Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ranking the Batman Movies: #9

9. Batman Returns
Directed by Tim Burton
Batman…Michael Keaton
James Gordon…Pat Hingle
Alfred…Michael Gough
Catwoman…Michelle Pfeiffer
The Penguin…Danny DeVito
Max Shreck…Christopher Walken

Of all the live-action Batman films, this is definitely the strangest. Even though he directed both movies, Batman Returns is much more a part of Tim Burton’s world than 1989’s Batman. Gotham and its inhabitants become truly gothic. Perhaps our first hint is the name of Christopher Walken’s character, Max Shreck. For those not in the know, the real Max Shreck is a horror icon for having played Count Orlock in the classic Nosferatu. Catwoman, as played by Michelle Pfeiffer is a writhing mass of fetishized femininity. She put so much into the role that for me, it’s easily the quintessential portrayal of the character. If she’s the stuff our slightly off-kilter fantasies then Danny DeVito’s take on The Penguin is something that’s escaped from our nightmares. Everything about him is delightfully disgusting, if that’s possible. By the way, the plot basically involves him trying to get elected mayor of Gotham while working with Catwoman to get rid of The Caped Crusader. There was a fallout to such a bizarre approach to what was supposed to be a mainstream franchise. Batman merchandise took a hit as McDonald's actually dropped all merchandise related to the movie from their Happy Meals. A number of parents were up in arms over the film. Of course, there was also that whole ‘let’s get Joel Schumacher in here’ thing after all that stuff happened.

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