Film / Batman Returns
The bat, the cat, the penguin.
Batman: You're not the Mayor.
The Penguin: Things change.
Batman: What do you want?
The Penguin: Ah. The direct approach. I admire that in a man with a mask! (chuckles, but then turns serious) You don't really think you'll win, do you?
Batman: Things change.
The first sequel to Batman
, seeing release in 1992. Like its predecessor, it was directed by Tim Burton
and starred Michael Keaton
as the eponymous crime fighter.
Three villains: Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin (Danny DeVito
), Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer
), and Max Shreck (Christopher Walken
). Between the first two and Batman, there's plenty of psychological dysfunction and horror to go around.
This film was aggressively merchandised, with the characters appearing on everything from posters to beach towels. It also inspired a beautifully illustrated one-shot comic adapted by DC Comics editor Dennis O'Neill (with a cover painting by longtime Star Wars
artist Dave Dorman) and two
novel adaptations — one a more innocent and adventurous treatment by Andrew Helfer and the other a much more cynical version
by Craig Shaw Gardner. For the sake of thoroughness, tropes based on the comic and the two novels will be allowed on this page as well.
Batman Returns provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer:
- Young Oswald Cobblepot drifted through some rather large storm drains in his carriage as a child, before being found by some penguins. Several more scenes take in the icy storm drains under Gotham, and it's also apparent the Penguin had scavenged through sanitary sewers to get the material needed to blackmail Max Shreck. In the videogames on the Sega Genesis, the penultimate stage is usually set in Gotham's sewer systems where Batman battles the Red Triangle Gang in sewage, and the toxic waste seemingly created by Max Shreck serves as a hazard.
The Penguin: You flush it, I flaunt it!
- Batman somehow got the enormous Batboat into the sewer.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Subverted. The Penguin seems to share a laugh with a campaign worker who jokes about his less-than-stellar looks, but it was really a ploy to get him to lower his guard so he could take revenge.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Selina Kyle has black hair in the comics; but, since Michelle Pfeiffer is blonde, so is this version of Selina.
- This version was even carried over to Batman: The Animated Series, produced only a short time after the movie's debut, to capitalize on its popularity — although as a criminal Selina cuts and dyes her hair so often it's tough to tell sometimes. It is later said that, in the cartoon, Selina dyed her hair blonde, but stopped doing so (around the time of the New Batman Adventures redesign, wherein she became a short-haired brunette as in the comics) when she found out her hair dye brand was tested on animals.
- Adult Fear: The Penguin is made on this. His masterplan consists of taking Gotham's children into the sewers and killing them. He gleefully gloats about it, claiming that it's the parents' fault for having left them unprotected at home in order to attend to Max Schrek's ball.
- Alas, Poor Villain: After being knocked through a skylight window and nearly drowning, and then weakly emerging from the Arctic World pool burned, bleeding, and vomiting up toxic waste, the Penguin dies completely unrepentant, still raving about how he intends to take Batman to Hell with him. But through it all, we can't ever forget that this is someone who was forced to grow up in a cold and lonely sewer ever since he was a boy, and for whom Bruce Wayne once expressed sympathy as a fellow orphan.
- All Part of the Show: When a gigantic red and green Christmas gift box appears on the bridge overlooking Gotham Plaza, the Mayor assumes that it's another one of Max Shreck's publicity stunts; after all, he had just said "I wish I could hand out world peace, and unconditional love, wrapped up in a big bow." Hilarity Ensues after the Mayor quietly compliments Shreck on the gimmick and Shreck confirms that he had nothing to do with it.
- Alpha Bitch: The depiction of the Ice Princess, at least in the shooting script. One scene that was filmed but ultimately cut showed her tearing through Gotham Plaza amidst all the gang violence and shoving an old woman to the ground so that she'd get trampled instead! But these character traits are softened in the finished film, so the Princess just comes off just as Spoiled Sweet.
- Ambiguously Bi: Even though she is shown to have (or to have had) two heterosexual romances in the film (and is suspected of a third one by Bruce), there are things about Selina Kyle that make you wonder. Like when, just prior to transforming herself into Catwoman, she sloppily drinks some milk straight from the carton (a stereotypically masculine behavior), though that could be her cat-like behavior. Or when she manhandles the Ice Princess in a frankly kinky manner with her whip. And then there's her contempt for male sexuality ("You poor guys — always confusing your pistols with your privates!"), as well as some lines in the script (cut from the film) that suggest Selina's resentment at having been born female. Back when the spin-off Catwoman film was first in development (before Michelle Pfeiffer dropped out and Halle Berry replaced her), the screenplay for that film actually ran with this and removed all doubt by having Catwoman engage in some girl on girl action... in more ways than one.
- Ambiguously Brown:
- The mugger (and implied rapist) whom Catwoman cuts up with her claws in the alley.
- Also, though he's covered by white makeup, one of the Penguin's clowns reminds one of a stereotypical Latino homeboy (checkered coat, bald head, and black mustache.)
- Ambiguously Jewish: The Penguin was suspected of being this by a few particularly touchy Jewish groups, owing to his short stature, hooked nose, Moses like upbringing, and fondness for fish. And according to her tombstone, his mother's name was "Esther" (an exiled Hebrew queen from the Old Testament). Paradoxically, however, the tombstone was also topped by a huge Christian cross which gets a long, lingering closeup as part of the movie's rather unsettling biblical imagery — but, in what may or may not be a significant twist, Penguin can't bring himself to look upon it.
- A New York Times critic saw anti-Semitism in the "Jewish sounding name" of Max Shreck, without explaining how we tell "Jewish-sounding" names from "German-sounding" ones. In fact, Max Shreck is an homage to the (non-Jewish) actor Max Schreck, who played Count Orlock in Nosferatu, and whose last name is German for "fear". That said, Shreck does wear a shawl that makes him look an awful lot like a rabbi in the scene that announces the mayoral campaign... Although, ironically, it seems to be covered with Christian crosses.
- An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The plot of the movie takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with the final scene ending either right before midnight on Christmas Eve or right after it. Not that there's really much to celebrate here.
- Anachronism Stew / Retraux: The machines, vehicles, and weapons of Gotham City are all modern, but the clothing worn by most of the characters strongly suggests the late 1940's or even earlier (especially the Red Triangle Gang, who often look like they were Born in the Wrong Century, and indeed the film's costume designers based their appearance on Victorian era European circuses). It would all probably qualify as Retro Universe if there weren't so many jarring references to then contemporary things, such as Ted Bundy and The Love Connection.
- Anger Montage: Selina's breakdown takes the form of her trashing her apartment.
- Animal Motifs: Very, very prominent and comprising a significant part of the movie's symbolism.
- The Bat: Bruce Wayne / Batman loves darkness, shrouds himself in mystery, and instills fear in others.
- The Cat: Selina Kyle / Catwoman can be both cuddly, gentle and tempting — as well as moody, violent, and downright mean.
- The Penguin: Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin is grotesquely misshapen, clumsy, and can't help but solicit sympathy — even if he's a bad guy.
- There are other, more subtle animal themes — sometimes much more subtle. Max Shreck could be likened to a wolf: He has grizzled hair, wears a fur coat, is greedy and predatory, has Icy Blue Eyes, is opposed by a feline character, and even looks frighteningly like a growling wolf in the split second shot in which he shoves Selina through the window. The Organ Grinder, meanwhile, has dark eyes, a hooked nose, a scrawny frame, and facial hair like a monkey; while the Poodle Lady has curly "poodle" hair and drooping jowls like a dog.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Bruce levels one at Selina when she reveals that she came to kill Shreck during the ball.
Bruce: I know you've got problems with your boss, but...who the hell do you think you are?
Selina: (in tears) I don't know anymore, Bruce...
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- Asshole Victim: Max Shreck. Oh, and that mugger in the alley.
- And the guy that made fun of the Penguin's appearance (although he doesn't get killed, so it's more Kick the Son of a Bitch).
- The fire breathing Red Triangle member in the devil costume gets set on fire by the Batmobile early in the film. However, a few innocent Gothamites can be seen burning and on fire in the background during the Red Triangle Gang's rampages, so Batman's just returning the favor.
- Badass Bookworm: As violent, sociopathic gang members go, the Red Triangle Gang also has some good mechanics.
- Bad Black Barf: The Penguin discharges black goo from his mouth as he is dying.
- Bad Santa: Max Shreck, "Gotham's own Santa Claus," is, according to Selina, more like an "anti-Claus."
- Ballroom Blitz: "You didn't invite me, so I crashed!"
- Beautiful All Along: Dowdy secretary Selina Kyle goes through a near death experience, trashes her apartment, and stitches together a vinyl suit to become the evil and sexy Catwoman...
- Becoming the Mask: The Penguin realizes that Shreck is trying to exploit him to get a Mayor who will approve Shreck's new power plant. However, the Penguin quickly warms to the idea and decides that he likes the idea of becoming Mayor.
- Betty and Veronica: An interesting case in that both archetypes are combined in the character of Selina Kyle.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Penguin and Catwoman both have largely separate agendas, and work together only briefly. Original character Max Shreck actually manages to hold his own against both of them; in fact, they fight, manipulate, ally, and betray each other as much as they do against Batman himself.
- Big "NO!": Selina Kyle, after coming home from a near death experience and listening to her messages of her demanding mother and annoying beauty sales. It doesn't help that the latter was endorsed by the company, whose head just threw her out the window. Specifically, that it talked about how after she tried the pitch's perfume, her boss would want to arrange "A candlelight staff meeting for two..." — the final straw that sends Selina over the edge and begins her transformation into Catwoman.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Max Shreck is a male example.
