It is a sad reality in Hollywood that many times a sequel does not live up to the original and this is the case with Batman Returns (1992) (though it is infinitely better than the two films that followed it). Set sometime after the events of the original film, Gotham City’s new nemesis is Oswald Cobblepot, aka “The Penguin” (Danny DeVito), a deformed child abandoned by his parents and raised by penguins, who seeks to become a respectable member of Gotham society and will employ any means to make that happen.
At the same time, corrupt businessman Max Shreck is plotting to monopolize the city’s electricity supply, a scheme that his secretary, Selina Kyle, stumbles onto. When Shreck tries to have her killed by pushing her out a window, she is mysteriously revived by a swarm of cats and adopts the identity of Catwoman. Batman has to deal with Penguin, Shreck and this mysterious female vigilante, all part of his ongoing efforts to protect Gotham City.
I’m sure I’ve seen this film as many times as the original Batman, but I simply don’t enjoy this one as much. When you’ve grown up with Burgess Meredith’s Penguin, seeing the creepy Danny DeVito Penguin is a real shock. I still like Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne though, and I wish he could’ve stayed for the remaining two films (even though I like George Clooney in Batman & Robin). The on-again/off-again romance between Catwoman and Batman is well-known to fans of the comics, and it’s nice to see it play out on the silver screen.
Danny Elfman returned to score this film and was much more confident during the process (because the first Batman had been such a big hit). Knowing that his methods worked, it wasn’t hard to derive a new score for this sequel. Regretfully, this interview isn’t very long, but I was glad to find anything relating to Batman Returns at all (finding info on sequels is relatively hard, especially if they don’t do as well as expected). The different themes for Selina/Catwoman and Penguin are discussed, and if I ever find a more in-depth discussion for this particular film I’ll be sure to add it in. For now though, please enjoy!
If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here
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*film poster is the property of Warner Bros. Pictures