The Wild Way Tim Burton Was Planning To Approach Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman Movie

 Michelle Pfeiffer in Catwoman.
Michelle Pfeiffer in Catwoman.

With her sensual-yet-sinister take on Selina Kyle, Michelle Pfeiffer offered up not only one of the best Catwoman performances on screen but one of the best movie villains of all time. So much so that it's hard to imagine anyone else playing her, no offense to Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry or director Tim Burton's original pick for the role, Annette Benning.

Despite how iconic her performance was, Pfeiffer sadly never returned to play Catwoman in any of the live-action Batman films after making 1992's Batman Returns. But there were plans back in the day for Warner Bros. to develop a spinoff centered on Michelle's superhero villainess, and Burton's ideas for the follow-up film were very different from the original movie.

Batman Returns writer Daniel Waters revealed Burton's kooky concept for the Catwoman spinoff during a Los Angeles screening of the movie back in December, per IndieWire:

He wanted to do an $18 million black and white movie, like the original ‘Cat People,’ of Selina just lowkey living in a small town. And I wanted to make a ‘Batman’ movie where the metaphor was about ‘Batman.’ So I had her move to a Los Angeles version of Gotham City, and it’s run by three asshole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ But he got exhausted reading my script.

However, Waters' own ideas for the spinoff greatly differed from Burton's: the screenwriter wanted to make a cheeky, satirical take that would have poked fun at the superhero genre à la Prime Video's The Boys, but the director wanted a black-and-white drama that paid tribute to Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 horror film, Cat People. (not to be confused with that other horror film, Cats.)

Of course, neither version of the Pfeiffer-focused Catwoman spinoff ever materialized: Tim Burton would leave the world of comic books to go produce 1993's The Nightmare Before Christmas and direct 1994's Ed Wood, while Michelle Pfeiffer would trade pleather bodysuits for period corsets in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence. The next time moviegoers would see Selina Kyle onscreen, she was being played by Halle Berry in 2004's Catwoman and, well, we all know how that went.

During the Batman Returns screening, Waters also offered up some behind-the-scenes intel on that movie, saying neither he nor Tim Burton were all that concerned with faithfulness to the comics:

It was a weird assignment in that 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 shit about Batman villains. We didn’t really understand the whole comic book thing. I just found out DC Comics stands for Detective Comics.

However, it clearly all worked out, Waters says, as Batman diehards have since come around to the "interesting" film:

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 fuck are you doing? You’re already going off-road. Now there’s like 50 Batman movies, it’s like, ‘Hey. That was pretty interesting.’

You can watch Michelle Pfeiffer's epic performance as Catwoman in Batman Returns by streaming the superhero flick with a Max subscription. And if you want even more Selina Kyle in any form, here's what we know about The Batman 2, including whether we'll be seeing Zoe Kravitz return as the feline femme fatale.