- Bittersweet Ending: Although The Penguin and Shreck were defeated at the end, Batman failed to save Catwoman. This was lampshaded by her:
Catwoman: Bruce... I would love to live with you in your castle... Forever just like in a fairy tale... (scratches Batman's face) But I just couldn't live with myself, so don't pretend this is a happy ending!
- In the graphic novel adaptation (based on the original script), both Commissioner Gordon and the Mayor hinted that Batman will never forgive the city of Gotham for ruining his reputation, but he'll be there for them.
- Blackmail: Penguin convinces Max to help him with his plans by threatening to reveal his company produces toxic waste, he owns half the hazardous buildings in Gotham, and murdered his old business partner.
Penguin: Remember Max, you flush it, I flaunt it!
- Break the Cutie: Poor Selina.
- Break Them by Talking: During their first meeting, the Penguin taunts Batman by suggesting that his habit of wearing a mask is a sign of his cowardice. Later on, however, he comes to believe that Batman wears a mask in order to cope with the fact that he is jealous of Penguin because "I'm a genuine freak!" Grudgingly, Batman admits that his nemesis might be right.
- Brick Joke: Batman unwittingly finds himself playing fetch with a circus poodle... But that's not the end of the story. (See under Chekhov's Gun for more.)
- ...But He Sounds Handsome: Walking down the street, Bruce and Selina comment on the news coverage of Batman and Catwoman:
Selina Kyle: I heard on TV that Catwoman's thought to weigh 140 pounds. [scoffs] I dunno how these hacks sleep at night.
Bruce Wayne: It's not even accurate: "Batman Blows It?!" He probably saved millions of dollars in property damage alone.
- Call-Back: At one point, Selina drops the line of: "There'll be a hot time in the cold town tonight." The Joker had used the original lyric ("There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight") in the previous film, albeit under more diabolical circumstances.
- The Cameo:
- Composer/frequent Tim Burton collaborator Danny Elfman makes a short appearance as one of the people throwing assorted vegetables at Penguin during his Engineered Public Confession.
- In the teaser, Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger (both from Pee-wee's Big Adventure) appear as Tucker and Esther, the Cobblepot parents.
- Elizabeth Sanders-Kane, Bob Kane's widow (albeit not at the time, as he would pass away in 1998), appears during the montage of the public's reaction to the Penguin's new found fame. She says the line: "He's like a frog who became a prince!" She would later have a role in the sequels as Gossip Gertie.
- One of the clowns slapping the man on the head before Batman grabs him is Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, legendary karate pioneer and kickboxing champion. He helped train the eight other clowns who battle Batman hand to hand in the street.
- Anthony DeLongis, famed Hollywood weapons consultant (he appeared on an episode of Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior) not only taught Michelle Pfeiffer to wield Catwoman's whip, but appeared uncredited as another one of the Penguin's clowns.
- Camp: Okay, the movie is dark overall, but the people saying the later movies were much more campy than this apparently slept through the scene involving an army of rocket armed penguins marching down the streets of Gotham via mind control. Most of the stuff involving Penguin is a kind of Grotesque Camp.
- Canon Foreigner: Max Shreck.
- Carnival of Killers: Delightfully, the Red Triangle Circus Gang are a literal example, as they employ a bewilderingly diverse array of weapons.
- The Cat Bites Back: Max Shreck literally throws Selina Kyle out of her office when he suspects she knows something. This results in her transformation into Catwoman and uses her (supposedly) last life to kill Shreck with a literal Kiss of Death (courtesy of electric wires and a stungun).
- Cats Have Nine Lives: The Movie of the trope. The Catwoman believes she actually has nine lives and is "killed" eight times during the movie.
- Somewhat related is the deliberate emphasis shot on Catwoman landing on her feet during the scene of her destruction of Schreck's Department Store.
- Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are at the same party when they realize that they are enemies (i.e., Selina figures out that Bruce is Batman, and he that she is Catwoman) while they dance together.
- Chased by Angry Natives: Batman, after he is framed for murder. The Penguin suffers this later in the film after Batman reveals his true nature to the public.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The stungun that was taken off the clown that took Selina hostage is later used to deliver the "kiss of death" to Shreck.
- Batman also uses a computerized, Frisbee like Batarang on the Penguin's henchmen in the street, only for a trained poodle to leap up and catch it in its mouth. The poodle then serves as a Chekhov's Gunman, bringing the stolen weapon to Penguin so that he can knock the Ice Princess unconscious with it and then leave it behind to make it appear as if Batman were responsible for her kidnapping.
- The radio frequency jamming in the Batcave is used not only to expose Penguin's true villainy to Gotham, but also to save it from destruction when Penguin unleashes his penguin army on the city.
- The revolver that Penguin uses to kill the Fat Clown, which has five rounds left in it. It's retrieved by Shreck, who uses one of the rounds on Batman, and then the other four on Catwoman. And it's not enough to finish her.
- The Penguin's 'cute' umbrella, which he uses to put Shreck at ease is the last umbrella the dying Penguin pulls on Batman. "Oh shit...I picked the cute one..."
- Child Hater: The Penguin plans to murder all of Gotham's first born children to avenge his parental abandonment. Even worse, it's implied that the Penguin has been murdering children all his life.
- Circus of Fear: The Red Triangle Circus in the videogames is an actual location and supposedly one of the bases of the gang, featuring dark canvas tents and runaway trains that serve as battlegrounds.
- In the DVD Commentary, Tim Burton actually states that he disliked circuses as a child, and says he had more of a fear of them than anything else. This experience is what drove his portrayal of the Red Triangle Gang, which was inspired by sketches he drew illustrating the Penguin's backstory. (It also explains why he passed on Big Top Pee-wee.)
- Clothing Damage:
- Catwoman's costume gets progressively damaged as the film wears on; the script even refers to it as being "arousingly tattered" at one point.
- Perhaps something of a stretch, but when Penguin flees after being publicly disgraced, he loses his top hat. As he retreats back into the sewers and reverts to savagery, he begins to tear off his fancy clothes. By the movie's big climax, he has stripped down to his filthy long underwear again.
- Selina Kyle lives in Cloudcuckooland, at least some of the time. Most notable in the scene where she leaves unclear to Bruce and Max just how severely she might be suffering from amnesia, rambling her way through irrelevant childhood anecdotes of a pregnant nun and the time she went commando at school and a boy peeked up her skirt. And where, oh where, did the "dirty limerick" idea come from? The amnesia scene may have been Selina employing Obfuscating Stupidity to taunt Shreck.
- Penguin also displays this trait, especially when running for mayor. When asked for a platform, he proposes fighting global warming by introducing "global cooling" to "make the world a giant icebox."
- Shreck, too, was one in the shooting script and official comic adaptation. At one point, he jokes that there might be carnivorous reindeer roaming the city streets after dark.
- There's still a trace left in the film: His response to Batman's unmasking, after all, is "Bruce Wayne... Why are you dressed up like Batman?"
- Combat Parkour: Some of the circus acrobats use this ineffectively to come in close to Batman for an attack.
- Composite Character: This version of the Penguin shares uncanny similarities with another Batman rogue: Killer Croc. Both villains were born with physical deformities that give them the appearance of an animal, they were both used as freak show attractions in their early lives, and they both reside in the sewers of Gotham. To a much lesser extent, the Penguin also has a gang of clowns under his command, a gimmick that is often used by the Joker.
- Continuity Nod: Vicki Vale is mentioned on two occasions. Bruce tells Selina about her during their date. Then, a few scenes later, Bruce calls out Alfred for letting her into the Batcave. (Though to be fair, Vicki did figure it out.)
- The Penguin also makes a very quick passing reference to The Joker in his speech to his campaign staff.
- Cool Car: The classic '89 Batmobile is back. In this movie, it even presages the Batpod with its "Batmissile" mode.
- Averted with Penguin's amusement park duck... Thing.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Max Shreck. He sucks the life out of Gotham like a vampire, as he constructs unsafe buildings or dumps toxic waste into the environment. He has also murdered several people in cold blood, and plans to create a power plant in Gotham so he can drain electricity from its power grid and stockpile it for profit.
- Cowboy Cop: Three of Commissioner Gordon's men inch toward this when they open fire on Batman despite Gordon's plea for them to hold their fire. (Batman is suspected of committing a murder, he did unintentionally destroy many downtown buildings in the '89 film, and until very recently he had been suspected by many superstitious Gothamites of being an immortal blood drinker, so you can't blame those cops for having itchy trigger fingers.)
- Crapsack World: Gotham City in this movie is an impossibly horrific Crapsack World where a white collar criminal fixes the political process, women can be killed at will with no consequences, the citizenry are fickle and stupid, and the police (who are apparently completely incompetent) rely on an elitist vigilante to brutally punish even the most minor of crimes. Seriously, one is left with the impression that if Heath Ledger's version of the Joker from The Dark Knight would be happier here than in that movie's world.
- Crazy-Prepared: A usual Batman hallmark, Bats inexplicably has a giant pole built into the bottom of the Batmobile (that couldn't possibly fit inside it) for the sole purpose of lifting up and turning the Batmobile 180 degrees when it's stuck In a tight spot.
- Creepy Monotone: The Poodle Lady (The Penguin's chief moll) speaks in one as she's counting down to the destruction of Gotham City by penguin launched missiles — and in a weird Germanic accent for good measure.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: It takes Catwoman less than ten seconds to utterly destroy a mugger.
- Dark Action Girl: Catwoman.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Subverted. The Penguin passes himself off as this, but if anything he's actually several magnitudes more monstrous than he looks like. Played straight with Batman as usual though.
