Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The villain Max Schreck in Batman Returns was originally going to be Harvey Dent and become Two-Face at the end of the film.
After the massive success of 1989’s Batman, both the film’s star, Michael Keaton, and the film’s director, Tim Burton, found themselves in rather powerful positions. Neither Keaton nor Burton had been signed for a second film before the release of the first film, and as a result, Warner Bros. had to go to extra lengths to secure them for the much-anticipated sequel. In the case of Keaton, it required a large pay increase (reportedly over $10 million!) and for Burton, he was given more control over the film’s story (while also, of course, securing a pay raise). One area of concern for Burton was the screenplay for the second film. The first film’s screenplay by Sam Hamm was well-liked but Burton felt that it needed work, and it was re-written by Jonathan Gems, Warren Skaaren and Charles McKeown during the filming of the movie. Hamm was initially brought on board for the screenplay of Batman 2 (the working title for the movie at the time), which was very much a continuation of the story of the first film, complete with Vicki Vale (who Batman proposes to in the script). Burton, however, wanted the second film to stand on its own and he brought in Daniel Waters, who had just written the dark, social satire Heathers, which Tim Burton had much admired. Waters dramatically re-wrote Hamm’s script, mostly excising everything except for the basic concept of Catwoman and Penguin being the villains of the film. Waters’ script was then re-written by Wesley Strick and that was the final film.
Due to the three writers of the film (and multiple revisions by Waters), changes obviously were made to the movie along the way. Famously, a role for Marlon Wayans as Dick Grayson was written out of the film (as noted in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed).
Another notable change that often has been brought up is that the overarching villain of Batman Returns, the corrupt businessman Max Schreck (played by Christopher Walken), was originally going to be Harvey Dent, with the scene at the end of the film where he is killed by a power plant originally meant to only scare Dent on half of his body, thereby giving us Two-Face. Is that true?
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