The Internet Believes ‘Batman Returns’ is a Christmas Movie

Is “Batman Returns” the most bizarre, almost un-watchably dark — and possibly best — Christmas movie of all time?

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

Is Batman Returns the most bizarre, almost un-watchably dark — and possibly best — Christmas movie of all time?

Or is it a star-studded Tim Burton sequel that might be even better than his first Batman film?

Or both?

Let’s put Batman Returns to the test.

Batman Returns: Terrifying Christmas Movie or Superhero Camp at Its Best?

Fans of superhero comic books — or, let’s face it, fans of superhero movies — mourned this year when Warner Bros. scrapped the Batgirl movie. Not so much so because it meant there wouldn’t be a movie about Batgirl, but because it meant we might not see Michael Keaton reprise his role as Batman, as he was set to do in Batgirl.

So, collectively, we’ve all decided to take a look back at Batman Returns, the second of two movies featuring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader.

Argument: It’s a Christmas Movie

One could argue that Keaton loosely rekindled his Batman in 2014’s Oscar darling Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). But it technically did not include Batman.

Nor was it directed by Tim Burton, whose best movie might be Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas — the rare film that celebrates two holidays at once (Halloween and Christmas). He seemed to be Christmas-obsessed at the time, as Batman Returns hit theaters the year before Nightmare came out in 1993.

But a stronger movie can be made that Batman Returns is a Christmas movie because … well, it takes place during the Christmas season. The opening scene is a lengthy, action-packed series flaked with costume-clad bad guys — and one costume-clad good guy, Batman.

Another pivotal scene takes place when Pengiun (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) frame Batman on the night of Gotham City’s Christmas tree lighting. Lastly, one of the other villains, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), memorably throws cheap Christmas presents at greedy Gothamites.

Argument: It’s Not a Christmas Movie

Then again …

Tim Burton’s sequel hit theaters in the summertime, for starters. That isn’t just unusual but almost unheard of for a movie that studios want people to watch around Christmas. For that reason alone, Batman Returns could be disqualified as a Christmas movie.

That said, Burton isn’t one to stick to convention. Sure, he loves bending tradition, like how he turned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow into a graphically violent, R-rated movie with 1999’s Sleepy Hollow.

But unlike most Christmas movies — even dark ‘80s ones like Gremlins and ScroogedBatman Returns doesn’t feature a happy ending. We won’t give anything away, but Catwoman’s pseudo-kiss-under-the-mistletoe capping the movie is far scary than merry.

Likewise, the PG-13 movie doesn’t have a Christmas message. Unless it is a screed against the greed of Scroogey (or Trumpian, if you’d prefer) multimillionaire Max Shreck.

We Love You, Batman Returns — Whatever You Are

Whether Batman Returns is a Christmas movie will always be up for debate, even among Tim Burton loyalists. (For the record, most of us at Rare think it’s a Christmas flick.)

And for that matter, fans will probably always be at loggerheads over whether 1992’s Batman Returns actually eclipses 1989’s Batman, even though Jack Nicholson isn’t in its cast. (Critics favor the second movie slightly more, according to Rotten Tomatoes.)

Whatever the case, we can all agree that Michael Keaton was the best Caped Crusader.


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