What if Tim Burton had made more Batman films?


Sep 16, 2012
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Already posted this at the Comic Book Resources forums but I thought I'd ask this question here and see what you guys think!

"After Batman Returns, there was talk of Burton directed the next film that would have had both the Riddler(which Robin Williams was lobbied for the part) and Two-Face(played by Billy Dee Williams reprising his role from the first film) as villains, Robin being introduced possibly played by Marlon Wayans, Bruce getting a new lovey dovey played by Rene Russo, and the possible return of Catwoman. However, once Warner Bros. found out that Burton's next Batman film would have the same dark and melancholy as the last one, Burton was then booted as director and replaced with Joel Schumacher which lead to the less-than-perfect Batman Forever which lead to the unspeakable and godawful box office bomb known as Batman and Robin with bat nipples, ice puns, and bat credit cards galore! It took Warner Bros. many years, through many pitches for a new film, to successfully restart the franchise with the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins followed by the critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy.

Now, this got me thinking......what would have happened if Warner Bros. had allowed Tim Burton to direct more films about Batman? Now keep in mind of the time that these movies were coming out, which actors were popular and younger at the time, and which comics were being released by DC Comics. If Tim Burton had directed more Batman films, what do you guys think Burton would have done?

Even when thinking about the planned third film, how do you would he have perceived characters such as Robin, Batgirl, Riddler, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane, Scarecrow, and many others allies and villains? What kind of developments could Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne would have gone through? What would you have liked the other characters to be involved with and/or be introduced?"

Now, keep in mind that these questions are only centered towards people who are a fan of Burton's vision of Batman so I'd appreciate not turning this thread into a bashing thread towards Burton's films. :)
Batman Forever could have been great and hopefully be in the same league as Batman '89 since I felt Batman Returns was a step down in quality, imo.
Batman Forever could have been great and hopefully be in the same league as Batman '89 since I felt Batman Returns was a step down in quality, imo.

Every Batman movie after Batman Returns could have been better. But BF was not. It was a step down.


While Tim Burton was still the director of the project he reportedly wanted Brad Dourif as the Scarecrow in Batman 3, with the film set at halloween, along with a very likely return of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman as the popular fan favorite second villain (who clearly survived the events of Batman Returns).

One rumored title for the film was Batman Continues.
No script had been written, with Warner Brothers studio executives determined to go lighter with Batman after the backlash from parents, the Dove Foundation, McDonald's and PETA over Batman Returns, so they did not let Tim Burton get far enough into production to hire a script writer, but Tim Burton already had his own ideas and concepts. In the Batman Returns commentary Tim Burton said, "I remember going into a meeting, toying with the idea of doing another one, and them (Warner Brothers studio excutives) trying to talk me out of it. I think they got a lot of flak from their tie-in partners on this movie (Batman Returns), and so I think that they were happy that I didn't do another one."
Again, on the Batman Returns DVD special feature Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight Part 4: The Dark Side of the Night, Tim Burton said, "I remember toying with the idea of doing another one, and I remember going into Warner Brothers, and having a meeting, and going, 'We could do this, we could do that,' and they go, 'Tim, don't you wanna do a smaller movie now? You know, just something that's more..,' and like, about half hour into the meeting, I go, 'You don't want me to make another one, do you?,' and their like, 'Oh, no, no, no, no, no,' and I just said, 'No, I know you don't,' and so I just stopped it right there."
Michael Keaton says he also had an idea of his own for the third film. Michael Keaton has revealed that he wanted the third film to be kind of like a prequel with flashbacks of Batman's origin, "how I wanted to do the third one is what they did in ["Batman Begins"]. I read an article about how they were going about it and I said, 'That's exactly what I thought should be done.' What I wanted to do, is what I'm told and I don't know if this is true yet so don't hold me to this until I see it, but I'm told it's more a prequel. And that was what I thought would've been a hip way to go the third time. This guy is so endlessly fascinating potentially, why not go and see how he got there."
Perhaps the Scarecrow's fear gas would have caused Batman to have haunting flashbacks of his past, his parents funeral, the bat crashing through the window of Wayne Manor, etc.

