Details Revealed About Scrapped ‘Batman Returns’ Catwoman Spin-Off

BATMAN RETURNS, Michelle Pfeiffer, 1992. ©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett Collection

Batman Returns screenwriter Daniel Waters has spoken about his plans for a scrapped Catwoman spin-off that was to star Michelle Pfeiffer.

At a Batman Returns screening at the Egyptian theater, Waters revealed that he and Batman Returns director Tim Burton had talked about making a movie starring Pfeiffer’s version of Catwoman. However, the twist is that the two creatives had wildly different takes on what they wanted from the film.

According to Waters, Burton wanted to make a black-and-white homage to Jacques Tourneur’s iconic 1942 horror film Cat People. However, Waters wanted to do a satirical take on the superhero genre.

He wanted to do an $18 million black and white movie, like the original ‘Cat People,’ of Selina just lowkey living in a small town. I wanted to make a ‘Batman’ movie where the metaphor was about ‘Batman.’ So I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City run by three a**hole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ He got exhausted reading my script.”

It sounds like Waters wrote out an entire script treatment but ultimately, he and Burton couldn’t agree on what the direction the project should take.

Interestingly, this is one of a few Catwoman spin-offs given to the studios at the time. Screenwriter, John August, pitched a completely separate spin-off where Selina had amnesia and tried to rejoin normal society.

In the end, Batman Returns underperformed at the box office, leading to the studio to take a different approach to the franchise. This consequently canceled any hopes of any further Selina Kyle spin-offs, although we still got the infamous Patience Phillips Catwoman movie, starring Halle Berry.

Waters on the Creative Process and Reception for ‘Batman Returns’

Daniel Waters did not mince words with the creative process for Batman Returns. He admitted that most of the reason for the major changes to Catwoman and Penguin’s characterizations had to do with a lack of knowledge and research on the source material.

It was a weird assignment in that I didn’t need to please anyone but Tim Burton. Before the internet, you didn’t have to go before a tribunal and say what you were doing — it was just two guys in a room riffing. We didn’t know s**t about Batman villains. We didn’t really understand the whole comic book thing. I just found out DC Comics stands for Detective Comics.”

One can certainly argue that Waters’ comments show a lack of respect for the comic book source material, but playing with the backstories also allowed Burton to release a more creatively unified movie. At the time, Batman Returns had mixed reviews for being too dark, but nowadays it’s held in higher esteem. Waters theorized this is due to fans having more film versions of The Dark Knight to appease them.

The whole thing about ‘Batman Returns’ is we got attacked by Batman fans because they thought, ‘This is only the second Batman movie, what the f@(# are you doing? You’re already going off-road. Now there’s like 50 Batman movies, it’s like, ‘Hey. That was pretty interesting.’”

It does help that there are so many Batman movies out now that fans can look on a more experimental film like Returns with some degree of intellectual curiosity.


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