We’re on the eve of a brand new Batman blockbuster, next month’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” which will feature Anne Hathaway as the semi-villainous cat burglar Selina Kyle who prowls the streets at night as Catwoman. While Christopher Nolan and co. have given some real-world explanations for her eccentricities (her night vision goggles prop up on her head like cat’s ears), the hardest task in defining Catwoman for a new generation will be getting out from under the shadow of Michelle Pfeiffer, whose portrayal in Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” remains one of the towering performances in all of comic book moviedom.
Today marks 20 years since the release of “Batman Returns” on June 19th, 1992, so we thought we’d celebrate by taking some more skeletons out of Bruce Wayne’s very crowded closet, with five things you might not know about the bat-sequel.
1. Robin Was Almost In This One. And Played By Marlon Wayans.
Famously, at least one version of Burton’s original “Batman” script featured an appearance by Robin. Supposedly The Joker even made jokes about how the two superheroes were, er, more than just friends and super-heroic teammates. This element was ultimately removed but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t still trying to get him into the movie. When the sequel rolled around, they tried again. “We, surprisingly, got very little directives from the studio, like, ‘You must have Robin’ -- there was none of that, really,” explains co-screenwriter Daniel Waters on a retrospective documentary included on the special edition DVD. “I think we did try it. And Tim was big on not making a big deal about it. We wanted to work in a Robin character but I could tell he was not enthusiastic about it from the get go. But we wanted to do something that would be hinted at and then developed in a later movie.” Waters makes this seem very noncommittal, but discussions got pretty far. “At some point there was a discussion of having Robin in the movie,” Burton says in the same documentary. “But the only way I could see it would be to find a profile that would work. What ended up happening was, at the end of it all, we realized we had too many characters. People even complained without Robin there were too many characters. There was always that ‘If we don’t do it in this one, we’ll do it in the next one’ type deal.” The actor they had their eye on for Robin was none other than Marlon Wayans, as a young kid working as a garage mechanic (Waters: "He's wearing this old-fashioned garage mechanic uniform and it has an 'R' on it”). Wayans, who went through costume fittings, isn’t shy about discussing the experience. As late as 2009, when talking to sci-fi site io9 about his role in “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra,” Wayans was bringing up his involvement in Batman. “I was cast, I was paid and everything. I still get residual checks. Tim Burton didn't wind up doing three, Joel Schumacher did it, and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So he hired Chris O' Donnell.”