When The Penguin is being persuaded to run for Mayor, Josh (Steve Witting), one of Shreck's hired image consultants, places a cigarette holder in his mouth, which he promptly spits out. This not only serves as a reference to previous incarnations of The Penguin from both the Batman (1966) television show and comic book series, but also, with the corresponding line, "Reclaim your birthright.", hints at what is more explicitly revealed in the backstory: that Tucker Cobblepot, The Penguin's birth father, once occupied a high-level political office in Gotham City. Tucker is also seen smoking a cigarette in a holder at the beginning of the film.
The production wanted to use King Penguins, but the only tame ones in captivity were at a bird sanctuary in the Cotswolds, deep in the English countryside. So the birds were flown over to the States in the refrigerated hold of a plane, they were given their own refrigerated trailer, their own swimming pool, with half a ton of fresh ice every day, and had fresh fish delivered daily straight from the docks. Even though the temperature outside frequently topped one hundred degrees, the entire set was refrigerated down to thirty-five degrees. The birds also had an around-the-clock bodyguard. Clearly the birds enjoyed the experience as, following their stint in Hollywood, most of them had mated and produced eggs, the sure sign of a contented penguin.
According to Casting Director Marion Dougherty, Tim Burton was reportedly uncomfortable with casting Christopher Walken as Max Shreck. When she asked him why, he said, "Because that man scares the hell out of me." However, the decision must have ultimately grown on Burton, as Walken was cast again in Sleepy Hollow (1999). He was also cast to play Brainiac in the aborted Superman Lives project.
During an A&E Biography, Michelle Pfeiffer said that her Catwoman costume was vacuum sealed once she was fitted into it for scenes, so she actually had only a short amount of time to perform before she would have to have it opened or she could become lightheaded and pass out. She also admitted that when she first was learning to use the whip, she accidentally cut her trainer's face with it, at which he acted as a complete gentleman and continued with their training.
Warner Brothers had to constantly submit new Catwoman posters for various cities, as many of the bus stop ads were being stolen. It got so bad, that police officers had to patrol bus stops in order to catch perpetrators before they could break the Plexiglas containers. Today, the large scale Catwoman bus ads are worth a great deal of money.
Michael Keaton was alleged to have earned eleven million dollars for reprising his role as the Caped Crusader. The Warner Brothers executives were very uneasy with this. However, Director Tim Burton stated that he personally believed Keaton deserved it.
In an interview for television, Stan Winston told a little anecdote about how his crew were collecting the mechanical penguins after a day's shoot, and found one of the live penguins snuggled up asleep against a mechanical one.
When asked during a 2007 talk show appearance if she ever felt nostalgic and put on the cat suit to amuse her husband, Michelle Pfeiffer stated that once filming was over, she never wanted to see the costume again for as long as she lived.
Neither Tim Burton nor Michael Keaton had been signed up in advance for a sequel. Burton came on-board only after the script met all of his demands (he hadn't been entirely happy with Batman (1989)'s screenplay), while Keaton only agreed to do the second film after a serious hike in salary, and Burton's assurance that it would be mostly a stand-alone movie, rather than a direct sequel.
The catsuit was so tight on Michelle Pfeiffer, that she often had trouble hearing her own voice. Tim Burton had to tell her to lower her voice register, because she would often shout her dialogue, instead of just saying it.
Although this is considered to be the darkest of the four original Batman films, it was lambasted as too grotesque and pessimistic. Strangely enough it is the only one of the four films which does not include a single reference to the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents (which was always regarded as the crucial driving force for his anti-criminal crusade).
The final Christmas ball scene is quite symbolic: since it is a masquerade party all the guests are in disguise. The only two guests there who actually aren't wearing masks are Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. This implies that their real personalities are Batman and Catwoman respectively, and that their public appearance without a costume is just a disguise for society.
Bruce Wayne chastises Alfred, saying "Who let Vicki Vale into the Batcave?" This was Screenwriter Sam Hamm's none-too-subtle jab at the re-writes given to his script by Warren Skaaren. Hamm's script never included a scene where Alfred leads Vicki into the cave, and as the script was re-written during production, Hamm felt this was a particularly sloppy revision.
Security was so tight on the production that even Kevin Costner was refused permission to visit the set. Warner Brothers employed a private investigator firm when some shots of Danny DeVito in costume made it into the tabloids.