- Darker and Edgier: Although The Penguin plots murders only to further his agenda or for revenge, rather than "just for fun" in the case of the Joker, the movie still comes off as much more moody, depressing, violent and pessimistic. The film portrays both superheroes and supervillains as tragic figures, tormented by loneliness and teetering on the brink of complete madness. The sexual imagery in the sequel is noticeably more kinky, even if (unlike the first film) nobody actually has intercourse. And, unlike its predecessor, this one wraps up with a Bittersweet Ending (see above entry).
- The film's dialogue, the character's various agendas, their modus operandi and the overall tone of the movie is downright nihilist.
- Craig Shaw Gardner's novelization is darker still, especially in his description of the Gotham Plaza attack scene, with mental images of people getting killed when they are run over by the Red Triangle Gang's motorcycles or trampled by the panicked crowds. And then there is a hint he drops several chapters later that Oswald Cobblepot's parents are dead because he is the one who killed them, and his search for them and subsequent public forgiveness were just for show. James Rolfe gave the film three Happy Meals wrapped in chains dripping blood with dead cats and penguins impaled on it with knives, with a killer bat on top, out of five.
- Finally, as with the previous film (but to an even greater extent), Returns disregards Batman's usual adherence to Thou Shalt Not Kill; here, Batman kills criminals without any reservations.
- Dating Catwoman: What else did you expect from a Batman movie with Catwoman in it?
Selina: Oh my God. Does this mean we have to fight each other?
- Deadpan Snarker: Catwoman and Penguin.
- Death by Irony:
- The Ice Princess lands on the very button she was supposed to press to light up Gotham's Christmas tree. What do you know; she finally got it right.
- Schreck's plan throughout the film is to set the wheels in motion in starting an electric company to run scams through. Catwoman kills him by charring him with a very large electricity generator.
- Death-Activated Superpower: Apparently how Catwoman is "born."
- Death by Secret Identity: Once Max finds out who Batman is, it's not long before he lights up like a Christmas tree.
- Demoted to Extra: Commissioner Gordon already had a minor role in the first film; in this film he only has 4 lines.
- Destination Defenestration: Max tries to kill Selina this way, pushing her out a high-story window. She primarily survives by going through several canopies and being resuscitated by Miss Kitty and her coterie of cats.
- Determinator: Catwoman. She may not be the strongest character in the movie, but she is undoubtedly the toughest. This is proven at the climax of the film, when she takes four bullets to the torso and then gets close to Gotham City's power supply — and lives. "Badass" doesn't even begin to cover it. She doesn't even care if she dies at all!
- Did Not Get the Girl: Batman himself did not get to date with Catwoman in the end, though she is just hiding right behind his back.
- Disney Villain Death: Subverted twice. The first time, Selina is pushed out of a high window by Max Shreck and appears to be dead but revives a while afterwards and becomes Catwoman. The second time, Penguin falls through the skylight of his lair and into the toxic water below but emerges from it a few minutes later and attempts to kill Batman. However, he quickly succumbs to the toxin and his injuries before he gets the chance.
- Do I Really Sound Like That?: Catwoman was shocked when Penguin accuses her of "sending mixed signals."
- Do Not Adjust Your Set: Spoken verbatim by the Penguin. Justified since the Penguin's goons had tampered with the Batmobile and thus he had a tie-in to the vehicle to taunt Batman.
- Do They Know It's Christmas Time?: Played with in a number of ways.
- The Mayor is saddened by the Red Triangle Gang's urban destruction and consoles the crowd by saying that the community should come together during Christmas, no matter how clichéd that sounds. ("I don't care what the cynics say.")
- You could argue that much of the plot hinges on this trope. The Gothamites (well, most of them) show unusual tolerance and understanding toward the Penguin...even though, deformity notwithstanding, he gives them plenty of reasons not to. This just might be because they all have the warm fuzzies due to what time of year it is. (A deleted line even has one Gothamite remarking that "He helps you remember the true meaning of the holiday.")
- I wish I could hand out world peace, and unconditional love, wrapped in a big bow."
- Subverted by Bruce when he sees Selina on the street and notices how sad she is. He guesses that she must have "the holiday blues."
- The Dragon: He doesn't have many lines, but the Organ Grinder (Vincent Schiavelli) is implied to be this to The Penguin in his few scenes. The Poodle Lady is another possible candidate, especially after the OG gets captured by Batman.
- Dramatic Unmask
Schreck: Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up as Batman?
Catwoman: Because he is Batman, you moron.
- Dressed All in Rubber: Catwoman's PVC catsuit. Meow.
- Dumb Blonde: The Ice Princess is not the brightest bulb on the tree. Even before her Too Dumb to Live moment below, we see her in her dressing room mentally rehearsing for the tree relighting ceremony, apparently trying to wrap her mind around the invention of the light switch.
Ice Princess: The tree lights up, and I push the button. [double-checks] No, I push the button and then the tree lights up...
- Again, this is for a tree-relighting ceremony: She's already done this once before!
- She also seems to be ignorant of who The Penguin really is when he first meets her, despite all the attention he received for "saving" the mayor's baby / his tragic backstory, as well as for his unusual mayoral campaign.
- Dysfunction Junction: Every last person in Gotham is bonkers, from the normal citizens to the villains.
- Eat the Camera: After Penguin finds out that Batman has foiled his scheme to kidnap the first-born children of Gotham, he screams in rage as the camera zooms into his mouth.
- Elaborate Underground Base: The Penguin's base underneath the abandoned and creepy Arctic World zoo. Among other things, it has large pools of water, some storing toxic waste, many seats, a large dining table, and a huge air conditioning unit.
- Enemy Mine: The Catwoman and The Penguin reconcile their differences to fight Batman. But their team-up breaks up violently after Batman is successfully framed for murder and mayhem — Catwoman thought that the Penguin was just going to scare the Ice Princess, not kill her; but the true nail in the coffin was when Penguin propositioned her, which Catwoman reacted with disgust to ("I wouldn't touch you to scratch you."). The Penguin did not take rejection well and he tried to kill her using his helicopter umbrella around her neck, but Catwoman broke free and took another long fall into a greenhouse, using up another one of her lives.
- Engineered Public Confession:
The Penguin (recording): HEY JUST RELAX! I'LL TAKE CARE OF THE SQUEALING, WRETCHED, PINHEAD PUPPETS OF GOTHAM! (SQUAWKING LAUGHTER)
The Penguin: (aside to Shreck) I didn't say that.
The Penguin (recording): YOU GOTTA ADMIT! I'VE PLAYED THIS STINKIN' CITY LIKE A HARP FROM HELL! (SQUAWKING LAUGHTER)
- Et Tu, Brute?: The Penguin shows this reaction when one by one, all of his mooks walk away from him after the frequency for the rocketeer penguins gets jammed.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While his Red Triangle carnies are kidnapping the rest of Gotham's first born sons, the Penguin crashes Max Schreck's party to personally kill Max's own son. Max protects Chip by pointing out to the Penguin that he was the one who played the Penguin for a sap, and that he's the one the Penguin should logically kill. The Penguin grudgingly admits Max has a point, and takes him instead of Chip.
- Even Evil Has Standards: One of the Red Triangle Gang's clowns is shocked by the Penguin's plan to kill children:
: I mean, killing sleeping children. Isn't that a little... Penguin
No. It's a lot!
- Max Shreck is also visibly disturbed by the idea.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
- The mayor of Gotham City, despite being a reasonably important character, is never referred to as anything other than "Mr. Mayor." (In the original script, his name is "Jenkins," perhaps as a Shout-Out to the then mayor of New York, David Dinkins.)
- The Ice Princess is nameless as well. Even in the official media report of her kidnapping, nobody calls her anything else.
- This is sometimes Truth in Television, since it is the custom at certain festivals (Mardi Gras, especially) for "kings" and "queens" and whatnot to never have their identities revealed to anyone except for invited guests at the parade clubs' private banquets. The main exception is the Krewe of Bacchus, which every year since 1969 has invited a male celebrity to ride in their parade costumed as the Roman god of wine, and makes his name known to the public well in advance.
- Everyone Join the Party: The Red Triangle Gang is almost two dozen strong when they threaten celebrating Gothamites at the tree lighting ceremony, but when Batman shows up he manages to kill or incapacitate about a third of them. Then we see them regroup at Penguin's Arctic World hideout, and they've been whittled down to the single digits. By the time Penguin relocates to an abandoned office building that Shreck kindly provides him, the gang is small enough to huddle together in one corner of the room. But the next time they go out to the streets to riot, they've apparently been joined by at least a dozen or so new members, all of them costumed in the appropriate circus motif. For the rest of the movie, the gang then tends to fluctuate in size depending on Penguin's surroundings and whether his schemes are succeeding.
- It's more likely that those seen in the hideouts are the key members and lieutenants of Penguin, and those appear whenever they commit crimes are the footsoldiers who remain somewhere else. At the end of the movie, the only ones left to abandon Penguin when Batman is coming are Poodle Lady, Thin Clown, and a handful of acrobats after Batman cleaned up most of them earlier.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Hooooooo boy. Let's just say that The Penguin unleashes an army of rocketeer penguins upon Gotham and leave it there.
- Evil Counterpart: The three antagonists represent the dark opposite of Batman's personas:
- The Penguin = The orphaned "freak."
- Catwoman = The masked vigilante.
- Max Schreck = The billionaire public figure.
- Evil Makeover: Selina Kyle's transformation into Catwoman, coupled with Evil Is Sexy and Evil Feels Good:
I don't know about you, Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier...
- Exact Words: After killing the Snow Queen.
Max: You said you were just going to scare her.
Penguin: She looked pretty scared to me!
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Batman does this with a Bat Grappling Hook to the clown who takes Selina at stungun point.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: "Today's issue — the latest penguin sighting! Man or myth?" If you pay attention you'll notice that after a little while the (grown-up) newsboy lowers the price of subsequent issues.
