Tim Burton was not invited for a shot at Batman 3 after Batman Returns was too dark to sell to children and families.
Warner Bros. wanted to go in a different direction and wanted to get more tie-in marketing. This was lacking from Burton and Daniel Waters’ vision of freaks who were all the same, whether they were a cat, bat, or penguin.
Though Burton was not asked back, Michael Keaton now is revealing why he opted out of what turned into Batman Forever starring Val Kilmer as Batman instead.
Michael Keaton talked to The Guardian about his career and the questions steered towards his experiences as the Caped Crusader. When asked about why he was not involved in the movie, he explained that he found the script “horrible.” Keaton said the movie had bad tastes of the 90s and had this to say.
“(The film) Just wasn’t any good, man. I tried to be patient, but after a certain point, I was like, I can’t take this anymore, this is going to be horrible. But, look, there was some horrible taste in the 90s, and I probably contributed to that, unfortunately. It was a time of nouveau riche excess, everyone was known for their jets and their stuff.”
Keaton is spot on about the first part, but it is Citizen Kane when compared to Batman and Robin. His thoughts on the decision to leave the character have not changed.
“It sucked! The script never was good. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to do what he wanted to do. I hung on for many meetings. I knew it was in trouble when he (Joel Schumacher) said, ‘Why does everything have to be so dark?'”
Tim Burton had a better understanding of the dark and gritty nature of the Batman. The rest is history, but Keaton has said that he wanted to take the movie back to a prequel, but those ideas were ignored.
He has said that people felt that Batman Returns was not as dark as the first movie and it was too light. Others claimed that the movie was too dark. McDonald’s came under fire for having Batman Returns themed Happy Meal toys because the movie promoted violence.
Tim Burton got kicked out for not properly merchandising the movie, and Michael Keaton jumped ships pretty much right after the direction that Batman franchise was heading. Keaton got out at the right time, but one cannot help but wonder what it would be like if he and Burton made the third movie.