Billy Dee Williams was to play Harvey Dent again, and an early draft of this movie's script included the role. That character was later renamed Max Shreck, and all of Dent's lines were given to him, and all Two-Face elements were removed.
A Penguin action figure based on his comic book counterpart was released as part of Kenner's line of figures based on the film, as Danny DeVito's image of the character was deemed too scary for kids. The figure in fact was a repaint of the Penguin action figure released in 1980s Super Powers Collection toy-line by Kenner (the original one had a blue suit, whereas the one released to promote the film has a black suit).
This was one of the last major Hollywood films to be done "the old-fashioned way", with indoor soundstages, trompe l'oeil sets, miniatures, and various other vestiges of old-school Hollywood filmmaking.
The first script draft of this movie was intended to be a direct sequel to the previous Batman (1989). As a result, subplots and continuity from the first film that would have been addressed, included gift shops selling fragments of the destroyed Bat-Wing, further revelations into the past of the now deceased Jack Napier (The Joker), and even Bruce Wayne proposing to Vicki Vale by the end of the film. However, Tim Burton was uncomfortable in making a direct sequel, and as a result, the script was re-written, and a new Gotham City was designed. However, several plot elements from the original script did make it into the final draft. This included The Penguin and Catwoman's alliance, their framing of Batman, and The Dark Knight's escape via Bat-Glider. Further elements even made their way into the third film, Batman Forever (1995), most notably an invasion of Wayne Manor and the Batcave.
Sam Hamm's original screenplay draft had the Penguin and Catwoman going after hidden treasure. Dissatisfied with that, Tim Burton brought in Daniel Waters, writer of Heathers (1988), who came up with the concept of an evil business mogul backing a bid for the Mayor's office by the Penguin.
When Michelle Pfeiffer moved houses in 2004, she found the whip she had used during filming. Feeling nostalgic, she went out to her yard and attempted some whip play, but according to her, she was "a bit rusty".
There are numerous references to Germany's "Weimar Republic" culture, which existed from 1919 to 1933. The outfit and look of The Penguin, are based on the title character from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), and much of the scenery and set designs of this movie are inspired by the same movie. A villain is named after Max Schreck, another film star of "Weimar Republic" culture. Schreck suggests to The Penguin to make a "Reichstag Fire", the terrorist act which the Nazi Party used as a pretext to seize power (saying they were guarding against terrorists) and disband the Weimar Republic. It is popularly assumed that the Nazis set the fire.
When Selina is seated at her desk in Shreck's office, the lamp casts a shadow through her eyeglass frames, creating an outline of the pointed "cat's eye" mask that was worn by Catwoman in the original DC Comics series, and had also been featured as part of the costumes donned by Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt in Batman: The Movie (1966) and Batman (1966), respectively.
In the second scene between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne, when they are talking about the lighting of the tree event, Selina sarcastically says, "It's gonna be a hot time in the cold town tonight." This is a subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) reference to a line that The Joker said in Batman (1989), when he electrocuted Anton Rotelli.
Christopher Walken, remembering a film he'd seen previously, requested from Tim Burton cufflinks made from human molars for his character, Max Shreck. The movie in question is The Great Gatsby (1974), in which an unsavory friend of the title character, who had been involved in the 1919 World Series Black Sox scandal, sports a pair of molar cufflinks.
According to the book "Movie Magic" by Robin Cross, The Penguin's army consisted of real penguins, actors in glass fiber suits, animatronic puppets controlled by puppeteers, and computer animation. A technique called flocking was used, where several penguins would imitate a master penguin, allowing control over large numbers.
It was intended that the character of Robin be introduced in this film. Reportedly, Tim Burton collaborated with DC Comics artist Norm Breyfogle to redesign the Robin costume for the introduction of a new Robin, Tim Drake, so that it would convincingly fit into The Dark Knight's gritty, dangerous world in the film. The winning costume was one designed by Neal Adams, but the new Robin's "R" symbol and bow staff was influenced Breyfogle's presentation. Kenner Toys even produced a corresponding action figure, but when Robin was eventually written out of the script, Kenner released the toy anyway, as the character newly rendered in the comic books.
