Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Daniel Waters, Sam Hamm
Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
Action, Crime, Fantasy
Rated: PG-13 for brooding, dark violence
We live in a society where ‘Die-Hard’ is considered a Christmas movie, and is often the biggest debate with Christmas film watchers around the holidays. It’s a great topic for discussion at any work holiday gathering, your ice-breaker to stop your family from tearing each other apart while all staying under the same room, plus, It’s a great watch.
But why are we not having the conversation about ‘Batman Returns’? You could say “Hey idiot, do a google search and see the hundreds of other articles doing the same thing you’re doing. What can you add?” Well, I’ll say the same thing I said to my Wendys Drive-Thru “You have no idea what my potential is, Dad!” So let’s reaffirm once and for all, that Batman Return IS a Christmas movie!
First, let’s establish what a “Christmas Movie” actually means. what qualifies a film to be added into this genre? Jeremy Arnold from The Hollywood Reporter puts it in a way that can be applied to film in general:
The label is subject to personal definition. If someone considers a Christmas film to be any picture with even a glimpse of the holiday, then that’s what it is, to them.The Hollywood Reporter
Whether or not we can define a film as a Holiday film is truly in the eyes of the beholder, but I would also say that any good argument can sway a position, and here is mine for the caped crusader.
The Holiday season is an every aspect of the film
From Mistletoe to the very last line of dialogue from Bruce Wayne himself, Batman Returns centers it’s story around the Holiday and if that element were removed, the film would fundamentally change. I loved this tone when I was a kid and feel that Batman is inherently a fall/winter themed hero (maybe due to him having permanent SAD).
A Dark Christmas Story
Greed, Literally personified by the great Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot, a deformed man who was abandoned as a child from his wealthy family, raised by penguins, and looking for purpose. This could easily be interpreted as our Ebenezer Scrooge. Does he see the error of his ways at the end? That’s not Tim Burtons style, he instead gets accepted completely by his family of penguins, as his black and blue bloody body is unintentionally hilariously led back into the Gotham sewers where he was accepted. Also, I desperately want DeVito to return to the character is Keaton is also returning as Batman.
Holidays and Romance
The chemistry with Catwoman and Batman is off the charts in this film. Filled with depth, love, and rawness that only a Hallmark Christmas film could truly emulate. Not only are the performances by both actors iconic, original and unique, but they capture the Holiday spirit of wanting genuine connections in life. If you don’t get a lump in your throat when Bruce Wayne rips his mask off, revealing an eye-makeup-less face pleading to Selina that she can change, there’s something wrong with you. Screw ‘Love, Actually’, ‘The Holiday’, this is the hot steamy romance you want with your holiday cheer.
The Foresight of Christmas Future
I can’t be the only one who sees ‘Batman Returns’ as a cautionary tale for the nightmarish hellscape we’re currently living in, right? Christopher Walken’s character is clearly based on a so-called “Self Made Billionaire” that turned his eye in the political landscape? Has a blockhead son that is played for laughs throughout the film? Literally has a catch-phrase centered around terminating employment? Man, if we could have seen the premonition that director Tim Burton had, we would be avoiding the future he portrayed for us.
Perhaps there’s still time for humanity to see the error in our ways and come together… maybe. But that can never happen if we don’t first establish that Batman Returns is a Christmas movie. I hope this silly, poorly written exercise has enlightened you, and that when we see each other on the streets we can see our souls, and know that this world is a better place having acknowledged the truth of the best Superhero Christmas movie ever made.