ByMichael Patterson, writer at
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Michael Patterson

With both the recent animated adaptation of renowned comic Batman: The Killing Joke and the upcoming animated film Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders, it's clear that DC isn't afraid to revisit its past successes. Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders will reunite Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar who will reprise their roles from the legendary Batman 1966 TV series. Check out the trailer:

The exciting trailer release got me thinking about other successful Batman universes they could adapt and that's when I realized — after they revisit the sixties, DC should set their sights on the early nineties and produce a Batman animated film set in the Burton-verse.

Tim Burton's critically acclaimed Batman films put superhero movies on the map and if there was ever a franchise worthy of an animated adaptation, it's this one. The mere thought of seeing an animated sequel to Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns gives me chills. Here are some of the reasons why one of DC's next animated Batman movies should a sequel to the Burton films:

The Story Was Never Completed

Michael Keaton as Batman in "Batman Returns."
Michael Keaton as Batman in "Batman Returns."

Although Tim Burton's second outing Batman Returns did wrap up the story of the film, there were still some loose ends. Did Batman clear his name after the Penguin tarnished his reputation? Did Bruce and Selina ever reconnect after discovering each other's true identities? And just what actually happened to Catwoman? As Warner Bros. decided to take the franchise in a different direction with Batman Forever in 1995, we never really did find out the answers to these integral questions.

Theoretically, Batman did clear his name because he is once again the hero of Batman Forever but was that film truly a sequel? Some of the returning cast — Pat Hingle and Michael Gough — suggest so, but the complete shift in tone and direction suggest otherwise. Although Burton was billed as executive producer, this was not a Burton film. An animated film set in the grim dark Gothic landscape of Batman and Batman Returns would most certainly serve a welcome conclusion to two phenomenal movies.

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The Outlandish World

Gotham City in "Batman Returns."
Gotham City in "Batman Returns."

The visual style of Tim Burton's Batman films really put the Goth in Gotham City. Appearing more like a hellish noir landscape in Batman, it became far more Burton-esque and fantastical in Batman Returns. Seeing either version of the city in DC's animated style would certainly be an awe-inspiring sight. Whether it's demonic-looking gargoyles or the extravagant architecture, the Gotham City of this universe would certainly translate to animation beautifully.

With traveling circuses, gas-filled baby balloons and a lot of crazy bad guys, this city has so much more to give to the animated world. It would also give DC a chance to introduce more villains into this universe that were never explored before. After Jack Nicholson's awesome Joker and Danny DeVito's monstrously terrific Penguin, we can only imagine what other amazing villains lurk in the Burton-verse. An animated movie would indeed bring those villains to life.

A Dark Tale

Iconic: Michael Keaton portraying the titular character in "Batman."
Iconic: Michael Keaton portraying the titular character in "Batman."

The majority of DC's animated Batman movies feature adult storylines with graphic scenes. Whether it was the controversial Batman: The Killing Joke or the acclaimed Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, these films have never been afraid to push the boundaries — and pushing boundaries is exactly what Burton's Batman films are renowned for. From the Penguin's grisly death to the Joker's origin story, these films were cutting edge, so much so that Warner Bros. controversially ended up brightening up the franchise.

Nowadays, animated films have garnered a significant amount of respect for being able to handle mature storylines just as well as live-action. So while an animated movie may not have been an option back in the mid 90s, there's no reason why it couldn't be done now. I have no doubt that DC could come up with a dark and powerful tale worthy of carrying a followup Burton-verse animated movie.

Catwoman's Arc

Meow: Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.
Meow: Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

Now this is an interesting possible storyline for an animated Batman movie in the Burton-verse. At the end of Batman Returns we saw Catwoman watching the Bat-signal as the credits rolled, confirming what we already knew — she was alive and well. And even though Warner Bros. was changing direction with Batman Forever, we held on to the hope of revisiting the Burton-verse when it was announced that WB had a Catwoman spin-off in the works with Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her role and Burton directing. Daniel Waters spoke of his script, stating:

After the traumas of 'Batman Returns' she has amnesia, and she doesn't really remember why she has all these bullet holes in her body, so she goes to relax in Oasisburg... the movie has great fun at making fun at the whole male superhero mythos. Then they end up being not very good at all deep down, and she's got to go back to that whole Catwoman thing.

As promising as this sounded, the project languished in development hell and eventually turned out to be 2004's horrific Catwoman starring Halle Berry.

So while we never did see the solo Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman movie come to fruition, at one point in time WB and DC did believe there was a story there that needed telling. Well, there's no reason we can't see that story — or another — unfold in an animated Batman movie.

The Cast

Michael Keaton.
Michael Keaton.

Animated movies have a habit of reuniting illustrious cast members — The Killing Joke reunited Batman: The Animated Series veterans Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill while Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders will reunite Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar. There's no reason why a Batman '89 animated movie couldn't do the same. Could you imagine hearing Michael Keaton reprising his most famous role by voicing Batman in an animated movie? Or what about Michelle Pfeiffer's sultry voice returning to voice Catwoman? Perhaps we could even hear Jack Nicholson's chilling voice as Joker or Danny DeVito's eerie cackle as Penguin.

A cast that stellar would surely warrant a limited theatrical release — especially after the success of The Killing Joke's limited run — and Michael Keaton is no stranger to voice work having recently lent his voice to Minions. Imagine hearing this one more time:

The Batman '89 Comics Were Rejected

"Batman '89" comic (via Joe Quinones).
"Batman '89" comic (via Joe Quinones).

With the success of DC's Batman '66 comic series that acted as a followup to the beloved TV Series, Joe Quinones and Kate Leth pitched an idea of developing a Batman '89 comic series that would take place following Batman Returns. It would have featured the introduction of Burton-verse versions of Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Batgirl, as well as using Billy Dee Williams' likeness for the introduction of Two-Face. I guess that really would have retconned the idea of Batman Forever being a sequel!

For some unknown reason, DC turned down the pitch, but that didn't stop Quinones from posting the fantastic artwork on his blog. The designs are nothing short of incredible. They also got me thinking: If the classic Batman 1966 TV series can have a follow-up comic series and now an animated movie too, why can't Burton's Batman films have at least one of those?

With Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader the latest in DC's successful line of animated Batman movies, it seems now would be the appropriate time to revisit the legendary Burton-verse for a gothic animated adventure. The films have amassed an incredible following — not to mention a lasting impact on pop culture — and if they produced a strong enough story with Keaton returning to voice the Dark Knight, there's no doubt they could pull off this incredible feat. With many fans still believing that Burton's Batman films are the greatest, DC should seriously consider returning to this story for an animated film.

Would you like to see the return of Burton's Batman in animated form? Let us know in the comments.


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