Three Pillars of Batman (Transcript)

Jason Snell with Tony Sindelar, Shannon Sudderth, Chip Sudderth, Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr

Three Pillars Of Batman

2017, The Incomparable
The Incomparable

Tim Burton's Batman movies.


Welcome back everybody to The Incomparable. I'm your host Jason Snell.

So Batman won a tournament that we ran here that was stupid.

And we honored Batman by doing episodes about Batman.

And we are doing one tonight.

We are embarking on a journey through films starring the Batman.

And we're starting with the Tim Burton directed Batman films, 1989's Batman.

And 1992's Batman Returns.

To discuss these films with me I have a fine panel of people who watch the movies.

And now we'll talk about it because that's what the show is.

We'll begin by introducing them.

Shannon Sutterth is here. Hi Shannon, welcome back.

Hola, freakies. David J. Loehr.

Holy superhero spectacular Batman.

Nope. Monty Ashley, hello.

I'm Monty.


Chip Sutterth.

I'm sorry, I didn't prepare. I watched the Ben Affleck Daredevil.

And Tony Sindelar.

Hello nerds.

The Emperor Batman is back.

Batman belongs to all of us.

We are all Batman.

Let's not get carried away.

Is that how DC Comics sees it?

I don't think so.

Alright, so here's the story with Batman.

They did the Adam West Batman in the 60s.

That was fun.

Then the property kind of just lay there for a while.

Superman, they started making Superman films in the late 70s.

Those were successful and they decided we should go back and do Batman again.

And it took until 1989 when finally Batman hit the big screen again.

Starring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Batman.

Jack Nicholson as the Joker directed by Tim Burton.

This was, for those who did not live through it, I can just say it was a big deal.

My memory is that this was the first movie as marketing campaign that I remember.

Literally the Batman logo was omnipresent.

You could not, everything had Batman logos on it.

Your milk had a Batman logo on it.

Everything had Batman logos.

It was, for those who didn't live through it, it was a huge marketing push.

This was my, I want to say, the end of my freshman year in college.

And yeah, so it was a big deal.

And I think it was an extremely successful film as well with a different kind of take that was very influential.

It led to a lot of the themes of it get kind of replayed in Batman the Animated Series.

It's got an interesting kind of Art Deco style.

So anyway, let's start by discussing Tim Burton's Batman.

Is everybody here?

Did you all see Batman when it came out or did you watch it later?

Yeah, I saw it when it came out.

But I was a really big comics nerd at the time.

So I also went through the pre-movie, pre-publicity.

Oh my God, this is going to suck.

They cast Michael Keaton.

I remember that.

His chin isn't strong enough.

So it's remarkable that this movie was as successful as it was.

And I think a lot of it had to do with the overdrive marketing that Warner's did to try to convince people that, no, it wasn't going to suck.

I was the one in my group in high school, because this came out right at the tail end of my senior year of high school.

I was the one who, when they announced the casting, was like, "Yeah, he's going to be great."

And everyone else is like, "No, no, come on, come on.

It's Michael Keaton. He's Beetlejuice. He's Mr. Mom."

And I'm like, "Eh, just you watch."

And sure enough, he's still my favorite movie, Batman.

I saw it opening night in a theater that was completely full, and it was playing in two auditoriums in that multiplex.

And I know that because there was something wrong with their print, and we had to sit there in that crowded theater for 30 minutes past the show time until it finally started.

And I still loved every second of it.

My friends and I spent months doing Jack Nicholson's little card thing where you move the card around the deck.

Everything in the movie was cool to us.

And it's one of the few that I ever saw twice in the theater in the same weekend.

My college roommates and I, we were not cool people.

We memorized the lyrics to "Batdance."

That's how consumed we were with this movie.

And I married him anyway.

Tony, too young or just old enough to see Batman?

I was definitely too young for perhaps for both of these movies, but definitely for this one.

I think I was aware as a child.

I was aware of the marketing push of it.

But I think the first time I saw it was on a VHS tape.

It's good. You were drinking your milk. It's good.

You've got to drink your bat milk.

And speaking of bat milk, I should say the Batman cereal that came out in '89 was really good.

The Batman Returns cereal, not as good.

Funny. But we'll get there. We'll get there.

I think Tim Burton personally made both of those.

All right. Well, let's talk about Batman then.

We'll talk about 1989's Batman.

Now, I mentioned the style here is fun.

It is this weird art deco kind of style.

We've seen this in a few movies.

It's definitely, you know, I always think of Max Headroom as being a little bit like that, although that's a little more techie.

Of course, the great Super Mario Brothers.

But it is a it's kind of a fun mix up of things that look old along with some things that look modern.

Anton Furst was the designer. I think it won the Oscar for art direction.

It looks really beautiful.

And from the very, very start where we see this stuff, we see a family with parents and a young kid.

And it's very clearly playing on the origin of Batman.

It's kind of a fake out.

It's a fake because it's not. It's actually in the present day and they're saved by Batman.

But but they they can't get a cab.

So they decide to cut through a dark, dark, dangerous alley because they're dumb.

Yeah. And Batman saves them.

When I first saw this movie, it was a crowded house.

There were loads of people there who were not comic book fans.

They were there because of the marketing and all this stuff.

That opening scene, when you see the I think one of the descriptions of Gotham City is as though hell burst from the ground and kept on going.

When you see that opening claustrophobic shot shot, there were people in the audience who were clearly not regular Batman fans who just audibly gasped.

Oh, my God, this is horrific.

You know, right right then and there, that art direction is just coming at you.

And it's not Dayglo 60s pop art.

That's for sure.

Who are you?

I'm Batman.

Here it is.

Oh, we did that ad infinitum that summer.


I'm Batman.

I'm Batman.

You're saying you stopped?

Well, no, I didn't.

It just slowed down.

Some people went and got day jobs and didn't do it anymore.

But no, I remember going up to a drive through.

I want to say it was a McDonald's, but it could have been a Taco Bell.

And I said, can I help you?

Everyone in the car went, I'm Batman, man.

And just drove off.


He threatens the one guy a lot.

But he but he says, no, no, no.

I'll send you can send a message.

My notes here are all about how this I think is very definitely trying to reflect the New York City of this period.

This is a crumbling, sleazy metropolis, except Gotham City.

It's not metropolis.

It's Gotham City.

But it is.

It is very much that 80s sleazy, garbagey New York that we're seeing in in Gotham.

It's gross.

The hipsters have not come yet.

It's gross, but it's also got Art Deco and gargoyles everywhere.


It's a cooler city that's gone decrepit and Tommy guns.

The police carry Tommy guns.

I love how I love how just anachronistic the whole thing is.

And they're all in like weird leather jackets that are, you know, I think the word that comes to mind is discount fetish wear.

But that's just that's that's how they do things in Gotham.

Yeah, Tony, when you can't afford a leather catsuit, you know what you do?

You just cut up some vinyl and sew it.

But that's another movie.

Anyway, I learned a lot in these movies.

So we see Billy Dee Williams appears as Harvey Dent, although he doesn't have very much to do in this movie.

He's just kind of present.

Jack Nicholson and Jerry Hall have a scene together.

Jack is the henchman for the organized crime leader and Jerry Hall is his girl.

But they are stepping out on the side here.

And we get some lines, including "decent people shouldn't live here," which is good.

This is Gotham City.

Welcome to it.

And what delightful casting is Jack Palance?

Who can be Jack Nicholson's boss?

Yeah, you need somebody bigger than Jack Nicholson.

And Jack Nicholson is going to be playing this pretty big.

Kind of big.

Remember, Jack, you're my number one guy.

It's yeah, Jack Palance is great as Carl Grissom.

And then there's Dirty Lieutenant Eckhart, who we meet, who is one of my least favorite things about this movie, because he's just kind of a fat slob who is like dubbed in, I think.

Yeah, I couldn't tell if what was going.

I wasn't sure if he was ADRing his own lines or if somebody else was covering them.

But yeah, like noticeably doesn't match up.

The way he's dubbed too is strange.

He's dubbed as if he's communicating, but the voice is so soft and gravelly that there's no way that any noise at that volume could have been understandable by any of the other characters in the scene.

And I just don't.

I never liked that character and I never liked the way he talked.

But it was only watching it back this time that I realized he's just completely dubbed in and I don't even know why.

And it's kind of slightly gravelly.

And anyway, he's the crooked cop and he's gross and his voice is super strange.

And it's Porkins.




That's so bizarre to me.

Well, but with a weird dubbed.

Again, it might be him.

It might be somebody else.

It's very strange and quiet and mumbly.

I don't get it.

Sure to go.

Someone else took up all the oxygen in the room before he got any lines.


We meet a couple other characters early on here, too.

We meet Knox, the reporter played by TV's Robert Wool.

I love Knox because Robert Wool is playing him like he's the star of the movie.


But no one told him.

I was going to say he's almost in a different movie.

He's in a wacky, wacky journalism movie that is not the movie.

He's in.

It is very front page.

And halfway through the movie, he just drops out like he's off following scoops or something.

But it's like the movie said, oh, wait, we've got Batman.

Sorry, Robert.

No, he's like, come with me, movie.

Come with me.

I'm going to do some stuff in the movies like, no, I remember him doing the late night chat

show circuit around this time.

And he was he was acting like it was his movie there, too.



And then later on the comedy channel, he would do one of the going to commercial bumpers.

And it was mostly him complaining that he got a great contract that said he got a cut

of the toy rights.

But then he discovered he only got a cut of his toy rights.

And there were not a lot of plucky reporter toys being sold.

Hey, I had I had the plucky reporters journalist notebook and pen and and the snap rim hat.

You got to you got to give a couple of dollars to Robert.

Well, that's OK.

He's got our list money now.

It's fine.

And we and we also meet Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, who is introduced.

So, you know, they're trying to do the some kind of a bantery thing between Robert Wool

and Kim Basinger.

And I can't decide whether it's gross or whether it's amusing because he's so bad at it.

I tend to plump for the latter.

Yeah, that he's he's that bad at it.

She's humoring him because she needs help.

Yeah, I think he's the only one who's got the banter going on.

She's just humoring.

Yeah, but she's like it all gets summed up later on when at one point, you know, he's

like expressing concern or something and she puts both her hands on his face and gives

him a quick little kiss.

You're cute.

You're cute.

That's true.

You can tell she's a serious reporter because she wears glasses sometimes.


Yeah, you can you can definitely tell that.

But they are again, it is it is kind of a fun fun tone, but it's a little bit weird

because it's it is like from another movie about plucky reporters.

But it's really just to get us into this other story that we're that we're going to get with

with Batman, which is fine.

I actually made a note at this point, too, that at points, Robert Wool's performance

reminds me a little bit of like Bill Murray and Ghostbusters.

It's that kind of eccentric and bizarre.

And there's that whole thing where where they're in Bruce Wayne's mansion and they're like

wandering into the hall of weapons like the museum room must be king of the wicker people

and things like that, where it's just this strange.

