Batman Returns: The Pinnacle of Holiday Superhero movies


Ashton T. Livingston, Editor-in-Chief, Writer

The yearly debate of whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie starts up again this year, but I have another to add to this debate. Is Batman Returns a Christmas movie? My answer? Yes. Tim Burton’s follow up to his major success Batman brings us back to his highly stylized Gotham city and the extremely dark world of Batman. 

Now this definitely not a light-hearted holiday movie. In fact, a main plot point is drowning first born children of the rich! In fact, this movie was so dark McDonald’s almost refused to make toys for the film. Because of this Warner Bros. was afraid to go forward with another dark movie with Tim Burton. This was a main reason Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were the atrocities they were! Now get ready for the dark and not so normal Holiday Superhero classic: Batman Returns!

Now I want to praise the set design in this movie because holy stylized gothic architecture Batman is it great! Tim Burton ups the ante from the original Batman and has practically nothing holding him back from executing his vision. Now this may sound extremely stupid and cliche but Gotham is truly a character of its own thanks to the amazing set design. 

Now if we’re talking about the characters you can’t not talk about Danny DeVito’s great and creepy portrayal of The Penguin. This portrayal is not very comic accurate but it’s so stylized and original. DeVito’s unhinged disgusting sewer man has some amazing lines. DeVito’s gross delivery mixed with some uncomfortable grunts and horrifying makeup makes for an extremely memorable character. 

Michelle Pfeifer portrays a very stylized rendition of Catwoman, who has an extremely memorable and sympathetic character arc. The rapid mental descent with her character is so enjoyable to watch and Michelle Pfiefer gives a charismatic dark comedic performance.

Micheal Keaton reprises his role as Batman and gives you exactly what you wanted. A cool character who does cool things and has enough character for you to like him. But, he is definitely not the main character of this film. 

Now I know you’re wondering how I’m going to get you to believe that this is a Holiday movie. WELL, the film takes place around Christmas and follows our real main character, The Penguin as he rises up to one of Gotham’s elites and takes advantage of the rich to get his revenge. Now you must be wondering, what the hell does that have to do with the Holidays? Well, most of these things take place during Christmas parties, Christmas related events, and they even reference many holiday traditions. So boom, if Die Hard is a Christmas classic then so is Batman Returns!

Now that I’ve established how this is a holiday film I’m going to say why I love it so much! It is insanely dark. The opening sequence is quite literally the Copplepot family trying to drown their deformed child in the sewers of Gotham but instead he’s raised by Penguins! The film also tackles political and financial corruption through Christopher Walkin’s character, Shrek who owns one of the most profitable businesses in Gotham and plans to use it to his advantage. He straight up murders Michelle Pfeiffer’s character causing her to become the most iconic Catwoman. Yeah lot of fun dark stuff, and that’s not even all of it!

The film’s dark tone is definitely my favorite aspect of this film. The highly stylized portrayal of all these iconic characters and the very risky moves Tim Burton took with them allows for the audience to see his very artistic vision. His artistic vision which includes The Penguin trying to drown infants as a main plot point (I know this is the second time I brought that up but it’s so dark you can’t really ignore it). 

The dark tone may not be for everyone. It certainly wasn’t when this movie came out as Warner Bros. took very drastic measures to prevent this from happening again (until Christopher Nolan came along and gave us The Dark Knight Trilogy). But for those who like to take a break from the happy holiday movies like Elf or The Santa Clause, then this movie is definitely for you. Tim Burton’s very dark imagination runs wild within the Batman mythos and creates a dark tale for the holidays. If this doesn’t fulfill your dark holiday thirst go watch Scrooged which is honestly my favorite dark comedy/Christmas movie. Batman Returns gives amazing performances, tells a great story, has amazing visuals and a breathtaking Danny Elfman score. Batman Returns is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and action. Batman Returns gets an A from me!