Marlon Wayans was signed on to portray Robin in Batman Returns as well as with this film, I believe that Robin would have ended up being left out again with the same excuse from Tim Burton of there being "too many characters." Tim Burton didn't really want Robin involved, and Warner Brothers obviously didn't want Marlon Wayans as Robin.
The black mechanic wearing a garage mechanics uniform with an R on it that Marlon Wayans would have played was Batman Returns screenwriter Daniel Waters idea to compromise since Tim Burton didn't want Robin involved but Warner Brothers' production chief Mark Canton did so if they had to have a Robin they would have added an aid for Batman but minimized Robin into a mechanic known as "the Kid," who was an energetic 19 year old fan of Batman that would have made a cameo in Batman Returns fixing the Batmobile for Batman. Daniel Waters script says: "INT. A CAR REPAIR GARAGE--THE SAME DAMN EVENING A scruffy Teen, who'll be referred to as THE KID, is sweeping the grimy floor of a small, gloomy car repair garage. He wears a wildly tattered grease-monkey uniform and a blaring Walkman which prevents him from hearing the sound of shouts and sirens. He pits down his broom and sighs a sigh.
THE KID: Too much excitement for one night... Why do I keep reading this stuff?"
Daniel Waters said Tim wasn't enthusiastic about it. Ultimately it was agreed to just leave Robin out again, which is the way Tim Burton wanted it in the first place.

Why was Robin eventually thrown out of your screenplay?

Daniel Waters: "One of our big bonding issues is me and Tim Burton hate Robin. He's just the most worthless character in the world, especially with Tim's conception of Batman as the loner of loners, to have this gushing boy run around, it made us both kind of sick to our stomachs! Mark Canton [Warner Brothers' production chief at the time] was a Robin fanatic and at the first film would sit there mumbling in dailies, 'Where's Robin?'. So we had this black character that works in a garage and helps Batman out of a jam. He's wearing one of those old-fashioned garage mechanic uniforms and it just has an R on it. We really didn't even make reference to it. In fact he helps him out and they have this camaraderie. He drives the Batmobile, which I notice they used in the third film [Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever]! They didn't even give me a coupon for free popcorn for that!"

During the Batman commentary Tim Burton said, "That was the thing, number one, no Robin. I even think that Bob Kane was happy there was no Robin. It's hard to come up with a psychological profile for a guy wearing a little red outfit with green booties. And all the jokes that come with it. As a kid that's just a part of the mythology is the Batman and Robin jokes. So I thought I'd just avoid all that and keep it pure to Batman's original form."

In the book Burton on Burton Tim Burton said:


In Starlog #145 (1989) Tim Burton about Robin, "We would lift up our arms and say, 'Let's have them both go to Frederic's of Hollywood to pick up that little red and green outfit.'"

Warner Brothers replaced Tim Burton after they realized in their meeting that the tone of Tim Burton's next Batman film was to be just as dark as Batman Returns, because Batman Returns had caused a lot of outraged parents, and kids crying in theaters. Parents were outraged that McDonald's were promoting Batman Returns to children with a massive ad campaign and cups and toys with their Happy Meals making it seem like a wholesome kids movie.

NBC reporter Faith Daniels devoted the July 3, 1992 episode of her daily talk show, A Closer Look With Faith Daniels, which aired on NBC at 12 pm, to ''Parents Against Batman Returns.'' Faith Daniels, who refused to take her 5-year-old son to see the movie, said ''It's fine to make Batman Returns an adult film, but don't market it to kids. It's rated PG-13, but who's buying the action toys? Not 13-year-olds.'' The Los Angeles Times published letters that protested ''one violent image after another.'' ''Has McDonald's no conscience?'' another letter asked. Meanwhile, the Michigan-based Dove Foundation, a nonsectarian Christian organization, has protested the McDonald's Happy Meal promotion, designed for children 1 to 10. ''Parents trust McDonald's,'' says a Dove spokesman. ''So why is McDonald's promoting a movie to little kids that's filled with gratuitous graphic violence?''

