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The Batman Already Has Some Batman Returns Parallels

Robert Pattinson and Michael Keaton as Batman

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is shaping up to be quite similar to Tim Burton’s 1992 take on the Caped Crusader, Batman Returns. Burton's film was a follow-up to his 1989 movie Batman, which is credited with spawning a new wave of superhero movies in the 1990s, and now, after several years and many Batman films in-between, another Batman movie is coming that's looking to go back to the era that Batman Returns existed in.

The story of Batman Returns features Penguin (Danny DeVito) and businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) team up to take down Batman. Yet the plan goes awry when Shreck’s assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out. Shreck tries to kill Selina, but he proves less efficient than a motley crew of cats who, by gnawing at Kyle’s fingers and traversing her seemingly deceased corpse, miraculously return her to the world of the living, as Catwoman. Catwoman then joins Penguin and Shreck to defeat Batman once and for all. It was an intriguing story at the time, and now, it seems The Batman will revisit some aspects of it.

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Related: The Batman Makes Zoë Kravitz The Actor In The Most Superhero Franchises

Similarly, The Batman will also feature Catwoman and Penguin. Zoe Kravitz has been cast as Catwoman, though the role of Penguin is still up in the air. Jonah Hill was reportedly in talks for Penguin, but he chose to pass on the role due to creative differences. Instead, Paul Dano has joined The Batman as Riddler. Still, that doesn't mean Penguin still won't show up in the film at all. The Batman is meant to include Batman's rogues' gallery, and that wouldn't be possible without the Penguin. Aside from both Penguin and Catwoman appearing in Reeves’ film, however, The Batman also takes place in the 1990s, at least according to recent reports.

Batman Returns - Catwoman and Bat-Signal

On the surface, there are fundamental similarities between The Batman and Batman Returns, with the setting and key characters appearing in each of them. Perhaps this is Warner Bros.' opportunity to properly expand on those elements in further sequels, unlike what happened with Joel Schumacher's movies. Regardless of that, though, the upcoming film will differ in a few consequential ways, such as the movie focusing on Bruce Wayne’s detective skills rather than his sheer heroism and combat efficiency.

While The Batman is still bound to feature quality action scenes, it will explore a side of Batman that has been overlooked in many previous installments. Batman’s intelligence often exists in the films as a secondary asset, as opposed to a characterizing quality; it's there to be called upon when the narrative demands such. Maybe this time, Batman's brains will do more than complement his brawn. And with Reeves’ take, fans should expect some actual sequels, rather than consistent revamps with new creative visions functioning solely to provide the next big action figure.

Next: The Batman Can Only Exist In The DCEU If It Retcons Justice League

Key Release Dates
  • The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
  • Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
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