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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Tucker and Esther Cobblepot have a lot of these.
      • Abusive Parents?
      • 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..."). But it's implied this is a speech for the cameras, and The Book of the Film implies he killed them...
      • 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 made him a monster?
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    • Shreck's son, Chip. In the movie, he's merely a spoiled rich kid with hints of being slow witted. The novelization, however, shows that he can be just as cruel as his old man. For example, the book has Chip actually seeing Max push Selina out the window. When Max tries to stammer out that it was an accident, Chip merely smiles and suggests it was suicide.
    • 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 seeing firsthand what the cycle of revenge and violence did to Catwoman and Oswald gave him a wake up call, forcing him to rethink his own life?
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    • Was Catwoman truly revived in a supernatural manner, or is it just her being delusional?
  • 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.)
  • Award Snub: Inverted. Danny DeVito's performance earned him a Razzie nomination. As evidenced by his mentions in He Really Can Act and Just Here for Godzilla, most viewers disagree with this nod.
    • Also the same for Michelle Pfeiffer whom many critics and fans agreed that her performance was THE best performance by an actress in 1992 and she didn’t even receive a nomination from the Academy, which left many people appalled. Granted she got nominated for Love Field, which came out later in the year but many people felt that was a make-up for her not being nominated for Catwoman.
  • Awesome Music: Danny Elfman is on point, arguably even moreso than the previous film.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Danny DeVito's interpretation of The Penguin, a near-complete departure from the comic book character just as radical as what Heath Ledger would later do with The Joker. While Ledger's take on his character was critically acclaimed by everyone, even those who thought it too much of a departure, DeVito's is more divisive. Some think it's just as awesome, others felt it wasn't even the same character at all and a big contributor to the film's Darker and Edgier elements going too far, some think it was an interesting take that only worked within this particular film (for what it's worth, the Batman Returns version of the Penguin has had far less influence on the comics version of the character than The Dark Knight's take on the Joker did on his comic book portrayal).
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  • Broken Base: 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.
  • Contested Sequel: Fans of the first film and of the Batman films in general to quote the Dark Knight are “split right down the center” on this one. Some see it as the best of the pre-Nolan films, some see it as somewhat inferior to the first but better than the Schumacher films, some feel its darkness is too overwhelming even compared to the first film, a few-but-increasing-number today feel the darkness and the camp end up clashing far too heavily and very badly muddle the film's identity (whereas Forever at least has a very good idea of what it wants to be as a film, as did Batman 1) and some just think it's the best Batman film, period.
  • Creepy Awesome: Danny DeVito's Penguin, full stop. He's a disturbing, hideous, and deranged maniac, but that's exactly what makes him an effective villain, and it's also why he has his fans.
  • Cry for the Devil: The Penguin is a monstrous Slimeball through and through, being by far the most evil of this film's Big Bad Ensemble. Even most of his sympathetic moments are really just him trying to look good in front of the press. But, as horrific as his actions are, it's clear that he became the villain that he is because of his tragic past. It's no excuse for what he's done, but how many people who are born terrifyingly deformed, almost drowned by their parents, and raised by penguins would actually come out well adjusted? As deserving as his death is, it's brought tears to several viewers.
  • 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 Cool:
  • Evil Is Sexy: Catwoman. Just look at that outfit. If you look at her behaviour though, you may argue that antiheroic is sexy.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Quite a few people prefer to ignore the All There in the Manual fact that the Penguin killed his parents himself a few weeks prior, and only pretended to discover their grave leading to the iconic Cemetery scene. The idea makes the Penguin more sinister, which can be compelling in some ways, but is deemed by those fans to be much less powerful and striking than a genuinely morally complex Penguin. For those that it is not compelling enough that such a monstrous character had such a monstrous life blurring the line between the role of his savage nature and the role of his horrible upbringing.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Not only for this series but the entire genre; Catwoman was arguably the first ever secondary villain in a superhero film. With Penguin and Shreck as the main villains, Selina was mostly in her own plot throughout the movie, and she only briefly works with the Penguin. And even then, her job—distracting Batman while the Penguin's mooks hack into the Batmobile—could have been done by another mook. She is still probably the best example of this, as she is a really well-rounded character with emotional depth and impact and much symbolism that fits perfectly into the films themes and mirrors the primary villain's case.