This caused McDonald's to claim that the Batman Returns toys they were selling were not promotion for the movie at all. McDonald's spokeswoman Rebecca Caruso said, ''The objective of the (Happy Meal) program was to allow young people to experience the fun of Batman the character. It was not designed to promote attendance at the movie. It was certainly not our intent to confuse parents or disappoint children.''

Warner Brothers also claimed that the McDonald's Happy Meal promotion wasn't tied to the movie but to the Batman character. ''We were careful not to provide actual toys from the movie,'' says a Warner spokeswoman. She insists that Batman Returns is rated responsibly. ''Clearly Batman Returns is not meant for 5-year-olds. As for whether it's appropriate to Happy Meals, that's up to McDonald's. We don't tell them their business.''
Such gutless lairs when faced with controversy. McDonald's was clearly promoting the film Batman Returns:



And the Happy Meal toys are clearly promoting Batman Returns featuring the films version of the Batmobile and Batman in the Batmissile from Batman Returns and the Penguin in a yellow vehicle, even showing that spiral umbrella from Batman Returns which Max Shreck said "What is that suppose to do? Hypnotize me?":

McDonald's issued a written apology to the Dove Foundation, a non-sectarian organization, that charged McDonald's with promoting Batman Returns as an acceptable movie for children. "The object of our Happy Meal program was to simply allow young people to experience the fun associated with the character Batman," Jack Daly, McDonald's communications vice president, said in a prepared release. "It was not designed to promote attendance at the movie or to take the place of parents using their best judgment regarding which movies their children are allowed to see."

"We think McDonald's was culpable in the fact that the figurines they packed in the Happy Meals were advertised as safe for children 1 years old and up, and they were designed to promote a movie created for viewers 13 years of age and over," explained Richard Rolfe, managing director of the Dove Foundation. Dove characterizes itself as a foundation that previews and identifies movies that adhere to accepted Judeo-Christian values.

"McDonald's has historically had Happy Meal premium tie-ins with more benign films, like those of Disney," said Pat Broeske, a correspondent for Entertainment Weekly magazine. "Parents who saw the TV ads most likely figured if McDonald's was involved, it was acceptable for children. McDonald's is looked upon as someone they can trust."

Because of the controversy and protests McDonald's stopped selling Batman Returns merchandise. The McDonald's representative said the national advertising schedule for McDonald's-Batman Returns ended on July 2, 1992.

PETA also protested Batman Returns for animal cruelty over Michelle Pfeiffer putting a real bird into her mouth and mimicking eating it and the real penguins wearing helmets and rockets on their backs.

So Warner Brothers really didn't want Tim Burton to do another dark Batman movie.