The make-up artists who created The Penguin's look, decided to move away from previous depictions of the character. Instead of just giving Danny DeVito a pointy nose, they created prosthetics to make his face look more "avian". Additionally, they studied deformities, such as curvature of the spine and syndactyly. Some comic book artists (such as Tim Sale) subsequently drew the Penguin as "deformed" in different Batman comics.
The first Batman film in the original franchise, in which the actor playing Batman (Michael Keaton) gets top-billing followed by the actor playing the main villain (Danny DeVito as The Penguin). In Batman (1989), Keaton was behind Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker (although during the end credits of that film, Keaton was top-billed over Nicholson).
Paul Reubens reprised his role as Oswald's (Penguin's) biological father on Gotham (2014). In this movie, the credits list Reubens only as "Penguin's Father". However, on Gotham (2014), we learn that Penguin's father is a very wealthy man named Elijah Van Dahl. Van Dahl and Penguin's mother, Gertrude Kapelput (Cobblepot) were very much in love, but due to Elijah's disapproving family they ended the relationship. Gertrude never told Elijah she had become pregnant with Oswald, and it remained secret until after her death. Oswald and Elijah became aware of one another when the two happened to visit Gertrude's grave at the same time.
During his appearance on the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, Michael Keaton stated that he has never watched the completed movie. He went on to explain that he only took the role because he needed money for a real-estate deal.
The character Vicki Vale from Batman (1989) (played by Kim Basinger) was going to return in this film. She was featured in Sam Hamm's early draft of the film when it was intended to be a direct sequel of the previous one, but due to the fact that Tim Burton doesn't like making sequels, it was decided to exclude her. She's only mentioned during the conversation between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, where Bruce mentions that Vicki ended their relationship because ultimately she could not accept his dual life, as well as when Bruce reminds Alfred of him letting her into the Batcave in the first film. According to Entertainment Weekly, Basinger was also a rumored candidate for the role of Catwoman, a role that was also planned for Sean Young, who had been cast as Vicki Vale in Batman (1989) but ultimately replaced by Basinger after Young broke her collarbone during filming. Michelle Pfeiffer was also one of the actresses considered to play Vicki Vale in the previous film.
In Daniel Waters' original treatment, the initial attack on Gotham Plaza is a lot more elaborate, with the thugs invading before the tree-lighting ceremony begins, and infiltrating Max Shreck's penthouse office, taking Max, Chip, the Mayor, and Selina hostage. Batman has to fight his way up to the penthouse level to save them, in the process, leaving the Batmobile behind in an alley, but forgetting to put the shields up on the car. Even more of The Penguin's thugs then approach the exposed automobile and take photographs of it (thus providing an explanation as to how The Penguin got the blueprints to the Batmobile). The novelization indicates The Penguin got the plans from a disgruntled engineer who helped design it.
While on The Graham Norton Show (2007) Danny DeVito talked about the first take with the monkey handing him the note from Batman. Apparently, the monkey was frightened by the make-up and the colored drool of The Penguin, and attacked Danny's family jewels region. Lucky the suit he had to wear was very padded and he was fine. They got the shot after Danny put on a new suit.
There was talk of having Jack Nicholson return as The Joker, even though he appeared to die at the end of Batman (1989). All of this was thrown out, once Tim Burton agreed to return as director, because he didn't want to make a direct sequel for whatever reason, though the film did still reference the previous film's events by mentioning Vicki Vale.
Tim Burton used a heavy animal motif throughout the film. There are several scenes involving bats, cats, and penguins which symbolize Batman, Catwoman, and The Penguin, respectively (as evidenced by the film's tagline "The Bat, the Cat, the Penguin"). Also, some of the Penguin's goons have their own pets (Organ Grinder has a monkey, and the Poodle Lady a dog).
The original script had many, many more members of the Red Triangle Gang. Notable members of the circus in the original script included a duo with razor sharp metal blades encrusted into their heads like mohawks, a teenage clown with a neon medallion that read "CIRKUS" who was the original stun gun clown, and a group of clowns dressed like firefighters who operate a fire-engine that happed to shoot napalm (in a possible dark twist on the clown scene from Dumbo (1941)).
The near casting of Marlon Wayans as Robin, became a point of controversy for some. Many questioned the appropriateness of Robin being African-American, while others were wary of Wayans in the part, as he was known exclusively as a comedic actor, indicating the film would veer to a campy nature.
