Was Robin Almost In Tim Burton’s Batman?

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: Robin was originally going to appear in Tim Burton’s original Batman film.

Tim Burton’s classic Batman film was famous for just HOW many different iterations the script went through before they settled on the final film. All sorts of things were in play in the original story, including even the death of Vicki Vale (which I detailed in an old Movie Legends Revealed here).

The main issue behind the changes was a problem so common that there’s even an adage about it – “too many cooks in the kitchen.” There were so many competing interests over the Batman film that Burton was getting it from all angles, from the producer, Jon Peters, to Warner Bros. corporate to probably every third security guard in the Warners lot. Everyone had an opinion.

One particularly common opinion was that Batman HAD to have a Robin in the movie. Neither Burton nor screenwriter Sam Hamm were all that interested in having Robin in the film (Burton because he felt it didn’t fit the mood of the film and Hamm because it just didn’t really do the script any good to have to spend all the time introducing a whole other character on top of introducing Batman, Bruce Wayne and the Joker.

However, Warner Bros were keen on the whole merchandising angle on having Robin in the film, so Hamm worked up an angle for Robin’s inclusion and Burton went as far as to have the scene storyboarded AND have an actor essentially cast, a young Irish actor named Ricky Addison Reed, who had just appeared in another Warner Brothers film, A Return to Salem’s Lot

The idea was that during a scene where Batman is chasing after the Joker, the Joker barrels into a performance by the Flying Graysons and accidentally kills both Dick Grayson’s parents. The scene would have been more a matter of setting up Robin for a future appearance rather than actually having him become Batman’s sidekick.

As a special feature on one of the Batman DVDs, they animated the storyboards and had Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil act out Batman and Joker’s lines…

You can see some dialogue and more storyboards at 1989batman.com here.

So, as it turns out, we came VERY close to actually having Robin appear in the first Tim Burton Batman film! Ultimately, the scene was just too superfluous, so it was cut. Burton considered Robin again for Batman Returns and again when he was determining to do Batman III, but it never happened for Burton (the featured image is a concept drawing for Robin for the third Batman film by Bob Ringwood).

The legend is…

STATUS: True

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film. Click here for more legends specifically about superhero films.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Did Batman Actually Kill Anyone in The Dark Knight Returns?

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: Batman killed people in The Dark Knight Returns, which inspired Zack Snyder to have Batman kill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Many times over the years, we have seen filmmakers struggle with maintaining the correct tone and aesthetic for their films. In the case of the original Toy Story, the film came very close to being canceled entirely due to its initial dark tone. The original version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestial was so dark that it was basically split into two films, the family-friendly E.T. and the darker Poltergeist. In the case of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, however, director Zack Snyder had a distinct blueprint from the beginning that he was following to maintain the tone and aesthetic he wanted in the film. That blueprint was Frank Miller’s classic 1986 comic book series, The Dark Knight Returns. Snyder has spoken about that influence a number of times, including just a few weeks ago, noting:

When I read that comic book series, you know, in ‘86 I was floored by it because I felt like it promised me something. It challenged…my fundamental notions about Batman. It sort of inspired me to reconnect with Batman the character and comic book in general.

and

I sort of wanted to homage the comic book in this movie as much as possible was to say thank you to Frank for sort of giving me back Batman in a way that I could understand as modern…Even though we don’t follow that story, necessarily, the imagery that I chose to try to emulate in the movie was a way of me saying ‘thank you Frank’ for making my aesthetic.

This influence also explains why Snyder has Batman so willing to kill in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Snyder again referenced Dark Knight Returns in regards to his version of Batman being willing to kill:

I would say that in the Frank Miller comic book that I reference, he kills all the time. There’s a scene from the graphic novel where he busts through a wall, takes the guy’s machine gun… I took that little vignette from a scene in The Dark Knight Returns, and at the end of that, he shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun. One shot. Of course, I went to the gas tank, and all of the guys I work with were like, ‘You’ve gotta shoot him in the head’ because they’re all comic book dorks, and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna be the guy that does that!’”

Reader Dan M. wrote in to ask, though, is that actually true? Does Batman even kill at all in Dark Knight Returns? Lets’ take a look…
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Who Was the Surprising Mystery Owner of Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl Costume?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl costume ended up being owned by a surprising person.

On the 1966-68 Batman television series, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman and Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl and their respective skintight costumes launched a million crushes by adolescents watching the show (and I’m sure plenty of adults watching the show, as well). Newmar specifically went out of her way to make sure that her costume accentuated her curves by altering the way her belt hung on her Catwoman costume so that it showed off her hips. Newmar was so involved in that sort of thing that she even ended up getting a federal patent on special pantyhose that wouldn’t flatten a woman’s curves! While all the attention was likely flattering to Newmar and Craig, at the same time it must have been a bit disturbing, as well, to constantly be under the scrutiny of the “male gaze,” even from fellow actors. Mark Evanier has a hilarious story about the late Craig’s response to some of that excess attention, while there is also a legend about Newmar responding to the come-ons of another actor with a sharp rebuke.

Craig, meanwhile, was also in for a bit of a surprise when she returned to the Batgirl role one last time a few years after the series ended, when there was a mystery of – who had Batgirl’s costume?
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Was Vicki Vale Going to Die Originally at the End of Tim Burton’ Batman?

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: Vicki Vale was originally going to die at the end of the 1989 Batman.

One of the most difficult decisions that a filmmaker can make is whether or not to kill off major characters in their films. Quite often, characters who were originally meant to die have their lives “saved” later in the film-making process. We’ve spotlighted a few of them over the years, like Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society, Duke in G.I. Joe the Movie and even Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. Was Vicki Vale, Batman’s love interest in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster film, Batman (played by Kim Basinger), another example of this trend?

