Given that Batman movies have gotten darker and darker over the years – until Matt Reeves’ The Batman was so pitch-black, you could barely see anything – it seems unbelievable that Tim Burton was ever told that his version of the caped crusader was too dark. In a new interview with Empire magazine, Burton has been reflecting on 1992’s Batman Returns – which people of taste still consider one of the best Bats movies.
On-screen versions of Batman went from the ka-pow! of the 1960s TV series starring Adam West, to Burton’s gothic-but-kinky version of Gotham, to Joel Schumacher’s full-on cartoon villains. Since then, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, and Matt Reeves have all been obsessed with making Bats darker, grittier and more grounded.
Burton says; “It is funny to see this [the more recent versions] now, because all these memories come back of [me being told that], ‘It’s too dark.’ So, it makes me laugh a little bit.” Somehow, it has been thirty years since the release of Batman Returns, so that’s why Burton is in a reflective mood.
Burton says that Schumacher’s movies were a reaction to the ‘darkness’ of his version of the character; “They went the other way. That’s the funny thing about it. But then I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Okay. Hold on a second 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 think that’s why I didn’t end up [doing anymore Batman movies].”
Burton’s versions feel like the ones that got the balance right between having darkness, while also being fun comic book movies; “I’m not just overly dark. That represents me in the sense that… that’s how I see things. It’s not meant as pure darkness. There’s a mixture,” he says. “I feel really fondly about it because of the weird experiment that it felt like.”
Burton’s next project is Wednesday – the Netflix TV series which is a spin-off from The Addams Family.
If you’re a fan of Frankenweenie, Beetlejuice, Corpse Bride and the like, check out our guide to the best scary movies for kids.