  • He Really Can Act: Danny DeVito is best known for his more comedic roles, and while he has played villains before, they're usually not very threatening and have some comedic qualities, but here in Batman Returns, his role as Penguin proves that he can play a villain that is both intimidating and utterly disturbing, and is widely considered by both Batman fans and Devito fans to be one of his finest roles for that very reason.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The tagline was "The Bat. The Cat. The Penguin." In 2014's Birdman (unrelated to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name), Michael Keaton (who plays an actor who in turn plays as the eponymous superhero) would be the one who is a bird themed character.
      • Speaking of the above, the Ice Princess says this when Batman tried to rescue her:
      Ice Princess: No sweat. I'll just tell the police I was kidnapped by an ugly birdman with fish breath.
    • And again as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
    • Michelle Pfeiffer plays Catwoman, Batman's most famous love interest in this film. A few years later she would play Tzipporah, the love interest and wife to Moses, voiced by fellow Batman actor Val Kilmer, in 1998's The Prince of Egypt.
    • The endlessly perverted Penguin can be seen as a dry run for Danny DeVito's future role as Frank Reynolds.
    • Batman record scratching a CD, which uses lasers, was ridiculous then, but now there are record players that can use lasers instead of needles.
    • When Shreck and Penguin are discussing plans for the latter's bid for mayor of Gotham, when asked about his campaign platform Penguin responds that one plank of it would be to "Stop Global Warming, Start Global Cooling!" Mr. Freeze would try to fulfill that five years later. The fact that Catwoman in one scene falls through the roof of a greenhouse adds some more unintentional humor in relation to one of that movies' antagonists (Poison Ivy).
    • The Red Triangle Circus Gang, too. In 2012, the FBI designated the Juggalos (fans of Insane Clown Posse) a gang!
    • One of the headlines of the newspapers is "MEE-OUCH!", which was the New York Post's review of Catwoman (2004).
    • The Ho Yay between Shreck and Penguin, given the latter's Adaptational Sexuality in his next live-action incarnation.
    • Michelle Pfeiffer would later play Janet van Dyne in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Janet is married to Hank Pym, who is played by Michael Douglas, the actor who forced Michael Keaton to take that screen name upon becoming an actor.
    • Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken would meet again in the 2007 film version of Hairspray, but instead of killing him, she tries to seduce him.
    • The blooper of the tombstone wobbling when the Penguin touches it was an homage to a similar goof in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Tim Burton's next film was Ed Wood, which shows the making of that film.
    • Penguin saying to Batman "You're just jealous because I'm a genuine freak and you have to wear a mask!" will be incredibly ironic to many who've played Batman: The Telltale Series, since in that game, Penguin spends most of the time wearing a mask.
    • In Max Shreck's office, several pictures show him alongside various real-life celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. The latter ended up playing Mr. Freeze two movies later.
      • Schwarzenegger not just only would play the aforementioned Mr. Freeze (without any characters remarking on his resemblance) but also would run for public office in real-life (as Governor of California in the 2003 recall election) and, unlike his Twins costar DeVito's character Penguin in this film, succeed in being elected.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • The creation of Catwoman is predicated on Selina Kyle outright telling her cruel and shady boss that she had figured out his secret password and accessed his secret files where she discovered that his planned power plant would be a power capacitor that would suck and stockpile power from Gotham City.
    • Max Shreck decides that the best way to get his power plant built is to get people behind the Penguin to become the mayor after he makes himself a hero to the public in what is frankly an obviously staged rescue scene. Planning to sell a deformed guy who was abandoned and lived in the sewers all his life with no real indication of any kind of formal education whatsoever with a predilection for resorting to violence in anger (when he savagely bites the nose of one of the image advisors) as well as being sexually perverted (when he outright and obviously gropes a young woman when placing a campaign button on her sweater during a public conference) who literally just showed up as a candidate for public office. And on top of all that, the masses of Gotham somehow actually buy into it all. One could argue however, that they try lampshading this a bit by playing it as a form of social satire.
      • Really, Shreck would have saved everyone a lot of trouble if he had run for mayor himself. He's more beloved than anyone else in Gotham, including Batman, so he'd likely have won in a landslide. Plus, nobody would have ever have to have known that it was his own power plant he authorized; the only two notable people he told were the current mayor (his political opponent, and thus not a credible accuser) and a secretary whom everyone assumes is stupid. Of course, the Penguin would have still tried to blow up the city anyway...
