Since he first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in the late 1930s, Batman has become a cultural icon. The Caped Crusader’s cinematic history goes back to the film serials in the 1940s, but his legacy was cemented with Tim Burton’s seminal Batman in 1989. Since then, we have had a Burton sequel, two neon toy commercials, Christopher Nolan’s anti-camp Dark Knight Trilogy, and several Batfleck appearances as the character stakes his spot in the Justice League and the ever-expanding DCEU.
One of the toughest jobs as a creative must be deciding what to keep and what to throw away. Many films like Star Wars and American History X have been “saved” in editing and knowing that what needs to be cut is just as important as deciding what’s left in. Scenes can get cut for numerous reasons, be they pacing concerns or simply because the budget doesn’t stretch that far. Batman’s lengthy big screen history is jam-packed with interesting alternate takes on the material, and we figured we should trawl through the archives and list some of the most interesting and/or unusual scenes that didn’t make it for one reason or another. Here are the 15 Deleted Scenes In Batman Movies That Should Never Have Been Cut.
15. Batman Returns – The Bat Shop intro
(Image credit 1989Batman.com)
Nobody is denying that Batman Returns‘ intro is great. After the Cobblepot prologue and the Penguin’s baby basket being shown floating through the sewers to an extended version of Danny Elfman’s fantastic theme, we’re all set up for Batman kicking the hell out of some circus goons intent on ruining Christmas. However, this could have played a lot differently.
In the original script, the first shot after the opening credits was a close-up of a Bat logo complete with heroic music sting. The logo would then be hit by snowballs and we’d pan out to reveal it’s actually the sign of an in-universe Batman shop, complete with all the Bat merch you could ever want, such as figures, an arcade cabinet and lunchboxes. The costumed firebreathing thug seen in the movie would then torch the establishment. In the finished cut, he sets fire to a standard toy shop instead. Had it been included, the Batshop intro would have probably been tonally at odds with the rest of the movie, but it could have worked as an opening gag.
14. Batman Forever – Two-Face’s Arkham Escape
When describing Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, perhaps the most diplomatic word to use is “compromised”. Studio heads wanted something a lot more family friendly (read: marketable) after Batman Returns, and so the tonal lever was yanked back for the sequel, meaning that bright colors, jokes, and silliness were back on the table. However, digging into the movie’s deleted scenes, there is some evidence to suggest that a darker tone was originally intended.
In the theatrical cut, after the opening credits, we have Val Kilmer’s Batman suit up and get in the Batmobile to rush downtown and stop one of Two-Face’s nefarious schemes in progress. It’s all very Saturday morning cartoon-y. In a deleted sequence, we open in Arkham Asylum. Dr. Burton enters Harvey Dent’s cell to find a guard tied up and gagged, a gaping hole in the side of the room and a message: “The Bat Must Die” scrawled on the walls. The scene isn’t particularly needed for the plot, but the tone of it is much darker than anything in the rest of the movie. Guess the studio heads figured that a Two-Face Arkham Escape playset wouldn’t be a big seller.
13. The LEGO Batman Movie – The Lollipop Chase
The LEGO Batman Movie is so full of fun gags, one-liners, and references to the Caped Crusader’s history that it practically demands multiple viewings to appreciate them all. However, one sequence that didn’t make the final film concerns the Dark Knight (voiced by Will Arnett) overreacting to a very minor crime.
In the cut scene, the Batcomputer reveals that Gotham is 99.99997% crime free. This isn’t enough for Batman, and he tears off in the Batwing after a pet dog named Lollipop who isn’t on a leash – a clear infraction of city laws. In the ridiculously over-the-top chase, the Caped Crusader destroys cars, explodes an oil tanker, smashes through an office block, and terrifies Gotham’s citizens by ripping off the roof of a subway train. Once Batman finally grabs Lollipop, the buildings behind them topple and fall like gigantic dominoes. It’s a funny scene that could have easily found a place in the final product.
12. Batman – Bob Knife Fight
Jack Nicholson’s Joker has a ton of goons at his disposal in the 1989 Batman movie, but none mark themselves out as much as Bob, his “number one guy”. Bob (Tracey Walter) is mostly there for comic relief, but production photos and video reveal that he was originally slated to go one on one with the Bat and not run away like he does in the movie.
It’s tough to tell whether this was going to be a full-fledged fight or whether it was just a demonstration for the assembled press, but it seems to suggest that Bob would have attacked Batman with a big knife at some point and the two would duke it out. There’s even a trading card featuring the scene, but alas, no real footage outside of the promotional stuff. Why should it have been included? Because Bob was awesome. You don’t get your own action figure (complete with a sweet hat) without having something special about you.
11. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – Grisly gravestone gravity
It’s taken a long time, but finally people are coming around to the idea that the 1993 animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an under-appreciated classic. It’s dark, violent, mature, and a great example of how Batman should be done. As uncompromised as the movie is, co-directors Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski did receive some pushback on certain elements.
