One of the reasons Batman persists on screen is his adaptability. Over the years, the world’s greatest detective has been brought to the screen in various incarnations, from the campy 1960s TV series to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, each version contains clear signs of the filmmakers and eras from which they emerged. , while they are unmistakably Batman . Perhaps no Bat flick has shown this as clearly as Batman returns – Tim Burton’s go-for-broke sequel that followed up on its 1989 blockbuster hit with latex lashings, exploding penguins, and an odd look that could only come from the mind beetle juice and Edward Scissorhands†
In an important new Empire interview, Tim Burton returned to film for its 30th anniversary, looking back at a film that – at the time – was considered as dark as Batman could be. This year, Matt Reeves’ hard-boiled noir the batter proved there were dark depths to explore. “It’s funny to see this now, because all those memories come back from ‘It’s too dark,'” he says. “So I have to laugh a bit about it.” While Returns has a lopsided, playful gothic and often kinky sensibility, it’s far from the grounded grit of The Dark Knight movies or the Reeves movie, the last of which Burton has yet to see (“I’d like to see it,” he says).
Given Returnsreception and controversy over the dark tone at the time, the studio turned to director Joel Schumacher for Batman forever and Batman & Robin — two movies whose dialed-in Day-Glo aesthetic and kids’ cartoon sensibilities were a million miles from Burton. One of the more criticized decisions from Schumacher’s films especially brought the Returns director. †[Back then] they went the other way. That’s the funny thing about it. But then I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Okay. Wait a minute here. You complain about me, I’m too weird, I’m too dark, and then you put nipples on the costume? Go fuck yourself.’ Seriously. So yeah, I guess that’s why I didn’t finish [doing a third film]†
With Batman often fighting psychopathic terrorists and serial killers on the big screen, the days of the penguin war seem a little strange. While Burton looks back on Batman returns now he sees more than just the darkness it became known for. “I’m not just too dark. That represents me in the sense that…that’s how I see things. It is not meant to be pure darkness. There is a mix,” he says. “I really love it because of the weird experiment it felt.”
Read Empirethe full interview with Tim Burton on Batman returns – featuring a brand new photo shoot by Steve Schofield with digital imaging by Jacey, plus rare artworks by Tim Burton from his own archives and behind-the-scenes footage – in the Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power edition, for sale from Thursday 9 June and can be ordered online here.