As the penguin army closes in on Gotham City at the climax of the movie, the Poodle Lady's accent and monotonous countdown announcements strongly resemble a similar countdown at the end of Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
The Batman film franchise has attracted the longest list of actors and actresses who have Oscar and Golden Globe wins or nominations. Twenty Oscars, thirty-four Golden Globes. The franchise has won three Oscars. Jack Nicholson - Joker Three Oscars, nine nominations Seven Golden Globes, ten nominations George Clooney - Batman Two Oscar, four nominations Four Golden Globes, seven nominations Michael Caine - Alfred Two Oscars, four nominations Three Golden Globes, eight nominations Tommy Lee Jones - Two-Face One Oscar, three nominations One Golden Globe, three nominations Christian Bale - Batman One Oscar, one nomination One Golden Globe, one nomination Halle Berry - Catwoman One Oscar One Golden Globe, three nominations Heath Ledger - Joker (only actor to win Oscar or Golden Globe for Batman character performance) One Oscar, one nomination One Golden Globe, one nomination Kim Basinger - Vicki Vale One Oscar One Golden Globe, one nomination Nicole Kidman - Dr. Chase Meridian One Oscar, two nomination Three Golden Globes, six nominations Ben Affleck - Batman Two Oscars, two nominations Two Golden Globes, one nomination Morgan Freeman - Lucius Fox One Oscar, three nominations Two Golden Globes, four nominations Anne Hathaway - Catwoman One Oscar, one nomination One Golden Globe, two nominations Marion Cotillard - Miranda One Oscar, one nomination One Golden Globe, two nominations Michelle Pfeiffer - Catwoman Three Oscar Nominations One Golden Globe, five nominations Tom Wilkinson - Carmine Falcone Two Oscar nominations One Golden Globe, three nominations Uma Thurman - Poison Ivy One Oscar nomination One Golden Globe, three nominations Liam Neeson - Henri Ducard One Oscar nomination Three Golden Globe nominations Gary Oldman - James Gordon One Oscar nomination Michael Keaton - Batman One Oscar, one Golden Globe Danny DeVito - Penguin One Oscar nomination One Golden Globe, five nominations Maggie Gyllenhaal - Rachel Dawes One Oscar nomination One Golden Globe, two nominations Matthew Modine - Foley Two Golden Globe nominations Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Blake Two Golden Globe nominations
Because of the criticism from parents regarding the dark, violent, and sexual overtones of the film, there had been speculation that this movie was about to receive an R-rating from the MPAA, making this the first Batman film to receive a higher rating than PG-13, which was the rating Batman (1989) received, but finally decided to give this movie the same rating as the previous film.
Production designer Anton Furst, who worked on Batman (1989) and won an Oscar, wished to return for this film, but due to contractual obligations with Columbia Pictures was unable to do so. He was replaced with Bo Welch.
Production designer Bo Welch cites Fascist architecture (large, symmetric, pointed designs), general Russian architecture (various designs from different eras), World's Fair architecture (varying designs from different countries), and German expressionism (dark, bizarre, stylized designs) as an influence on Gotham City's look in the film.
The film's sole full theatrical trailer debuted in front of prints of Wayne's World (1992) in February 1992, and was attached to subsequent releases that year. An alternate teaser trailer, unavailable on any DVD and Blu-ray releases, appeared on selected Warner Home Video releases prior to its June 19 release date.
When Bruce Wayne meets Selina Kyle for the first time at Schreck's office, he says that they've met. When Selina asks how they met, he says "I'm sorry. I mistook me for someone else", in which she corrects him by saying "You mean you mistook me". Despite Selina's correction, Bruce is actually referring to the night he saved her from the clown with the stun gun as Batman, and was referring to his superhero alter ego. That's why he told her that they've already met, but mistook himself for somebody else (Batman) instead of her.
When confronting the Penguin's henchmen for the second time, Batman snatches a time bomb off a clown and puts it in the Tattooed Strongman's pants, then throws him down a pipe as an explosion occurs, which killed him. An act which is rarely ever done by Batman.
Strangely, this isn't the first time the Penguin has tried to become the mayor of Gotham City, as the Batman TV series (1966) also had an episode where the plot involved Penguin campaigning to be mayor, and Batman countering by also running for the position.