In a recent interview, Bruce Timm detailed one sequence that was too much for Warner Bros. “I think for instance one of the gangsters gets the tombstone dropped on him. It was staged in such a way that it was a little bit too gruesome for somebody. So we had to pull that back a little bit.” It’s important to note that this wasn’t just a random bit of violence. Tombstones are a recurring motif in the movie, and it would make sense for a nameless thug to fall victim to one. People die all the time in Batman stories, and skimping on the nasty seems to run counter to what the world of the Dark Knight is all about. Still, fans of the movie have had much to celebrate since the film finally got an overdue Blu-ray release earlier this year.
10. Batman Forever – The ’89 shoutout ending
Not content with tinkering with the opening of the movie, the original ending to Batman Forever was also altered by the powers that be. While the final version featured our heroes running towards the camera in slow motion, the original scripted end would have paid homage to Tim Burton’s movies.
After defeating Two-Face and sending Edward Nygma to the asylum, the film intended to close on a triumphant shot of Batman and Robin standing on a gargoyle overlooking Gotham with the Batsignal shining in the sky in the background. As both Burton Batfilms ended in a similar way, it’d have been a nice bit of continuity and a nod of respect to the movies that came before it. Would it have fixed the movie’s huge flaws? Nope, but it would have been a cool way to tie the three films together and may have made the drastic tonal shift less jarring when all of the movies are taken into account.
9. The Dark Knight Rises – Foley’s Tumbler death
There are very few decent high-ranking cops in The Dark Knight Trilogy, but Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Foley (Matthew Modine) was one of them. In The Dark Knight Rises, we see him lose his meddle thanks to Bane’s hostile takeover of Gotham, at which point he quits, going home to be with his family. Gordon pleads with him to return to help, but Foley refuses. He changes his mind when he sees the flaming bat symbol on the city’s bridge, which inspires him to fight.
Foley eventually leads the charge, dressed in his formal police blues, against Bane’s men. After this epic brawl, he’s unceremoniously killed off screen. Considering his arc, Foley was always going to die, but video footage of the filming shows that he would have had a more memorable death scene. In the footage, it shows one of the repainted Tumblers running him over, bouncing him off the hood. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough time to fit it in to the overstuffed ending, but it would have been a decent addition to the movie, as it gives Foley the heroic death he deserved.
8. Batman – The statue switcheroo
(Image credit 1989Batman.com)
Thanks to portions of the original script for Batman being posted online, we know of several sequences that were written, but were cut pretty early on in the process. One of these had the Joker crash a statue dedication ceremony, staged as part of the city’s 200th year anniversary. The Mayor was to present a statue of John T. Gotham, the city’s founder, but Joker and his goons interrupt the party and the statue is revealed to be a replica of the Clown Prince of Crime instead.
By all accounts, the scene was dropped before filming, but behind the scenes photos revealed that a statue was still made for it. While it was never filmed, the replica was painted and displayed in the original Planet Hollywood restaurant in New York City. As the scene stands, it could have been a worthy addition, as the Joker’s love of weird art and public demonstrations are well established throughout the movie. At least we got the Prince-scored parade scene, though.
7. Batman Begins – The disguised detective
According to several internet rumors, Christopher Nolan delivered a four hour rough cut of Batman Begins to Warner executives before the editing process properly started. Considering the length of the list of scenes reportedly cut out or are otherwise missing, that might not be as insane as it first sounds.
Perhaps one of the most interesting omissions is a scene where the corrupt Judge Faden exits Falcone’s club with a young woman on his arm. Both get into a waiting limo, only to have a homeless man knock on the window. The driver is instructed to get rid of the vagrant, and the limo drives off into the night. It’s then revealed that the homeless man was in fact Bruce Wayne in disguise, taking photos of the club’s clientele and casing the area. It’s a shame this one never made it in, as it shows Batman indulging in some street-level detective work. It would have also marked the first time he’s shown in a disguise, something which he never shied away from in the comics. The photos he takes during this scene actually do appear in the final film as part of the evidence delivered to Rachel.
6. The Dark Knight- Extended Joker hospital sequence
The scene in The Dark Knight where Heath Ledger’s Joker, dressed in a nurse’s outfit, detonates several bombs that completely level a Gotham hospital is all kinds of iconic. The whole sequence is a perfect representation of who the Joker is, along with all the dark, twisted humor that has made him a cultural mainstay.
The scene originally went on a little longer, showing Joker boarding a waiting school bus and driving away from the crime scene, not once looking at all the carnage and fireworks around him. Sure, it wouldn’t have added anything to the story, and the Joker’s indifference to the huge explosions is shown just before, but, as it stands, the scene is a testament to Heath Ledger and his unshakeable focus when it came to portraying the Clown Prince of Crime. Perhaps when it came to Joker, less was more, but it’s a cool shot nonetheless.
