Batman Returns is officially 25 years old. That’s a quarter century! That means I’m 30! That means people still have a love or hatred for this movie, not much of an in-between. I must admit, aside from the black goo, the “focus” on villains, and the obvious set-heavy production, I have a deep love and affection for the film. It was bonkers, dark, and unsettling yes. However, it was also fun, charming and unique in so many ways. This was a Tim Burton movie that had Batman in it, and I love it.
Now that the movie has turned the big 2-5, Dark Knight News thought it’d be fun to give an update on the spectacular cast of the film. What are the actors who played Batman, Penguin, Catwoman and Max Schreck up to these days? Let’s log-in to the Batcomputer and find out.
Michael Keaton has arguably had the most storied career following Batman Returns. He’s starred in dramas (1995’s My Life), family films (1998’s Jack Frost), comedies (2009’s The Other Guys) and cartoons (2009’s Toy Story 3). Perhaps his biggest role came in 2014’s Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, which earned him an Academy Award nomination, as well as unanimous praise. Keaton is entering the superhero genre again next month, this time as a villain, as “Vulture” in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He is also set to work with director Tim Burton again in the live-action Dumbo film.
Upcoming Project: American Assassin
Fun Fact: On the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Keaton played up the “I’m Batman” line
Ah, yes. Everyone’s favorite Penguin…right? DeVito is just as popular now as he was in 1992. Following his role as the goo-gushing children abductor, the actor stayed busy. He re-teamed with Burton for his sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks, played “George Shapiro” in the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, and voiced “The Lorax” in the animated film…well, The Lorax. But DeVito basically got a second career once he signed on for the role of a lifetime as Frank Reynolds in the FXX dark comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Ironically enough, you’d believe Frank Reynolds also lives in a sewer.
Upcoming Project: Triplets
Fun Fact: He is also re-teaming with Burton on Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo
The scene stealer from Batman Returns. It’s hard to believe Pfeiffer wasn’t Burton’s first choice for the role. She simply nails this interpretation, and is my favorite live-action take on the character. After she removed her vacuum-sealed suit for the final time, Pfeiffer kept busy in Hollywood. She teamed with Jack Nicholson (another Burton alumn) for the horror movie Wolf, then hopped into one big-screen flick after another: Dangerous Minds, Up Close & Personal, One Fine Day, Hairspray and Stardust. Like others on this list, she also re-teamed with Burton for a remake of the gothic soap opera series Dark Shadows.
Upcoming Project: Murder on the Orient Express
Fun Fact: Pfeiffer is a skilled painter
I’m not sure anyone else has had a more popular/hilarious/wild 25-year career than Christopher Walken. The guy is often mentioned in a comedic way, yet everyone has respect for the guy. Maybe Burton saw this, and brought it out of him while making Batman Returns? Or maybe it was a few years later when he hosted Saturday Night Live (“More cowbell!”). Anyways, Walken has been…walking…all over Hollywood. From Wayne’s World 2 to Catch Me If You Can, from Wedding Crashers to Hairspray, the guy is proven he’s a performer. Oh yeah, and don’t forget NBC’s Peter Pan LIVE! AND that classic Fatboy Slim music video. At 74 years old, the man can’t be stopped. Just don’t shove anyone out of a window Christopher, it’ll come back to kiss you in the mouth
Upcoming Project: The War With Grandpa
Fun Fact: Reunited with Burton for the (fantastic) horror movie Sleepy Hollow
My first Alfred. Oh, how I adored Michael Gough. Even in the Schumacher films, I adored the guy. in Batman Returns, he had a little more spunk and was a little sassy…and I loved it. Gough brought such a warmth to the role of Bruce Wayne’s butler, a.k.a. substitute poppa. Even the biggest critics of the Burton/Schumacher movies can’t argue that Gough was perfectly cast. After Returns, he worked with Burton three more times: Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland. Gough sadly passed away in 2011 at 94 years old.
Favorite Line: “It’s vichyssoise sir, it’s supposed to be cold”.
Ah yes, Gotham’s useless mayor. He didn’t even get a name in the movie, just “The Mayor”. That’s not knocking Murphy’s performance, he did a solid job for the limited screen time that he had. The role was a tease of what was to come for the guy’s career: a character actor. Murphy has shown up in Howard Stern’s comedy Private Parts, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and dipped into the Marvel universe with X-Men: The Last Stand.
Upcoming Project: Two Plains & a Fancy
Baby Schreck. Although, I guess he’s not much of a baby…well, kind of…ANYWAYS. Hulk Andrew Bryniarski took on a created role of Max Schreck’s first-born with zesto, macho charisma. I didn’t like him, but that was the point. Therefore, a solid applause to Bryniarski. Since leaving Gotham, the actor has played more machismo roles in films like Any Given Sunday, Pearl Harbor and Scooby-Doo. Horror aficionados will recognize him (by name only) as “Leatherface” from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes. A pretty big switch from Gotham’s pretty boy golden son.
Upcoming Project: American Dresser
Fun Fact: Suprising nobody, he used to be a bodybuilder
I know, “why is Michael Murphy and Michael Keaton both in this picture with Pat Hingle?. It’s because the poor guy was used to little in this movie, you can’t grab a still of him solo! This may have been the most disappointing part of all the Burton/Schumacher films, the waste of Commissioner Gordon. Despite his lack of screen time, Hingle still brought a comfortable presence to the character. He didn’t have much screen-time, but I still liked him. After returning his Gotham City badge in 1997, Hingle maintained a minor presence in Hollywood. He appeared in a few TV series and movies, Muppets From Space and the Will Ferrell racing comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Sadly, he passed away in 2009 at 84 years old.
Bonus: Steve Witting
I think we all know what happened right after this still. It’s safe to say this may be the scene that disturbed parents the most. The role of “Josh” was only the 5th professional role by Whitting. He mostly appeared on TV series, including Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Family Matters, 3rd Rock From The Sun and more. Whitting also had some small parts in feature films, most notably Shutter Island, Bad Words, and Wolf of Wall Street. His last noted role came in a 2016 episode of the FXX comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Don’t worry, his nose is still attached.
There you have it. A brief history of the cast from Batman Returns and what they’ve been up to since the credits rolled in 1992. If only they could be reunited one more time, say maybe in animated form? Comic book? Video game?! That’s just wishful thinking. But hey, we never got that payoff from Catwoman’s gazing of the batsignal so maybe there’s still hope.