Home Entertainment Tim Burton’s Unmade ‘Catwoman’ Was an ‘$18 Million Black-and-White Movie,’ Says ‘Batman...

Tim Burton’s Unmade ‘Catwoman’ Was an ‘$18 Million Black-and-White Movie,’ Says ‘Batman Returns’ Writer: Selina Kyle ‘Low-Key Living in a Small Town’

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Batman Returns” screenwriter Daniel Waters participated in a recent discussion about the Tim Burton-directed sequel (via IndieWire) and revealed the collaborators’ clashing visions for a spinoff project centered on Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Waters was envisioning a satirical take on the comic book movie genre, something he says was more akin to Prime Video’s “The Boys” these days, but Burton had something far more risky up his sleeve.

“He wanted to do an $18 million black-and-white movie, like the original ‘Cat People,’ of Selina just low-key living in a small town,” Waters said. “And I wanted to make a ‘Batman’ movie where the metaphor was about ‘Batman.’ So I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City, and it’s run by three asshole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ But he got exhausted reading my script.”

It appears Waters always wanted to inject his superhero movies with a darker satirical edge. Per IndieWire: “Waters said the original draft of the ‘Batman Returns’ screenplay contained multiple digs at the first Burton ‘Batman’ film, a merchandising juggernaut in 1989 and a film Waters thinks ‘sucks.’ ‘Batman Returns’ was originally set to open on the Batman logo, which would pan out to reveal an in-universe merchandise store, with Batman making several references to exploitative merchandising during the film. However, film star Michael Keaton convinced Waters to cut the digs from the movie.”

“[Michael] Keaton said, ‘This is very clever. Cut it,’” Waters remembered.

As for “Batman Returns,” the superhero sequel Waters and Burton did get to make together, the screenwriter remembered the backlash the 1992 movie received from comic fans since their script did not faithfully adapt the backstories of Catwoman or The Penguin (Danny DeVito).

“It was a weird assignment in that I didn’t need to please anyone but Tim Burton. Before the internet, you didn’t have to go before a tribunal and say what you were doing — it was just two guys in a room riffing. We didn’t know shit about Batman villains,” Waters said. “We didn’t really understand the whole comic book thing. I just found out DC Comics stands for Detective Comics.

“The whole thing about ‘Batman Returns’ is we got attacked by Batman fans because they thought, ‘This is only the second Batman movie, what the fuck are you doing? You’re already going off-road,” Waters continued. “Now there’s like 50 Batman movies, it’s like, ‘Hey. That was pretty interesting.’”

Given that Pfeiffer’s performance as Catwoman was so acclaimed, it disappointed many comic book fans that her spinoff movie never truly made it past the development phase. The character would later be played on screen by the likes of Halle Berry in “Catwoman,” Anne Hathaway in “The Dark Knight Rises” and Zoe Kravitz in “The Batman.”