Director Tim Burton Describes His Dark Knight Movies As ‘Batman on Ice’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 19th, 2013 at 12:27 pm,

The summer of 2012 is, without a doubt, the biggest season for superhero movies in Hollywood history. The Avengers broke box office records to the tune of a $600 million haul (so far) and The Amazing Spider-Man managed to bring in solid numbers (despite an especially familiar “untold” story) – not to mention The Dark Knight Rises, one of the most highly-anticipated films of the year among movie geeks and casual filmgoers alike, is set to release in one week.

However, before superhero movies were the go-to experience for summer blockbuster fun, director Tim Burton delivered a pair of cutting edge (for the time) comic book movie adaptations, Batman and Batman Returns – both starring the director’s pre-Johnny Depp go-to-guy, Michael Keaton. While the filmmaker, no doubt, helped pave the way for modern superhero-to-film adaptations, how does the fan-favorite filmmaker think his movies hold up against today’s comic book offerings?

Following Disney’s 2012 Comic-Con panel in Hall H, the Frankenweenie director opened up, jokingly reflecting on his own superhero movie experience:

“I recall back to when we were doing [Batman] and how worried they all were that it was too too dark. Now it’s like a lighthearted romp – Batman on Ice. It’s interesting because it was such a struggle to get that at the time.”

Burton’s comments about his “dark” superhero film should ring especially true for any movie lovers that caught his original Batfilms in theaters – which were, in the pre-Christopher Nolan days of the 1990s, actually pretty gritty (especially when compared to director Joel Schumacher’s often derided follow-ups Batman Forever as well as Batman & Robin). While some viewers might get hung up on Burton’s more over-the-top fantasy-like elements (most notably some of the Catwoman and Penguin elements of Batman Returns), the director actually delivered a lot of mature and challenging character drama.

Tim Burton Penguin Catwoman Director Tim Burton Describes His Dark Knight Movies As Batman on Ice

That said, considering the growing number of moviegoers who think that Tim Burton’s more recent work is becoming increasingly stale, paired with news that Christopher Nolan says he’s through with the Batman movies, maybe now is the perfect time for the director to make a return to the superhero movie space. Some comic book fans (or anyone who rolled their eyes at Dark Shadows) will likely disagree but as more and more superhero films follow the same style and story arcs, it could be interesting to see an auteur like Burton take a more obscure superhero (or antihero) character and explore another “dark” attempt in the genre.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Frankenweenie as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie opens in U.S. theaters (2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D) on October 5th, 2012.

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises opens in U.S. theaters (2D and IMAX) on July 20th, 2012.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I really really hope nobody lets Burton touch Batman. He did an incredible job and made a wonderful movie for its time, but thats over and done with. I highly doubt he’d be interested in it anyway.

  2. But we actually did get Batman on ice with Joel Schumacher, they had ice skates in their boots! Yay!

  3. I still love Burton’s movies but I respect Nolan’s great work on his films.

    • I agree with “Nagai” 100%!! I LOVE both series of films (so far – can’t wait for next Friday to see the new film) but now that it is the “end” of Nolan’s trilogy of films, I pray at least they make a very good “JLA” film which will bring back Batman. In my opinion, I do not think they should start the whole series up again for at least 10 years. But, as you know, theyway Hollywood is with making money, it probably will be less than that before we see the start of a whole new set of films!! With “Joker” being my favorite villian, I am curious to see who would play the character again.

      • @ Ralph

        I opinion on who to play the Joker on screen again would be Tom Hiddleston after seeing his greater performance as Loki in The Avengers.

        • leave Tom Hiddleston as LOKI, he`s going to be recognized as LOKI whether he likes it or not for the rest of his life

          • @ Mercy

            Hiddleston is a actor, im sure he can be great as being the Joker as he is Loki.

          • Right? Considering the amount of movies and TV shows that Marvel will be releasing in the next 14+ years, it seems as if they’ve created a new sort of job in the entertainment business. Clark Gregg for example seems to have played Phil Coulson so much now, that to see him in any other role in the future would be like seeing Charlie Sheen play the role of a Buddhist.

  4. Looking at Burton’s recent movies, I don’t want him doing more Batman movies.
    I really liked his take, and I love Nolan’s take, but I think it’s time for a new guy (not necessarily an “unknown guy”) to take the helm and find that perfect balance between fantasy and realism.

    • Duncan jones

  5. I think that’s not a bad idea. Maybe we’ll get to see Batman as the World’s Greatest Detective!? Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns” concept has already been overused. Time to tie everything to the JL film!

  6. The perfect guy for the next caped crusader, assuming that they’re rebooting it straight away is Matthew Fox from Lost. I think he’ll be a great Bruce Wayne/Batman

  7. Burton’s Bat and Nolan’n Bat are kind of the extremes of each other, we need someone who can make a perfect blend of both fantasy and realism.

    • @ Nagai

      I agree & been sayin there needs to be a combination of Burton’s & Nolan’s take on the character with fantasy & realism. Not to mention more characters from the Batman comics should be explored, New & old ones done properly. Im talking The Bat-Family, Villains, other supporting characters.

  8. Please no Burton on any super heroe movie.

  9. I think the next Batman should be retro. Tell the story from a 1950’s perspective and technology. I am a huge fan of Nolan’s version of Batman and I enjoyed Burton’s telling. Something different would be great.

