‘Batman Returns’ Writer Reveals Plans for Solo ‘Catwoman’ Movie Starring Michelle Pfeiffer

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Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in 'Batman Returns'

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Plans for a Catwoman solo movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer that would have led to the first DC cinematic universe have been revealed.

Despite having become a cult classic, Batman Returns (1992) is a pretty polarizing sequel. Following on from Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), it sees the return of Michael Keaton as the titular Gotham crime-fighter, who this time must face off against Danny DeVito’s Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman.

While the film has become buried under several Batman iterations over the past 32 years, the sequel to Keaton’s initial 1989 outing was first followed by two critical flops. Neither Batman Forever (1995) nor Batman & Robin (1997) saw Keaton reprise his role, squandering any chances of a proper follow-up to the two Burton/Keaton collaborations.

Michael Keaton standing in front of the Bat-signal in 'Batman Returns'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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And so the “Burton-Verse” timeline was seemingly dead and buried. Keaton may have returned as a version of Bruce Wayne/Batman in last year’s The Flash (2023), but we can’t help wonder what could have been during the height of his time as the Dark Knight.

But now, we finally have an idea of how things could have panned out for the Burton-Verse, and it probably would have led to a shared universe long before the DC Universe as we know it, which started with Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the follow up to his previous film, Man of Steel (2013).

During a screening of Batman Returns at the Egyptian in Los Angeles on December 22 (via IndieWire), Daniel Waters, the screenwriter for the 1992 sequel, revealed his plans for a proposed Catwoman solo movie that would have seen Michelle Pfeiffer reprise her role.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle in 'Batman Returns'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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“He [Tim Burton] wanted to do an $18 million black-and-white movie, like the original Cat People, of Selina just low-key living in a small town,” he explained, “and I wanted to make a Batman movie where the metaphor was about Batman. So I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City, and it’s run by three asshole superheroes. It was The Boys before The Boys. But he got exhausted reading my script.”

A solo movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer sounds intriguing. Unfortunately, we got Catwoman (2004) starring Halle Bailey several years later instead, a film that replaces Selina Kyle with a character named Patience Phillips and doesn’t even take place in any Batman universe.

Would a Pfeiffer-led flick have faired any better? We’ll never know, but a Catwoman spinoff would have paved the way for the first shared DC cinematic universe. The question is, which version sounded better; Burton’s simplistic approach or Waters’ satirical superhero romp?

Halle Berry as Catwoman
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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The screenwriter clearly has a penchant for satire. Explaining why he thinks Burton’s Batman (1989) “sucks,” Waters revealed that the original script for Returns poked fun at the first installment’s colossal merchandising success, a satirical riff on commercial exploitation, with the original script’s opening scene centering on the Batman logo before panning out to reveal a store filled with in-universe Batman merchandise.

However, he explained that Bruce Wayne/Batman star Michael Keaton convinced him to cut the jokes (how ironic that this kind of fourth-wall humor would later add to the many layers of cheese in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin).

Michael Keaton in 'Batman' (1989)
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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There’s no telling how a more satirical version of the film would have been received by fans, but Returns turned out to be a mixed bag anyway. Discussing the sequel’s reception, Waters said, “The whole thing about Batman Returns is we got attacked by Batman fans because they thought, ‘This is only the second Batman movie, what the fuck are you doing? You’re already going off-road.’ Now there’s like 50 Batman movies.”

50 Batman movies is quite an exaggeration, but there have certainly been more than a handful since Batman Returns was released in 1992. There’s Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022), along with non-Batman-centric DC Universe films Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader has appeared in, such as Justice League (2021) and The Flash.

Michael Keaton as Batman in 'The Flash'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros

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As for Gotham’s feline femme fatale, Pfeiffer’s version has been followed by Halle Berry in Catwoman, Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Camren Bicondova and Lili Simmons in the TV series Gotham (2014 — 2019), and Zoë Kravitz in The Batman.

That said, Pfeiffer’s version of Selina Kyle/Catwoman has since returned to the Burton-Verse in the ongoing comic book series Batman ’89 (2021), which is canon with Tim Burton’s films and even features the actress’ likeness.

Would you have liked to see a solo Catwoman movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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