direction no Batman fan had seen before, but we have to remember this was also Tim Burton’s take on the villain as well.

    I also love the tidbit you shared on Michelle Pfeiffer and the Catwoman role! Let’s hope Anne Hathaway & Christopher Nolan will do the character justice in the next Batman movie.

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