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YMMV: Batman Returns
  • All Psychology Is Freudian
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Were Tucker and Esther Cobblepot really Abusive Parents, or were they Well Intentioned Extremists who wanted to spare their son the misery of growing up as a "freak"? When Oswald speaks to the press after "rescuing" the Mayor's baby, he seems to suggest that they were the latter ("....what I guess they felt they had to do....").
    • Here's a third one: they did it to protect others from Oswald. It's regarded that kids torturing/killing animals is a sign something's not right in the head and the kid might grow up to be a serial killer; right before they tossed him, Oswald did kill the family cat, who just got near him.
      • On a fourth hand, they did have baby Oswald in a CAGE. Was he really a monster or could they not see past his deformities, hence providing the mental aspect that did make him a monster?
    • Did Max really care about his son enough to let Penguin take him, or was he smug enough to believe he'd come back unharmed, and making a heroic gesture like that would fuel his good image to the people of Gotham.
      • It does stand in distinct contrast with his earlier actions, where Chip tells him to run from the Red Triangle Gang and he does so. Either Schreck developed a conscience knowing what Penguin is capable of, or the rather more public environment, surrounded by his peers, meant that Schreck thought he should man up. That said, he had played Penguin before with the mayoral stuff, and probably thought he could do it again.
    • Does Batman himself have any kind of actual character arc in the film that could then reasonably be reflected in Batman Forever? He goes about his work in much the same way as the previous film, with the death of at least one mook on his hands, yet in Forever he seemed to regret doing things like this. Could it be that he saw what the cycle of revenge and violence was doing to Catwoman and it gave him a wake up call, forcing him to rethink his own life?
  • Anvilicious:
    • "It is human nature to fear the unusual. Perhaps, when I held my Tiffany baby rattle with a shiny flipper instead of five chubby digits, they freaked." (Oswald is just milking the citizens for sympathy.)
    • Don't ever leave your children unattended at home. Who knows what might happen to them.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Siouxsie And The Banshees' "Face to Face".
    • Much of the incredibly intense Danny Elfman score. "The Final Confrontation" in particular takes the cake, as does "Birth of a Penguin" and the re-orchestrated "Batman Theme" therein.
  • Crowning Movie of Awesome: According to the critics, for the pre-Nolan Batman films. It has the highest critical rating of any of the original 4 Batman films and while it remains divisive, it is widely seen as the deepest and most intellectual of the original run of films.
  • Contested Sequel: Fans of the first film and of the Batman films in general are split on this one: Some see it as the best of the pre-Nolan films, some see it as somewhat inferior to the first, and some feel its darkness is too overwhelming even compared to the first film.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy
  • Ending Fatigue: Batman takes out Penguin's gang and saves the day. Then he has to confront Shreck and Catwoman. Then we see Penguin die from the earlier attack. Then we see Bruce take in Selina's cat and the camera pans in to see Catwoman who is Not Quite Dead. Then it ends.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Catwoman. Just look at that outfit.
  • Fridge Horror: When researching the Red Triangle Gang, Bruce discovers that their Freak Show formerly featured an "aquatic bird boy", around the same time that the circus was shut down after numerous reports of missing children whenever they visited a new town, implying that the Penguin has been murdering children his entire life.
  • Hollywood Homely: Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle. In the time period the movie seemed to be mimicking, executive assistants and secretaries weren't hired for their office skills but for their... ahem... other assets. The movie itself showed that Selina was treated bad mostly because she was so timid she was intimidated just by being in the same room as a bunch of people. But, in her favor, she is also shown pre-transformation as intelligent... just overlooked due to the sexism of her workplace.
    • Completely averted in a coloring book published to market the movie to children, where Selina is depicted as a big-haired, Barbie-like blonde babe without glasses even before her transformation into Catwoman. (Kind of understandable since the activity book was for little kids, for whom Beauty Equals Goodness.)
  • Ho Yay
    • You have to admit that, as far as the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham are concerned, there's something strange about the mysterious closeness between the Penguin and Max Shreck - and not just because the Penguin calls Shreck "Maxie", which is a very affectionate name for a man he's known only a few days. Consider: From the very beginning, and even before he sponsors the Penguin's mayoral campaign, Max is always beside Oswald, always shielding him from the press and standing up for his rights, when there doesn't seem to be any reason why Max should care. (We know, of course, what's going on between the two of them, but the characters in the movie itself can only speculate.) Of course, given what a Manipulative Bastard he is, it wouldn't be out of character for Max Shreck to subtly lead the media to believe this, in order to divert attention from his well-publicized power plant.
    Reporter: What's the deal, Mr. Shreck - he a personal friend?
    • Shreck's plot isn't diverting attention away from the power plant, it's getting someone who will approve of it.
    • The Les Yay is much more apparent between Catwoman and the Ice Princess. It's not enough to tie the girl to a chair; Selina has to physically humiliate her further by tightening her whip around the Princess's throat so that she almost chokes and then literally dragging her up to the roof.
    Catwoman: Gotta go...girl talk.
    • It must also be mentioned that, in the novel, the Penguin reflects on how sorry he is that he had to kill them both, since he had really wanted to arrange a menage a trois.
