The Original Version Of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns Was Very Different


This holiday season, the DC fans among you may have rewatched Batman Returns for the umpteenth time, as the classic Dark Knight movie has become an alternative festive classic for superhero lovers since its release in 1992. However, things could have been very different if the original version had made it to the big screen.

As explained in the video below, the initial screenwriter for the pic was Sam Hamm, who previously penned 1989’s Batman. However, when Warner Bros. were left unhappy with Hamm’s efforts, Burton brought Heathers writer Daniel Waters on board to rewrite Batman Returns. Though there are some elements of Hamm’s script we’d be curious to see, you can mostly understand why WB decided to skip most of it.

Though it retained Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer), their villainous plot was very different. In Hamm’s version, Penguin – here named, for some reason, Mr. Bonafice – teamed up with Selina Kyle to hunt down antique ravens, one of which was hidden under Wayne Manor. It was also to have been slightly inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, including replicating the comic’s iconic image of Batman riding a horse.

Kim Basinger’s Vicki Vale would have also returned and been engaged to Bruce, Marlon Wayans’ portrayal of Robin was set to feature, and Billy Dee Williams was going to play Harvey Dent as he transformed into Two-Face. In the end, these latter two characters would be held over for 1995’s Batman Forever, directed by Joel Schumacher, where they were played by Chris O’Donnell and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively.

Though Batman Returns fans will be pleased the script was rewritten, we wonder whether the studio themselves regretted interfering with the film, considering its hugely controversial reception at the time. Infamously, McDonald’s pulled its Happy Meal promotion of the movie after parents complained it was too dark and mature for children. This wouldn’t be the last time this complaint was made against a Batman film (see: Batman v Superman), either.