When Joel Schumacher was brought on board as the new director, he threw out Tim Burton's plans, starting from scratch.
Tim Burton reportedly never intended on using Two-Face in the next one, although he had left the door open as a possibility of Billy Dee Williams returning and becoming Two-Face in a future installment. Joel Schumacher had hired Tommy Lee Jones to play Harvey Dent/Two-Face. Since Warner Brothers wanted two villains in the movie, the Batchlers then decided to bring on the Riddler, due to the character's popularity. Writer Janet Scott Batchler said that the Riddler was not part for Batman 3 until Joel Schumacher and writers Lee and Janet Scott Batchler took over.
Joel Schumacher wanted Robin Williams to play the Riddler, and Lee and Janet Scott Batchler wrote the role with Robin Williams in mind. Robin Williams confirmed in November 19, 1993, that he had been talking to director Joel Schumacher about the project scheduled to film in September 1994, and he said that he thought playing the Riddler would be "nifty," but the script wasn't finished yet. Joel Schumacher was expecting the script to be in his hands on January 1, 1994.
After reading the script and the studio giving him a final deadline for his decision, Robin Williams turned down the role. He believed the character was too intellectual and not as comedic as the Riddler played by Frank Gorshin on the TV series. Robin Williams was reportedly also concerned that his Riddler would be overshadowed by the film's other foe, Harvey Two-Face. So Joel Schumacher cast Jim Carrey instead. It took just 30 minutes of negotiation to cast Jim Carrey.
The character of Dr. Chase Meridian was also created by writers Lee and Janet Scott Batchler as a way to challenge both sides of Batman's personality.
Michael Keaton left the project because he was unhappy with the script and Tim Burton being replaced.
'Money was never the issue,'' says Michael Keaton's producing partner, Harry Colomby. ''Not doing this movie means he probably gave up $30 million, based on his back-end deal. His concerns were not self-serving. They were about the project.
[After one meeting with Joel Schumacher] Michael was not feeling confident. Creatively, it wasn't happening. He was worried that the character he'd lived with for two films wasn't going to be developed the way he wanted it to be developed." As the script was being revised, ''no one ever called [Keaton] to say, 'Wait! You've got to see this!' Or, 'Wait 'til you see what we've got for Batman!'''
Michael Keaton said, "I knew we were in trouble in talks for the third one when certain people started the conversation with 'Why does it have to be so dark?' 'Why does he have to be so depressed?' 'Shouldn't there be more color in this thing?' I knew I was headed for trouble and that it wasn't a road I was going to go down. The reason they weren't interesting was the reason I didn't want to do them anymore. I read the script [for "Batman Forever"]. I wasn't into it. I didn't like the third script... I just said 'I really don't like this, and I don't want to do it.' I don't pay much attention to what other people think. I didn't do the third one because the script was silly and light."
Val Kilmer said about being cast, "I didn't know anything in terms of the cast, story or anything, but I said, 'Sure, sounds like fun.'"
Robin Wright was Joel Schumacher's top choice for the role of Chase Meridian in 1994, until she turned down the role. "I could have done [blockbusters] ... I was offered 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' and the third 'Batman' movie [a role that eventually went to Nicole Kidman]. But I believe that you burn out with those things. And I didn't want to be bored."
Rene Russos was cast by Joel Schumacher in 1994 to play Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, but a scheduling conflict filming Outbreak overlapped the filming schedule of Batman Forever, so she had to leave the cast. There was a rumor that at age 40, she was considered too old for Val Kilmer, who was 34. Joel Schumacher explained in June, 1994 that Rene Russo "may indeed leave the film, but not because of her age." He confirmed that "Before Batman Forever, she was committed to Outbreak, a film about a deadly virus starring Dustin Hoffman, and its shooting schedule had been delayed, presenting a possible conflict with Batman Forever's production."
Tim Burton said in his book Burton on Burton that he didn't even like the title Batman Forever, "I always hated those titles like Batman Forever. I thought, 'Batman Forever, that sounds like a tattoo somebody would get when their on drugs or something,' or something some kid would write in the yearbook to somebody else. I have high problems with some of those titles."
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Warner Brothers didn't want Tim Burton to do another Batman movie, but they did give Tim Burton the opportunity to make a Catwoman spin-off movie instead.
''The Catwoman movie is just a whole new concept, completely open for Tim's creative vision,'' said Tim Burton's spokeswoman in 1993. Michelle Pfeiffer added: ''I would love to do it. Catwoman breaks just about every taboo.''
In June 16, 1995 Batman Returns script writer Daniel Waters finished writing the script, which picks up after the events of Batman Returns for the Catwoman spin-off movie that Warner Brothers said they were willing to allow Tim Burton to make instead of Batman 3. Daniel Waters said in 1995, "I just finished a script for Catwoman. I turned it in last Friday. It's her movie. And Tim [Burton] is supposedly going to direct it. I'm just getting response from the script now. Of course, turning it in the day Batman Forever opened may not have been my best logistical move, in that it's the celebration of the fun-for-the-whole-family Batman and Catwoman is definitely not a fun-for-the-whole-family script. After the traumas of the second film she has amnesia, and she doesn't really remember why she has all these bullet holes in her body, so she goes to relax in Oasisburg. What Gotham City is to New York, Oasisburg is to Las Vegas- Los Angeles-Palm Springs. [It's a] resort area in the middle of the desert. It's run by a team of superheroes, and the movie has great fun at making fun at the whole male superhero mythos. You can tell my heart is with Catwoman trying to always poke fun at Batman, but it ended up that that annoyed people. But now I've got free rein since Catwoman is my lead, so I have these superheroes who are really so good you hate them. Then they end up being not very good at all deep down, and she's got to go back to that whole Catwoman thing."
Here is Daniel Waters' Catwoman script:
Warner Brothers ultimately decided to reject Daniel Waters' Batman Returns spin-off Catwoman script, and it became clear that the Daniel Waters/Tim Burton/Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman spin-off movie wasn't going to happen.
In November 27, 2000 Theresa Rebeck finished a Catwoman script creating a new Catwoman named Patience Price.
http://www.impossiblefunky.com/arch....asp?IshNum=14&Headline=The Mouse That Roared
In 2001 it was announced that Ashley Judd would be replacing Michelle Pfeiffer.
In 2002 Warner Brothers signed on a french visual effects worker, who calls himself Pitof, as the director, replacing Tim Burton.
Michelle Pfeiffer said that her interest in the film ended when she found out Tim Burton would not be directing. She explained, "Studios like change and there's always a new person playing Batman. Tim Burton isn't involved in the new Catwoman film and I wanted to do it with him. For me, it was really his vision that made it so special."
In February 11, 2003 John Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers finished another script where the new Catwoman was renamed Patience Phillips and has magical cat-powers.
In 2003 Ashley Judd turned down the role and made her Broadway musical debut as Maggie in the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof instead.
Producers Edward McDonnell and Denise DiNovi quickly approached Nicole Kidman, but she wisely wanted to see the latest script before making any decisions.
After reading the script, Nicole Kidman turned down the role. "It's all about, 'Is this artistically worthy?'" she said. "Otherwise, I'd prefer being with my family."
Halle Berry quickly accepted the role of Patience Phillips.
Every Batman movie after Batman Returns could have been better. But BF was not. It was a step down.