- Extreme Omnivore: Catwoman does this to The Penguin's bird and keeps it in her mouth for a while... Until Penguin threatens her cat with a knife and she lets it out.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Rare non-comedic example. Penguin emerges from the icy polluted water. The dramatic music begins to play. He staggers slowly towards Batman, who is preoccupied trying to find Selina in the burning wreckage. The music builds. He reaches for one of his lethal umbrellas. Batman turns around. The music swells! ...And it is just the trick umbrella. "Shit! I picked the cute one!" He finally succumbs to his wounds, and drops dead.
- Fake Shemp: The final shot of the movie, with Catwoman looking over the city, was filmed weeks before the movie was due to premiere. As Michelle Pfeiffer was not available, Catwoman is played by a stand-in, with her back turned to the screen.
- The Family for the Whole Family: Played with concerning the Red Triangle Gang. Depending on the scenario, they're seen either riding around on unicycles while firing guns harmlessly into the air and grabbing people and slapping them on the head... Or blowing up buildings with gigantic rocket launchers and kidnapping sleeping babies and children to be executed.
- The Farmer and the Viper: Played with, as the Penguin's heart does soften a bit (or, at least, gets purged of its usual misanthropy for a time) after the people of Gotham show kindness toward him and try to elect him mayor. Ultimately played straight: He returns to his evil ways after being rejected, and this time his homicidal rage is even greater.
- Fat Bastard:
- Subverted with the Fat Clown. He nervously questioned the Penguin's plan for kidnapping and drowning the children of Gotham, and unfortunately was shot dead by the Penguin himself for doing so.
- And then there's the Penguin, who steadily loses sympathy as time goes.
- Faux Affably Evil: The Penguin in spades, when he successfully wins the towns sympathy vote (and starts to win their actual votes) and presents himself as a miserable victim of fate's hand, who nonetheless is willing to forgive the parents who abandoned him and expresses despair and outrage at the devastation caused by the Red Triangle gang. It's complete bunk and in private he is every bit the petty, vindictive, murderous, depraved, psychotic, hideous monster he looks like. He only put his Evil Plan to murder all the first born children of Gotham on ice because Shreck offered him the chance to be a Villain with Good Publicity, and when both those schemes are foiled by Batman he goes so berserk that he tries to destroy the entire city, just to avenge his own crappy life.
- Femme Fatale: Burton's Catwoman is iconic of the trope, being enticing but also clearly dangerous.
- Final Girl: In a very rare villainess example, we have the Poodle Lady during the street-fight scene. Batman goes through thirteen of the Penguin's most dangerous henchpeople with relative ease, trouncing ten of them with his unarmed combat skills and knocking down three more with his computerized Batarang. The Poodle Lady is number fourteen, and the only woman (with the possible exception of a long-haired, tomboyish clown who might be a woman), yet is the only one left standing - or, in one case, alive - when it is all over. The only two ways in which she doesn't fit the trope are 1) she doesn't kill Batman, simply running off instead; and 2) she isn't truly final since Batman defeats three more (male) thugs after she escapes.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: An inversion, Bruce and Selina meet at a party as "regular people" and end up discovering each other's Secret Identity. ("Ingenious costume. Let me guess: trust-fund goody-goody?") In their minds, "Batman" and "Catwoman" are their true identities, with "Bruce Wayne" and "Selina Kyle" being the real costumes.
- Also, while everyone else at the party is wearing a mask of some kind, they are not.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: We have a knight (Bruce), a maiden (Selina), a wealthy lord (Max), and a dragon (Oswald). And they are all deconstructed. Lampshaded in Catwoman's final speech.
- Freak Out!: Selina's transformation into Catwoman.
- The Freakshow: Where The Penguin was brought up and from which he recruited the Red Triangles.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During Selena's breakdown where she sprays black paint on her T-shirts, the hangers they're on sport the slogan "Dress Up With Professional Dry Cleaning" accompanied by a picture of two penguins in evening wear (the left one's in a tux, very similar to Cobblepot's motif) - it's plausible the company may be a front / fundraiser for the Red Triangle Gang.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The Penguin and Catwoman.
- Gang of Hats: The Penguin's Red Triangles, who, because the laws of screenwriting demand it, dress up every day in "old-timey," Victorian era circus costumes. Seriously. It's as if Hamas had a "children's birthday party" faction. Their weapons vary, as normal clowns utilize blades, nunchaku, and machine guns, while some performers use objects they would use in the circus, like firebreathers and jugglers using torches, The Sword Swallower using his shortsword, or the The Knifethrower Dame using her knives. Others are more outlandish, such as the Organ Grinder's gatling gun disguised as a big music box, or a clown strapped with a cartoonish time-bomb. Lampshaded in that Bruce Wayne does research on them and learns that they once really were circus performers, and apparently didn't bother to change their costumes after taking up a life of crime. (By the way, Hamas really does have a "children's birthday party" faction. As described here.)
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Max Shreck offers the Penguin free puntang.
- Gilligan Cut:
- Girl of the Week: Selina Kyle.
- Glass-Shattering Sound: When Catwoman gets dropped through the roof of a greenhouse, she sits up in a daze and lets out a scream that shatters all the glass.
- Good Is Not Nice: Batman himself as usual. He (through his machinations) kills the Penguin, the Strong Man from the Red Triangle gang with a bomb, set the fire breather guy on fire for no reason other than he was there, attempts to kill Catwoman by smacking her over the side of a building, and flees from the scene of a murder he's the prime suspect of.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When Selina realizes that Max has left his speech for the tree lighting ceremony up in his office, all she can think to say is a very calm "Oh, darn." Her language does get cruder as the film goes along.
- Similarly, after she tries to suggest something at the board meeting where she is introduced:
Selina: "Actually more of a question"
...Stupid corn dog! [Quietly]
Corn dog, corn dog...
- Go Through Me: When the Red Triangle Gang comes looking for Max in the beginning, his son Chip bravely stands up to them and says: "You'll have to go through me!" Subverted when the clowns all pull out an assortment of blades and machine guns at his face with an "Ooooooh!"
- Grenade Tag: Batman.
- Groin Attack: Catwoman kicks Batman down there with a heel heeled boot; meowtch!
- Balls of Steel: Considering that the Groin Attack is one of Catwoman's favorite attacks, she may realize that this attack isn't very effective against Batman, as he isn't showing much flinch from the effect of that attack. But Batman should be wearing a protective cup at the time, and he's also been trained as a ninja and all.
- The Grotesque: The Penguin's plan for revenge on Gotham involves appearing to be merely this.
- Hammerspace: Averted. To some viewers, it might appear as if Catwoman pulled that tazer from nowhere in her climactic scene. But if you look down at her left foot while she's walking, you can see the tazer strapped down there. She reaches down and pulls it out after she's been hit by the second pair of bullets, and is saying "All good girls go to heaven..."
- Hand Wave: Literally — Shreck introduces the Penguin to his campaign staff for a mayoral run. The Penguin asks him: "Elections happen in November; is this not late December?" Shreck waves his hand and says: "Don't worry about it." After all, it wouldn't be the first time a sitting public official was removed from office.
- Shreck does mention to the mayor early in the film that he has enough signatures to force a recall election, but doesn't have an issue or a candidate to justify one with. The Penguin provides both of these, by using his gang to make the mayor appear soft on crime, and endearing himself to the people of Gotham.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: Catwoman just can't decide whether she wants to be a villain or... Well, if not quite a hero, at least a sympathetic Anti-Villain. Michelle Pfeiffer herself said in an interview that she didn't know whether her character is "a good guy" or "a bad guy." It's this complete ambiguity that largely makes this movie feel darker and more adult and unsettling than even The Dark Knight.
Bruce: (after Selina tells him of her plan to kill Shreck) Who the hell do you think you are?
Selina: (in tears) I don't know anymore, Bruce...
- He Knows Too Much: Max tries to kill Selina for finding out too much about Shreck's plans for his power plant. It doesn't work, and Shreck promises to Chip that if she tries to blackmail him, he'll drop her out a higher window — meantime, he has badder fish to fry.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Selina suffers one of these (complete with psychotic breakdown and terrifying music) upon returning home after Shreck threw her out the window.
- Hidden Depths: It's interesting that even the most unsympathetic bad guy in the film, Max Shreck, occasionally has humanizing moments when his most secret impulses rise to the surface. There's his impromptu speech to the crowds at the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, right after throwing gift-wrapped packages to some of the spectators, which is undoubtedly manipulative but still has some truth to it: "I'm just a poor schmoe. Got lucky. And sue me if I want to give some back." And later, when he is meeting with Bruce Wayne in his office and Bruce accuses him of riding the coattails of a "crime boss" (The Penguin): "Shows what you know, Mister To-The-Manor-Born-With-A-Silver-Spoon. Oswald Cobblepot is Gotham's new golden boy. If his parents hadn't eighty-sixed him, the two of you might have been bunkies at prep school." There is clearly a trace of resentment and poignancy in Max, as he suspects that maybe if he'd had wealthy parents too, he wouldn't have had to become a crook to get ahead.
- In an early draft of the script, Max was Penguin's older brother who emancipated from his family. Thus likely losing his inheritance and has to make his own fortune the hard way.
- He also puts his own life in danger to save his son.
- ... Even though earlier in the film, he was willing to let his son sacrifice himself so that he could get away from one of the clown goons.
- Though Max was clearly surprised that his son risked his life for him. And only ran because his son told him to. Plus in that first situation it initially looks like Chip's far greater physical strength will protect him. In the second situation the Penquin has everyone at gunpoint, so beating him will require cunning, which Max seems to have more than Chip.
