When Batman Returns went into production, one very memorable, very iconic shot was not originally included in the movie. The shot was added at the very last minute, and it came at a considerable financial cost.
But what was it? What was added to Batman Returns and why did director Tim Burton and Warner Bros. Pictures want it included, even though the film was pretty much done?
What shot was added to Batman Returns?
Cast your mind back to the events that play out at the very end of Batman Returns. Max Shreck and the Penguin are dead, Catwoman has disappeared and Batman has saved Gotham City.
As the movie draws to a close, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne exchange festive pleasantries while sat in Bruce’s car. The camera pans up towards the Gotham City skyline, and as the Batman theme kicks in, Catwoman moves into shot.
And that’s the moment. That is the shot that was not originally planned for the movie – the reappearance of Catwoman.
The shot was inserted into the film during post-production, at the request of Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio felt there needed to be complete clarification that Catwoman survived the events of the movie, so that she could be brought back for sequels or a spin-off movie.
Tim Burton also felt that Catwoman’s reappearance tied into the mystical element of cats having nine lives, so it was a good way to end the movie. It also mirrored the end of Batman (1989), which concluded with a shot of the Caped Crusader looking down over Gotham.
What was significant about that final shot in Batman Returns?
The shot of Catwoman was filmed over the course of a weekend at a cost of $250,000 – an expensive last minute decision. And as the shot was so last minute, actress Michelle Pfeiffer wasn’t available to film it.
The final shot of the film, which cost a quarter of a million dollars and was put together at breakneck speed, was completed without the actress who played the role! A body double took Pfeiffer’s place for that iconic shot.
Speaking about the shot on the documentary series, Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of the Dark Knight, Batman Returns co-producer, Larry Franco, said:
“I remember saying, ‘I don’t think it can be done’, in the meeting – we’ll try – and then it was a flurry of phone calls after that. Literally it was the next day or even that afternoon that we got the Catwoman suit out of storage and put it on somebody and actually shot… yeah it was really that quick, it was like a nightmare.”
So, was the cost and logistical problems associated with shooting that scene really worth it? Well, in terms of the film, that final shot proved to be a great way to conclude the movie – just imagine the ending without it.
In terms of bringing back Catwoman to set up future appearances, well, that was less successful. Despite a lengthy process to get a spin-off Catwoman film off the ground, it never happened.
Warner Bros. Pictures did release a Catwoman movie in 2004, but it had nothing to do with Batman Returns. The lead character was not even played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
So, a costly but great shot, which added something to the movie, but didn’t take Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman to any new places – sadly.
If you wish to know more about the Batman movie series, take a look around I’ll Get Drive-Thru. Alternatively, check out one of the recommended reads below.