Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” ironically is when the famed director said goodbye to the DC franchise. Now, 30 years later, the Oscar nominee is weighing in on the legacy of the Caped Crusader — and having the last laugh.
“It is funny to see [Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’] now, because all these memories come back of, ‘It’s too dark,'” Burton told Empire magazine in honor of the 30th anniversary of “Batman Returns.” “So, it makes me laugh a little bit.”
Despite not having watched “The Batman” yet, Burton found irony in the jaded comic book superhero going darker in its modern storylines over the “wham! bam!” pop art aesthetic defined by the original comics, William Dozier’s classic TV series, and then Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” films, which followed Burton’s two Warner Bros. installments starring Michael Keaton.
“[Back then] they went the other way. That’s the funny thing about it,” Burton continued. “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 a third film]…”
After “Batman Returns,” Burton vowed not to direct another “Batman” entry. Joel Schumacher took on the chore of the DC superhero, ultimately reigning at the box office in 1995 with his more pop-colored “Batman Forever.”
Burton defended his overall vision to Empire, saying, “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. I feel really fondly about it because of the weird experiment that it felt like.”
“Batman Returns” alum Keaton is set to reprise his role as the titular Justice League member for Warner Bros.’ upcoming “The Flash” starring Ezra Miller. Keaton revealed he originally was supposed to continue playing Batman but left the franchise upon Burton’s exit and turned down “Batman Forever” over creative differences with Schumacher.
Like Burton, Keaton couldn’t wrap his head around Schumacher’s direction for the comic book adaptation. “I remember one of the things that I walked away going, ‘Oh boy, I can’t do this,'” Keaton said on the Backstage podcast. “[Joel Schumacher] asked me, ‘I don’t understand why everything has to be so dark and everything so sad,’ and I went, ‘Wait a minute, do you know how this guy got to be Batman? Have you read… I mean, it’s pretty simple.'”
Now, Burton helms Netflix’s “Addams Family” spin-off series “Wednesday” with Jenna Ortega, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Luis Guzmán leading an ensemble cast, plus the quintessential cameo from ’90s Wednesday actress Christina Ricci.