The first “Batman” movie from director Tim Burton was a huge hit. It only made sense to continue the story and go forward with sequels. After all, the comics have been around for years and you’d think they could go on forever without duplicating any villains and/or story lines. Burton and his Batman, Michael Keaton returned for..well….”Batman Returns”.
This time instead of going bigger, Burton really just kind of got…weirder. The main villain this time is Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin, played with sneer and ruthlessness by the usually funny Danny DeVito. We get Cobblepot’s origin early on. Born a freak to rich parents, they do what any well-off mum and dad would do with a mutant fish-bird baby; they abandon him to the sewers, where he grows up with other freaks, quietly plotting his revenge on Gotham.
“Batman Returns” also introduced Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. This film also serves as a origin for her story as well. Selina is a weak-willed woman working for Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). When she she realizes he’s up to no good, he tosses her out of a window, presumably killing her. Thankfully, there are a bunch of cats in the ally below who nibble and lick her back to life– or something like that– giving her the agility and confidence of a cat.
The Penguin and Catwoman team up, kind of, to create anarchy. Cobblepot is actually mistaken as a tragic case and is nearly elected Mayor before everyone realizes he’s a nut job. Catwoman’s new cocky spirit catches the eye of Bruce Wayne and the two start to fall in love, until they realize they’re probably supposed to be fighting not fu– well you get the point.
Burton’s Gotham continues to be an acid trip gone wrong. Penguin’s make up is pretty sweet, as he is portrayed as more of a monster than just a dude in a tux and a monacle. Pfeiffer is still the perfect embodiment of Selina Kyle and Catwoman. She is both sexy and dangerous. Then again for everything there is good about this movie, there is something strange, like the army or penguins at Cobblepot’s command.
“Batman Returns” is arguably a better movie than “Batman”, although they continue to make the mistake of killing off villains and not letting them hang around for more madness in the inevitable sequels. Arguably one of the best super hero sequels still to this day, this movie shows that at one time Burton had originality, even when working with material that wasn’t quite original.
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