Batman Returns: All About That Catsuit

Intro by Maria

Which version of Batman do you like best? Is it the corny 1960s Adam West climbing-up-walls-that-are-clearly-just-floors Batman? Is it the new Ben Affleck Batman? Oh, maybe you’re a fan of the 1990s animated Batman. How about the he-has-a-temper Christian Bale Batman? There’s so many Batmans.

Of course I like the Tim Burton, Michael Keaton Batman, or as I like to call every single role Micheal Keaton has ever done: The Batman where Beetlejuice is just brimming at the surface. Seriously. I dare you to watch a movie with Micheal Keaton and not recognize that smug Beetlejuice voice at some point during his performance. It’s the same voice. I just can’t help but see it.

Anyway, in this episode, Brandon and I explore Michael Keaton’s Batman. Well, maybe not really Michael Keaton’s Batman. The movie is called Batman Returns, but it’s the sequel to the first Tim Burton Batman movie, and the other characters in this movie seem to steal the show away from the bat man himself. I mean, no one can deny that Danny DeVito is revolting and over-the-top as the abandoned orphan who becomes the Penguin. And because of this, we love him.

And then there’s Michelle Pfeiffer who plays Catwoman, a role that seems to have been made for her since she plays the character with such naturalness and ease. She really outshines everyone in the movie. So much so that it leaves Brandon and I to ponder this: Is this really a Batman movie, or is it a Catwoman one?

As for the plot of the movie, it’s not terribly important. Here are the highlights: It’s a superhero movie with a dark Tim Burton twist, but with heavy-handed feminist undertones that lack follow through and authenticity. It’s a Christmas movie, so it’s good to watch during the months of November and December. Oh, and Batman kills tons of people. Christopher Walken is the business tycoon evil villain, with the Penguin and Catwoman as villains too, but more sympathetic, perhaps, as both are victims of trauma.

But that’s really all you need to know. Oh yeah, and there’s one last Batman I didn’t mention. Well, there’s tons, but remember when the Batman movies started to be totally cheesy? This began with Val Kilmer nipples-on-the-suit Batman, a movie called Batman Forever. You know, that one with Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face and Jim Carrey as the Riddler? Then after that movie, there was one of the worst movies ever made, called Batman & Robin with George Clooney as the Batman.

Well, you know who is to blame for these very bad Batman movies? Tim Burton and this movie! That’s right. People thought this version of Batman was too dark (which is hilarious because we literally get the Dark Knight Batman in 2005), and so they didn’t want Burton to make the third iteration, instead opting for the lighter Joel Schumacher shitty versions that we now have today. So blame it all on Tim Burton and you can blame it all on the 90s. And that’s really it. That’s all on the next episode of Peculiar Picture Show.  

Sources

Elevated empathy in adults following childhood trauma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6169872/ 

New York Times article on violence against women in the movies:

Show Summary

General: Maria likes Burton’s vision of Batman

Brandon: Protective of this movie and the leaks that went out regarding it

Maria: Sequel; my pick; this movie caused the cheesier Batman movies; Burton only did this movie because they gave him creative control

Like: Catwoman, Catwoman, a unique dark fantasy, and Catwoman

Brandon: Musical score; Michelle Pfeiffer is a badass, and Catwoman is the best thing about this film;   

Maria: Everything; Tim Burton; style; music; art direction; set design; weird, strange, and dark; Christmas movie; not a kid’s movie; characters; funny; nostalgia

Dislike: Fake feminism, some bad action sequences

Brandon: Feminist language done at the last minute as a script revision; this movie is in a weird, in-between place that is not for kids but not really for adults; Michael Keaton’s role as Batman, and the character of Batman is a bumbling idiot and not what was expected; Catwoman’s beef with Batman 

Maria: Corny; surface-level feminism

Mental Health: Violence against women in the movies, positive traits of trauma survivors

Brandon: Violence against women in the movies during that time

Maria: Are superheroes and villains all just victims of trauma, and are there “good” things about experiencing trauma?

Next Film

Stand by Me (1986) vs. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 

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