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Tim Burton's Real Reason For Not Finishing His Batman Trilogy

More than 30 years after its initial release, and with so many other sequels and iterations thrown into the mix, Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation of "Batman" remains memorable. Yes, plenty of others have come since, each bringing their own mix of grittiness and fantasy to the big screens. But there's something about Burton's weird German expressionist-influenced aesthetic that worked for the darkness both in Gotham City and inside Bruce Wayne's (Michael Keaton) head. Plus, though there have been other iconic performances as the Joker, nobody really brings the madness of Batman's nemesis alive quite as Jack Nicholson did. "Batman Returns," released three years later, saw Burton leaning even further into this Caligari gothic, not to mention the glory of Danny DeVito as the Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's terrifyingly alluring Catwoman.

And then? Well, a slow decline would be a nice way of putting it. Burton had always intended his "Batman" films to be a trilogy. That didn't happen. Instead, he was replaced as director by Joel Schumacher, after which Keaton departed, leaving Batman/Bruce Wayne to be played by Val Kilmer. "Batman Forever" was seen as a travesty of a film, rescued from being the worst "Batman" movie in history only by the existence of "Batman & Robin" with (shudder...) George Clooney as the Caped Crusader.

What does Burton himself think of this turn of events? He's had several years to think about it, which means he isn't mincing words.

Tim Burton thinks Warner Bros. didn't understand his approach to Batman

In an interview in the July 2022 issue of Empire magazine, Burton seemed to suggest that Warner Bros. didn't quite understand what he was trying to do with his series of films. "[Back then] they went the other way," he said. 

While it's been known for some time that Warner Bros. didn't approve of the increasingly dark tone Burton seemed to be going in, in retrospect, the director still wonders why the studio focused so much on that aspect. "I'm not just overly dark," Burton added. "That represents me in the sense that... that's how I see things. It's not meant as pure darkness. There's a mixture." 

What's more, Burton was completely baffled by the creative choices made after his departure from the series. "'You complain about me, I'm too weird, I'm too dark, and then you put nipples on the costume? Go f*** yourself.' Seriously. So yeah, I think that's why I didn't end up [doing a third film.]"

Those nipples will forever haunt Schumacher's films. On top of being gratuitous and completely unnecessary, they seemed to fly in the face of Warner Bros.' attempt to make the "Batman" films more appropriate for kids. And while there have been plenty of films putting even more darkness into the Dark Knight, hindsight absolutely shows that "Batman" fans will take weird over kid-friendly any day.