Look at this.

Look at that mirror.

He must be Bruce Vane.

I'm like again and again and again.

It's just it keeps going.

Yeah, I genuinely enjoy him.

He's putting a lot of energy out in a role that he has to know isn't that important.

Good for him.

I think he thinks it's that important.

I'm sorry.

And God bless him for that lesson.

No, I enjoy it.

I'm surprised how much of his dialogue I know.

I like know by heart the dialogue here because it's wacky and it gets you into the movie.

And yeah, and then he's discarded.

But he's kind of fun while he's around.

He serves his function and moves on.

Yeah, he doesn't die.

No, he doesn't.

So he gets a kiss on the cheek and said on his way.

In fact, at the end.

Yeah, that's that's a happy ending in Gotham.

It's not a pure origin movie.

It's sort of the first appearance of Batman, but we don't get the let's go to Nanda Parbat and have training sequences kinds of stuff.

So in the beginning, Batman's a mystery and Knox is the character that is sort of investigating the mystery and that's our gateway in.

And then everything shifts over to Michael Keaton and there's nothing for him to do.

And good riddance.

So we get in and around this part.

I'm not going to go point by point here, but this is where we get to see Michael Keaton.

We get to see Michael Goff as as Alfred as well in some of these scenes in here.

Michael Keaton.

So we talked about it.

I think I think this movie does a good job of of getting us introduced to Bruce Wayne.

And and I think, yeah, you spend a few minutes with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne.

And I feel like I buy into it.

It's like, oh, I see.

I see why Michael Keaton's in this movie, because I think he does.

I think he does a good job.

He's my favorite Bruce Wayne of any movie.


I like I like his version of like weirdo eccentric Bruce Wayne, because there's so many versions of Bruce Wayne as as the like the polished millionaire playboy who is smooth talking.

And I like this guy who's just like, nope, he's awkward and weird and spends a lot of time just sitting by himself being brought sandwiches by Alfred and doesn't really know how to talk to people.

Also, he's apparently not a celebrity in Gotham.

Not everybody knows what he looks like.

And he's just this weird guy who throws kind of benefit party things at his house.

I like I like awkward Bruce Wayne.

I did, too.

He seems to enjoy himself at the party, like when he sneaks behind the two reporters and they're going through his museum.

He's watching them and he's genuinely amused.

I feel like this is the only Bruce Wayne from the movies I would actually watch a movie about.




And in retrospect, he's you know, I don't know how intentional it was, but it's it's almost like he's playing Bruce Wayne somewhere on the spectrum.


He's clearly a genius.

He's, of course, the world's greatest detective.

And of course, this is a movie where we get to see that for once.

We get to know Bruce Wayne instead of just Batman or just as a cover for Batman.

And and I love that. And, you know, you get the impression that he could fake being cool and suave if he had to.

But this is a little bit more like himself, at least in this part of the movie.

I was a mild comic book geek going to high school, college.

And, you know, for this movie, the reason that I went was because they cast Michael Keaton, an actor that I really, really loved and was really invested in.

And I was looking at the blowback of, you know, oh, it can't be. And I'm like, yes, it can.

Yes, it can. Trust me.

Anybody can be hiding under that suit.

But you've got to have somebody with his kind of charm and wackiness and instability.

I mean, you're dealing with a young man who, you know, who lost his parents and were killed in front of his eyes at a very young age.

And his reaction to that is to go and train himself to the utmost to to do something about it and not just do something about it.

But I'm going to dress up like a bat and scare these criminals.

You need a Michael Keaton to pull that character off.

And because that's not normal.

Exactly. It's not normal. And to the extent that, you know, a couple of movies later, you brought they brought in this Val Kilmer guy to be Bruce Wayne.

And he's a conventional hero compared to Michael Keaton, who is just nuts.

He is. Let's get nuts. You want to get nuts?

He's got that Beetlejuice scene where you see all that manic energy.

Right. I feel like Keaton gets lost inside the bat suit, but that's not when you need the actor to do the best job.

You need him to do the best job as Bruce Wayne. And Keaton is mesmerizing.

Batman in the bat suit could almost be played by a Scott.

Yeah, right. It's the it's the Bruce Wayne.

You've got a lot of really fine eye acting from Keaton when he's in the suit.

And occasionally his yeah, some of his expressions come through. Yes. The quirk of the mouth. It says so much.

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. Well, in fact, there is a recent Batman movie that also involves Superman.

Hmm. Huh? What would they call that movie?

I think it's called Batman, comma, and also Superman.

And to briefly reference that movie, I really liked Batman whenever it was just Ben Affleck not in the suit.

I got into the suit. I can see he's a CGI monster or something.

But there was cool acting as Bruce Wayne.

And I like the closest we're going to get to a Batman versus Superman episode right there.

There was episode 493 contractual obligation fulfilled.

The the teasers they've put out for the Justice League movie.

I really like. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

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So I want to give some praise here.

Keaton's great.

Michael Goff is great.

I do love -- I mean, Tony mentioned, like,

Alfred brings him sandwiches, but it's like it is this --

there's that great moment where, you know, it's like, you know,

it's just us in this old mansion and he encourages Bruce and Vicky to get together

at several points and brings her to him in the Batcave at the end of the movie.

And it's just -- he's just so delightful the whole time.

I think -- and there have been great Alfreds in movies,

but I really love Michael Goff's performances as Alfred.

He's just delightful and helpful and friendly and loving and, you know --


Yeah, exactly right.

I mean, we're jumping kind of ahead.

I love the scene where Vicky and Bruce have their kind of their date,

and then Alfred kind of -- it starts with the scene where they're in the giant --

There's the joke shot where they're at the long ends of the table.

It's a classic.

And then they go from that to, like, hanging out in the kitchen with Alfred.

It's so nice.

I like that a lot.

That's the -- because that's Bruce Wayne getting over himself or getting over his --

I think it's getting over his view of himself and, like, who he should be

and then just being like -- I like how you actually see him, like,

pick up his plate and his wine glass and be like, "Come on, let's go,"

and then cut to they're in this much warmer kind of wood table, light wood,

and they're in, like, a kitchen or something with Alfred.

It's great.

And just before that, that great line when Vicky says that, you know,

"I don't think this mansion is very much -- it's like you at all,"

and Bruce says, "Some of it is very much me."

You know, it's very -- there's some --

this is not going to be considered a subtle movie by a long shot,

but there are subtleties in Michael Keaton's performance.

Yeah, I agree.

I agree.

There's a lot of nice stuff, a lot of nice stuff with Michael Keaton and Michael Goff.

The -- okay, so, yeah, we should talk about Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier,

and he becomes the Joker.

The non-subtle half of the movie.

No, it's not -- I mean, oh, Eckhart, who I didn't like,

gets shot by Jack in a scene at the Axis chemical plant,

which I also -- just to say again that I don't like that character,

before he gets shot, he's, like, acting like a zombie.

He's just kind of moving very slowly and kind of going, "Unh-unh,"

and it's -- I don't understand that character.

I don't even know why that character is there.

It's really bad.

But the Joker, so Jack Napier, who is revealed late in the movie,

in a coincidence that's probably unnecessary,

is the person who shot Bruce Wayne's parents.

Yeah, I'll have words about that later.

Yeah, we'll get to that.

We'll circle around to that.

But here he -- you know, there's a shootout, he gets hit by a ricochet,

Batman tries to catch him, but he drops into the chemicals

and is dead and we'll never see him again,

except, of course, he resurfaces with the white face and is the Joker.

So they got -- my understanding is that they backed up a truck of money

to Jack Nicholson's house and they said, "You can be in our movie.

We'll pay you a lot of money.

You can go to all the Laker games.

We'll make sure that we schedule around you

and we limit the amount of time you have to spend on this movie."

But, you know, it was quite a coup to get the guy who was basically considered

the best or one of the, what, two or three best actors on the planet

to be in their little superhero movie.

And he got a Golden Globe nomination on that.

He even got top billing.


Yeah, absolutely.

And Joker's a plum role, right?

I mean, this is a role that won an Oscar for somebody else too, right?

It is quite a role to bite -- to chew off -- to bite and chew?

I don't know.

There's a lot of chewing of scenery going on, really, is what's happening here.

It's quite a role to do and Jack Nicholson puts his all into it and then some.

And this early in the movie, he's also really, really good as Jack Napier.


And that's -- the menace, the unhingedness that's just sort of in the background

waiting to be released after he takes a bath.

You know, he's a plausible gangster villain and then he just cuts loose.

He gets behind the makeup and he just -- what's that phrase you use a lot,

"Jason turns into the skid"?

He just commits to it.

Oh, yeah.

He's just got to go with it, right?

Yes, he's -- Jack Napier is operated on by a German doctor who has a very bad set of tools.

It looks more like something you'd get at Home Depot than you'd get at a medical supplies store.

Then he did a heck of a job because I think those tools are what you use to, like,

punch holes in leather.


That was what Tim Burton was stocking up for Edward Scissorhands.

But that's bad news for Jack Palance.

He's not going to make it because Jack Napier has come back from the dead.

He knows that he was sent to the Axis chemical plant as a setup because he was stepping out with his girl,

Jerry Hall, so sugar bumps.

Sugar bumps, just putting it out there.

And so, yeah, so he kills Jack Palance.

I had to.

He didn't have to.

Jack Nicholson told me to.

He kills Jack Palance and says, "Wait until they get a load of me."

But interesting decision by Jack Nicholson and interesting decision by Tim Burton to leave it in.

And I'd say this is representative of how far they let Nicholson go with this.

He doesn't just say, "Wait until they get a load of me."

He then goes, "Ooooh, whoop, whoop, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha," and they just leave it all in.

Just letting you know for sure I'm insane.

It's not even that he's saying, "Wait until they get a load of me."

It's, "Wait until they get a load of me."

He follows it up with a sound and then another weird sound and then a maniacal laugh.

And Tim Burton's like, "Yeah, we're just going to keep all that in. Just let it roll."

There's a dance he does when he leaves one of the scenes that it's just like, it blows my mind that that's in there.

There's a few times where Nicholson is just goofing around at the end of the scene and they leave it in.

There's the time he tells his really loyal henchman in a Jack Palance imitation, "You are my number one guy."

And then the guy leaves and Nicholson's just standing there going, "Doot dee doo, doot dee dee."

He's just goofing off, but the Joker could just be goofing off. Let's leave it in. It's great.

He is not concerned about what, like there's a lot where he's just in a room by himself and it's like, "Nope, he's still going. He does not need an audience."

But when he has an audience, it goes even bigger.

Like when they hit the museum, "Okay, here's what we're doing, guys."

Let's see what else in there. Bruce lies to Vicki Vale after they've spent the night together.

He says he's got to go out of town, but Alfred basically gives that away. Awkward.

Bad butler.

Yeah, that was, well, you're supposed to let your butler know that you've got a... Yeah, he should have gone with it though, I suppose.

