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The price of the darkness in 'Batman Returns'

Batman Returns

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"Batman Returns" continues the journey of the dark protector of Gotham as he battles more sinister adversaries, falls deeper into his troubled Batman psyche, and finds love with a beautiful woman whose fragile insecurities are hidden deep beneath a secret identity of her own.

Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin
Warner Bros. Pictures

The premise of "Batman Returns" remains faithful to its predecessor in the sense that Batman remains Gotham’s protector against injustice; however a new twist is realized in the sense that the lines which separate good and evil blurred, whereas in the original there was a marked difference which separated the protagonist of Batman and his malevolent counterpart, the Joker.

Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) represents an intriguing character in the Batman saga because her whip wielding, feline persona, Catwoman, does not strike the cord of classic Batman villains as in the case of the Joker or Two Face. Instead, Catwoman represents a femme fatale…a dark, feminine reflection of what Batman’s character symbolizes. She is not a true villain, but rather a character who understands suffering and seeks to alleviate it on her own terms. Unlike Poison Ivy, the manipulative villainess in
"Batman and Robin" whose love dust wreaked havoc with Batman’s hormones but failed to win his heart, the relationship that Batman & Catwoman share represents a powerful and true love that both desire but neither can truly possess because they both are so deeply dedicated to their secret lives. The connection between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle is the strongest of any of Bruce’s love interests because the insecurities of the characters and their willingness to share their dark secrets allow the relationship a special quality that the others lacked.

Oswald Cobblepott (Danny Devito) is a character that most would consider a sympathetic villain. While there is a dark malevolence which is reflected in his alter ego, the Penguin, one could almost sympathize with this character because he and Batman carry a similar burden – a dark pain that is buried so deep within them that they are utterly alone in their suffering. The thing which separates Batman and the Penguin is while Batman utilizes his pain as a catalyst for good, the Penguin’s suffering is transformed from a desire to find his identity and gain acceptance to his being subjected to cruel manipulation by Max Shreck. The subsequent rejection from the people of Gotham drives the Penguin to return to his animal self and give in to his dark persona, allowing evil to consume him and eventually destroy him.

"Batman Returns" has been hailed by critics as one of the best in the Batman saga. The casting is exceptional, particularly in Michael Keaton’s rendition of Batman. Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as the stunning but fragile Catwoman is the best feminine character in the "Batman" movies period. The story is a true asset to the film with explosive action scenes and a believable romantic component between Batman and Catwoman. If you are a follower of the "Batman" saga, this movie is definitely worthy of your time.