Behind-The-Scenes Facts About “Batman Returns” In Honor Of Its 30th Anniversary

Michelle Pfeiffer put a real live bird in her mouth.

Batman Returns is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

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It premiered at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood on June 16, 1992, and was released wide in the US a few 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:


Director Tim Burton was reluctant to do another Batman film.

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After the first movie came out he said a sequel would be “a most dumbfounded idea.”


Burton wasn’t particularly into the original script for Batman Returns.

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“There’s parts I liked, but it was a little boring at times,” he told Empire during filming. “Oftentimes with sequels, they’re like the same movie except everything gets jacked up a little. I didn’t feel I could do that; I wanted to treat this like it was another Batman movie altogether.”


In that first script, Catwoman and Penguin were going to be searching for hidden treasure.

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

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He was going 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.


Robin was supposed to appear as well.


He would have possibly been played by Marlon Wayans.

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It’s not totally clear whether Wayans’ character would have actually been Robin. There were reports that he was going to play a young mechanic who helps out Bruce Wayne, and that that character would end up being Robin, but other accounts said it’d be an entirely original character. Either way, the character was scrapped, in part because he would have “screwed up Batman’s loner psychology.”


Heathers writer Daniel Waters was brought onboard to revamp the script.

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He would later write Demolition Man and Vampire Academy.


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

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He earned $6 million for the first film.


He told Marc Maron he only did the sequel for the paycheck so he could pay for a real estate deal.

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He also admitted that he’d never seen the final film.


The movie was apparently a nightmare to shoot.

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“No one can fully understand the emotional and the psychological aspects of this,” Burton told Empire. “The stress and the pain — you can’t put it in normal perspective because it’s completely absurd. You have people almost having a heart attack over how long somebody’s nose should be.”

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


Meanwhile, Keaton said after three months of shooting, he’d only completed one scene.

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“I’ll go a month between ending one part of a scene and going back and picking it up.”


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

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According to Waters, Keaton went through the script and asked for a lot of his character’s dialogue to be cut. “When I saw the final film,” Waters told The Hollywood Reporter. “I realized he was exactly right.”


Annette Bening was originally cast as Catwoman.


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.”


Once she was cast, she was determined to become whip-smart.

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“I trained for months with the whip master,” she told THR. “On our first day together, I caught his face with the whip and it drew blood. It completely shattered me.”


She still has her whip.


The final shot of Catwoman looking up at the Bat Signal was not Pfeiffer.

Warner Bros.

It wasn’t part of the script, but Warner Bros. decided the character should survive in case they wanted to feature her in a future installment. A body double was used because Pfeiffer wasn’t available. The shot ended up costing a quarter of a million dollars.


Pfeiffer was in fact supposed to play Catwoman again.

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She was going to reprise her role in a spinoff, and Burton was going to direct. The movie ended up in development hell for 10 years, at which point Halle Berry was tapped to play the lead role.


The scene where Catwoman is about to swallow the Penguin’s pet bird isn’t CGI’d.

View this video on YouTube

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While the bird Pfeiffer takes from the cage and puts in her mouth is fake, the one we see flying out of her mouth is real.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so 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 out. It was before CG, it was before digital. It was so quick, it seems like it was an effect.”


Pfeiffer’s performance inspired a musical shoutout.

View this video on YouTube

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

The scene in which Selina Kyle trashes her apartment stood out to him in particular. He told BuzzFeed, “Her apartment’s all pink and beautiful, and kind of creepy and infantile, then she just smashes it all up and spray paints stuff and transforms into Catwoman. It’s this really kind of sexual scene; it’s amazing.”


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

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection


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

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


Danny DeVito also had a rough time with his costume.

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

“It was four-and-a-half hours of makeup and getting into the costume,” he told THR. “We got it down to three hours by the end of the shoot. I had pounds and pounds of face prosthetics and body padding, and the prosthetic hands, which were hard to use. I kept them on about half the time.”


He was one of the first choices to play Penguin.

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


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

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


David Bowie was approached to play Max Schreck.

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He declined so he could play Special Agent Phillip Jeffries in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.


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

Warner Bros / courtesy Everett Collection


About 10 minutes in, you see a photo of Max Schreck with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who later went on to play Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin).


The 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’d worked with Burton on Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, ended up taking the role instead, appearing opposite his Pee-Wee costar Diane Salinger.


Animal rights groups protested the movie.

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Word got out that the penguins would have rockets strapped to their back, but the penguins’ curator explained that the birds were kept very comfortable. They were flown to California in a refrigerated plane, and on set “were given a refrigerated trailer, their own swimming pool, half-a-ton of ice each day, and they had fresh fish delivered daily straight from the docks.”


The entire set was cooled down to 35 degrees for the penguins, despite the hot Los Angeles weather.

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


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

Warner Bros.

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


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

What’s your favorite part of Batman Returns? Sound off in the comments!

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