Particularly when contrasted against the gloomier incarnations of the character via Christopher Nolan‘s films, it’s accurate to say that Tim Burton‘s “Batman” movies are decidedly quirkier, more lighthearted affairs. But at the time, those films were widely seen as very risky alterations to a franchise that had enormous licensing agreements. So Burton’s movies could not get too dark, should they diminish the chances of pushing various toys, underwear and other items emblazoned with the Bat-signal onto children. According to Burton, he wasn’t invited back to Gotham after “Batman Returns” because he couldn’t be trusted with four-quadrant blockbusters.
”I think I upset McDonalds,” Burton told Yahoo! about why he didn’t do a third Batman movie. “[They asked] ‘What’s that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth. We can’t sell Happy Meals with that!’ It was a weird reaction to ‘Batman Returns,’ because half the people thought it was lighter than the first one, and half the people thought it was darker. I think the studio just thought it was too weird —they wanted to go with something more child- or family- friendly. In other words, they didn’t want me to do another one.”
And at least initially, Warner Bros.’ desire to embrace a bigger audience worked. 1995’s “Batman Forever” had a the biggest opening weekend in history at that point, outgrossing “Batman Returns,” and was considered a big success even if critics didn’t get on board. But the fans weren’t happy with the result, “Batman & Robin” followed in 1998, and was quite simply a disaster.
But it’s had to imagine that there is alternate, different future where Batman movies are more…Burton-esque. For the moment, grim faced seriousness is in vogue for the genre, but things change, and this era will end too.