      • Then again, Max may have considered that and abandoned it as it might draw too much attention to his efforts; by putting someone else up for the position, Max could maintain a degree of distance that would stop people paying more attention to his efforts than he wanted.
    • And to top it all off, the big capacitor-pretending-to-be-a-power-plant idea is idiotic. Is the city supposed to not notice when that the power shortages when the plant is online? Or, if it charges during the night, and discharges during afternoon peak power demand, why not just present it as a power storage device to allow more efficient power generation? And what on earth do you do with a power storage device once it's built, if not use it to supply power to something? Do you just stand around and admire it?
  • Iron Woobie: Bruce Wayne at the end. Also Catwoman, considering she gets shot four times and thrown off three buildings.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Catwoman and the Penguin.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • Even those who dislike the film are willing to admit that Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito turned in great performances.
    • Even though his character didn’t appear in the comics, many people who are fans of Christopher Walken tuned in to see his very charismatic and semi-hammy performance as Max Shreck.
    • Just like the previous film, while there are many who disagree with the narrative and character's direction, many fans overlook those issues because Michael Keaton is such an awesome Batman.
  • Les Yay: 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.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Catwoman, real name Selina Kyle, was at first the put-down secretary of shady businessman Max Shreck. When Shreck pushes her out of the window of his building for learning too much, Selina is given cat powers by strays out on the streets and uses them to become a vengeful vigilante herself. As Catwoman, she overcomes a thug mugging a woman with ease, blows up one of Shreck’s stores while timing her escape perfectly and, on more than one occasion, bests Batman in a physical fight. Catwoman also briefly teams up with The Penguin to successfully pull off a scheme to frame Batman, and later saves the Dark Knight while finally taking out Shreck once and for all.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Bruce Wayne... why are you dressed up like Batman?" Naturally, this requires a Christopher Walken impression for the full effect.
    • This led to a minor snowclone meme "X... why are you dressed up like Y?" Common substitutes are other superheroes and their secet identities (i.e. "Clark Kent... why are you dressed up like Superman?"), or even actors and the characters they're playing (i.e."Kevin Conroy... why are you imitating the voice of Batman?") or vice versa (i.e. "Shreck... why are you dressed up like Christopher Walken?")
    • "Bruce, shame on you" and "Yawn" are also go-to lines for Walken impersonators.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman became a popular feminist icon - which is somewhat understandable, since such characters were relatively few and far between in 1980s and early '90s mainstream films. But Selina herself realizes that she is not an empowering figure at all, but just as much a thug as the men who have persecuted her. This should be clear from the guilt-ridden scolding she gives herself while looking in a shop window, as well as the fact that she cries when Bruce challenges her to explain what she's really feeling.
    • There are also some viewers who enjoy the (first) Christmas tree-lighting scene before it gets disrupted, and all of the good feeling and nostalgia it represents, especially if they remember similar tree-lightings or glamorous department stores similar to Shreck's from their childhoods. The director and screenwriter clearly intended everyone to view these proceedings with disdain, as the Penguin (understandably) does.
    • Same could be said about the Christmas Eve costume ball. Yes, these are all Upper Class Twits and lousy parents, but their masks sure look funny and cool.
  • Misaimed Marketing: This movie had a lot of tie-in merchandise aimed at children despite not being a kids' movie by a long shot. McDonalds pulled their Happy Meal toys after parental backlash.
  • 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.
    • The Penguin's parents cross this in the intro when locking him in a cage and attempting to drown him in freezing water. And their expressions when it's all said and done heavily imply they know it, too.
    • Shreck crosses it when he throws Selina Kyle out of a 40 story high window for finding out about his power plant scam.
  • Narm:
    • Chip Shreck's Dull Surprise combined with a very comical impression of Christopher Walken to form some very hilarious deliveries, especially the very under-emoted "Dad, go, save yourself."
    • Batman fighting against Penguin's circus freak army is also pretty silly, mainly because of how silly they behave while fighting batman.