- High Class Gloves: The Ice Princess's outfit is a sexy leotard, but otherwise it's made to look like something for a winter princess, which includes long, fur-trimmed gloves.
- High Voltage Death: Max Shreck dies of electrocution, courtesy of Catwoman overloading the power generator at Penguin's Arctic World, and frying him with one of the wires while giving him a Kiss of Death.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Penguin appears to have the Mayoral race in the bag, until Wayne & Alfred broadcast his previous rants over the loudspeakers.
- Later, after his plot to kill all the first-born sons of Gotham is foiled, Penguin straps rockets to his hundreds (thousands?) of penguins in order to destroy the city. Alfred is able to jam the signal used to control them, sending them off to follow a new beacon. When Batman arrives at his underground lair, Penguin wields a sword-umbrella, only for Batman to simply pull out a small remote control with a blinking red button. His eyes shift from the control, to something on the opposite side of the screen. Penguin does likewise, and sees his entire penguin army. He snaps — even further than he already had — and is able to take the controller and press the button. The rockets launch, destroying what remains of the park, but also releasing a swarm of bats from the Batski, which immediately descend upon Penguin. He stumbles backwards, through the ceiling glass, and into the icy polluted water.
- It's a double Hoist by His Own Petard if you remember that the Penguin used a similar swarm of bats released by an umbrella in order to send the Ice Princess off a building and kill her, framing Batman for the entire thing.
- Holding Out for a Hero: After saving a would-be rape victim, Catwoman scolds her for this.
- Humiliation Conga: One thing after another goes wrong for the Penguin during the movie's last act, until Batman has all but destroyed his hideout. Shreck gets an even worse conga, complete with a Karmic Death.
- I Am the Noun: "I am the light of this city - and I am its mean, twisted soul."
- I Broke a Nail: Parodied. Catwoman snaps one of her claws off on Batman's body armor (ruining it), picks it up, stares at it, and says "Damn."
- Ice Palace: Arctic World
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Discussed and then subverted, or at least defied. Selina presents a handgun to Bruce while they are dancing at the Christmas Eve party and makes clear that she wants to assassinate Max Shreck. Bruce frantically snatches the gun away from her, but before he can say anything she lampshades this very trope by pointing out that it would be good for the city if Shreck were killed - and that, despite his "Santa Claus" benefactor gimmick, everyone secretly knows Shreck to be a Devil in Plain Sight and wishes he were dead, but only Selina is willing to actually go through with the murder, or to threaten to do so.
- Later explicitly suggested when Selina tears off her mask during her final confrontation with her former boss, revealing that her hair has become very wild and Shreck-like.
- Insistent Terminology: Selina insists on people calling her an "executive assistant", rather than a secretary. Finally, during her date with Bruce at the manor, she resignedly admits, "Secretary."
- Iron Butt Monkey: Sure, it's supposed to play up the whole "nine lives" thing, but Selina takes this to such extremes that she becomes heroic: pushed out a window to the street below. Burned on the arm by a vial of acid and sent plummeting down into a truck full of sand. Nearly strangled by one of the Penguin's umbrellas and sent crashing through the roof of a glass greenhouse, which rips her costume to shreds. And finally shot four consecutive times in the stomach. But all this just makes her angrier and crazier than before, to the point where (apparently) nothing can kill her. And, just to cap it off, she murders Shreck by mouth-to-mouth action with a taser in the middle... and lives!
- Ironic Echo: See Under the Mistletoe, below.
- Before killng him, Selina calls Shreck "Santy Claus", in a nod to how the mayor introduced him at the tree lighting.
- Jabba Table Manners: The Penguin clearly displays these while gobbling down a raw fish.
- Jerk Jock: Chip Shreck, at least in the shooting script. In the film itself, he's more a case of Daddy's Little Villain.
- Karma Houdini: Penguin's parents never seemed to pay for mistreating him as a baby, implicitly dying of natural causes decades later. However, the even Darker and Edgier novelization implies this was eventually subverted sometime after the prologue when he actually did get to reunite with them... and made them regret it in the worst possible way.
- Karmic Death: "I am the light of this city!" Really? You should be careful what you wish for, Maxie!
- Kick the Dog: When the Fat Clown objects to his crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, Penguin simply takes out a revolver and shoots him.
Fat Clown: I mean, killing sleeping children. Isn't that a little... err...?
Penguin: (BANG!) No, it's a lot!
- Kiss of Death: Selina, after her identity is revealed to Shreck and has two "lives" left, grabs the stun gun she picked up near the beginning of the film, puts it in between her and Max and kisses him with it, shocking the inside of his mouth.
Catwoman: Two lives left... I think I'll save one until next Christmas. But in the mean time... (Turns the gun on) How 'bout a kiss, Santy Claus? ["Kisses" him]
- Lampshade Hanging:
Penguin: Why is there always someone who brings eggs and tomatoes to a speech?!
- Large Ham: The Penguin, complete with Evil Laugh at times. To a lesser extent, Michelle Pfeiffer, quite composed as Selina Kyle, goes over the top as Catwoman.
- Light Is Not Good: Max Shreck, the white-haired supposed philanthropist who tosses Christmas presents to children in a crowd and who even tries to justify many of his actions by claiming that "I am the light of this city." It's all a put-on. (The "light of this city" metaphor, by the way, is even more disturbing when you remember what the Latin word for "light-maker" is: Lucifer.)
- Looks Like Orlok: Moreso than he does a penguin, anyway.
- Loophole Abuse: When Catwoman agrees to help the Penguin frame Batman by kidnapping the Ice Princess, she takes at face value his promise that he is going to scare the girl. Little did she suspect that he intended to scare her to death!
Penguin: She looked pretty scared to me!
- Love Cannot Overcome: Bruce Wayne mentions that Vicki Vale, his love interest from the first Tim Burton movie, couldn't handle being Batman's girlfriend.
- Things don't work out well for Bruce and Selina's romance either.
- Manipulative Bastard: Max Shreck.
- Man on Fire: During the Red Triangle Gang's attacks, a few Gothamites can be seen in the background burning from the fire jugglers and breathers. Batman inflicts this on one of the fire-breathers using the backwash of the Batmobile.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did Selina die and get resurrected by cats when Max pushed her out the window, or did she survive the fall and is simply having delusions? Catwoman seems to believe that she died and has nine lives, but it is left deliberately ambiguous: all of her "deaths" in the film are survivable (her falls all have relatively soft landings, and Max shoots her four times in four non-lethal places).
- Meaningful Name: Max Schreck, a man who plans to suck the life out of Gotham by draining the electricity and stockpiling it, shares his name with the first man to ever play a vampire on film, in Nosferatu.
- Messianic Archetype: Addressed when Catwoman points out to Penguin that simply killing Batman would only increase public support for him ("He'd have even more power as a martyr"), and that to truly destroy him they need to turn the people of Gotham against him.
- Miles Gloriosus: For all his tough talk, Max Shreck isn't above running away and hiding in an alley when the Penguin's gang crashes the downtown Christmas celebration. What makes his cowardice even worse is that he leaves his son standing there on the stage with multiple guns and bladed weapons pointing at his throat. Sure, it's what everyone else is trying to do, and it's what his son wants anyway... but one would have expected more dignified behavior from such an eminent public official.
- Minion with an F in Evil: The Fat Clown.
- A Minor Kidroduction: The movie begins with the Penguin's birth and his parents ultimately dumping him into the sewers where he wound up being raised by penguins.
- Misplaced-Names Poster: See the page picture.
- Modeling Poses: Even though the lady playing the Ice Princess isn't modeling anything, she still does some poses right before and after lighting the tree.
- Monochrome Casting: In contrast to the previous film, where Harvey Dent, one of the Joker's mooks, and a small speaking part where cast with African-Americans. This is due at least in part to last-minute changes in the final script, as Marlon Wayans had been cast as Robin but was left out of the final shoot.
- Monster Clown: Some circus members go beyond doing harmless yet threatening acts of vandalism and terrorism, and attempt to hurt people. They include the Terrifying Clown who threatens to taze Selina Kyle, the stilted jugglers with threatening masks who burn an innocent man, and the large and imposing Strongman who knocks out a mall Santa with a toy sled.
- Monster Sob Story: The Penguin.
- Mood Whiplash: Done intentionally when Schreck corners Selina in his office when she accidentally discovers his power plant plans. He walks up to her menacingly and she stammers out "It's not like you can just kill me." He says "Actually, it's a lot like that." Then, he breaks a big smile and starts laughing, Selina as well, thinking "Like You Would Really Do It". He does it.
- Mook Horror Show: Not so much this time, since, unlike in the '89 film, criminals know by this point that Batman is human (thanks to the good look at his body armor by Bob the Goon after the Joker's gang shoots him in an alley). Still, the Organ Grinder is clearly terrified when Batman's silhouette appears atop the circus train in a flash of lightning.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Oswald Cobblepot's parents, horrified by his appearance and cruelty, put him into a basket and drop him into a river. He is then carried away by murky waters and adopted by... penguins.
- Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: The Penguin installs a remote control device in the Batmobile and uses it to try and kill Batman while Batman is driving.
- Mythology Gag: The Penguin running for mayor was directly taken from the 1966 TV series' two-part episode "Hizzoner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin." Also, Batman uses a frequency-jamming device to stop the Penguin's missiles, just as he did in that series' spinoff film.
- The 180 degree rotation the Batmobile pulls is likely a reference to the TV series as well, and its "Emergency Bat Turn."
- The Penguin wears his signature monocle in three brief scenes, and in one scene, somebody sticks a cigarette holder in his mouth (although he immediately spits it out a second later). The film's promotional material and in-universe political campaign posters do, however, show him with his top hat, monocle, and cigarette holder in the classic Penguin style.
