Batman Briefs: Tim Burton & Michelle Pfeifer on Christopher Nolan's Trilogy; Avengers Director Joss Whedon on His Batman Movie
05.07.12 by BJSprecher
Now that Marvel Studios' The Avengers has kicked The Dark Knight down a couple notches in box office rankings — besting the Bat for the top spot for midnight screenings with a take of $18.7 million and pushing The Dark Knight down to third place in highest-opening weekends — it would be understandable (if a little tacky) for Marvel Studios President of Production (and mastermind of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) Kevin Feige to crow about the accomplishment. But we're pretty sure he won't. Just a couple days before the theatrical opening of The Avengers in the States, Feige actually went out of his way to praise Christopher Nolan's revamp of the Batman franchise, calling it "the greatest thing that happened" to superhero movies because it "bolstered everything."
Before Nolan needed to save Batman from the creative black hole that the franchise plunged into when Joel Schumacher decided to introduce Bat-nipples and enough neon to make the Las Vegas Strip look classy, Tim Burton was considered the wunderkind of comic book movies. With Batman and its follow-up, Batman Returns, Burton helped to turn Batman into a cultural phenomenon (not many grown men would have been caught dead wearing Bat-symbol T-shirts in public before the movie) and made comic book movies a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. So what does Burton think of Nolan's Batman movies? If he appreciates them as much as Feige does, he's not saying. However, he does appear to be thankful that Nolan's Batman movies make his own Batman movies appear less "dark" by comparison.
I always get told that my material is dark, but nowadays my version of Batman looks like a lighthearted romp in comparison to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight.
Burton avoided talking about the casting of Nolan's Batman movies, instead focusing on his casting of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns.
For me, [Michelle's] version of Catwoman was one of my favourite performances on any movie I had worked on. I remember how she impressed me by letting a live bird fly out of her mouth, learning how to use a whip and dancing around on rooftops with high-heeled shoes on. She did all that stuff for real.
Pfeiffer was less reserved than Burton about Nolan, recently telling the Chicago Sun-Times that she is a "huge fan" of his Batman movies and saying that she thinks her successor, Anne Hathaway (chill out, cinephiles, we're purposely ignoring Halle Berry in the truly awful Catwoman), will be an "awesome" Catwoman.
I’m a huge fan. Plus, I know the nature of all of these characters is that they’re played by different people all the time... I think Anne will be awesome.
In other Batman movie news, Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the aforementioned record-smashing superhero movie, recently relayed to GQ (transcript courtesy of IGN) that he pitched a Batman revamp to Warner Bros. before Nolan was tasked with the job. However, the studio exec who received the pitch was not exactly blown away by his idea to focus on Bruce Wayne as "a morbid, death-obsessed kid" and took a pass.
[Bruce is] like this tiny 12-year-old who's about to get the s#!t kicked out of him. And then it cuts to Wayne Manor, and Alfred is running like something terrible has happened, and he finds Bruce, and he's back from the fight, and he's completely fine. And Bruce is like, 'I stopped them. I can stop them.' That was the moment for me. When he goes 'Oh, wait a minute; I can actually do something about this.' The moment he gets that purpose, instead of just sort of being overwhelmed by the grief of his parents' death.
The executive was looking at me like I was Agent Smith made of numbers [a reference to Neo's eventual "enlightenment" in The Matrix]. He wasn't seeing me at all. And I was driving back to work, and I was like, 'Why did I do that? Why did I get so invested in that Batman story? How much more evidence do I need that the machine doesn't care about my vision?
Batman returns to the big screen this summer in The Dark Knight Rises, opening July 20th. Christian Bale returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman, joined by Gary Oldman as Commissioner James Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Sir Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, and Tom Hardy as the villainous Bane.