I'm thinking that this Alfred was not a former spy.

I think Alfred in this is not used to Bruce Wayne as a playboy, right, so much.

So he doesn't have the moves down of like, "Oh yes, we are going out of town."

As soon as Bruce has a girlfriend, the girlfriend gets brought down to the... To the Batcave.

So Alfred can go, "So, you've got a girl now, huh?"

They don't have any formal policies written up. It's a problem.

Oh, the Joker has a meeting of all the crime lords in Gotham City. They have a little meeting, a little table.

Gang of gangs, yeah.

I love his vanity that he's got the flesh-colored makeup plastered on top of his chalk-white skin on this one.

And that looks even more creepy.

That's one of my favorite things is that his skin is naturally white with the smile, but sometimes he puts makeup on to have it look normal.

And then later on in the movie, he tells Batman, "I have taken off my makeup. Let's see if you can take off yours."

Except he hasn't taken off his makeup. He's put more makeup on.

Right, yeah.

Well, it's not that it's vanity. He knows nobody knows what he looks like yet.

But he also wants to freak them out as the makeup starts to crack and peel away.

The smile looks pretty freak-out-able to me.

Yeah, I know.

Weird prosthetic.

It is weird.

He kills a guy with a joy buzzer. You mentioned the "You are my number one guy" and all that.

Bob, I enjoy Bob throughout this movie as his name.

He is a little bit Larry Darryl and Darryl, but he's quite enjoyable as just a loyal sidekick guy who keeps saying things.

His lines are all like, "Yes, sir." That's it. That's all Bob does.

I have watched him for years. I saw him on WKRP in the first season and went, "Wow, that's a really weird guy."

And then he was also in a show called Best of the West from the makers of Taxi, which was a Western thing.

And he played a henchman named Frog. And that was delightful.

It's Tracy Walter is the name of the actor.

I enjoyed when the Joker's gang shows up to point guns at all the boss leaders, that they already have embroidered jackets with patches of the Joker's face.

It's like, that's how you know they're a good henchman group is that they've already, like day one, we've got embroidered jackets ready to go.

Like the movie, he's a marketing behemoth.


Yeah, they got jackets. Joker's got all sorts of stuff. We'll see even more stuff that Joker's got ready to go, ready to deploy.

He's crafty people in both senses of the word.

He's just my type.

So let's see what else. I mean, Jack Napier then attacks various gangsters.

Bruce Wayne is stunned and shocked by this.

Batman gets all the headlines, even though Napier has attacked all the gangsters.

He's very upset that we get, "This town needs an enema."

That line happens here in this area.

Again, Jack Nicholson, what can you say?

Just, yeah.

He's carrying the trailer.

Oh, well, he carries the trailer, right? He is the whole...

Both of these movies have a lot of press conferences in them. Like a lot of press conferences in them.

A lot of on the steps of City Hall.

The one that I find the weirdest is that there is the mafia press conference that the Joker and his mimes show up and kill a bunch of people at.

That one confused me a little bit. But again, I did not live in Gotham in 1989. Maybe that's just business as usual.

But if I'm running the organized crime, I would hold less press conferences is what I'm saying.

Maybe none.

Maybe none.

Maybe none.

I mean, just throwing that out there.

That's the one where nobody notices the extremely amateurish mimes around the place, right?

Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep.

You know, again, guys, you guys are older than me. I'm assuming a lot about what 1989 was like.

There weren't that many mimes, I'll tell you that.

But were there more mimes? What was the mime to press conference ratio is what I'm asking.

Well, let me tell you about a couple named Shields and Yarnell.

They were a pair of mimes and they were huge. They had their own show.

They did have their own show.

In the 70s. Yes, they did. Oh, God.

I'm suddenly feeling younger.

Does anybody notice that there's a point at which Vicki Vale suddenly is way more interested in using her newspapers resources to look up information about her boyfriend than to investigate Batman as she's supposed to be doing?

She seems to have a lot of free range from her previous highly successful photojournalism run in that island that she just came back from.

We haven't actually talked a whole lot about Vicki Vale.

And I think there's a reason for that.

I have two notes about her.

Which are an amazing apartment.

Yes. And in one scene, she has a Padawan braid.

Yeah. Okay.

Just one little braid on the side of her head going down over her shoulder.

So she might be a Jedi by now.

I remember being rather irritated at one point watching the movie at some point.

It may not have been the first time, but a subsequent watching.

Because when they introduce her, she's, you know, shown to be very capable, award winning, globe trotting photojournalist looking for the heavy, hard stories.


And so it's Robert Wool's character, you know, somewhat understandably, you're going to chase Batman.

Doesn't quite seem to fit.

And then about halfway through the movie or so, all of a sudden, there's apparently nothing left for Kim Basinger to do than scream or dangle from a ledge or a cord or something or faint.

And it's like, come on, she was doing well.

She could have contributed.

The amount of her dialogue that is her screaming in reaction to something is like a lot.


Well, OK, so I like the scene where she's on the rooftop and she immediately starts taking pictures of Batman fighting in the alley.

Right. That's good.

Nuisance like that. That's the scene where I'm like, OK, she's doing her job.

And of course, Batman uses the old cape trick to steal the film out of her bra.

But the old cape trick.

The old cape trick.


Batman does that a lot.

He's like, woo, there's a cape.

And what happens then?

Nobody knows it's under the cape.

It's a mystery.

That's how Batman does all sorts of magic tricks.

Anyway, so that's good.

But then you're right.

Other than that, she's mostly a damsel.

I do think that when she when Alfred brings her into the Batcave toward the end, that that's a nice scene where she's being supportive.

I find her her support for Bruce nice.

But again, that's being supportive and not, you know.

But at the same time, she's kind of like breaking down his shell.

So there are moments in there.

But whenever she's put in any sort of like part of the plot, like with the Joker, the art museum is the most disappointing one.

Because although she gives, pushes back to him a little bit, you know, like when she goes to comfort him because he got covered in water and he's melting.

Like, it's just dumb.

Like, why would you do that?

And there's also lots of the screaming.

Lots of screaming.

We're almost at the museum attack, actually.

But I wanted to mention a couple other things.

I enjoy the new TV news as we see it in this movie.

The first off the outfit on the first anchor woman who dies is staggering.

It looks like it's like a jacket with shoulder pads, but it looks literally looks like she's wearing a parka.

It is so huge and padded.

It is amazing.

She's not the only one.

Kim Basinger and Robert Wohl.

Yeah, there's a lot of shoulder pad action in this movie.

Robert Wohl is in a talking head suit.

Like he's nowhere near the outside of his clothes.

It is the 80s.

But that one first anchor woman is the most extreme of all of them.

But I really love the joke where they discover that the cosmetics are poisoned and they don't know exactly where the poison is.

And then for the rest of the movie, the TV anchors have no makeup on and they've been made to have blemishes and things all over their faces.

That kills me every time.

Their hair looks awful.

It doesn't need to be there.

Yeah, because they don't even have combs anymore.

It's just a joke.

And it mainly affects TV anchors.

Vicky Vale is doing fine.

Well, she imports all of her cosmetics.

She's okay.

Thank you.

Headcanon accepted.

And so we're off to the museum.

Vicky, Alfred gets a call saying she'll be 10 minutes late to the museum to meet Bruce.

But he's not meeting her there.

So that's a bad sign.

I think this looks like a job for Batman.

And what happens is they gas the Joker.

The Joker attacks.

They gas the museum.

And then immediately the Joker and the henchman, after everybody drops, Vicky's got a little mask that she's been given in a little package and told put this on immediately.

Everybody drops because of the gas.

And then the Joker and his people walk in, which is interesting because you'd think there would still be gas, but they have no masks.

It's fine.

It's fine.

And it's time for a dance party.

And finally, Prince shows up.

This is a good time to talk about Prince's contribution.

This is the time because they play a song on the boom box as they go through and deface all the art or, sorry, improve the art, as the Joker would tell us.

We play a Prince song as that goes on.

There's another Prince song later during the parade.

Prince was in quite a coup, was commissioned to basically do a Batman themed album.

And those songs would be in the movie.

And then what happened was Tim Burton said, I'm not really interested in that.

Have you heard my boy Elfman?

He's got a really good theme.

Well, Danny Elfman, we could talk about that.

I think this is one of my favorite movie scores of all time.

I love the Danny Elfman score, but it is kind of amazing that they got an entire album by Prince that a lot of people really love.

And it's, it's some of it is played in the background in a couple of scenes, but there's literally these two scenes where Prince comes to the fore at all.

And it's expressly part of the plot.

Right, right.

That's the only use that that Tim Burton has for Prince is like if they're playing music in the movie, we'll play a Prince song.

But otherwise, forget it.

Otherwise, it's just going to be score.

Did they pick Prince just because he likes purple and the Joker likes purple?

I don't know.

I think this was again, just a marketing, you know, the marketing behemoth kicking in.

And he was, he was like the biggest thing on Warner Music.

On Warner Music, yeah.

And they said, let's, let's make the synergy happen.

Yeah, and he played Saturday Night Live during the promotion for this stuff.

And all I can remember is he did Party Man and, and, and Trust.

And he's performing those songs on the SNL stage with the giant Batman logo.

Of course.

Flying behind him because, you know, I don't know who is intended to be bigger at this point.

Prince or Batman merchandising?

Well, I think that was where Prince got his idea to change his name to a giant symbol.

Unfortunately, the Batman logo was, was taken.

So he couldn't do that.

Batman, Prince's Batman logo hit number one in the Billboard album chart.

It was, it was a, it was a big seller, even though you can barely hear it in the movie.

I just, I wonder what a movie would be like.

I feel like a modern, a more modern movie would have gone all the way with like Prince wall to wall.

And I'm not sure whether that would have been better or worse, but it would have been very different from what we get with, with these two, the two tracks being played, Trust and Party Man.

And, and the music, I mean, just Bad Dance was, the video for that was what, like four or five minutes or even six minutes?

And it was on every hour on MTV for like three days leading up to the movie.

I'm telling you the marketing for this movie was brilliant.

I own a lot of bad songs.

Easily the worst song I own.

And that means it's worse than all of Disco Evita is a cover of Bad Dance.

A cover?

When I worked at a movie theater, we had a CD of a generic band's versions of various movie theme songs.

Because they didn't want to pay for the full rights and some poor jerk had to record it and not use any of the samples.

So they had to get a new actress into the studio to go, Vicki Vale.

Vicki Vale.

That makes me feel like I wasted my time memorizing that song back in the day.

Not wasted, that's an investment ship.

You can get that back by creating your own cover version.

You've invested in yourself every day from now on.

They couldn't even be bothered to play Bad Dance over the end credits.

Yeah, I know, right?

I do think that it's a missed opportunity there.

It's also just a sign of the left hand and the right hand not knowing what each other was doing.

Tim Burton, well, so I have a lot of theories about this movie that maybe I'll get to before we get to Batman Returns.

