When it first debuted in 1992, Batman Returns was one of the most anticipated film sequels of all-time. That’s a good indication of why the film was successful, and why the filmmakers were given a lot of freedom with it, which is coincidentally why Batman Returns is so terrifying. The movie was a direct follow-up to 1989’s Batman, and saw the return of both star Michael Keaton and director Tim Burton. For reasons why Batman Returns is messed up, look no further than Burton. The original film strayed quite far from Batman’s comic book persona, and the sequel was no different, taking the Dark Knight in a bizarre, Burton-esque direction. In fact, it could be argued that Burton received more leeway to “be himself” when it came to directing Batman Returns than in any other film, and the results are obvious.
Looking back on it all, it’s easy to write-off Batman Returns as the beginning of the campiness that would come to dominate the franchise when Joel Schumacher stepped into the director’s role. However, that’s not an entirely fair assessment. There’s plenty of camp to be had in Batman Returns, from the performances to the costumes, but it’s balanced out by the sheer darkness Burton manages to imbue in the franchise. Despite its funny page origins and Christmas setting, the movie actually includes a number of outright horrifying elements, and plot points that can only be described as truly twisted. The film simply does not get enough credit as the darkest installment in the long history of Dark Knight tales.