Tim Burton’s original vision for Batman Returns was something quite different from what was released. We all know that Tim Burton likes to go dark, that’s not a surprise, but his idea for Batman Returns might surprise you. It did well at the box office but was still shot down later as being one of the biggest mistakes ever, no matter that some of the people that turned around and scoffed at it were likely those that were praising it walking out of the theater. Had they known the original idea that Burton wanted to push they might have been shaking their heads and asking why the studio didn’t see fit to let him have the creative freedom they’d agreed to give.
It seems the trick with creative freedom in directing a movie is that the caveat is the fact that the freedom isn’t free if your idea contradicts what the studio wants. It’s interesting how that works but also kind of saddening since it’s almost like a cruel rider holding a carrot out for the horse to follow. So long as the horse does what the rider wants they have a chance of getting what they want. But if they should disappoint in any way then the desired item or idea is taken away without hesitation. That kind of feels like what happened to Burton since his idea might have made the movie a little less dark and a bit more family-friendly. A lot of parents were heard to say that the sequel seemed far too violent and also too sexually suggestive for their liking.
Burton would have had the Penguin hiring out Catwoman to procure a set of valuable items that he desired, one of which happened to be in Wayne manor. That would have set Catwoman on a collision course with Batman for certain, but Burton also planned to bring Vicki Vale back into the picture. Whatever troubled and deranged passions might have gone on between Selena Kyle and Bruce Wayne would have been seriously derailed in that case. Plus, the whole playboy identity of Bruce Wayne would have been destroyed and Batman would have needed to be revamped somehow, or passed along much sooner.
It’s interesting that no director up until Chris Nolan has hinted at Batman actually passing the torch. The character would have to be an old man by now and should easily be ready to retire to a much more quiet and humble life than before. It’s been shown in the comics and even hinted at in the movies in some ways, but up until The Dark Knight Rises there really wasn’t anything to indicate that someone else would be taking up the mantle.
And there still doesn’t according to the idea that there is still another Batman film on the horizon. How many times do the old heroes need to be rebooted and revamped until people finally get tired of them and want to enjoy their legend and embrace something that’s new and moves forward instead of backward?