But there's definitely the conflict between the studio and the marketing and the giant machine.

And Tim Burton, who likes to make weird, quirky, twee little movies, there was a lot of conflict creatively about this movie.

And I think it's amazing that it turns out as well as it does, given all of that.

Well, I mean, you had John Peters producing or executive producing, and he was kind of insane.

You know, and I'm sure Prince was his idea and going, here, let's do this and let's do that.

Let's do this.

And I know that the ending was not Tim Burton's idea.

And it wasn't in the script.

It was John Peters going, hey, wouldn't it be awesome if they like climb to the top of a cathedral and the whole thing took place up there?

And why don't we kill Vicky Vale and then Batman will get really angry.

It's like, okay.

And he went ahead and had the thing constructed without clearing it with anybody.

It was just like, here, this is going to be the end of the movie.

And they actually and like they asked Tim Burton, it's like, why are we climbing to the top of the thing?

Because I don't know, we'll figure it out when you get there.

And they had to redo that.

So that's kind of like the movie in a microcosm.

The original screenwriter was a guy named Sam Hamm.

And then a guy named Warren Skaran came in after it.

So alliteration was absolutely important.

Well, rhyming.


But rhyming.


Thank you.

My understanding is the Sam Hamm script was fairly straight.

And you have lines that survive the rewrite and Tim Burton's direction that get completely turned over.

Like the Joker soliloquy, "You might join me for a weep" after the weird confrontation between Bruce Wayne and the Joker and Vicky.

And then he plays it for a laugh, things like that.

There is so much dissonance in this movie between Tim Burton's sensibilities and the screenwriters.

Is this a serious movie or is Tim Burton taking the piss out of superheroes in general because he's Tim Burton?

You're right.

It's amazing that this movie is as successful as it is because these parts don't fit.


They really don't.

And there are other parts too that we'll get to too because there's the whole romantic comedy part that comes back again later.

That's like a totally other movie that also happens in here.

It's like when Harry met Sally, if Harry was Batman.


I have what she's having.

So the museum scene I like because it is this manic Joker dancing around to Prince.

And I think that's pretty good.

There's some great dialogue in here.

This is quality Joker antics, right?

The one dollar bill.

I like that.

That's pretty good.

I don't know if it's art, but I like it.

He says that painting, the one dollar bill.

And then a scene later he says what he wants is to have his face on the one dollar bill.

And I like to think the Joker just thought of it because he just saw a painting.

I like the one where they go by the really weird painting and he's like, don't touch this one.

I kind of like it.

They move on.

It's a weird painting.

They move on.

It's good.

I like how it all comes together where he tells Vicki Vale, I'm an artist.

I make art until someone dies.

That's what I do.

And it's like, all right, I get the Joker now.

And Exhibit A. Jerry Hall comes back.

And Jerry Hall.

Yeah, exactly.

He's really --


Yeah, she's wearing a mask.

Why is she wearing the mask?

And she's acting all weird.

And then, yeah, she doesn't make it.

But Batman comes to save Vicki before we can get more time in the museum.

But I love the museum scene.

I love -- yeah, I love the whole thing.

It's weird and funny.

And, yeah, it's good.

And that leads directly into a Batmobile that we have never seen before.

Yeah, that's right.

Before we get to the Batmobile, I have one note, which is if I had to say there's one perfect shot in Batman,

it is probably my favorite shot in the movie is when he comes through the skylight in the museum and the whole cape is, like, fully out.

Like, you see the whole cape coming down.

I love that.

That's so great.

And then the whole thing where he just sort of -- I think wordlessly, you know, just sort of stands there and fires off his various --

A lot of gadgets in these ones.

Batropes and then slides away and out the door.

And then they get to the Batmobile.

Bat ziplines.

Which is this wacky -- again, wacky, modular, art deco, high-tech Batmobile thing.


Which defined the Batmobile in all versions of Batman for decades.

Like, immediately the comics were like, oh, yeah, let's do that.


When they had Batman the animated series, oh, no, we're going to look just like this movie and have that Batmobile.

Really until Christian Bale Batman, I guess, where it's a little more -- it's a different, wider kind of platform thing.

But, yeah, it's a cool Batmobile, huh?


When we said, let's stop having cool cars and have an ugly tank.


I mean, I really like the animated version, but this would be my second favorite Batmobile.

I mean, I like that it does not look like any other car, right?

It just looks crazy.

Yeah, he didn't soup something up.


This is like custom built the whole way in the Batcave.

And it almost doesn't look like a car, right?

Like it looks more like a weird shoe or something than a car.


It's like a --

A torpedo with wheels.


It's like a mashup between the Chrysler building and an SR-71.

But it doesn't look quite so -- it looks great when it's still.

But when they're driving around with it, I think the suspension of disbelief breaks down a little bit.

It's going to be hard to turn that thing.

Is it scouting the way?


It's not just the Batmobile, though.

There is the chase that they go through.

There is one intersection that it goes through that I'm not kidding you is the most fake-looking set I have ever seen in a movie.

Where they're driving through, and it's like that is not a street.

That is not available in public.

That is like --

That's a back lot.

You spent a lot on this movie.

And like some of the street scenes, the parade, too, is the same way at the end.

Where it is just super fake and like minimal effort was made here.

The art direction for Gotham is great, but like they have like two intersections, right?

Like they just -- and they use them over and over again, right?

We're going to go meet under that bridge again.


The parade and the press conferences and like, you know, the outside of City Hall and the outside of that movie theater.

Like across the street from each other.

They built a block.

And that's it.

They built a block.

And I'm annoyed with that sort of thing on Star Trek because all corridors look the same.

But this sound stage is so distinctive.

Not all your corridors can be Crime Alley.

It doesn't work.

I'm going to let us leave the museum without distracting everybody with my crackpot theory.

If people would like to hear my crackpot theory, email me.


You want some more email, Monty.

Or you could tweet at Monty at Monty_Ashley and ask him for a crackpot theory.

So they get in an alley.

They get caught in an alley.

Batman decides to flee with Vicky up by firing his bat whatever it is, rope thing up and asks her how much she weighs.

So there's a weight joke that is made, which I rolled my eyes at.

Well, especially you already bat ziplined with her.

Like, you know, this is not your second -- this is not your first bat rodeo.

Yeah, he should know the weight.

We're making fat jokes about Kim Basinger?


I know, right?

This is not the most feminist movie.

You don't say, Chip.

He's wearing like 200 pounds of armor.

Chip, is this the most feminist Batman movie you've seen?

Let's dig deeper on this one.

I would say it could be worse, but it's not great.

Strong praise from Jason Snell.

It could be worse.

It could be worse.

But the weight joke, it stands.

Well, you know, like I said, there are moments with Vicky Vale that I'm like, all right, that's good.

But then there are other things that are not.

But I want to talk about the fights in the alley because there are a whole bunch of Joker henchmen who come to fight Batman in the alley.

And there's like a fighter guy.

And then there's like a ninja.

And, Tony, to answer your question, in the late '80s in Gotham City, did we have a lot of ninjas in the action?

The answer is, oh, God, yes.

Yes, there were so many ninjas.

And there are some here.

Some of the henchmen turned out to be ninjas.

Everything I know about New York City is formed from the Ninja Turtles movie, not the Michael Bay one, and the Warriors.

So I see I have no problems with this scene.

So you're missing Rumble in the Bronx, which is a key component.

It has the whole Alpine part of New York City.

And here we see one of the biggest limitations of this movie that I never noticed back in 1989, but in the days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I'm totally seeing, which is your hero cannot move.


The suit's so damn big.

These fight scenes probably looked great when we had nothing to compare them to, but they're not moving.

They're not moving.

Well, the bad guys move, and then Batman either steps out of the way or just punches them, because that's about all he can do.

I mean, he gets shot several times, and I guess he's just tough enough that they bounce off him.

I mean, I am not approaching this movie with the level of nostalgia that the rest of the team here is.

Yeah, all these action sequences fall pretty flat for me.

Yes, yes, yes, you're younger than us.

There's a scene where you can tell what they wrote up was, "Batman beats up all the thugs, and in the background, the Joker dances with Vicky Vale, and it looks great."

And, boy, it takes him a long time to beat up those thugs, because he can't even bend his waist.

And plus, the thugs did the usual thing, and they went at him one or two at a time.

There's no swarming.

No one ever thinks to swarm.

One of them just falls through the floor without touching him.

Because Batman's that good.

So, I mean, for me, there's three pillars of Batman, right?

Okay, tell me more.

All right, this is good.

We're getting some Church of Batman stuff going on here.

This is good.

Good to know.

Three pillars of Batman.

You didn't stop me, so here I go.

Gadgets, detective work, and ninja skills.

This movie relies pretty heavily on one pillar of Batman.

I would prefer to see a little bit more of an even distribution across those three pillars, is what I'm saying.

Are you saying you want a more holistic Batman?

Yeah, I want a more complete Batman.

If you are looking to think, "How can you be a more complete Batman?"

Write to Monty Ashley, and he'll forward that to me.

Yes, I will.

Possibly with some editorializing.

Yeah, the suit.

I think the suit looks great, but he can't move.

Well, it looks great when he's not moving, which is most of the time.

Because he can't.

Burton thought anything else didn't look threatening enough.

Looking threatening is not the key thing with Batman.

He's got to be able to move.

One thing you think of when you think of bats is immobility.

I do really like the scene that comes up here when they're riding back to the bat cave in the Batmobile,

and Kim Basinger starts to look at him and his face and all that, and he turns on the light.


He's got a light on her face so she can't see, and she kind of raises her hand.

And the score comes up, and they blast down that country road and into the hidden entryway to the bat cave.

I love that whole thing.

That's like super mystery Batman, and he's not going to let you look at his mouth and chin to figure out who he is.

There's a light he's got to stop people from doing that if he takes a passenger on.

In the bat cave, he keeps turning his head to keep himself shadowed so she can't see him.

It's nice to see a superhero actually worry about whether or not people can see his face.


As opposed to Batman Returns, which we'll get to in a minute.

Or any of your movie Spider-Men these days who take off that mask immediately.

With the drop of a hat.

It's hot.

It is.

So romantic comedy starts suddenly.

There's a whole plot where Bruce is trying to tell her that he's Batman.

He's going to admit it.

He's going to let that loose, except he can't do it.

And she says he's a jerk, and then he says, "Shut up," and he pushes her down, which is, I'm like, "Yeah, that's not actually that cool."

But okay, it's the '80s.

It's a romantic comedy.

All right.

And then he struggles to get things out, and she thinks he's married.

But he's trying to admit-- and in fact would probably have said, "I'm Batman," at some point, if the Joker doesn't knock on the door.

And then our romantic comedy becomes a sort of weird romantic comedy crime tension thing for a little while.

A source I will cite later says that this was kind of an actor's improv moment in the movie, and it just doesn't fit.

By this point, Robert Wool has been off the screen for a good 30, 40 minutes, and he's not coming back.

