“Two lives left. I think I’ll save one for next Christmas” – Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns (1992)
No matter how you enjoy the season, the holidays should be a time to actively engage with things that bring joy, regardless of tradition. For this year’s featured holiday post, I wanted to turn the festive spotlight on an unorthodox Christmas film: Batman Returns (1992). Directed by Tim Burton, Batman Returns brings an iconic installment to the story of Gotham and an alternative holiday experience.
The story begins during Christmastime in Gotham City. A public ceremony for the lighting of the city’s enormous Christmas tree is underway. Recent sightings of the Penguin, Gotham’s most mysterious villain, has many of Gotham’s citizens on edge. In a conference room above the square, we meet soft-spoken Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), assistant to the corrupt businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). An ambush of clownish henchmen at the tree-lighting ceremony are met by Batman (Michael Keaton) while Shreck is taken deep under the city. His captor is the Penguin (Danny DeVito), who has big plans for which he is prepared to take drastic measures. He lets Shreck go when they strike a partnership. When Selina gets close to finding out about her boss’s profiteering at the expense of the people of Gotham, he pushes her out the office’s high-rise window.
Following that disastrous night, the major characters undergo changes that eventually bring them together. Selina is resurrected by a hoard of stray cats and some other unknown force, and she is reborn as a stronger and more confident version of herself: Catwoman. Things heat up between her and Bruce Wayne once they meet. Bruce, who is struggling with the holiday season, finds himself more introspective than usual with this new addition to his personal life. Meanwhile, the Penguin has launched a campaign for mayor with Shreck’s support. Under his political platform, he has sinister plans for Gotham. With the key characters’ struggles with their identities and each other, Gotham is in for an unforgettable holiday season.
I found this choice of a holiday-themed cult film to be appropriate for 2022. This year, we received The Batman by Matt Reeves, which also featured the characters of Catwoman and the Penguin. We also received news that a sequel to Todd Phillips’ Joker is set to be made. The Batman universe continues to expand, and additions like Batman Returns connect changing generations of the countless fans of Gotham’s dark and whimsical world.
Until next time,