Tim Burton is one of the pioneers of the modern comic book movie, having helmed the game-changing 1989 Batman as well as its darker, thirstier, more S&M-heavy sequel. He only made two with the Caped Crusader before passing the baton to Joel Schumacher. Burton has long been thought of as a weirdo, but he sees it differently. It’s the Schumacher Batmans that are the oddballs, not the one where Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle bond over their shared love of leather and whips.
In a new interview with Empire (as caught by Deadline), Burton looked back at Batman Returns for its 30th anniversary, but he wound up discussing the next two films in the franchise, which took the series in a different direction. Gone was Michael Keaton and the brooding melancholy; in were a campy tone and a Day-Glo aesthetic.
One decision particularly rankled Burton, at least at the time: the alterations to the Batman (and the newly introduced Robin) suit, namely the addition of protruding nipples and bulging codpieces.
Burton admits this change of direction is “funny” now, but not so much then. “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Okay. Hold on a second here. You complain about me, I’m too weird, I’m too dark, and then you put nipples on the costume? Go f*ck yourself,’” Burton recalls thinking.
A lot of reviews dragged the new costumes, especially in the franchise-killing Batman & Robin. Reassessed over a quarter-century later, they seem like parts of ahead-of-their-time queer texts, from a gay filmmaker, slipped into the nation’s multiplexes. So maybe the Burton Batmans still are the “weird” ones — and besides, “weird” is good.