Yeah, he's not.

And it was a very good 30.

It's a different-- it's just a different movie in this part.

I mean, there's some nice bits in here.

Bruce Wayne, when he comes in, he says-- he comments on her apartment, right?

Nice apartment, right, Monty?

Nice place, lots of space.

And then so when the Joker comes in, he says, "Nice place, lots of space."

Like, oh, they say the same things.

That was kind of funny.

But, you know, Bruce Wayne provokes the Joker.

Come on, let's get nuts.

I don't really understand why he does that.

It seems weird.

The plan is for him to be shot right where he has the little metal tray so that he doesn't die.

I don't know.

It is a little coincidental, yes.


I don't understand why this scene is the way it is.

Because if anyone-- if the Joker is going to shoot anyone anywhere, why would he aim for the heart?

He would do, like, various parts of the body to watch you twitch.

And, you know, yeah, he would maim you and make you hurt until you're done.

I don't know, man.

It's Chinatown.

It's Chinatown, Jake.

My only explanation, and it's not a good one, is the idea that Bruce Wayne is trying to be chivalrous and buy time to figure this out.


He can keep intention on himself and not Vicky, less likely that she's going to get hurt.

But, like I said, it's still weak as water, and it's a really strange scene.

It's because they need the Joker to shoot Bruce there so that he can say the "dance with the devil" line.

Which he always says when he kills people, except all those other times when he doesn't say it.

He killed people in the movie.

He's killed several people by this point.

He didn't say any--

Also, that one time he said it and pointed a gun at a kid and then didn't do it.

But he always does it.

Always does it.

He was being prepared.

Okay, so he's not the most consistent guy in the world.

No, I'm just grumbling about that plot point.

So when he says that, though, Michael Keaton does react, and that is kind of a cool moment.

Speaking of the Joker's brilliant plans, let's talk about his latest brilliant plan, which is he's going to have a parade where he's going to drop $20 million in cash on the crowd for the party that's the "Yay for Everything" party or whatever.

And it's weird.

And incalculable.

Yeah, because first off, it's kind of unclear about what's going on.

And the beginning, again, I'm going to point out, at the beginning of that scene when the parade gets started, there's like seven people there for the citywide parade with $20 million in cash.

Seven people, no cops, the same intersection that we've seen several times before.

And a very small, like, two-lane street.

Yeah, these huge budgets were not spent on extras.


Because Nicholson got it all.

Yeah, I mean, when we jump ahead to Batman Returns, there's not that many people at that tree lighting ceremony.

Well, you know, they do it every year.

You can watch it at home on television.

On television, yeah.

There's more prints in the parade, though, so we get a little bit like that.

And actually, I was reminded in the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie, they have the "Hooray for Everything" festival where the Green Goblin attacks people and there's balloons and stuff.

And this is -- it's very much the same scene as this, except, of course, that actually is, like, in Times Square and has lots of people, you know, computer-generated people, but lots of people.

And I was reminded of that while watching this, that this is the low-budget version where they have one block and, you know, 20 extras.

I wondered how much they spent on the sequence where Batman is angry and he drives his car to the chemical plant and blows everything up because I felt like that seemed expensive and didn't add much.

Yeah, he just rolls the Batmobile in, drops some bombs, blows up Axis chemicals and drives off, like, "Hey, take that, chemical plant."

The movie did not have enough explosions, so they needed to --

Good thing nobody was in there.


So Robert Wool makes his triumphant reappearance here, Monty.


He's back.

What have you been up to, Robert?

He's totally doing what a reporter at an event would do, which is he tells the photographer, "Take pictures."

That's funny. Good, good tip. "Take the pictures." And then he writes a headline out loud as he's taking the pictures. "Gotham's greed."

This is not how journalism works. This is not what a reporter does. But at least Robert Wool is back.

He knows the idea of journalism. There's one point a little earlier where he yells, "Copy!" and seems completely unprepared for the kid right next to him to say, "Yes, sir?"

"You don't have any copy for that, kid. You haven't written a word, you liar."

Anyway, there's a Batplane and --

Yeah, Jason, Jason, nice movie you got here. I like the Batmobile, but we need to sell two toys. How can you help me out here?

What if we have a Batplane that looks like the Batman logo and he flies it in front of the moon, thereby creating the Batman logo?

Okay, that sounds great. However, I've only got about eight bucks worth of budget, so you can never have that appear next to any actual actors because we're going to maybe have you make a model of it. Is that okay?

What we're going to do is we're going to make a Batplane model that's going to fly around, and then we're going to have a thing that we put on like a golf cart that we drag along our one street.

And what we'll have is the Batplane will just get shot by a gun and crash.

And again, apparently the original script called for the Joker to have a tank to shoot the Batplane down.

And then for budgetary reasons, his tank is replaced with a gun.

A gun.

Well, somewhere in here is the scene that is most Tim Burton-y in the movie to me, which is when the plane grabs all the balloons and flies away.

Oh, yeah.

Those balloons, I'm positive, are based on the same sketches that led to Nightmare Before Christmas.

Those balloons are the same toys that are under trees.

Because those, more than anything else in the movie, say, "Hi, I'm Tim Burton. I like stuff that looks like this."

Yeah. I do like that scene where Batman's got his like a little claw or whatever on the Batplane that can grab the balloons.

And it leads to the Joker getting very upset. "He took my balloons!" I love that.

"Why didn't somebody tell me he had that?"

Yeah, that part's good.

Oh, poor Bob.

I like the idea that the balloons themselves are full of poison gas and will be released on the unsuspecting public.

That's kind of fun. You can think about that when you're watching the Thanksgiving parade next year.

I mean, that's that classic Joker-style plot, right? I mean, I'm down with that.

Oh, yeah.

Why is it that they get bigger as the gas is released? I'm just confused about that point.

It's physics.

Everything with distance in that entire sequence does not make any sense.

Like the size of the balloons or whatever size they need to be, the proximity of the balloons to the Joker, whatever they need to be.

Yeah, it's... Don't worry about it. Everything's great.

At that point, though, we get action hero Robert Wool because he masks himself and picks up a baseball bat.

What is he doing? You are not the hero of this movie, sir.

You don't know that. They could rename it later. Call it Knox Man.

Just keep acting as hard as you can.

It's the journalist and the Batman. That'll be what it's called.

You know, he could just as easily be in the suit, too. Do we really know?

This scene ends with the climax where they all run up into a tower and fight.

Because there's always a tower.

It all follows... Yeah, you're right. Exactly right, Shannon. There's got to be a tower.

And here it is. And a giant bell falls down and knocks down the stairs so that no one can chase them up.

Except also conveniently at the top of the tower, there's like 10 Joker goons. That doesn't make any sense.

Yeah, I don't know where those guys came from. Don't worry about it. They're there.

And again, it's a variety of goons. They're talented.

There's punching goons and there's ninja goons. Yeah, this is, you know...

Cartwheeling goons. Yeah.

Diversification. Yeah, you got to have different kinds of goons.

And that allows the Joker to dance and make jokes while Batman has to fight various goons.

Yeah, this is not one of my favorite parts of the movie.

This feels like the perfunctory, we have to have a boss fight at the end of the movie thing.

Yeah. And that's what... You know, knowing that now, it kind of shows through in the direction.

Because Tim Burton didn't want to do that for the ending.

This is a problem you always have with Batman vs. The Joker.

Which is, Batman is strong and the Joker isn't. Yeah.

So, if Batman punches Joker even once, that's kind of the end of the game.

Yeah, once you get to the Joker, you've won. Once you can get to him.

Yeah, and we'll see this again in Batman Returns.

But in the comics, you know, Joker's got this wiry, insane strength.

And Batman happens to not be wearing armor. So, it's a bit of a fairer fight.

We have just completely missed, actually, the issue of Batman's secret origin.

Which they're about to have out here on top of this bill.

Yeah, so yeah, we get the dance with the devil in the pale moonlight and all that.

And it's revealed that, like I said earlier, that the Joker, when he was young Jack Napier,

he was the one who shot Bruce Wayne's parents.

And there's that moment of like, "You created me, and you created me!"

Which even the Joker makes fun of that immediately.

"Oh sure, you gotta say that. I say you created me, you gotta say I created you."

Like, he doesn't even listen to him.

So, how do people feel about this in the context of the movie?

I don't like it in the context of Batman, but maybe it works out.

I don't mind it. As a single movie, fine, they're dark mirrors of each other.

That gives him a little extra... that's fine, I don't mind it.

The writer's trying to add some depth in there somewhere.

Well, that was Burton's idea.

I like the idea that we get Batman's origin in passing, and to make it relevant in some way.

I think you could have probably made it relevant where he was killed by somebody like Jack Napier,

and not have it literally be him, and still have a connection there,

because that's an awful lot of coincidence, but it's fine.

And sometimes this is handled in different ways.

The person who is usually identified as the killer is this character called Joe Chill,

and even that some people did not like, because they like the idea more that he will never know.

He will go out every night and fight crime, and he's never going to be able to 100% avenge his parents,

because some faceless hood is the person, and he has to fight all crime to confront that,

as opposed to like, nope, it's a guy, he's got a name and a face, and maybe I can get him even some days.

I believe there's at least one story where that happens.

So to then make it even be the Joker, yeah, not a fan.

That's the point actually that Glenn – and here's where I cite the previous source.

Glenn Weldon from Pop Culture Happy Hour wrote a really, really good book.

I really love it called The Caped Crusade.

And his argument is that by doing this, by making the Joker the guy who killed Batman's parents,

you've turned this from a hero story into a revenge story.

And as far as Batman goes, I don't like it.

But as far as a self-contained movie where, spoiler alert, the Joker dies at the end,

it kind of makes sense to sort of wrap it all up in the one story.

Okay, I'll buy that.

See, my headcanon is that – was that, I mean, it probably still is –

that it's not really the Joker or Jack Napier or whoever you want to call him at that point.

It's that that's what Batman is imagining now, and that every night he goes out,

he sees someone different doing it.

And that's part of his little quirk about that, his psychosis about that.

So, you know, to me, it doesn't have to be the Joker in this,

but it makes sense that he would picture him this time.

So, I mean, this is basically the end of the movie.

They fight, they go for –

Yeah, one last press conference.

Yes, that's right.

There's a cliffhanger, and then they reverse, and then the Joker drops and dies.

And there is a press conference, and Commissioner Gordon explains that they've been given a bat signal,

and we pan up through the city.

It's "Yay, vigilantes!"

And he gave us the signal.

We needed one because we didn't have any spotlights.

So nobody turned it on, though, because then the Batman will come.

Batman must be rich.


Who could he be?

And that's Batman.

I saw this movie a lot in the, I guess, early '90s,

and I was a little worried to revisit it because I hadn't revisited it in quite a while.

And, you know, I enjoyed watching it.

It's got lots of issues, but I like the way it looks, and I like Michael Keaton,

and I like Jack Nicholson's totally wild performance.

