How Batman Returns Upset McDonald’s

Tim Burton recalls the moment when the Batman films turned into a franchise...

Ready to feel nice and young? Batman Returns is 25 years old, a movie that opened big, and then saw its box office peter out. It was still a hit of course, but its takings were notably down on 1989’s Batman film, and Tim Burton would depart before what would become Batman Forever went too far down the line.

In a piece at The Hollywood Reporter to mark Batman Returns’ anniversary last June, some of the key players have got together to look back on the film. In the piece, for instance, Michael Keaton reveals that he stripped away around half of Batman’s lines from the movie, reckoning that the sheer imagery of the suit would do some of the heavy lifting for him. Furthermore, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman suit was vacuum-packed once Pfeiffer was in it, and helpfully, “they didn’t leave me a way to use the restroom in the suit.”

But then there was the growing commercial pressure on the film to contend with, and a higher level of expectation. And the biggest clue as to that was when Batman Returns started to fall foul of McDonald’s.

Batman Returns – The Greatest Anti-Christmas… by denofgeek

“At the time with the first Batman, you’d never heard the word franchise. On the second one, you started to hear that word,” Burton recalled. “On the second one, we started to get comments from McDonald’s like ‘what’s all that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth?’ So people were just starting to think of these films in terms of marketing. That’s the new world order.”

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The black stuff, incidentally, was “like a mild mouthwash with food coloring in,” recalled Danny DeVito, who played The Penguin. “Luckily the taste wasn’t that bad.”

We wrote much more about the history of Batman Returns right here