Was she originally going to be killed off in the film?

Read on to find out!
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Did Heath Ledger’s Tragic Death Ruin Plans for the Joker to Appear in The Dark Knight Rises?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The Joker was going to appear in The Dark Knight Rises before Heath Ledger’s tragic death squelched those plans.

Heath Ledger’s Academy Award-winning performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight highlights the fallacy of overreacting to casting news before the film debuts, as Ledger’s casting drew a lot of criticism that was soon reversed when the actual film came out.

Tragically, before the film was even released, Ledger passed away, leading to his Oscar win being a posthumous one. The character of the Joker died with Ledger, at least in the context of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films. However, had Ledger not died, was Nolan planning on using the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises, his final Batman film?

Read on to find out!
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Was the Villain Max Schreck in Batman Returns Originally Going to be Harvey Dent?

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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Did Kevin Smith Write a Decoy Screenplay for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

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: Kevin Smith wrote a decoy screenplay for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

There are two interesting competing forces nowadays when it comes to the creation of films. On the one hand, spoiler culture is so prevalent that most movie trailers pretty much give away the entire plot of films, because, as director Robert Zemeckis famously noted, “We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly every thing that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things.” And on the other hand, you have the filmmakers themselves, who want to keep as much of their film a secret as possible. The above Zemeckis quote continues to note, “To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don’t.” So when you have a legion of fans who want to know everything about a film and a filmmaker who doesn’t want to spoil the fans, you end up with a whole lot of subterfuge going on. Film studios have been experts in subterfuge for decades now (I did an interesting Movie Legend Revealed about how 20th Century Fox managed to market A Miracle on 34th Street without revealing that it was a Christmas film!) but it has taken on a whole new life in recent years. Gone are the days of simply giving a movie a fake working title (like Return of the Jedi being called Blue Harvest) to keep people off the scent, we now have directors like Christopher Nolan who keep only a single physical copy of the script to his upcoming film, Interstellar, to prevent people from leaking it.

Recently, though, fans were abuzz at what was rumored to be a whole new level of subterfuge on the behalf of Warner Brothers and their highly anticipated film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

As CBR’s Comic Reel reported:

Rumors have circulated that “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” had its script leaked, which is where new rumors and details of characters in the film came from. However, a new report from MovieWeb contends that the script is a fake. Not only that, it was written by “Clerks” director Kevin Smith at the behest of Warner Bros., then leaked to throw press and fans off the scent of Zack Snyder’s actual plans for the movie.

The fake script led to rumors that Amanda Waller, Mr. Zsasz, Morgan Edge, and David Cain would appear in the film.

So it is true? Did Kevin Smith write this decoy script?
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Did H.R. Giger Really Design a Batmobile for Batman Forever?

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: Did famed Alien designer H.R. Giger really design a Batmobile for Batman Forever?

1979’s Alien was a brilliant fusion of science fiction and horror as screenwriter Dan O’Bannon and director Ridley Scott had the crew of a spacecraft slowly but surely killed by an alien creature that had essentially stowed away in the body of one of the crew members during an away mission to a nearby planet. The film’s setting of a cramped commercial space vessel was perfectly suited for such a tense thriller.

The alien creature also stood out for its unique and striking design. The creature was designed by Swiss artist Hans Rudolf “H.R.” Giger, who screenwriter O’Bannon had worked with when they were both attached to a Dune film adaptation that never happened. O’Bannon later recalled, “I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work.” So when O’Bannon’s screenplay for Alien was optioned, he immeditately thought of Giger for the designer of the alien. Director Ridley Scott ultimately chose a design based on a drawing Giger had done called “Necronom IV.”

Studio exectuvies were worried that Giger’s design might be too disturbing for viewers, but Scott was adamant about using Giger’s design and the resulting film obviously proved Scott correct. Giger (and the rest of the Visual Effects team for the film, namely arlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Dennis Ayling) won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. Giger recently was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. However, reader Steve wrote in to ask if we almost saw Giger’s work appear in Batman Forever, of all places. He asked, “Is it true that artist H.R. Giger did production design art for the film “Batman Forever”, with a radically different design for the Batmobile than the seen in the film (or elsewhere). This rumor seems to get passed around a lot as fact. I would love to see the design sketch’s if they exist. Thank you. Keep up the great work.”

Well, is it true? Did we almost get a surrealist version of the Batmobile? Read on to find out!
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Did TV’s Catwoman, Julie Newmar, Receive a Federal Patent on a Special Type of Pantyhose That Accentuated a Woman’s Ass?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Julie Newmar, Catwoman on the Batman TV series, received a federal patent on a special type of pantyhouse that accentuates a woman’s ass.

One of the unique qualities of a TV show becoming a sensation is that the actors associated with the show become cultural icons in their own right. This was certainly the case for Julie Newmar, the dancer, model and actress who portrayed Catwoman on the 1966 Batman TV series. Her form-fitting costume accentuated her hourglass figure in all the right places for straight young men watching the program at the time (and those who have watched it in re-runs ever since). Newmar even specifically had her Catwoman costume slightly altered to accentuate her curves. She recently noted that she had the belt on her costume lowered from her waist to her hips to draw attention to her curvy hips.

Newmar has always had a fiery, one might almost call it “cheeky” disposition (her attitude has led to a famous legend about a cutting remark she made about The Wild, Wild West’s Michael Dunn, which I featured as a TV legend awhile back), but surprisingly, her cheeky disposition went beyond mere attitude and entered into the world of inventions in literal fashion when she patented a special type of pantyhouse designed to accentuate a woman’s ass! Read on for more details…
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