    • A special mention goes to Penguin driving in a giant duck vehicle, which garnered a lot of laughs from people.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The shot of Batman record scratching a CD, whilst taking down Cobblepot's mayoral campaign. In another movie, that moment would be straight narm, but this comes from Keaton's Batman, a character who doesn't have moments like this to show off his humorous side. Him record scratching the CD with the added smirk makes it a charming moment rather than straight narm.
    • The Penguin's death. When Oswald, wearing pyjamas, with green slime spewing from his mouth 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 many people, especially the unlucky enough to have witnessed or suffered a real mental breakdown, would fail to see it as Narm at all.
  • 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.
    • Batman killed fairly commonly in his first few years.
  • 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).
    • The Atari Lynx version is this in spades, with Nintendo Hard difficulty, awkward controls, and only four levels.
  • Protection from Editors: The first film was a studio-driven film that Tim Burton happened to direct. By the time the sequel came around, Burton had a lot more clout. As a result, whereas the first film felt like a Batman film that Burton directed, this feels like a Tim Burton film that has Batman in it.
  • Retroactive Recognition: That's Doug Jones as the thin clown.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Selina Kyle's mental breakdown after Schreck tries to kill her, resulting in her trashing her apartment and creating her Catwoman persona.
    • The first confrontation between the three leads, as Batman and the Penguin have a tense verbal confrontation, interrupted by Catwoman backflipping up to them and saying only one word -"Meow"- before the building behind her explodes.
    • The striking visual of Bruce Wayne standing up with the bat signal behind him.
    • The Penguin's surprisingly tender death scene, particularly the actual penguins
    • Batman punching out and blowing up the strongman thanks to a combination of his memetic face, blatant killing, and just being deemed badass.
    • The entire Masquerade Ball scene.
    • The conclusion of the Batman, Catwoman, and Schreck drama due to Bruce's unmasking and heartfelt plea, Max's saying "Bruce Wayne? Why are you dressed up like Batman", and Selina giving the Schreck a taser charged Kiss of Death, three of the film's most famous moments one after another.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • As the cats are dogpiling on Selina after she hits the ground, one shot of her legs make it very clear that's a dummy leg being used for the close-up.
    • As the Batmobile goes on its rampage, the mechanisms used to flip the parked cars can be seen.
    • While the penguins themselves are an example of Visual Effects of Awesome (even the live penguins used for filming were convinced the animatronic ones were real), they're clearly not touching the Penguin's body as they cast him off during his funeral.
      • In this same scene, the platform used to transport Danny DeVito to the water can be seen floating out from under him right as soon as he lands in the water.
    • The Batmobile's armor is clearly cartoonish CGI.
    • During the moment when Bruce discovers Max Shreck's electrocuted body just before the final encounter with Penguin, it's clear that the production team settled for a cheap-looking dummy that looks nothing like Christopher Walken.
    • The moment just before Bruce dramatically rips his mask off in front of Selina Kyle reveals that he has no black makeup around his eyes, contrary to all of the other shots where he's in costume. The absence of said makeup makes the shot look very unconvincing.
    • The final shot of the film (Catwoman looking up at the Bat-Signal) suffers from the same wobbly sky as the first film. That said, it could have been worse - the unused alternate ending shot has them using an animatronic, which comes off as overly fake (they ended up using a body double during reshoots).
    • When Oswald goes to his parent's grave, his hand ever so gently brushes a tombstone as he goes to take off his hat, and said tombstone (clearly made from styrofoam or cardboard) visibly tilts.
  • 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 is pretty much a sign of an already present mental imbalance (i.e., she is the type to cover everything with optimism). It gets surely worsened by the mistreatment suffered at Shreck's hands, which is highlighted by Shreck's throwaway line to a man at his speech:
    Shreck: Forgot my speech... remind me to take it out on what's-her-name.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: While Max Schreck ended up being a strong villain in his own right, the original plan was for Billy Dee Williams to reprise his all too short role as Harvey Dent from the previous role, occupying the role that Max took in the actual movie, which would've set him up to take on the identity of Two Face in the sequel after being disfigured in climax. Sadly, Dent is nowhere to be found here, and Williams would go on to be replaced for the next film when the character finally took center stage.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Originally there was the idea that Oswald Cobblepot and Max Schreck were brothers (Max being younger), which could've added more depth to their dynamic together, and would've tied in nicely with Penguin's plot to kill only the first born children in Gotham.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Easily the darkest Batman film for many years, bordering on nihilistic, from the grotesque villains to the ending that sits somewhere between Bittersweet Ending and Downer Ending. It was also the darkest Tim Burton movie at the time, and the backlash pushed him back to his comedic roots with Ed Wood.
