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Years before the superhero movie genre as a whole started to become popular in Hollywood, Tim Burton took DC Comics’ Caped Crusader into his hands with 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, two movies that took the vigilante in a drastically different direction compared to the 1960s campy version that the public knew best. Now that superhero movies are heavy hitters at the box office, you might have wondered if Burton has considered directing another superhero movie, but alas, he’s not willing to contribute to that genre again. As the director put it:
I do feel grateful being there at a time when it felt new. I don’t know that I could get that excitement again saying, ‘I’m going to go do Squirrel Boy for Marvel.’
I don’t know, I feel like Squirrel Boy could benefit from Tim Burton’s gothic and eccentric touch. In all seriousness, Burton does have a point. When he was working on Batman, Superman, played by Christopher Reeve, was the only superhero who’d experienced any major success leading full-length theatrical movies. This genre was largely untapped, and since Burton’s Batman movie was pulling from the character’s darker roots rather than replicating the formula of the Batman TV series, that allowed him to take more creative liberties. As a result, both Batman and Batman Returns showed those unfamiliar with the comics that Batman could be a darker character, though it’d be another decade before other superheroes started to be brought to the silver screen and experience the same kind of success Burton’s Batman movies did.
Now with both Marvel and DC churning out multiple superhero movies each year, Tim Burton made it clear during his interview with The Toronto Sun that he’s not interested in delving back into this world since there’s so many of these kinds of stories and he doesn’t think he can generate the same amount of enthusiasm as he did decades earlier. That said, Burton did almost return to the world of superheroes in the late 1990s when he was tapped to direct Superman Lives, which would have seen Nicolas Cage playing the Man of Steel. However, due to the project’s numerous delays, Burton eventually exited and moved on to Sleepy Hollow.
Of course, it’s not like Tim Burton has any trouble keeping his directing career chugging along since Batman Returns. From Ed Wood to Big Eyes, he’s been making all sorts of movies, most recently delivering the live action Dumbo remake, starring Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Michael Keaton, the last two having acted together under Burton’s watchful eye in Batman Returns. We haven’t learned yet what Burton’s next movie will be, although there has been talk in the past about the possibility of moving forward with a Beetlejuice sequel. The folks at Marvel, though, should make a note not to call him.
As for Batman, with Ben Affleck hanging up the cape and cowl, a new, younger actor will succeed him as Gotham City Dark Knight for Matt Reeves’ The Batman, in theaters on June 25, 2021.