And, you know, I enjoyed watching it even though it's definitely of its time.

What did everybody else think about this one?

I continue to enjoy it.


Not as much as I did the first time I saw it.

We've had a lot more superhero movies since then, right?


I mean, that's part of it, is that this was the novelty of a movie,

like a big budget movie with real actors about Batman.

It was kind of a big--I mean, not just the marketing part of it.

It was a big deal to have this much talent, make, and money assembled to make a superhero movie.

And now, of course, we get eight or ten of these a year.

But comparing it to modern superhero movies, everyone now wants everybody to make sense.

Like, especially DC movies, we try to have motivations for all the characters.

But a madman like Tim Burton is willing to say, "All right, Jack Nicholson,

you're a Cesar Romero, double it. Go."


When my brother made me watch Batman Begins, and we're talking about--

you haven't seen Batman Begins yet? Oh, my God, you have to see Batman Begins.

I'm watching Batman Begins, and I've got this movie competing with it in the back of my head.

And I wound up disliking Batman Begins because it was too much of an effort to make Batman realistic.

And when you get to the point where Bruce Wayne puts on bat ears,

it's got to be a whole lot weirder, otherwise I'm sitting here going, "Why is he putting on bat ears?"

I love the 1989 Batman because it is just weird enough to make me forgive a whole lot of stuff that doesn't make sense.

I think it mostly holds up, as you said, taking into account that, yes, this is Tim Burton,

and Tim Burton has a unique vision. But it holds up for me overall.

I have quibbles aplenty here and there, but I can still sit down and watch it again and enjoy most of it again.

Yeah, I enjoy it as a fusion of a little bit of the Adam West style, a little bit of the Frank Miller,

a little bit of Denny O'Neill, a little bit of Neil Adams.

I love that it spawned, it sort of gave us the animated series, which is my favorite Batman of all.

And for me, I mean, Batman Begins, I really liked it when I saw it in the theater.

And then, you know, I didn't watch it for a while. And then The Dark Knight came out and I went,

"Oh, well, I should rewatch Batman Begins." And I didn't like it as much.

And I still have not gotten all the way through Dark Knight Rises, because it is just so oppressively wrong.

And so in retrospect, I liked the Nolan movies less and less as they went on.

And I still really enjoy this. I don't need the plot to make total sense. I just enjoy it while I'm watching it.

Yeah, because it's not going to.

I mean, it's more like comic books.

Actually, it is very straightforward in a way that so many of these movies that have multiple villains aren't.

Where it's like, look, the Joker is bad and he's crazy and he wants to cause trouble for Batman.

And he is interested in Vicki Vale and making him his next art project.

And he wants to kill people in Gotham City. Like, I mean, he doesn't have a grand set of imaginations that are going to lead to an outcome.

He is just a comic book villain who's trying to do bad stuff. And Batman stops him.

That's, you know, it's refreshing in that way that that's kind of all there is to this movie.

That's it. It's like there's Batman, there's the Joker.

They interact. And at the end, the Joker plunges off of a building and is dead. And that's it.

Tony, your verdict on Batman?

It's fine.

It's fine. The people who made this should not be hunted down and killed for sport.

No, this is fine. It's fine.

Are you sure? Because many of them made Batman Returns. Anyway.

I like the version of the Joker. I think I'm less impressed with this version of Batman than the rest of you.

To me, he's a little blah. The action sequences have not aged particularly well, but maybe they were more exciting at the time.


I do like weirdo Bruce Wayne. I had not remembered that. And that was kind of a treat to discover that.

But I feel like, I mean, and this is not necessarily a problem with this movie so much as a lot of Batman in general is,

sometimes Batman is not very exciting and it's his villains that are the interesting fun.

And I get the sense that maybe Tim Burton does not care that much about Batman and that this movie is kind of a lot more about the Joker.

And we'll talk about Batman Returns shortly.

But Batman can be boring. And I think he's especially boring when he's just kind of by himself.

And that's why I think a lot of stories he gets paired with other people.

And that can be fun, whether that's Robin or Commissioner Gordon.

And we get a little bit of that here with Vicky Vale, but not a lot.

And so Batman in this particular film comes across as kind of boring a lot. And I think that's a little unfortunate.

Oh, and Commissioner Gordon is a non-entity in this too, which is too bad.

Yeah. I mean, he's there, but...

I want to springboard off something Tony said because...


Coming out of this movie, absolutely everyone talked about how much fun Jack Nicholson was and nobody talked about Michael Keaton.

And everyone said, "Oh, I get it. The villains are the interesting part. The villains add the color and the excitement to the story."

And I think that led directly to what happens in Batman Returns.

Yeah, I think you're right.

I mean, Keaton is easily my favorite thing in the movie. And like I said, he's still my favorite movie, Batman.

So Batman Returns then happened.

Are you sure?

I'm going to tell you how I feel about Batman Returns. So that was 1992, three years later.

So I've got a theory about Batman Returns. I will give you my full disclosure up front.

I saw Batman Returns in the theater in 1992 and I hated it.

And I have not seen it since and I watched it for this podcast.

And let me tell you, 21-year-old me has excellent taste in detecting Batman movies.

Because Batman Returns is a piece of crap. And I will argue with those who think otherwise.

But here's my theory because I think it's garbage. I think it is so terrible.

And seeing it again, yeah, it's so terrible.

But here's the reason why. One, Tim Burton. I'm not a Tim Burton fan.

Batman is a movie that is compromised by all of the studio oversight, the producer oversight, the marketing message, all of that.

Tim Burton has said he doesn't like Batman, the movie. He doesn't like it. He thinks it's boring.

I think Batman is not a movie that Tim Burton really wanted to make or liked to make.

And he didn't get to make the movie he wanted.

And in Batman Returns, after Batman was such a financial success, they let Tim Burton make whatever he wanted.

And the result is a terrible movie because the only reason Batman is watchable is because they didn't let Tim Burton be Tim Burton.

Because Tim Burton being Tim Burton is the recipe for a bad movie.

Not a bad movie, but not a good comic book movie.

I chatted with Glenn Weldon at a book release party and I told him that I was – I really love the book, although I thought he was too unkind to the Tim Burton movies.

And he said, "That is an opinion that some people have."

So, but for the first – so I was thinking about Batman Returns as I remembered it.

I watched it for the first time just before we started recording.

And I owe Glenn Weldon an apology.

Because, no, this movie is not good.

My problem is I want to defend Tim Burton, but I don't want to defend this movie, which is garbage.

Well, I'll put it this way, Monty.

I can see how reasonable people would like some of Tim Burton's movies.

They don't work for me.

And I think we were talking in our Slack earlier about how I feel about Tim Burton's movies like how some people feel about Wes Anderson's movies.

Which is they feel all exactly the same to me.

Whatever the sensibility is that he's trying to get across, it obviously really works for him and people who like his movies.

And it doesn't work for me.

It's all just noise to me.

I find it all unpleasant.

With some exceptions.

Ed Wood, Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a good example, right?

But a lot of the movies he makes, I don't really love.

Batman Returns, though, I feel like is everything I don't like about a Tim Burton movie, like multiplied and concentrated.

Well, let me put it this way.

I am tuned into Tim Burton to the point where I kind of enjoyed the Dark Shadows movie.

It was not as annoying as I thought it was going to be.

Batman Returns, I can't stand.

I don't think he gets any of the quirkiness in.

It's just the surface level stuff.

Oh, no.

Oh, God, it's too much quirk.

I want to list a couple more of my theories here, which is I do think that this is one of those movies that really lets us down the path of, hey, what if we had more villains in superhero movies?

It's a terrible idea.

I don't know if it's ever been done well where they've added, like, multiple supervillains in a superhero movie and had it work out to improve the movie.

And I don't think it does it here either.

So I think that's part of the problem.

And I think fundamentally, and this came up earlier, Tim Burton totally doesn't think Batman is interesting.

And for the largest part of Batman Returns, Batman is not even around.

It is really the story of the penguin and Catwoman, and Batman is like the doofus who shows up and bugs them sometimes.

Oh, God, that was one of the things that drove me nuts this time.

I remember watching this.

I don't think I saw it in the theater, but I think I saw it on a cable channel or on VHS afterwards at some point.

And it irritated me at the time, thinking, like, you know, they really could have done a better job with Catwoman.

This was before I really knew Selina Kyle's Catwoman's origins in the comics.

I hadn't seen the animated series yet.

And this origin story, neither of these origin stories make any sense.

She falls out of a window and falls to her death, except she hits a few awnings on the way down.

But then cats swarm her and she sits up.

Jason, do I have to explain to you how magic works?

I'm just saying I wasn't aware that Catwoman is like a cat spirit totem person or something.

But that's what this movie wants us to believe.

Also, that penguins raised a baby.

Well, to be fair, I think there's the implication that he was also raised by the circus and just wasn't mentioning it for PR reasons.

See? Who will speak for the circus? I will speak for the circus.

The awning had a picture of a cat on it.

And they were just talking about cats before she fell through the window.

So she got possessed by an awning spirit? Is that what you're telling me?

No, that would have been Awning Woman.

Well, what happens if you say, "I'm not a cat," and then you fall through an awning with a picture of a cat, and then cats come around you, you are forced to start talking all sorts of cat metaphors.

At one point, try to wash yourself by licking your hand.

Lots of animal theme, right? I mean, that's it. It's penguin and Catwoman.

So we're going to have lots of animals.

And at one point, there's like, "I'm not a human being. I'm an animal."

So Danny DeVito is the penguin. And Michelle Pfeiffer is Catwoman, is Selina Kyle.

Christopher Walken is Max Schreck, named after the star of Nosferatu.

He dresses like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, which is just...

How about that makeup?

I like when they introduce him. He's in a meeting, so you know he's probably not so great.

And he's wearing gloves inside, so you know he's really evil.

Yeah, he's also very clearly modeled after Donald Trump. I am not kidding. He is very clearly modeled after Donald Trump.

Absolutely. Practically his last line is, "You're fired."

This movie was actually a little uncomfortable to watch after the election, I'll tell you.

Living in the New York area at the time, everybody was like, "Oh, wow. He's like goth Donald Trump. Whoa!"

And the only good thing in the movie.

Well, I was going to say, for me, the only three good things in the movie, Christopher Walken...


The fact that Michael Keaton finally gets top billing in a Batman film.


But he has like the fourth most lines.

I know. And the fact that the words to the music in this were really easy to memorize.

I like the part where all the penguins are on the march. I watched that twice. That was my favorite part of the movie.

Yeah, they're cute.

They fire some missiles.

Some rockets.

Which the penguins have targeting reticles dropping over their eyes. They have targeting monocles.

Why do the penguins have remote control?

Sorry, I'll bust out.

Did they carry his corpse to the water at the end?

Yes, they did.

They pushed it into the water.

There's a very nice sort of penguin ceremony.

They have levitating magic.

Monty, is this your first penguin funeral?

They're pallbearers.