  • 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. It also makes his rare outbursts of anger much more jolting or even terrifying than they would be otherwise.
  • Uncertain Audience: This movie does suffer a bit from this. On one hand, it tries to be a dark, cynical movie about child abandonment and psychopaths getting their revenge on society, with plenty of grisly violence and tear-jerking moments to empathize the bleak tone, but on the other hand, it also has a good number of campy elements, such as Penguin's missile strapped penguin army, Penguin driving around in a giant duck vehicle, and Penguin's circus freak goons acting silly and goofy whilst fighting Batman. While Batman Returns is still a beloved movie in the franchise, many agree that the tone of the film feels muddled.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: For some, it's hard to sympathize with The Penguin, even though the movie clearly wants you to. While his disfigurement and nearly getting killed by his own parents are obviously very sympathetic, the man in the present day is such a repulsive and irredeemable monster that many viewers likely won't Cry for the Devil. Even near the very end, when his death is presented as an Alas, Poor Villain moment, this is undercut by him still remaining evil to his last dying breath, which is spent talking about how he plans to kill Batman.
  • Values Resonance: The enduring popularity of Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman is likely due in part to evoking this. Unlike some superhero movie love interests, she's not a Satellite Love Interest and is a well-rounded character with her own story arc; some of the subjects explored via her character are also still highly relevant three decades after the film's 1992 release:
    • A woman gets treated horribly by her male boss, who presumes he can get away with it because he's rich and powerful. Substitute attempted murder for sexual harassment, and Selina Kyle's situation with Schreck doesn't sound too dissimilar from many real cases of work-related harassment and abuse towards women. Selina being dismissed as just a secretary whose only value is making coffee is also reminiscent of the struggles of some women trying to get ahead in male-dominated careers, or having their profession and skills dismissed as unimportant. Selina's complaint that people like Schreck tend to get away with their abusive behavior due to their wealth and influence also sounds very familiar (though her plan to murder Schreck isn't an ideal solution).
    • It's been pointed out that Penguin's treatment of Catwoman is highly reminiscent of a so-called 'Nice Guy'; he presumes she would want to be in a relationship with him because they work together and because of her sexualized clothing and behavior, even though she never acts flirtatious with him directly and notably rejects or diverts his attempts to 'seduce' her. When she unambigiously rejects him, he resorts to insults and violence, insisting she led him on and seeing no further value in her. It could also be interpreted as a deconstruction of the belief that women who dress or act a certain way are 'asking for it'.
    • Selina and Bruce's romance is actually pretty positive (except for the Dating Catwoman situation and the fact they could both use therapy). Bruce wins Selina's affections by treating her like a human being with no expectation she'll reciprocate his romantic interest in her; unlike some other men in the film he doesn't objectify or look down on her. During their Wayne Manor date they both respect their mutual decision to not take things further than they want to, no questions asked, and neither of them takes it personally. Batman also views Catwoman as an equal opponent; he only underestimates her because she's a woman once (and she was intentionally playing up Women Are Delicate) and never makes that mistake again.
  • Vindicated by History: Audience reception to this movie was mixed to negative, with many people finding the movie weird and/or disturbing. In fact, Batman Forever was much better received in 1995 for being more of a popcorn flick. Now over 20 years later, while Batman Returns still has a large amount of detractors (mainly for liberally adapting the source material and Batman playing second-fiddle to the villains, though even Christopher Nolan's Bat-films have been criticized for the latter), just as many people consider it the best Burton/Schumacher film, if not the best Batman film, period. It has the highest rating on Rotten Tomatoes for the Burton/Schumacher series and it’s usually ranked in the top five of all time Batman films. (Forever, meanwhile, is often ranked by fans somewhere near the bottom of the barrel, thanks in part to its own sequel.)
  • What an Idiot!:
    • When Max Shreck 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, even if Shreck dies almost immediately after.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Cool as the Catwoman suit is, it was also impossible to go to the bathroom wearing it. Michelle Pfeiffer has advised every actress who’s played the role since to make sure they ask the costume designer to consider this.

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