- The giant rubber-duck boat Penguin uses was actually first seen in the The New Adventures of Batman episode "Reading, Writing, and Wronging" two decades earlier.
- Never Found the Body: The final shot reveals Catwoman survived this way, though she was never brought back to the franchise.
- Noble Demon: Catwoman. She's a Magnificent Bitch, a coward who wins fights by cheating, and can be just as mean as the men who have persecuted her. But Selina takes no pleasure from Penguin's callous murder of the Ice Princess, admits that she loves Bruce Wayne as he loves her, and shows Max Shreck who the real coward is by defiantly coming toward him as he cringes backward and fires bullet after bullet into her body.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Given his media-friendly gimmickry, outlandish hairstyle, and rough-and-tumble upbringing, it's little surprise that many viewers (both in 1992 and now) tend to interpret Max Shreck as a fictional Donald Trump. In fact, Shreck's role as a political kingmaker in this movie eerily predicted what Trump would eventually become! In a Hilarious in Hindsight moment, Shreck even gets to bellow "You're fired!" at one point.
- Non-Specifically Foreign: The Poodle Lady. Judging from those few lines we hear her speak, her voice can best be described as "Central European immigrant who's almost lost her accent."
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
- If you presume that Gotham City is supposed to be like New York City (as most people do), then the Los Angeles-born Michael Murphy using his natural accent as the Mayor sounds pretty inappropriate.
- Michelle Pfeiffer, too, is a Southern California native, and as Selina Kyle she sounds like exactly that. Her accent does become more generic when she's Catwoman, though. And the movie makes clear that the Kyle family is not native to Gotham; we even hear Selina's mother speaking on her answering machine in what has to be some upper Midwestern/Great Lakes dialect (Chicago, maybe?).
- Not So Different: A major theme in the movie, lampshaded several times. Batman, Catwoman and Penguin are bitter enemies, but share many common traits (Animal Motifs, Dark and Troubled Past, loneliness and deep psychological trauma).
- Not So Harmless Villains: Despite being clowns who once performed in a circus and kept their costumes, the Red Triangle Circus members are still menacing enough to serve as an effective terrorist army for The Penguin.
- Off Bridge, onto Vehicle: Batman knocks Catwoman of the roof of a building, only for her to escape when she lands in the back of a truck full of sand.
- Offing the Annoyance: The Penguin kills a henchman for questioning the morality of his plans.
Henchman: I mean, killing sleeping children. Isn't that a little...
Penguin: No... it's a lot!
- Oh, Crap!:
- The Organ Grinder, just after he notices Batman's shadow appearing just above him in a flash of lightning.
- The Strongman, when he notices that Batman stuffed a Looney Tunes-style time bomb in his cummerbund.
- Max Shreck when the gun he fires at Catwoman goes turns out to not be loaded.
- A shared one between Bruce Wayne, and Selina Kyle, as they realize that they've both just given away their secret identities to each other.
- The most hilarious one (sadly, missed by most people) is the split-second shot of the Mayor's face when the Penguin's giant Christmas package bursts open and releases his gang. You'll have to freeze the image at just the right moment, but it's well worth it.
- Bruce has a brief one when he hears the Penguin behind him reaching for one of his umbrellas and turns around being caught completly off-guard if Penguin hadn't picked the 'cute' umbrella.
- Bruce has a great one after he gets control of the Batmobile back from Penguin, is fast approaching an alley to make a getaway from the pursuing cops, but the controls to turn the car into the Batmissile still aren't working: "Okay, now I'm a little worried!"
- Older Than They Look:
- Circus performer John Strong, who portrayed both the Sword Swallower and (uncredited) the Fire Breather, was 67 years old when he played both those roles. He doesn't look much older than 45.
- Cristi Conaway, who played the Ice Princess, was 27 at the time. The character could pass for 21 or even younger.
- And would you believe that Michael Keaton was already forty at the time of filming? Didn't think so.
- Out of Focus: One of the common criticisms to the movie is that Batman actually takes the backseat to The Penguin and Catwoman.
- Papa Wolf: The Penguin goes ballistic after Batman has Alfred jam the frequency over which he is sending neurological commands to his pet penguins, which evidently causes them great pain. ("MY BABIIIIES!")
- Also, Max Shreck. He's a ruthless, cold blooded thug of a business man, but still loves his son. When Selina finds out the truth about his "power plant," he tries to kill her, because he views it as his legacy to leave to Chip.
- Parental Abandonment: Disgusted by his deformity, the Cobblepots throw their son in his baby carriage off a bridge and into a river.
- The Password is Always "Swordfish":
Selina: I figured that your password was "Geraldo" — your chihuahua — and it was.
- Pet the Dog: Penguin makes it appear this way for himself by "rescuing" the Mayor's son, which he engineered, to generate sympathy.
- For all their faults, Max and Chip Shreck do indeed seem to care for each other, as when the Red Triangle gang comes for Max, Chip stands in the way, and tells Max to save himself, and in an echo of this scene, later on, when Penguin comes to kill Chip, Max begs him to take him instead.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
- The members of the Red Triangle Circus don't actually perform anymore. Justified in that they're fugitives from the law, and generally act as criminals now. Subverted (albeit briefly) when a few of the performers use their skills as tools of terrorism during the Gotham Plaza sequence, proving that they've "still got it."
- Bruce Wayne plays the trope pretty straight. In only one scene is he shown doing anything that could reasonably be counted as "work."
- Plot Hole: Just how did Penguin get his hands on the blueprints to the Batmobile?
- Plucky Office Girl: Selina, before her transformation.
- Polar Bears and Penguins: Despite what this film seems to indicate, there are no penguins in the Arctic. Even Michael Singer's Batman Returns: The Official Movie Book got this wrong.
- Pragmatic Villainy: When Selina turns up alive after Schreck tries to kill her, he decides to leave her alone for the time being. However, he tells Chip that if Selina tries to blackmail him, he'll push her out of a higher window.
- Pretty in Mink: The white fox trim on the Ice Princess's costume gives it extra glamour (in addition to still being sexy).
- Selina, too, sports a snowy white faux-fur ensemble in one scene.
- Produce Pelting: Happens to The Penguin after he's exposed for what he is by Batman via Engineered Public Confession.
The Penguin: Why is there always someone who brings eggs and tomatoes to a speech?!
- Psychopathic Manchild: From his juvenile sense of humor, to his adult-sized temper tantrums, The Penguin embodies this trope. For a good example, witness his murderous reaction to being turned down by Selina.
- And both physically and in other significant ways, he comes across as an overgrown baby. He wears pajamas and a bib, is constantly spitting up, has a mobile-like umbrella with pastel children's squeeze toys hanging from it, and travels around in a giant rubber-duck bath toy.
- He was abandoned as a baby, after all, and grew up without any kind of parental figure (except for the penguins and maybe the circus handlers), so it makes a lot of sense that he would still have the mentality of a child.
- There's Batman himself, the guy still driven by the murder of his parents from when he was still a kid, but he's practically the model of sanity compared to the Penguin (and Catwoman).
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Subverted. Batman's punches don't phase the muscular Strongman, but it gives the Dark Knight time to stuff a bomb down his pants.
- Put on a Bus: Vicki Vale, Bruce Wayne/Batman's love interest in the previous film, was originally scripted to return (see below) but was cut out of the film in favor of Catwoman. It is implied that she simply couldn't keep up with Bruce's double life as Batman. The same could be said for Harvey Dent, who pops up in the next film as Two-Face, and Mayor Borg, who is replaced by Roscoe Jenkins.
- Raised by Wolves: By penguins, to be exact. With a little educational help from a gang of clowns.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Commissioner Gordon.
- Red Right Hand: Zigzagged with the Penguin himself; though his pallor and build are probably due to his lifestyle, his pronounced nose and distorted hands (middle, ring and pinky fingers fused into grotesque "flippers") fit the trope. In the first half of the film, he tries to subvert it, using them to build sympathy as a poor soul who was unfairly cast out of society because of his physical ugliness. Then played straight when he turns out to be a murderous sociopath after all.
- Some of the Red Triangle Gang members appear just as ugly as Penguin himself (although, unlike him, they are obviously sporting masks and face putty).
- Refuge in Audacity: Most of the film, but the climax suitably takes the cake, when the Penguin tries to destroy Gotham City with an army of penguins.
- Resigned to the Call: The Penguin isn't very keen on becoming Mayor of Gotham City, and only agrees to it so Shreck will help him with his own goals. It's later subverted when the Penguin decides that he could actually enjoy being the Mayor, along with all the trappings that would come with it.
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Batman recorded remarks the Penguin made believing he was more or less in private, only to replay them for Gotham City. The gibberish rewind noise was there even though the recording was on compact disk. Going for a cheap laugh, Bruce even did some scratching with the disks, as if they were vinyl records.
Penguin: [on recording] I played this stinking city like a harp from Hell! [rewind, replay]
- Rooftop Confrontation
- Rousing Speech: A completely insane yet awesome one, courtesy of the Penguin post-Villainous Breakdown:
Penguin: My dear penguins, we stand on a great threshold. It's okay to be scared - many of you won't be coming back. Thanks to Batman, the time has come to punish ALL of God's children! First, second, third AND fourth born - why be biased?! Male and female! Hell, the sexes are equal with their erogenous zones...... BLOWN SKY HIGH! FORWAAAARRDDD MARCH! THE LIBERATION OF GOTHAM HAS BEGUUUUN!!
- Rule of Symbolism: After Penguin has initially turned down Shreck's suggestion that he run for mayor of Gotham City, he starts to retreat back upstairs to his office. Shreck tails him, catching up with him at the foot of the stairs and whispering three temptations into his ear. Penguin responds with: "You drive a hard bargain, Maxie. All right, I'll be Mayor." The two then look out the window over the city: Penguin cries "Burn, baby, burn!" and Max gets a glittery, avaricious look in his eyes. The parallels with the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4, are eerie.