So yeah, the absence of Batman, he just disappears for a large portion of the movie.

The penguin stuff I found not interesting.

Christopher Walken, he is the best thing in the movie.

I like him. It's a bizarre performance, but I really enjoy it.

Well, it's Walken.

Yeah. And I think that's probably a problem.

That's orthogonal to the whole notion of Batman.

Yeah, I want to follow him and see what he's up to.

What will Max Ruck do next? And the answer is he gets killed by Catwoman at the end.

I feel like that. Yeah, I have thoughts about that.

He's like the Robert Wool of this movie.

Yes, he is.

I've never heard Robert Wool and Christopher Walken compared, but there it is.

Yeah, you would watch Christopher Walken as Arnold. I'm just going to say that.

That's a sports agent you do not want to mess with.

It drives me nuts.

For me, one of the strengths in the movie was post-transformation Catwoman Pfeiffer.

It was really irritating that they even had to transform her in the first place.

I mean, Selina Kyle in the comics is a rich lady who decides to start stealing jewelry or whatever.

But no, they're going to have to transform Michelle Pfeiffer, try to make her a frump so that they can turn her into a glamour woman.

Glasses. Corn dog.

Yes, and there were so many good points hidden inside the Catwoman story.

The idea of her trying to become her own vigilante because at first she's, you know,

the first thing she does is rescue a woman, although she's very upset that the woman let herself get caught in the first place.

And then she turns to destruction of going after Shrek.

Then it turns into this weird, unresolved sexual tension between her and between Catwoman and Batman that just comes out of nowhere and makes no sense.

Their moves are so weird.

It emphasizes the other thing I hate about this movie, which is how dumb Batman is for the first two thirds of the movie.

Even when he shows up, he's dumb.

The world's greatest detective.

Where's your detective skills?

I wrote down at one point the world's greatest detective with a bunch of question marks and then like three lines down in my notes.

It says, oh, now the world's greatest detective is punching clowns.

Yeah, that is what Batman does in the first two thirds of this movie.

I will. I will. I will also check in with my wiser friends here about what it was like when this movie came out.

I was still a child and I recall it being weird that this movie was still like a vehicle for shuffling action figures at kids.

Even though it was so much more violent and had like these sexual themes to it that they're, you know, even above.

I don't think people at the time knew what to do with this movie.

That felt weird. I mean, I remember seeing like kids dressed up as Catwoman for Halloween, like young children and being like, this is weird.

This is not right.

Well, Harley Quinn, you know, this year.

Lots of people went to see it. Lots of people, I mean, probably went back for second viewings.

But when you've got pallbearer penguins, you don't know what to do with pallbearer penguins.

I'm OK with that part.

No one knew what to do. I have vivid memories.

I don't know why I remember this of Joan Rivers when she had her TV show and she has this gossip columnist or press, you know, somebody who was on the celebrity circuit talking about like one of the one of the pre-release parties or something for for the movie.

And she's showing Joan Rivers this paperweight that's designed.

So that was one of the big things was it was Christmas time.

It was snow, snow everywhere.

So there was this glass paperweight with the Batman logo inside it. And if you tilted it, the snow would move across it.

And here's Joan Rivers playing, looking with this thing, playing with it, going, what the hell is this?

That felt like the general reaction after once the movie was out.

It's like, what the hell is this?

The buzzwords were there. Penguin, Catwoman, Batman's back.

And what is Batman back?

Really? Well, they didn't bother with anything that was worthwhile.

I mean, I remember at the time thinking, you know, remembering back three years to all the marketing push and everywhere you saw the logo and everything was bright and bold and fun.

And, you know, just the logo itself was, you know, black and gold and just just jumped out at you.

And this did not have any of that.

It didn't have a song, you know, again, whatever we think of the songs and all.

It didn't have a song playing every hour on MTV.

It didn't have anything bouncy and fun to it.

The only thing you ever saw was dark and snow and ice and their three faces.

And they looked so serious.

Also, it's a Christmas movie.

It's set at Christmas time and it was released in June.

So perfect timing.

One of the pieces that was taken out of the first Batman movie was or heavily reduced was the notion of the Batman and Joker being different sides of the same coin.

There's a newspaper headline in an early script that was taken out where the headline is War of the Freaks.

And they seemed to rediscover that idea for this movie because they put so much effort into turning the penguin and cat woman into freaks and also playing with the idea of Batman as a freak.

And Tim Burton seems to be so fascinated with that that he forgets to make a superhero movie or just have Batman.

He's not interested in Batman.

He Tim Burton very clearly is bored by Batman.

And so this is a movie about the about Catwoman and Penguin really.

And there's a little bit of satire about him running for mayor and there's Max Shrek trying to manipulate things and all of that.

But Batman doesn't get a lot of time.

Bruce Wayne gets a little time sort of like in his again.

There's this other thread, which is his attraction to Selina Kyle and Batman's attraction to Catwoman.

And that's that feels like something out of the comics a little bit.

And when we get to the very love that.

Yeah, I love it.

I think that's I think that's one of my really strong parts that.


Let these two really good actors give them this really tangled issue.

Let them go.

Michelle Pfeiffer after she after she gets dumped out of the window and when she's not in the cat suit is fascinating.

Yeah, except in that scene where she's sewing the scene where she comes back to her apartment and just oh, yeah, and then shows her thing.

I hate that scene a lot.

I agree.

Then she pulls it together.

Yeah, the reason I don't think this was all Tim Burton's idea is he would rather have the freaks be the heroes instead of the villains.

Well, sure, like he would rather do Edward Scissorhands than have the guy who's shunned by society be actually ugly and horrible like Danny DeVito.

I mean, Danny DeVito's character.

He's making do though with like, well, what can I do with a Batman movie to give it to give it what I want?

It's like to have these to have these characters like this.

I'm a little surprised that Catwoman ends up ends up killing Max at the end because it seems kind of unnecessary.

She they they kiss over a taser to it's really stupid.


Well, he did kill her first.

That's true.

But I feel like that would be an interesting moment of like, is she bad or is she good?

Like maybe maybe maybe she's more complicated than that because that character is kind of like that.

She's a little bit of both.

And then the penguin is more irredeemable.

But, you know, that's again, you know, they're in the end.

It is about them just sort of like having their moment on the stage and then sort of a perfunctory.

I guess Batman needs to clean this up at the end because it's that kind of movie.

Yeah, I do like that little clever bit at the beginning of the movie before she takes her tumble when she's when Selena Carl is mugged and she's so mousy and all this other stuff.

And Batman saves her and the taser still lying there.

And then she just gets this glint in the eye and she tases the unconscious thug.

And that I do like that little bit because that's that sort of suggests to you that, yeah, she is kind of broken inside and got a lot of repressed anger and stuff like that.

I think that the Catwoman thread for me, the Selena Carl Catwoman thing for me feels like the whether it's the script or whether it's Burton, I don't know.

But it feels like this first week shaky step towards women having agency because, you know, she's one of the reasons I think she's going to kill Shrek at the end is because, you know, this is a step she can take to finally get her full revenge on him.

That one line just killed me.

I would love to go live in your castle and be your fairy princess.

I would love that.

But I would hate myself because she sees even that is giving in in a way there's there's a really good idea buried in there that we only get glimpses.

My note says, despite the dick jokes that happen in this, I think I think the Bruce-Selena relationship is the best thing in the movie, like other than other than walking, doing walking, because that's weird and quirky.

And it's like, she's got a secret identity.

He's got a secret identity.

They're both really messed up.

They meet when she walks into the office where we're walking is convinced that he killed her the night before and she just walks in.

He's like, what's going on?

And then that's also when Bruce Wayne is there and they meet.

And so that's kind of electric.

And all of that is is pretty cool because that's that's a weird.

I mean, I mean, there's your Tim Burton movie, right?

It's like the freaks are the heroes.

It's like Bruce and Selena are kind of freaks.

But they're also kind of the leads and the heroes here.

And that stuff kind of works.

And some of the Batman Catwoman stuff works, too.

But that's, you know, again, then then a monkey delivers a note of regret from Batman.

We move on.

I remember going into the movie.

All the press.

The only press I remember about Batman Returns was talking about Sean Young trying to be.


Oh, there were all those stories about her, like sneaking onto the set in the in a costume she made herself and sneaking into Tim Burton's office.

Well, she was supposed to be the original Vicki Vale and she got hurt and they had to recast Basinger.

So, OK, apparently she really, really wanted to be in a movie.

It made me uncomfortable at the time because they were really casting her as crazy.

Sean Young, who was so desperate for work, she'd show up on talk shows and beg for it.

Yeah. This movie has some interesting things to try to say about misogyny.

And yet it does it almost performs the misogyny more than it comments on it.

It mansplains it or Batman's plans.

Penguin is awful.

Max Shrek is awful.

And Catwoman is sort of this perfect victim kind of character.

And it's almost like they it's there were there were bits of this in the first Batman movie with Jack Nicholson's character.

You know, I didn't you look good, Jack. I didn't ask.

And all this other stuff. But they amp it up in this movie as though they're trying to make a point about it.

And I don't think that they succeed in Michael Keaton's last scene about goodwill toward men and women just doesn't do it.

I think the last person to do a pass on the screenplay just put in a million stupid quips.

Yeah. Like towards the last half of the movie, it's full of things like I haven't been fed all day.

Eat floor. Oh, yeah. Fiber. Yeah. Save my kitty litter. All my notes are semi hard.

I gave it the office. I don't think he did the final pass on it.

But the main credited screenwriter had his previous film was Hudson Hawk, which is a much better film.

It is a much better film. It's much better than this. Oh, it's so much fun.

One thing I wanted to mention about this and then I'm pretty much done with the things for me to say about this movie because I don't I don't like it.

OK, but Jason, you haven't even done the plot outline. Yeah, that's not going to happen.

I am amused by the scene where when the penguin is trying to give a speech again, another press conference scene, Tony.

You're hacked. You're hacked by Batman and Alfred using a CD.

A bat CD. Yes. And that makes me laugh because they turn the tables on him and he does a little bit of scratching there.

And then later in the movie, Alfred is like a a freaker with frequency jamming powers who turns the penguins around and it's like, go, Alfred.

And it's ridiculous and awful and and doesn't fit. But it's also funny.

And the culmination of that, Batman shows up and he's got his bat remote that controls the penguins and the penguin gets the remote from him and then presses the button, which blows everything up.

And it's like, I don't I don't. Yeah. Why is I think that was the trick.

That doesn't make any sense. Was it's like a homing thing and that whoever presses the button, it's going to blow up that thing.

And then and so Batman's just tricking the penguin into taking it.

Jason, you're a seasoned tech journalist. Is that how buttons work?

Yep. That's how it works. It's a red button, Tony. Red button. That means things explode if you push it. Come on.

OK, thank you. Standards, the ISO standard for buttons.

I would like to briefly call out three things in the movie that I have a comment about, if that's OK.

