Daniel Waters appeared at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. in December of 2023 to talk about “Batman Returns,” likely in response to its new-ish status as a Christmas classic. Waters noted that both he and Tim Burton wanted to make a “Catwoman” film starring Michelle Pfeiffer, but he felt that he and the director had very different ideas as to what it was to be.
Waters’ vision of “Catwoman” was to take the villainess out of Gotham City and move her to a fantastical version of Los Angeles, reworked to bear Burton’s signature Gothic aesthetic. There, she was to encounter three superhero characters who were secretly horrible people. In his words:
“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 a**hole superheroes. It was ‘The Boys’ before ‘The Boys.’ But he got exhausted reading my script.”
Note that the 1990s was a prime time to deconstruct the superhero genre. Burton’s “Batman” films were dark and strange and didn’t possess the color and bright thrills of the 1966 “Batman” TV series nor the boldness of the 1978 “Superman” film. It was also the decade that provided broad superhero spoofs like “The Tick,” “Freakazoid!,” and “Mystery Men.” No one was interested in taking superheroes at face value, so a pointed takedown of three a-hole superheroes at the hands of a twisted, kinky Catwoman would have felt completely appropriate.
Burton, however, seemingly wanted to make a smaller, more intimate movie.