  10. Personally I think Burton’s 1st Batman movie is the best to be put to film so far.

    • i really liked the first batman … i think going in order its

      batman 89 , tdk, bb , batman forever, batman returns, and batman and robion last of course ..
      you could see where in batman forever it was really starting to take a bad turn but it still had its moments .. mainly thanks to jim as the riddler .. but i didnt like val kilmer as bruce wayne at all ..

      • Batman Returns should be at the top of that list.

  11. Nolan’s film are of course more realistic and modern feel are are the right Batman movies for the current cinematic landscape.

    But Burtons films are more grander in scale with more imagination and style. I think overall they are more watchable and entertaining. Batman Returns in particular is a superlative sequel and has a lot of maturity and class to still stand up to Nolan’s films in comparison.

    I just think it’s a shame that another reboot is being prepared so soon after TDKR. It just undercuts any long term legacy that will be left from Nolans films. Why spend time celebrating Nolan’s films when a new interpretaiton will be with us within the next five years or so.

  12. WB/DC needs Bruce Timm & Co. to be involved to reboot Batman & be involved in the DCMU. Id like to see their great talents be put to the test into live-action films since they’ve done well with animation shows & some animated movies.

    • Paul Dini would be better than Bruce Timm. He was the actual writer & brains.

      • @ Ignur Rant

        Both guys were involved & did wonders in their work. That’s why i said Bruce Timm & Co. to keep it short.

        • Wally West

          Nah. Nope. Negativo.,Timm bIggest contribution was his animation. His an animator first. Dini was the writer and the real brains, thats’s why he won all those Eisner & Emmy awards.

          • @ Ignur Rant

            Bottom line is Timm,Dini & others worked as a team & worked well to make those shows,movies great. It’s why i say Bruce Timm & Co. Timm wrote few episodes gone over ideas with Dini aswell others have. If you watched special features of any of animated series you’d know Bruce Timm did more than just animate as they all talked about the shows they worked on.

  13. Id like to see the next Batman reboot done similiar to Batman:TAS honestly, aswell as the whole DCMU. That’s just me.

    • Burton is simply great in fairy-tales and Gothic-style stories but…Batman!!??? Spare me.

  14. It’s amazing how GROUNDED – in terms of CHARACTERS and THEIR INTERACTIONS – comics like – The Killing Joke (1988), Batman: Year One(1986), Strange Apparitions (1977), The Dark Knight Returns (1986), The Cult (1988), A Death in the Family (1988) – are in spite of being just …comics and…

    …how CAMPY Burton’s Bat is in spite of having a wider scope to express himself because it was a live-action movie.

    • Samantha,

      I like ‘Batman and Robin’ NOT because I appreciate it but because I simply LOVE TO LAUGH AT it. There’s a difference between a movie making me laugh and I laughing at the movie itself. I laugh AT ‘B&R’. I hope you get the point.

      And I do believe Burton’s Campy Bat is hypocrite and that’s my opinion. I only liked Nolan’s Batman as I found it more truthful to the comics where the environment and characters are concerned.

      The only Terminator movie I like is “Terminator 2: Judgement day (1991)”. I did NOT like the first and the third at all. And as the fourth…I have not even dared to watch it and will never do so so because it doesn’t have James Cameron at helm and Arnie is absent.

      BTW, My ALL-TIME favorite SCI-FI movie is Steven Spielberg’s “Artificial Intelligence (2001)” which is both brilliant, intelligent and a lot more grounded (hence more challenging to make) and a lot more…REAL. But then that’s my opinion. Would you like to debate on AI ?

    • One incarnation of Batman is a gothic fairy tale even though he started off as a noir detective. There have been several incarnations of Batman over the years. There is no definitive version of Batman.

      • Ignur rant

        I know Batman has his Gothic version and it’s nothing new to me. And I own a copy of the story called ‘Gothic (1990)’ by the legendary Grant Morrison …which is the real Gothic Batman. But…Burton’s Batman is not Gothic…anyway I look at it. It’s PURE CAMP PERSONIFIED. And that’s my opinion. If I had been Burton I would have re-made my own 1989 movie to rectify and eliminate the camp and set in the environment of that Morrison to be called a real Gothic Batman movie.
        But instead…

        Burton created that horror piece called ‘Batman Returns’ which is really shocking, horrific and totally unsuitable for children. I know that because I was a child in 1992 and I had watched it then.

        • ”Batman Returns” is one of the best movies ever made…no one can top the feeling that movie gives you…pure magic!!!

  15. Samantha lol.

  16. Actually, now would be the perfect time for Tim Burton/Michael Keaton/Danny Elfman to get back together and do one more Batman film-completing their own trilogy. Using Frank Miller “The Dark Knight Returns” as inspiration would be perfect!

    Keaton (the best Batman) is now 60 years old. He would be a Bruce Wayne who’s retired, but due to certain-sudden circumstances, is forced to be Batman one last time. Spielberg and Ford did it with Indy 4 nearly 20 years after Indy 3, why can’t Burton do it? It would be HUUUUGE!

  17. It would be great to see him and Keaton make a BATMAN 3. Would love to see that film series get a proper trilogy.