Behind-the-Scenes Facts About ‘Batman Returns’ in Honor of Its 30th Anniversary

Michelle Pfeiffer put a real live bird in her mouth.

Return of Batman turns 30 this month.

Warner Bros. / via giphy.com

It premiered at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood on June 16, 1992, and was released in the United States days later on June 19, almost three years to the day after the first film.

To celebrate, here are 36 things you might not know about the movie:

1.

Director Tim Burton was reluctant to do another Batman film.

Warner Bros. / Ronald Grant Archive / Mary Evans / Courtesy Everett Collection

After the release of the first film, he said a sequel would be “a most mind-boggling idea”.

2.

Burton wasn’t particularly interested in the original script of Return of Batman.

Warner Bros. / via giphy.com

“There are rooms I liked it, but it was kind of boring at times,” he told Empire during filming. I didn’t feel like I could do this; I wanted to treat it like it was another Batman movie.”

3.

In this first scenario, Catwoman and Penguin were going to find hidden treasure.

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.

Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) also featured in early drafts of the script.

Warner Bros.

He was about to be disfigured by Catwoman when she held a taser to his face while kissing him. The scene was later reworked to include Max Schreck instead.

5.

Robin was also to appear.

6.

He might have been played by Marlon Wayans.

Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

It’s not entirely clear if Wayans’ character would have been Robin. It was reported that he was going to play a young mechanic who helps Bruce Wayne and that character would end up being Robin, but other stories said it would be an entirely original character. Either way, the character was dropped, in part because he allegedly “messed up Batman’s lonely psychology.”

8.

Heathers writer Daniel Waters was brought on board to revamp the script.

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He will write later the wrecker and vampire academy.

9.

Michael Keaton was paid $10 million to reprise his role.

Warner Bros. /courtesy Everett Collection

He earned $6 million for the first film.

ten.

He told Marc Maron that he only followed up on the paycheck so he could pay for a real estate transaction.

SAG Awards / Via giphy.com

He also admitted that he had never seen the final film.

11.

The film was apparently a nightmare to shoot.

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for RFF

“No one can fully understand the emotional and psychological aspects of this,” Burton told Empire. “Stress and pain – you can’t put it in a normal perspective because it’s complete nonsense. You have people almost having a heart attack about the length of someone’s nose should be.”

He later added, “It’s six months of agony compressed into two hours…”

12.

Meanwhile, Keaton said that after three months of filming, he had only completed one scene.

Warner Bros / Via giphy.com

“I’m going to spend a month between ending part of a scene and rewinding and resuming.”

13.

Bruce Wayne was originally meant to be a lot more talkative.

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According to Waters, Keaton went through the script and requested that much of his character’s dialogue be cut. “When I saw the final film,” Waters told The Hollywood Reporter. “I realized he was absolutely right.”

14.

Annette Bening was originally cast as Catwoman.

15.

Michelle Pfeiffer was “devastated” when she found out someone else had been cast as Catwoman.

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She told THR, “As a young girl, I was completely obsessed with Catwoman.”

16.

Once she was chosen, she was determined to become smart.

Warner Bros.

“I trained for months with the whip master,” she told THR. “The first day together, I grabbed her face with the whip and it made her bleed. It completely upset me.”

17.

She still has her whip.

18.

Catwoman’s last shot looking at the Bat Signal wasn’t Pfeiffer.

Warner Bros.

It wasn’t part of the script, but Warner Bros. decided that the character had to survive in case they wanted to feature her in a future episode. A brace was used as Pfeiffer was unavailable. The shot ended up costing a quarter of a million dollars.

19.

Pfeiffer was actually supposed to replay Catwoman.

Warner Bros. /courtesy Everett Collection

She was going to reprise her role in a spin-off, and Burton was going to direct. The movie sat in development hell for 10 years, when Halle Berry was tapped to play the lead role.

20.

The scene where Catwoman is about to swallow the penguin’s pet bird is not CGI.

Watch this video on YouTube

Warner Bros. / via youtube.com

While the bird that Pfeiffer pulls out of the cage and puts in his mouth is fake, the one we see flying out of his mouth is real.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed,” Burton told THR. “She had a live bird in her mouth while the camera was rolling. It was four or five seconds and then she let it fly. It was before CG, it was before digital. It was so fast , it looks like it was an effect.”

21.

Pfeiffer’s performance inspired a musical scream.

Watch this video on YouTube

Warner Bros. / via youtube.com

In his song “Riptide”, Vance Joy sings “I swear she’s destined for the screen, the closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer you’ve ever seen.”

The scene in which Selina Kyle ransacks her apartment particularly marked him. He told BuzzFeed, “Her apartment is all pink and beautiful, and a little creepy and childish, and then she smashes everything and spray paints stuff and turns into Catwoman. It’s really that kind of sex scene; it’s It’s incredible.”

22.

Over 60 Catsuits were created for the $1,000 a pop shoot.

Warner Bros. /courtesy Everett Collection

23.

The prototype was created using a body cast of Pfeiffer so that it would fit him perfectly.

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It fit so perfectly, in fact, that it had to be covered in talcum powder and vacuum sealed.

24.

Danny DeVito also struggled with his suit.

Warner Bros. /courtesy Everett Collection

“It was four and a half hours of makeup and getting the costume on,” he told THR. “We cut it down to three hours when we finished filming. I had pounds and pounds of facial prostheses and body padding, and the prosthetic hands, which were difficult to use. I kept them on for about half the time.”

25.

He was one of the first choices to play Penguin.

Warner Bros. / via giphy.com

Waters told Film Review, “I kind of knew DeVito was going to play the Penguin. We didn’t really officially cast him, but for a little villain, it’s a short list. I ended up writing the Danny DeVito’s character.”

26.

DeVito didn’t break character once he was in the Penguin costume.

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

“He was always in character, using the menacing voice,” Christopher Walken told THR. “I saw Danny after the movie, never during the shoot.”

28.

David Bowie was approached to play Max Schreck.

Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

He turned down so he could play Special Agent Phillip Jeffries in Twin Peaks: Fire Walks With Me.

29.

Originally, Tim Burton didn’t want to cast Walken as Max Schreck, because the actor had “scared” him.

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

30.

About 10 minutes later you see a photo of Max Schreck with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who later played Mr. Freeze in batman and robin).

31.

Original Penguin actor Burgess Meredith was supposed to play Tucker Cobblepot.

20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection, Warner Bros. /courtesy Everett Collection

Paul Reubens, who had worked with Burton on The Great Pee-Wee Adventureended up taking the role instead, appearing opposite his pee-wee co-starring Diane Salinger.


32.

Animal rights groups protested the film.

Watch this video on YouTube

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It was learned that the penguins would have rockets strapped to their backs, but the penguin curator explained that the birds were very comfortable. They were flown to California in a refrigerated plane and, on set, “received a refrigerated trailer, their own swimming pool, half a ton of ice every day, and fresh fish delivered to them daily straight from the docks” .

33.

The set was chilled to 35 degrees for the Penguins, despite the hot Los Angeles weather.

Warner Bros. / via giphy.com

DeVito was the only one comfortable, because of all his padding, prosthetics, and heavy suit.

34.

30 African penguins and 12 king penguins were used in total.

Warner Bros.

The rest was a mix of CGI, robots, and people in penguin suits.

36.

Warner Bros. was so secretive about the film that when an entertainment magazine leaked photos of DeVito in costume, they hired a private investigator to find out who gave them the photos.

What is your favorite part of Return of Batman? Sound off in the comments!

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