- There's also the Moses in the Bulrushes stuff going on in the opening, along with "33 Years Later..." and the Penguin's penultimate plan to kidnap all of Gotham's first born sons and baptise/drown them in the pool of toxic waste.
- Scenery Porn: Even moreso than the first Batman, this movie has amazing set design, only enhanced by the snowy landscapes.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- Following Oswald Cobblepot's Engineered Public Confession (see above) but before he gets pelted with vegetables, Shreck and his entourage wisely (if cowardly) decide to scram. And at the end of the film, the Penguin's remaining circus mooks abandon him with Batman about to storm their base.
- Once it becomes clear that Batman is about to make his way into the Arctic World base, the remaining Red Triangle Gang members take this as their cue to flee. Their ultimate whereabouts are left unknown.
- Self-Made Orphan: There are some subtle indications the Penguin killed his parents, but its hinted at stronger in the novelization.
- Sequel Hook: Catwoman is still alive. Ultimately subverted in that the later Batman films never got around to addressing this plot point, and the Catwoman film ended up undergoing so many changes as to have nothing whatsoever to do with any version of DC canon.
- In a very early draft, a few of the Penguin's fleeing goons discuss that the Riddler is looking for hired help.
- In another script, it was Harvey Dent instead of Max Shrek who gets electrocuted. Thus setting up Two-Face as the villain for the next film.
- Sexy Santa Dress: The outfit the Ice Princess wears is like a fur-trimmed one-piece swimsuit.
- Shades of Conflict: Oh my. The three villains are all somewhat sympathetic. Penguin is a clear Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, since his parents tried to kill him, Selina/Catwoman was created by an attempt on her life and desires on some level to be good, and Shreck gets several Even Evil Has Loved Ones, going so far as to sacrifice himself to save his son. Batman has abandoned his no-killing policy and is darker here than in almost any other adaptation.
- Sharp Dressed Man: Nobody outdresses Max Shreck, whose natty striped suit, fur-lined coat, black-and-white spats, and Ominous Opera Cape you will not soon forget - though the Penguin comes close when he's running for mayor in his striped pants, waistcoat, frock coat and top hat. Bruce Wayne himself doesn't look bad either when he attends his meeting with Shreck. ("Nice suit," says Selina.)
- Shout-Out: Walken's character was named after Max Schreck, who portrayed Count Orlok in the silent film Nosferatu.
- Shreck's human molar cufflinks are modeled after Meyer "the man who fixed the World Series" Wolfsheim's in The Great Gatsby.
- The masked ball at Shreck's department store features a replica of the "Red Death" costume from The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
- The Penguin's appearance has clearly been influenced by Dr. Caligari.
- The Penguin's "Batarang-ploy" is referenced in the video game Batman: Vengeance—Harley Quinn hurls a Batarang at Commissioner Gordon, and Batman is immediately suspected of throwing it.
- To kick off his plans in the third act, the Penguin inverts the famous quote from David Lynch's The Elephant Man.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Batman confronts Catwoman just as she is about to kill Max Shreck, Shreck steps forward and assures Batman that he's doing the right thing, since in sparing Shreck's life he is guaranteeing that Gotham City will not be robbed of its most influential leader. Batman promptly stiff-arms him in the face and reminds him that he's going to jail.
- Signs of Disrepair: Selina's "HELLO THERE" sign after she smashes it.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Christopher Walken.
- Sleeping With The Fishes: Fred Adkins's fate.
- The Snark Knight: Alfred
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Notably averted compared with the rest of the series. While the first film had the incongruously poppy "Batdance" as its radio tie in, and the two Joel Schumacher films had the unexpectedly Darker and Edgier "Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me" and "The End Is the Beginning Is the End," this film had the less popular but much more tonally appropriate "Face to Face" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
- Spell My Name with a "The": Lampshaded during Selina's first encounter with Batman, after he rescues her from a tazer-happy clown. Possibly a reference to the comics since in the original comics, it was The Batman to emphasize that he was a dark, eerie, and almost non-human like force of justice. Later, it became Batman as the comics became popular and the human aspects of the character emerged.
Or is it just "Batman"? Batman:
[more visible silence, then leaves] Selina:
Your choice, of course!
- Split Personality: Human/animal duality and double life in general is a major theme in the movie. Bruce Wayne / Batman, Selina Kyle / Catwoman, and Oswald Cobblepot / Penguin are implied to be having serious psychological issues, up to the point of having two different personas inside their minds - one human, and the other animal. This is especially obvious with Catwoman/Selina, as she looks at her reflection at one point and asks herself "Why are you doing this?", and then later admits to Bruce that she doesn't know who she is anymore.
- Spoiled Sweet: The Ice Princess in the film as it exists - she was originally meant to be less sympathetic (see Alpha Bitch above). Like a typical Spoiled Sweet character she is totally self-absorbed, possessing absolutely no clue who The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot is when he bursts into her dressing room. But despite an initially frosty response to his intrusion she turns on the charm as soon as he introduces himself as a talent scout. Much like typical Spoiled Sweet characters she is beloved by everyone, despite, or maybe even because, of her stupidity, and is clearly the type who has always depended upon men to take care of her (see for example her bodyguards who remove her fur coat at the first tree-lighting ceremony, and the way she remains perched on a rooftop ledge later in the film just waiting for Batman to come and rescue her, even though she could have easily hopped down). Clearly she's not used to taking care of herself or showing even a smidgeon of curiosity about the wide world beyond her own interests, but as the actress who played her said in an interview contained in the film's Making-of Book, "She's not as nasty as her title might sound. As long as you don't mess up her make-up."
- Spotting the Thread: Happens to Bruce and Selina simultaneously when she repeats something he'd said to her earlier as Batman, and he automatically responds by repeating the comeback she'd made as Catwoman.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Bruce & Selina are just not destined to be, as their masked alter-egos keep interfering, what with Selina's reluctance to date Bruce because it clashes with her Catwoman-schedule, the two being unable to properly make out since they're trying to hide their battle scars from each other (and by extension, their secret identities), Bruce being freaked out by Selina's plans to murder Shreck and get revenge (which is arguably brought on by the new-found aggression of her Catwoman side), their relationship getting turned upside-down once they discover that they've been fighting against the other's alter-ego the whole time, and Selina/Catwoman rejecting Bruce at the end since she couldn't live with herself choosing such a fairy tale ending. Their duality is arguably a big part of why they're attracted to one another, but it's also why they just can't be....
- Stepford Snarker: Selina Kyle
- Stockholm Syndrome:
- Played with. The Penguin has his gang abduct Max Shreck and then forces Max (through blackmail) to help him learn his real name and reintegrate him into society. In the Hall of Records scene, it appears as if Max has come to sympathize with Penguin's plight. ("Yes, he's a friend - of the whole city. So have a heart.") It only gradually becomes apparent that Max is actually manipulating Penguin as Penguin had tried to manipulate him, running Penguin as a mayoral candidate in order to oust the mayor that Max has been opposing from the movie's beginning.
- While the Penguin quickly figures out that Shreck is trying to take advantage of him, he decides that he likes the idea of becoming Mayor of Gotham, and puts his murder plans on the backburner until Batman sabotages his campaign.
- It's also possible that many of the Penguin's thugs - or at least the youngest ones - are the children whom Bruce mentioned being kidnapped from the Red Triangle Circus fairgrounds, now grown up and raised to be criminals.
- Stock Scream: The "Wilhelm Scream" can be heard during Batman's second encounter with the Red Triangle Gang. Happens right before the Strong Man is blown up.
- Stock Subtitle: "Returns".
- The Stoic: The Poodle Lady is always calm, even when facing Batman. She also speaks very monotonously.
- Strapped to a Bomb: The penguin army.
- Stripperiffic: Two of the Red Triangle Gang girls, the Knifethrower Dame and the Snake Woman, are seen in costumes that, while sexy, are extremely impractical for a city in the northeastern United States in late December. The Ice Princess wears a fur bodysuit, but that's not much help since the costume leaves bare her legs (which are covered by nylon stockings, but that's it), arms and shoulders; the script at one point describes her "shivering in her skimpy costume." At least Catwoman's suit, while also form-fitting, is all-covering.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: At his business meeting with Max Shreck, Bruce Wayne makes an offhand comment about "everyone but the bandits.... slacking off until New Year's." Max, who is actually stockpiling Gotham City's electrical power on the sly, blurts out: "Not sure I like the inference, Bruce." Bruce never intended to make an inference at all.
- Super Loser: Selina Kyle was the Butt-Monkey before her transformation into Catwoman...after that, the situation didn't change and gets worse: She was attracted to monsters (The Penguin) and ended in love with another (Batman). She abandons Batman to get revenge on Shreck because she knew they will never be happy together.
- Taking You with Me: Catwoman does this to Max Shreck by kissing him after grabbing a live electric wire. Still played straight even though she survives; it still killed her, she just had one life left.
- The Teaser: The birth of Oswald Cobblepot, and his parents' attempt to dispose of him.
- Tempting Fate: "I wish I could hand out world peace, and unconditional love, wrapped up in a big bow."
- Tension-Cutting Laughter: Found at the beginning of the film. Max Shreck, a villain, and Selina Kyle, his secretary, break out in this after Max makes like he's going to choke her to death. After the laughter subsides, he pushes her out of the 45th floor window.