5. Batman – The Robin origin story
One of the biggest decisions made by Tim Burton and Warner Bros was to drop Robin from the proceedings and have the Caped Crusader work solo for the 1989 movie. It’s easy to see why this happened. With Batman, they wanted to establish a completely different tone, and didn’t see a way to fit in a young sidekick in tights into their vision. Robin was going to be introduced at some point, as evidenced by a fully storyboarded sequence set during the film’s third act, in which Batman would be chasing Joker through the city streets.
After donning a quick disguise, Batman “borrows” a police officer’s horse and chases after the Joker’s van. The van drives through a performance by daredevil acrobats the Flying Graysons and Joker flings some dynamite into a fireworks truck. The resulting explosion topples several Graysons to their doom and sets the rigging alight. The youngest member of the team, Dick, watches helplessly as his family dies before immediately setting off after the Joker. He lands on the van’s roof, but is saved from certain death by Batman. It’s a solid sequence, and it’s a pity we never saw Burton’s take on the Boy Wonder.
4. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker – Joker’s death
Mask of the Phantasm isn’t the only underrated animated movie in the Bat back-catalog, not by a long shot. One of the best is Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, which was released in 2000. Prior to release, the real-life Columbine shootings hit headlines, and studio heads demanded a toned-down cut of the movie in response. Many of the darker scenes were removed and several lines of dialogue were re-recorded to match the movie’s newer and less controversial cut.
In the original movie, Joker’s death comes by the hand of Tim Drake, who he has corrupted to be his villainous protégé. Joker beats the Bat and holds him up in front of poor old traumatized Tim. Joker tosses him his flag/spear gun and goads the boy to shoot his longtime mentor. After a moment of hesitation, Tim shoots Joker instead. A child firing a gun was too much of a sensitive subject, so in the censored version, Tim shoves the Joker into a control panel, spilling water everywhere and loosing several wires. Joker stumbles and hits a lever, which electrocutes him offscreen. Both sequences are creepy and affecting, but the uncut version is stronger in comparison and gives the Joker’s death a final dark poetic twist. An uncut version was made available several years later, with all the controversial scenes intact.
3. Batman Forever – The giant bat sequence
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the planned Batman Forever was hugely different to the one that was released in theaters. While the opening and closing of the film underwent big changes, they were arguably not as important to the film as a whole storyline that was taken out at the last minute.
In the movie, Bruce is shot and falls down a Wayne Manor staircase. In a deleted sequence, getting shot and tumbling down the stairs gives him amnesia and he forgets he’s Batman. Alfred has to coach him in order to bring back his memory, and in a Yoda-like way, tells him to enter the Batcave. What follows is Bruce finding his father’s diary and realizing there was one final entry that assuages his guilt over his parents’ deaths. He then confronts a giant bat and extends his arms like the bat’s wings to show him accepting his dark (knight) side. It’s a crazy but striking sequence and it at least explains his line to Riddler later about being Batman because he chooses to be.
2. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – The “Communion” scene
Soon after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters, Warner Bros made a curious move and officially released a deleted scene entitled “Communion” onto YouTube. The scene shows a bunch of armed officers finding Lex in the birthing matrix used to create Doomsday. Lex has clearly been talking to a mysterious figure, who disappears once their conversation is no longer private. DC fans correctly identified the figure to be Steppenwolf, the big bad in the upcoming Justice League movie.
It’s a cool scene, and it’s only around 40 seconds long, so why was it released online and instead of appearing in the final film? Well, according to Zack Snyder himself, it was a way of having a Marvel-style post credits sting, but going their own way with it: “I kind thought like, “Oh, that would be a cool after-credits sequence.” But then I was like, “I don’t know, can I do that?” because Marvel kind of does that. “Is that a thing?” So we were like, “Oh! Well, maybe there’s another way to do it, by just having it -” does that make sense?”. The scene was later included in the movie’s Ultimate Cut.
1. The Dark Knight Rises – Bane’s origins
The Dark Knight Rises remains the most divisive movie in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. While some praised the movie’s scope and thematic richness, others felt that Nolan’s handling of his final Bat film left a lot to be desired. There have been many conflicting reports over what was cut from the final product, but one of the biggest bombshells was inadvertently dropped by the movie’s costume designer, Lindy Hemming.
In an interview with GQ, Hemming detailed a huge sequence that didn’t make it to theaters : “There’s a whole early section for Tom Hardy where he’s fighting and being taunted by people. He’s got chains on him, and he’s standing on a wooden thing while people are attacking him”. Bane’s League of Shadows training was never shown in the movie, but a few flashbacks similar to Bruce’s training in Batman Begins sound like they would have been fantastic additions. These omitted scenes would have also fleshed Bane out considerably and perhaps could’ve added more depth to his character, one of the more consistent criticisms of the movie.
Do you know of any other deleted scenes from Batman movies that should’ve made the cut? Let us know in the comments.
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