  • Iron Woobie: Bruce Wayne at the end.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Even those who dislike the film are willing to admit that Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito turned in great performances.
  • Love It or Hate It: Some fans think that the dialogue, acting, and overall tragic feel to the film gives it a weight and maturity that the other movies just don't have. Other fans believe that this movie is unreasonably dark and depressing, while simultaneously being completely ridiculous. The critics are similarly split.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Bruce Wayne... why are you dressed up like Batman?" Naturally, this requires a Christopher Walken impression for the full effect.
  • Misaimed Marketing: This is not a kids' movie, not by a long shot, but McDonald's had Happy Meal toys made of it. After the parental backlash, McDonald's pulled the toys.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Penguin crossed the line after he had to ditch the mayor campaign and decided to kidnap all of Gotham's firstborn children, including the babies, with the intention of drowning them in a deep puddle of Shreck's industrial byproducts.
    • The brilliance of Penguin's character in Returns is that he was already on the other side of the line from the start of the movie. His reemergence into society, his attempts to gather census data on the populace of Gotham, all done from the start so he could identify and kill the first born children of every wealthy family in the city. It is even implied that he's already murdered children back when he was the "bird boy" at the Red Triangle Circus's freak show.
  • Narm Charm: The Penguin's death. When Oswald, wearing pajamas, asks for a drink of ice water as his last words, falls over dead, and is ceremoniously pushed into the sewer by six emperor penguins, acing as pallbearers, while sad and dramatic music plays in the background, it should be completely ridiculous! But somehow, it isn't. The scene still works, and is actually rather moving.
    • Selina's aforementioned Freak Out can definitely be this too- though some would fail to see it as Narm at all.
  • Nightmare Fuel: With surprisingly gross behavior from the Penguin (i.e. biting a man's nose and his death scene where carcinogens pour from his mouth). There's also Selina's breakdown and Max Shreck's demise.
    • And the Ice Princess falling to her death - especially since we see her screaming all the way down and hitting the ground. Even Die Hard didn't do that, and that was an R-rated movie!
    • See Fridge Horror, where it is implied that the Penguin has been murdering children his entire life.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo game adaptations are actually fairly good, fun adaptations.
  • Older Than They Think: Despite being a Darker and Edgier movie from a Darker and Edgier time, the primary villains have major callbacks to their Silver Age incarnations: Penguin's gang and weaponized penguins wouldn't have been terribly out of place in the Adam West TV show, and Catwoman's personality shifts were the explanation given in comics for why Batman was Dating Catwoman — he wanted her good personality.
    • The plot with Penguin running for Mayor of Gotham is actually a direct lift from the 60's Batman TV show ("Hizzoner The Penguin"/"Dizzoner The Penguin"), adapted of course. Although in both scenarios he loses.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Former San Diego Chargers punter Gregory Cummins as the bizarrely tattooed Acrobat Thug. ("I'm not really one for speeches, so I'll just say 'Thanks!'")
    • Steve Witting as a disastrously tactless campaign worker who gets a vicious bite in the nose from The Penguin.
    • Lisa Guerrero as a volunteer who gets not-so-subtly groped by the Penguin. She's credited as "Campaign Bimbo".
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Depends on which systems were released for.
    • The Konami games for the Nintendo systems were well-received. For the longest time, the Super Nintendo version was considered the best Batman game ever released. (Until, you know...)
    • The Sega games for the Sega systems received mixed reviews (although the driving sections in the Sega CD version did score a decent reception).
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Selina's apartment, before her Evil Makeover. Seriously, what grown woman has that many stuffed animals, dollhouses, and pink stuff everywhere? This may be a sign of an already present mental imbalance (i.e., she is the type to cover everything with optimism).
  • Tear Jerker: The Penguin's funeral when the penguins gather around him and drag his body into the sea.
    • "Don't pretend this is a happy ending!"
    • The Penguin's speeches about being abandoned by his parents. They're a ruse to earn him sympathy, but that doesn't mean he pulled those lonely feelings out of nowhere for his act.
  • Uncanny Valley: Shreck comes across as a deliberate version of this- he is always quietly sedate, even when he's been kidnapped by a deformed man-beast and dragged into a sewer, and shows a disturbing lack of empathy. Overall it makes him come across as inhuman, almost vampiric, contrasting with the more bizarre looking yet significantly more human leads.
  • What an Idiot: When Max Schreck sees Batman unmasked, he says "Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up as Batman?" Selina quickly points out that Shreck is a moron. He gave Selina another excuse to kill him after he apparently shot Batman in front of her. He had his armor on and Max was unfortunate enough to miss his exposed head.
    • Batman himself for unmasking in front of Shreck. True he was trying to get through to Selina in the hope of making her snap out of her Catwoman persona, and his own emotions may have been rattled by her plight, but it was still a dumb thing to do in front of the villain.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The name "Red Triangle Gang" may at first seem random, or as an ironic nod to the circus troupe's colorful and innocent origins. But in fact, the "red triangle" is a fairly common antifascist symbol in Europe - a sort of Insult Backfire, since it was affixed to the jumpsuits of political prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps.

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