- Terrorists Without a Cause: Subverted in the case of the Red Triangle Gang. On the surface, they appear to fit this trope due to the observation that their acts of arson and vandalism and the bullying of innocent citizens don't appear to serve an ultimate purpose; they don't even garner any loot from their crimes, even though they're living in near-poverty. However, all this anarchic violence does accomplish something: it humiliates Gotham City's mayor, making him appear to be soft on crime and providing a justification for the Penguin to run against him for office.
- There Are No Police: Well, there are, but in this movie they seem to exist only to turn on the Batsignal. The police also gave chase to Batman after he was framed, and the Penguin after he shot into the crowd after a failed speech, but they didn't get close to catching either one of them.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Averted, to an even greater extent than the previous film. Batman racks up a higher body count here than in pretty much any other Batman story, ever.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Ice Princess who is shown to be a ditz when she can't remember whether the lights come on and then pushes the switch or vice versa, but the real crown jewel is when she stands on the edge of a building; it's no wonder The Penguin so easily got Batman framed.
- Trojan Horse: The Penguin sneaks his gang into the city square by means of this tactic, with a giant Christmas present.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The Cobblepots hardly liked having a deformed son in the first place, but it wasn't until Oswald dragged the family cat into his "crib" and implicitly killed it with his bare hands — at the age of somewhere between one and three years old! — that they threw him into the river to drown.
- Twisted Christmas: For Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin. In fact, the Penguin was abandoned by his parents upon his birthday, which is Christmas.
- Two-Xanatos Pileup: The Penguin and Max Shreck try to manipulate each other for their own ends, Shreck hoping for a mayor he can keep in his pocket so he can build his power plant, and Penguin using Shreck to gain access to the lists of Gotham's first born sons. Their schemes include using criminals to cause chaos in the streets to make the current mayor seem helpless to deal with the situation, exploiting the Penguin's origins as a Tear Jerker to get public support for him to run for mayor, and framing Batman as a kidnapper and murderer.
- The framing Batman part was Catwoman's idea since just killing Batman wasn't enough.
- Under the Mistletoe: Which leads to an Ironic Echo:
Batman (later Selina): Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.
Catwoman (later Bruce): But a kiss can be even deadlier, if you mean it.
- Unholy Matrimony: Averted. The Penguin makes more than one advance towards Catwoman, but she has no physical interest in him whatsoever. When she turns down his marriage proposal, he angrily ends the partnership and tries to kill her.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: TONS of it between Batman/Bruce & Catwoman/Selina, what with the way Catwoman keeps sexually manipulating Batman (and it's obvious at one point that he IS into this, but obviously can't act on it since she's his opponent), and, while the relationship between Bruce and Selina fares better, the tension between remains unresolved for various reasons.
- Up to Eleven: The production design of Gotham City, characterization, dialogue, plot, score, (even features an original song by the Queen of Goth Rock, Siouxsie) etc. are about as Gothic as you can get without crossing over into a horror film. Tim Burton was lured back to the director's chair by being given complete control over the production of this picture, making this an even more Burton-y Batman film than its predecessor.
- Vehicular Sabotage: At one point The Penguin manages to install a remote control in the Batmobile.
- Villainous Breakdown: Penguin has a multi-tier one after the fallout of his campaign. First, he renounces his humanity and tries to kill all of Gotham's first born sons. After, Batman sends him a letter letting him know the children have been saved, he freaks out again and decides to nuke Gotham square with rocket-launching penguins. When Batman and Alfred jam the signal and his goons abandon him, he freaks out again and goes out to face Batman in the Duckmobile. He then use the penguins to bomb his own base in the slim hope he'll kill Batman along with himself.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Max Shreck is an excellent example of this trope, so much so that he is forced by The Penguin to shape him into this as well. It works quite well for a while.
Penguin: We're both perceived as monsters. But somehow, you're a well-respected monster. And I am... to date... not.
- Weaponized Exhaust: During the opening battle with the Red Triangle gang, Batman uses the Batmobile's jet engine to put the torch on the Fire Breather.
- Western Terrorists: The Red Triangle thugs fit this description reasonably well, being a Type I example (or, given their name, perhaps a Type VI example). One of them is even a suicide bomber!
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- So, was Chip ever brought to justice for his complicity in his father's crimes?
- Also unresolved is the fate of Josh and Jen, Max Shreck's two public-relations people. They are introduced in the campaign office scene as if they are going to turn out to be semi-important characters, but then disappear from the movie after that scene and are never even referred to again. In the zanier first draft of the movie, we do learn what eventually becomes of these two campaign workers (whose names are "Punch" and "Judy" rather than "Josh" and "Jen"), and it isn't pretty.
- The remaining Red Triangle Gang members (including the Poodle Lady) beat a hasty retreat when it looks like Batman will drive the Bat-Ski into the Arctic World complex. Their ultimate fate is left unknown, and it isn't clear if any/all of them escaped before the Old Zoo was destroyed by the Penguin Commandoes' barrage of missiles.
- Though Catwoman is seen alive and well at the end of the film (looking out at the Batsignal), she didn't appear in the following film and her whereabouts were left unknown. Though various ways of continuing the character were explored (Burton reportedly planned for her to play on the third film he would have directed, and there were also plans to have her in her own spin-off film with Pfeiffer reprising the role), these plans never came to fruition.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Batman manages to restrain himself from directly killing Penguin (he leaves him to suffer a Disney Villain Death) but has no qualms about executing various Red Triangle Gang members in creatively brutal ways.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Y'know, wait, where does Penguin get the thousand-plus penguin-scale explosive rockets and penguin mind control gear for his final assault on Gotham? Or all the electronics for hijacking the Batmobile, for that matter?
- The original script at least did account for the Batmobile sabotage. In Daniel Waters's original treatment, the initial attack on Gotham Plaza is a lot more elaborate, with the thugs invading before the tree-lighting ceremony begins and infiltrating Max Shreck's penthouse office, taking Max, Chip, the Mayor, and Selina hostage. Batman has to fight his way up to the penthouse level to save them, in the process leaving the Batmobile behind in an alley - but forgetting to put the shields down on the car. Even more of the Penguin's thugs then approach the exposed automobile and take photographs of it (though how this would allow them to draw up a set of blueprints for the car which they could analyze for weak points, as shown in the movie and the comic adaptation, does not seem to be explained).
- The novelization indicates the Penguin got the plans from a disgruntled engineer who helped design it. Perhaps in this version of the franchise, Lucius Fox isn't quite as loyal?
- Wicked Pretentious: The Penguin was born deformed due to inbreeding and his parents, to avoid scandal, quietly disposed of him. Growing up as a carnival freak, he returns to Gotham but doesn't fit in among the upper crust because of his atrocious manners.
- Winter Royal Lady: The Ice Princess
- Wolf Whistle: The Ice Princess elicits one when she disrobes immediately before lighting the tree.
- Wolverine Claws: Kind of. The Catwoman sports makeshift claws made from sewing implements. They are very long and quite painful.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Really, you can't blame Oswald "The Penguin" Cobblepot for becoming the way he is today. Disfigured since birth, his aristocratic parents tried to drown him in the sewers. He was found by a traveling circus, and was raised in the freak show. While the public views him with sympathy, he has become a warped sociopath, plotting to kill all the first born sons of Gotham City. When Batman foils him, he straps rockets to his hundreds (thousands?) of pet penguins, intending to use them in a suicide bombing to kill all of Gotham, which, as the only setting we see, is extremely omnicidal in context. And yet, you still can't help but pity him at his death.
- World of Snark: Every character has at least one snark moment except Commissioner Gordon.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Subverted when Batman targets the Poodle Lady on his batarang. Her poodle catches it and they both remove themselves from the fray. Catwoman uses this trope against Batman to get the drop on him. Batman quickly adapts and tells her to "eat floor" by their second encounter.
- But the most striking (no pun intended) example of a subversion has to be the brutal kidnapping of the Ice Princess. The Penguin barges into her tent just as the girl has finished applying her makeup, and manages to convince her that he is really a talent scout. Then, pretending to prepare to take the faux monarch's picture, he urges her to say "Cheese!" and then throws a stolen Batarang at her face so hard that it knocks her unconscious and causes her to bleed. (We don't actually see the blood, but we do see Commissioner Gordon appearing on the news and holding up the stolen Batarang, which he says had the girl's blood on it when the police found it.) So much for Beauty Is Never Tarnished.... (On the other hand, when we next see the Ice Princess, her gash has completely healed.)
- Would Hurt a Child:
- The Penguin's master plan is to murder all of the first-born children of Gotham city, and it's subtly implied (when Batman researches the Red Triangle Gang's past) that he used to abduct and murder children even during his days as part of the circus freakshow.
- The Cobblepots, Penguin's parents, qualify for this trope: they threw their infant son into a river on Christmas, hoping he'd drown or otherwise vanish from their lives. Yes, he'd just killed the family cat, but even so...
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
Catwoman: How could you? I'm a woman!
Batman: I'm sorry, I...
Catwoman: As I was saying, I'm a woman and can't be taken for granted. Life's a bitch, now so am I!
- Wrench Wench: As the Batmobile sabotage scene proves, the Red Triangle Gang has three of them!
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: While The Penguin and Catwoman were partners in the plan to kidnap the Ice Princess, Oswald hadn't told her anything about actually killing her.
Catwoman: You said you were going to scare the Ice Princess.
The Penguin: She looked pretty scared to me!
- A subversion is that Catwoman was more annoyed than upset by this. She simply didn't know. (Though it's still implied that she dislikes the idea of having the Ice Princess Stuffed into the Fridge on principle.) It's also possible that she's remembering her own 'birth' which was very similar - getting thrown off a building.
- You Taste Delicious: While Batman is flat on his back and Catwoman is straddling his chest, she acts like she's going to kiss him but instead licks his chin and lips. Then again, it is a cat-style kiss.