In this film, Christopher Walken is the aggressor whereas Michelle Pfeiffer is the submissive. The two also appear together in Hairspray, the 2007 movie-musical, where Pfeiffer is now the aggressor and Walken is the submissive.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Danny DeVito, whose make-up as The Penguin took three hours to be applied every morning, removed one of the cabinets in the make-up trailer and put in a LaserDisc machine and a television. While they were putting on the make-up, he brought in his favorite movies and watched them in the mirror.
The final shot of the film, in which Catwoman is seen looking at the Bat-signal, was added as an afterthought, literally a few weeks before the film opened. The shot had to be filmed on a weekend, less than a day after conception, with a double for Michelle Pfeiffer. That single shot cost two hundred fifty thousand dollars.
The character of Max Shreck was a re-write of District Attorney Harvey Dent. Accordingly, most of his plot points would have perhaps made more sense if Shreck were District Attorney instead of a corrupt businessman. The explosion at the end of the film was a means to injure Dent, and produce the scars that would lead to his transformation into Two-Face for the third movie in the franchise. Reportedly, Billy Dee Williams took the role of Harvey Dent in Batman (1989), because he knew that the character would eventually become Two-Face. Williams' contract to appear in the sequel is rumored to have been bought out by Warner Brothers at a heavy price. Tommy Lee Jones played Harvey Dent (Two-Face) in Batman Forever (1995). Williams wouldn't get the chance to play Two-Face until The LEGO Batman Movie (2017).
The film originally included a montage of the boys being kidnapped by The Penguin's gang, with one of them screaming. Tim Burton, knowing that many children would see the movie, decided not to take any unnecessary risks, and just showed the boys after their kidnappings, being locked in circus train cages and reacting sedately.
Daniel Waters' original script originally had the Bat-Signal blinking on and off at the end of the film, as a sign that Selena's electrocution of Max had disrupted the power supply of the city. Tim Burton instead opted to end the film with Catwoman looking out at the signal over a snowy sky, hinting at her survival and possible appearance in a future film.
Daniel Waters is credited as the main screenwriter of the film and he is considered to be responsible for the excessively dark atmosphere and violent themes of the film. Although the main plot was written by Daniel Waters, Tim Burton commissioned Wesley Strick to make a hasty re-write before production began. Wesley Strick was uncredited, but he changed the bulk of the dialogue, and made slight alterations to the plot. He excised the Robin subplot, as well as the final revelation that Max Shreck was The Penguin's elder brother. He also narrowed down the references to the character of Vicki Vale. Although Daniel Waters is held accountable for some scary scenes such as the kidnapping of the first born sons, or the bite at the nose of Josh by The Penguin, and the final scene where a fatally wounded Penguin spews bile, they are actually additions by Wesley Strick. However, other violent sequences such as the death of the Ice Princess and the climactic showdown between the unmasked Catwoman and Max Shreck were elements of the screenplay that Daniel Waters wrote.
Originally, the script had many plot points to set up for the unmade third Tim Burton Batman film. One of these was an introduction to Dick Grayson/Robin. Marlon Wayans had even signed on to play the role, and had gone through a costume test. When the character was cut from the script, it was decided that Wayans would make his first appearance in the third film. However, when Joel Schumacher took over as director, he bought out Wayans' contract, and hired Chris O'Donnell to play the role. The original script also didn't include Max Schreck, and had Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent in his place. At the end of the film, when kissed by Catwoman, Dent would have become Two-Face rather than dying, setting him up to be the third film's villain. However, this was cut, and Tommy Lee Jones was cast as the role for the third film, and Williams never played Two-Face after Batman (1989).
1992 was a year with a unifying theme for Steve Witting, that of getting assaulted and removed from scenes by characters played by Danny DeVito. First, in Hoffa (1992), he appears in a single scene as a representative of the federal government investigating in Jimmy Hoffa's office, where he is promptly shoved and kicked out by Danny Devito's Bobby Ciaro. Then, in his only other movie that year, he has the unfortunate distinction of a slightly meatier role, in which his nose is nearly bitten off by DeVito's Penguin in a more memorable scene of this movie.
Singer Vance Joy names this as the film best showcasing Michelle Pfeiffer's talents, inspiring a line in his song "Riptide": "I swear she's destined for the screen, Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen." He has said he's especially impressed by the scene where Selina vandalizes her own apartment after surviving a murder attempt.