Despite the odds being fairly high that Tim Burton hasn’t watched too many modern superhero movies, the case can easily be made that he is the father and benefactor of the entire genre. While Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie proved that a man could fly, Tim Burton’s much more layered and noirish Batman showed that he could work as equally well for adults too. Maybe more so with that film’s violent mean streak and downbeat tone, complementing an art deco hellscape apocalypse.
Yet, after that movie and the even more depressing Batman Returns, Burton’s mood on how the archetypal hero should be depicted has apparently changed.
While promoting Big Eyes in a discussion with Yahoo! Movies, Burton reflected on how he perceived the limits of the modern Marvel Studios enterprise, which has benefitted greatly from a path he first paved in 1989.
“Marvel, they have their thing and there’s a certain formula to it all which seems to still be working,” Burton said. “But how many times can you say ‘you’re wearing a funny costume’ with the tights and stuff? That’s been going on for 20 years now. Yes, we all know that superheroes are damaged individuals. Maybe we need to see a happy superhero?”
Burton went on to compare modern superhero movies to his own Batman films.
“I remember Batman getting so much flack and criticism at the time for being too dark and now 20 to 30 years later, it now looks like a lighthearted romp. It’s such a strange thing to go through.”
Yet, this goes back to my own theory that Burton hasn’t watched too many modern superhero movies. While the Christopher Nolan Batman movies definitely took the superhero movie to a darker and an increasingly morally complex place, the last thing I think any of us would call Robert Downey’s Tony Stark or Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord is not happy.
And again, Burton did give us Batman Returns, which as we just detailed here is one of the greatest Anti-Christmas Movies of All.