“It was The Boys before The Boys”: Batman Returns Almost Inspired a Wildly Different Spin-off for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman

Tim Burton and Batman Returns (1992) screenwriter Daniel Waters had the most bizarre ideas for the unrealized Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman spin-off.

“It was The Boys before The Boys”: Batman Returns Almost Inspired a Wildly Different Spin-off for Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman


  • Tim Burton-helmed Batman Returns' release was met with a polarized reception.
  • In recent years however, it has come to enjoy newfound appreciation from fans.
  • Following the film's introduction of Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman, a spin-off starring the villainess was in works in the mid-90s, with Burton and screenwriter Daniel Waters at the center of its conceptualization.
  • The project was never made, but Waters recently revealed at a screening the bizarre and wild ideas he and Burton had in mind for Pfeiffer's solo outing.
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Batman Returns (1992), a sequel to the Tim Burton-helmed Batman, received a polarized reception on the critical front. At the worldwide box office, it failed to replicate the commercial success of the 1989 Michael Keaton starrer. The follow-up’s gritty and mature themes also faced resistance among those who sought a family-friendly narrative. After these developments, the consensus allegedly had been at Warner Bros. to move forward without Burton.


Then came Joel Schumacher’s Batman stint and the rest is history. 

The Michelle Pfeiffer-led Catwoman spin-off that never happened.
The Michelle Pfeiffer-led Catwoman spin-off that never happened.

Read more: Michael Keaton’s Batman Sequel Didn’t Get the Respect It Deserved After Release!


Despite the transfer of the reins on WB’s initial Batman film series, reports had surfaced in the mid-90s of Burton potentially helming a Catwoman-centered premise, with screenwriter Daniel Waters also set to be involved. Such plans, however, fell through and couldn’t take a concrete shape.

For years, many wondered what the premise of a Michelle Pfeiffer-starring Catwoman solo outing could have been. Now, Waters has come to reveal the conflicting ideas he and Tim Burton had. One was a satirical The Boys-esque take on the narrative, and the other a more intimate horror-drama.

The Wild Ideas For Michelle Pfeiffer’s Unrealized Catwoman Movie

Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns (1992)
Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns (1992)

Michelle Pfeiffer‘s brief yet memorable run as Catwoman was well-received by most critics. The unanimous verdict towards her portrayal suggested that she was one of the defining elements of the Tim Burton-helmed sequel.


Some continue to lament how it was the actress’ only outing in the character. Sadly, reports of a spin-off to the magnetic adversary were teased in the mid-90s but never realized. Tim Burton and the screenwriter of the 1992 Batman sequel, Daniel Waters, were at the forefront of its conceptualization.

If you’re curious about what the solo journey would’ve looked like had it been made a reality, you may find what Waters had to say during a recent December 22 screening of Returns in Los Angeles intriguing.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Michael Keaton as Batman
Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton in Batman Returns (1992)

Read more: Michelle Pfeiffer Hated One Thing About ‘Batman Returns’


Following was his statement (via Indie Wire):

“He [Burton] wanted to do an $18 million black and white movie, like the original Cat People (1942), of Selina just lowkey living in a small town. And I wanted to make a Batman movie where the metaphor was about Batman.”

He continued,

“So, I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City. And it’s run by three a**hole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ But he got exhausted reading my script.”

At a time when the reception to Returns had suffered at the hands of family-friendly expectations, one can only wonder what a satirical The Boys-esque take on a Catwoman solo film would’ve done. The interest in making the project faded as Burton and Pfeiffer were reportedly occupied with other endeavors. Years later, fans were left with Halle Berry‘s iteration, which we all know didn’t work out.


Why Batman Returns Was Attacked By Fans According To Daniel Waters

Michael Keaton in Batman Returns
Michael Keaton in Batman Returns

Returns found itself in somewhat of a bind after its premiere. Most people are probably aware of the marketing dilemma that followed the project. The movie’s marketing campaign had been an enormous promotional effort. Family-friendly viewers were not pleased with the darker, mature themes of the Tim Burton-directed story, though, and the marketing partners had to deal with a lot of backlash.

This wasn’t all. As best stated by Daniel Waters during the recent screening, fans of the comic-book property weren’t too happy with the movie’s deviation from the canon. Catwoman and The Penguin’s backstories had been changed. Max Shreck’s inclusion, an original character found in the film and not in the comics, also raised several eyebrows.

Although some of these elements have been favored after Batman Returns reappraisal in the recent past, in the ’90s, these creative decisions upset many.

Batman Returns (1992)
Batman Returns (1992)

Read more: 1989’s Batman Witnessed Unprecedented Global Craze

Addressing the initial reception to these canon deviations, Daniel Waters stated:

“I didn’t need to please anyone but Tim Burton. Before the internet, you didn’t have to go before a tribunal and say what you were doing—it was just two guys in a room riffing. We didn’t know sh*t about Batman villains,”

Continuing, he affirmed:


“The whole thing about ‘Batman Returns’ is we got attacked by Batman fans because they thought, ‘This is only the second Batman movie, what the f*ck are you doing? You’re already going off-road. Now there’s like 50 Batman movies, [and] it’s like, ‘Hey. That was pretty interesting.”

In a nutshell, consumer trends and attitudes have changed since the ’90s. The influx of superhero films and franchises has made many DC fans reflect on Tim Burton’s inventive and eccentric Batman films with fondness and new-found appreciation.

Batman Returns (1992) is available for streaming on Max.


Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Articles Published: 659

Debdipta Bhattacharya is a content writer at FandomWire, where she has written more than 500 articles on various topics of interest. She possesses a sincere passion for popular culture, anime, film production, and the evolving world of YouTube and streaming culture which has allowed her to be a devoted and well-informed writer. Debdipta holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. She has honed her skills and expertise in content writing with over two years of experience and strives to learn and grow daily.