One, I like the way DeVito says, no, just give you a splitting headache.

And the way Christopher Walken sounds kind of like he's apologizing when he says it's not working.

That was a weird scene that I enjoyed. A weird scene I did not enjoy is when Catwoman is skipping rope with her bullwhip, which feels like somebody thought that would look cool.

And then it didn't. And finally, Batman totally strapped some dynamite to a henchman and blows him up.

We don't we don't see that. He's fine. Yeah. I mean, we talked about him not killing people. He kills people.

He's fine. He's fine. The best surgeons are Tony. Tony, you're in denial here.

Batman of these two movies is a cold blooded murderer straight from Detective Comics.

27 days. You have to admit it. He's a bad guy. You just bandaid over that and he's fine.

I have an important question. I have a very important question here, please.

Where the hell did the Red Triangle Circus gang get the plans for the Batmobile?

Yeah, I'm just asking. That's a pretty big plot hole. They broke into the DMV.

Let's say that. Wikipedia. Here, I can headcanon it. It's weak and pathetic.

There is the scene where they go to the Department of Records. Like this movie.

They go to the Penguin spends an extended period of time in the Gotham Department of Records, which has a very fancy sign for a Department of Records.

And probably Bruce Wayne is an upstanding citizen and has put the files for the blueprints of the Batmobile and entered them into the public record.

As you do when you're trying to maintain a secret identity. And yeah, and we've done.

Yeah. How do you think he got the license plate for it? It's street legal.

I think I felt a breeze. How do people feel? To me, the worst scene in this movie is when the Penguin goes up to his upstairs of his campaign headquarters and he and Catwoman are there.

And she that is that is the work for me. The worst. I don't know if that is for you.

Even even not even in counting the part which where she almost eats a bird.

I am 46 years old and I am still too young to see the Penguin and Catwoman on that bed.

The dialogue in that scene makes me deeply uncomfortable. And again, this is something that was used to sell action figures to children.

See, I don't think Burton likes grotesque grotesque. He likes beautiful grotesques.

Tony, that that is that the scene that includes the line? That's just the pussy I was looking for.

Yes, it was. I thought so. Yes. Yeah, that's not a good scene.

Nor is there other scene where he puts the moves on her and she refuses and he tries to make her fly into the sky on a on a like a parasol helicopter thing.

Also, not a good scene. Nope. Nope. Nope. I bet you there are some other not a good scene.

Yeah, there are a few. Jason, Jason, Jason, I know your movie is almost done and you have a Batmobile and I even saw you made a new version that it splits into pieces.

That's great. We'll sell a new toy. Can you get one more new toy out of this movie so we can for the kids and for my bank account?

How about a Batboat? Just put it in the Batboat. Yeah. OK.

It's no, no, no, no, no. The Bat. Skibo. Yeah. All right. I'm good. OK.

All right. How about this penguin that shoots a shoots a missile off of its back?

I had the action figure of that as a kid. I did, too.

Well, I wasn't a kid, but I had that as it came in a pack with two penguins.

One of the penguins is holding his flippers out in a way that I don't know if penguins really do.

The other penguin is just standing there. They're not really action figures.

They're just I like seeing that 40 seconds of Paul Rubens. That was nice. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

The beginning, the penguin penguin parents, Paul Rubens is the penguins dad.

In that scene, it's just like Peewee's big adventure scene. Yeah. Well, they're both.

They're both Peewee's big adventure. The mom and the dad are both in Peewee's big adventure.

Yeah. Diana Salinger. Yeah. Oh, but a side note.

Penguin in the graveyard kneeling before his parents grave.

Bumping into the wobbly styrofoam grave next to him.

Just just, well, you know, Danny DeVito had to deal with a lot of prosthetics with that costume.

I was their number one son and they treated me like number two zing.

Somebody got paid to write that line. Somebody got paid to write that line.

I don't think they should have brought up Vicki Vale in this. No, no.

Just pretend she didn't exist. Then I won't be sitting there going, hey, what happened to her?

Instead, it's really sad. It's like, hey, yeah, remember that that we were starting a good relationship there.

No, she couldn't take me being Batman. It's like, no, really? Because I thought you talked that through in the previous movie.

Yeah, that that that made me kind of mad. But really, it's low on my list of grievances.

So sitting down watching it tonight after not having seen it for so long.

And it's like right away, it was just like everything was dialed to 15, not just 11, but 15.

Gotham City was grimmer and uglier. All of the grotesqueries of whether it's the villains or whatever.

It just everything was just pushed up into this level that had me cringing for most of this movie.

It's good news. The next Batman movie is much more colorful.

Yeah, just what everybody wants.

I don't understand. I don't understand why this movie. Why I liked it so much in my memory.

I that's well, well, yeah.

And Michael Keaton.

But apparently, but no, the thing I love about the original Batman movie is that it is weird.

And I just assumed that Batman Returns was in that same vein with a cooler Batman suit and some other stuff.

And yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer. But yeah, this is this is one of those movies that I really shouldn't have watched again.

I should have just convinced myself that I enjoyed it.

Apologies to Glenn Weldon.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, Michael Keaton.

I'm going to say Michael Keaton deserved better that I really liked his performance.

Yeah, I know. I liked his performance in Batman.

And actually, I like what little we see of him as Bruce Wayne in Batman Returns.

That stuff with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Once he got kicked in the head hard enough and woken up.

Yeah. I like that boardroom scene between him and Christopher Walken.

I like that. That's that's excellent.

Keep cutting to him in the Batcave.

And he's like, hmm. Yes. Penguin. I see.

I know, right?

Parents. Yes. And then that's it.

Like, why is he even here?

It's like, oh, yeah, we should probably show him before they forget what they're watching.

I'm still in this movie, people. Don't forget. I'm Batman.

I'm hanging out with Robert Wool now.

I'm just glad that Joel Schumacher was able to come in and restore dignity to the franchise.

The thesis of Mr. Weldon's book is that the history of Batman is full of wild overreactions to previous.

Yes. We will pick up in a future episode.

We are going to watch the two Joel Schumacher Batman movies.

And then what we will. What do you mean?

We. Yeah, I didn't sign up for that. And then we'll have the Nolan movies after that.

But but for now, I would have to say that we have discharged our duties.

And I am sorry to have made everybody watch Batman Returns.

Because, Tony, is this in the is this like banned from the Church of Batman or just the Church of Batman recognize the existence of Batman Returns?

You know, do whatever you want, people.

Where is Batman Returns in the Batman University curriculum, Tony? That's what I want.

So far, the Batman University curriculum is mainly focused on the Batman animated series.

And that's that's where that's that's the foundation of love and respect for Batman. Is that good?

Right. That's why it has such high approval ratings. Go Batman University.

So the 1989 Batman is kind of grandfathered in as like a predecessor of the Batman.

And I mean, there are there are elements of this that show up in Batman, the animated series.

Like there is an episode called The Mechanic about the Penguin sabotaging the Batmobile, which makes way more sense than the plot point in this one.

So they they do borrow things from it.

Yeah, the the the the best thing about this movie are the things that get stolen for the animated series and they leave 85 percent of the rotting husk behind.

So, yeah, stripped it for parts. Yep.

I would rather had this movie been Christopher Walken as Max Shrek doing evil things that have to be countered by Bruce Wayne and Batman.

That would have been a way better movie. I would rather this movie were Christopher Walken as Max Shrek in Nosferatu.

Yeah, yeah, that would have been fine. Whatever. Christopher Walken. That's fine.

It's Christopher Walken does lots of weird stuff while Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle go out on a date.

Do you think Tim Burton was just like really angry that he hadn't didn't have the idea to use the circus gang in the Joker movie?

And so he's like, I don't know, they're here. It was like, why are you guys in this movie?

No, no.

Well, because Robin was originally going to be in this movie.

Okay. It's a mess.

I like at the end when there's going to be the big fight and they all just leave.

And I was like, it's like conservation of bad guys. Because of the big fight with the Joker, they're all the bad guys that showed up from nowhere.

So it's like it's evening out. There's their henchmen that didn't make any sense to be there in that movie.

And the henchmen that do make sense to be here just disappear in this one. I'm okay with it.

Batman does nothing but get shot.

They blew up the zoo too at the end of this one.

They blew up the zoo.

You know, Ed Wood was right after this movie.

I wonder if Tim Burton was thinking, I need to remind myself that it's important to love movie making.


And that's a good movie. I like that movie.

I feel for Tim Burton, although I complain about Tim Burton because I don't really like his work.

But I will say I can't imagine that this was a particularly fulfilling film for him.

I'm sure it was more fulfilling than the first Batman.

It feels more like stuff that's up his alley.

But still, I'm not sure this is the kind of thing that is really his bag.

No, the movie before this, between the Batman movies, was Edward Scissorhands, which is pure Tim Burton.

See, there you go.

Then he went to the paycheck.

And then he went and made Ed Wood, right?

So that's what you do. You take the paycheck and then you go make a passion project instead.

Hey, look on the bright side. You got to see Danny DeVito just go into town on a raw fish.

So that's an experience you can never honestly see.

I saw the fifth season of Taxi. I've seen that.

I want to say, although I did not enjoy Danny DeVito's performance, I appreciate how hard he went for it.

I do too.

He was not worried about me liking it at all.

I can agree with that.

And good for him for that.

Yeah, I was OK with it. I mean, I forgot that it was Danny DeVito a lot, which says something for Danny DeVito.

Yeah, me too.

Yeah, I'm willing to give him a lot of credit for that.

He is disgusting and awful and vile in this movie.

He's got weird prosthetics and he's actually acting. And yeah, and it's not just like being Danny DeVito.

He's not.

Yeah, bites a guy's nose. What more do you want?

Well, that guy should have seen that coming.

How do you?

Yeah, really.

I like how long they left it.


He says, you know, well, it could be worse. At least my nose isn't gushing blood.

There's a long pause. And the guy's like, that was rude.


I wonder what he meant by that. I'm going to ask him what he meant. Oh, God, my nose.

That's right. Buy some toys, kids. This is a movie where a guy bites off another guy's nose. Buy some toys.

Oh, God. 1992. Never come back.

No, never. All right. We're going to wrap it up.

That thus ends this edition of our check-ins with Batman that are affiliated.

It's like extension course for Batman University.

I'd like to thank my guests for being here and watching some Batman movies with me.

Monty Ashley, thank you for being here.

I'm still Batman.

Okay. Chip Sudderth. I'm grateful that Halle Berry was able to restore the Catwoman franchise.

David Loehr.

I'm going to go off and reboot the Hudson Hawks cinematic universe right now.

Okay. You can do that.

Bruce Willis is on the phone already.

Shannon Sudderth, thank you.

Knowing that I never have to watch Batman Returns again, I feel ever so much yummier.

And Tony Sindelar, I think you were the king of the wicker people.

Goodbye, nerds.

And thanks, everybody, for listening to The Incomparable.

I've been your host, Jason Snell.

But really, I'm Batman.