Michelle Pfeiffer Could Have Joined The Batman Franchise Much Earlier

Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle in 1992's Batman Returns

Batman might not have as big a love life compared to fellow superheroes like Superman and Spider-Man, but he has had various romantic interests over the decades. One of those women is Vicki Vale, who was played by Kim Basinger in Tim Burton’s Batman, released in 1989. However, Michelle Pfeiffer, who appeared as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, in 1992’s Batman Returns, could have filled Basinger’s shoes as Vicki.

Originally the plan for Batman was to have Sean Young of Blade Runner fame to play Vicki Vale, but after Young was injured in a horse riding accident, the Batman team needed to find someone quickly to take over the role. Producer Jon Peters suggested Michelle Pfeiffer, whose credits at that time included Grease 2, Scarface and The Witches of Eastwick, but Michael Keaton, the man portraying the Caped Crusader, shot that suggestion down.

As Robert Wuhl, who played reporter Alexander Knox in Batman, recalled to THR:

To put a little fly in the ointment, Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer had previously dated and broken up. At the time, Michael told me he was trying to get back with his ex-wife. Keaton was firmly, and underline firmly, against that casting of Pfeiffer and he and Peters got into it.

So perhaps in an alternate reality, Michael Keaton was more amenable to working with his ex, and Michelle Pfeiffer was playing Vicki Vale opposite Keaton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker. In our reality, though, it was not to be, and Kim Basinger, who’d appeared in movies like Never Say Never Again and 9 1/2 Weeks, was selected to be the new Vicki instead, a choice that was “universally approved” by the Batman creative team.

Looking back to Michelle Pfeiffer, she joined the Batman film series a little later, and just like what happened with Kim Basinger, Pfeiffer was brought in as a replacement. Annette Bening was originally cast as Catwoman for Batman Returns, but after she became pregnant, Pfeiffer was hired to wear the catsuit. Evidently Keaton’s feelings about working with Pfeiffer had changed by that point.

In hindsight, it was probably for the best that Michelle Pfeiffer missed out on playing Vicki Vale. Yes, Vicki was important in Batman, but she was gone in Batman Returns. As Selina Kyle, Pfeiffer not only got to be the love interest, she also served as a villain alongside Danny DeVito’s Penguin, had a lot of action scenes and learned how to use that whip. She arguably made the bigger impression within the Batman franchise.

While there were talks of having Michelle Pfeiffer reprise Catwoman in a spinoff, the project never moved forward, and instead we received the critically-derided 2004 Catwoman movie starring Halle Berry that was as separated from the source material as possible. Pfeiffer returned to the world of comic book movies when she appeared in Ant-Man and the Wasp as Janet van Dyne, who also cameoed in Avengers: Endgame.

As for the Batman franchise, Anne Hathaway followed in Michelle Pfeiffer’s footsteps as Catwoman in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, and the feline fatale is reportedly one of the villains appearing in Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which comes out on June 25, 2021. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates on that project and look through our handy guide about what other DC movies are on the way.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.