Answering the question of if Burton returned after Batman Returns, it is tricky to say what Batman & Robin could have been, so that's why I only brought up Batman Forever.
I think it would have been awesome to see as long as he kept them Batman films (like the 89 film) and not "Burton" films like Returns.
In my own fantasy world, I'd love for Burton to return to Batman and do a "Dark Knight Returns" kind of story with Michael Keaton and Nicholson reprising their roles. It'll never ever happen but man that movie would be BIG.
In my own fantasy world, I'd love for Burton to return to Batman and do a "Dark Knight Returns" kind of story with Michael Keaton and Nicholson reprising their roles. It'll never ever happen but man that movie would be BIG.

I think that could work if only.
Every time I see someone say that they hate Robin or that he is a useless character, it makes me realize two things.

1) They don't read comics.

2) I'm really happy they never tried to make a movie with Robin because it would've pissed me off more than the Robin line at the end of DKR.
In my own fantasy world, I'd love for Burton to return to Batman and do a "Dark Knight Returns" kind of story with Michael Keaton and Nicholson reprising their roles. It'll never ever happen but man that movie would be BIG.

I presume in this fantasy world, Joker didn't die in Batman '89 then or would you just want to use Keaton and Nicholson with no tie-in to the continuity of Batman '89/Batman Returns?
If Burton had continue we would have a world Finest movie with Chris Reeves and Michael Keaton by now. We would have a scarecrow and not this lame Nolan style man in a mask scarecrow.
I presume in this fantasy world, Joker didn't die in Batman '89 then or would you just want to use Keaton and Nicholson with no tie-in to the continuity of Batman '89/Batman Returns?

Eh, it's a comic book movie, i'm sure they could find a way to bring back Joker in a semi plausible way ;)
Batman vs Superman: World's Finest (1995)
Directed by Tim Burton, produced (and co-directed) by Richard Donner
Starring Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve.
Musical score composed by Danny Elman and John Williams

I wonder if this would haver created an alternative timeline, where the horse accident never happened.

What villains? Could The Riddler and Two-Face work if portrayed by other actors? Should we have Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor there too?
I guess the three masterminds could work together and have Metallo or Brainiac as a secret weapon against Supes.
Why not bring in Robin as well, played by Edward Furlong or Wil Wheaton?
I would have loved to have seen Tim Burton's 3rd Batman film, I think with the addition of the Scarecrow it would have been (at least) visually superb. I'd just have hoped he'd have used better dialogue that what was in Batman Returns "I got batter fish to fry" etc.
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