Movie Sequels We Never Got: Tim Burton’s Batman 3

I’m doing a few of these movie sequels we never got articles through the year. See my previous look at the Italian Job sequel that never happened. But now, I take a look at the Tim Burton helmed Batman 3 that we never got to see.

The 1989 Batman flick is one of my personal favourites. Tim Burton’s vison of Gotham City is visually stunning, even now, three decades since the film was released. His dark tone and style put in place the stepping stones for many superhero films to follow. Then there was the casting of Michael Keaton as The Caped Crusader himself. Man, that casting really caused some problems with die hard Batman fans. It has been said that the studio producing the film received over fifty-thousand complaints in relation to Keaton playing Batman. This was the eighties remember, no social media, no Twitter to vent your anger at the studio itself. These folk had to write these letters of complaint and post them to the studio themselves. Just take a quick look at this article snippet from Rolling Stone magazine before the film was released::

“Michael Keaton is no Batman. Or so a vast sector of the bat community has vehemently asserted. Upon learning last year that Michael Keaton would, indeed, be Batman – the definitive cinematic Batman, no less – batheads were disconsolate. In Keaton’s hands, they felt, Batman would become a smirky wisenheimer. Mr. Mom in a cowl, they thought. ‘Treating Batman as a comedy is like The Brady Bunch going porno’, wrote a fretful fan, one of the tens of thousands who swamped comics fanzines with disapproving nerd mail. The common refrain among disbelievers: Keaton has no chin, not enough hair; he’s too scrawny, too doughy, too short, too glib, too distracting.”

There was even a petition made to try and have Keaton removed from the role, don’t believe me?

BATMAN PETITION

The biggest fear among fans was that they felt the film was going to be a campy comedy. Tim Burton was mostly known for directing 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure at the time. Then, Michael Keaton was famed for his comedy roles in flicks like Johnny Dangerously, The Squeeze and more specifically, Mr. Mom. Nothing sounded right about the first ‘proper’ big screen outing for The Dark Knight. The dark and brooding tone of the comics was sure to be thrown out for a more comedic take on the superhero, something more like the TV show from the sixties. Of course, that’s not what we got. We got a moody, harder edged Batman film, far removed from the camp, kitschy, comedy slant of the TV show. When released, Batman was a massive hit and those fears from Batfans were quickly quashed. Of course, with a huge hit on their hands, the studio wanted a sequel. So in 1992, we got Batman Returns

Batman Returns was even darker than the first film. So much so, that a licencing deal with McDonald’s to include Batman toys in their famed and kid friendly Happy Meals was scrapped. As Tim Burton himself recalled when talking to Yahoo:

“I think I upset McDonald’s. [They asked] ‘What’s that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth. We can’t sell Happy Meals with that!’”

BATMAN MCDONALDS TOYSBATMAN MCDONALDS

Long story short and due to a lot of arguments behind the scenes, Tim Burton left the Batman franchise behind as director and Joel Schumacher stepped in to helm the third film, Batman Forever. Also gone was Michael Keaton. Under Schumacher, the Batman films (d)evolved into the campy, kitschy, comedy slant the old TV show had and that darker edge that Burton gave The Caped Crusader was long gone. 

Anyway, before both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton left and before Joel Schumacher ruined the franchise, there was another and a very different Batman 3 in early development. That film was to be called Batman Continues. There are quite a few details around that give us a bit of insight as to just what this other third Batman flick was going to be like. Under Burton’s direction, it was sure to continue that darker vein the pervious two films had. Michelle Pfeiffer’s now iconic take on Catwoman was said to return and be a permanent love interest and partner for Bruce Wayne/Batman. A quick aside. While developing Batman Continues, Tim Burton expressed an interest in making a Catwoman spin-off flick. This was going to pick up exactly where Batman Returns ended and was going to bridge the gap between the second and third Batman films. Then when Burton dropped out of the whole project, that Catwoman spin-off became the much panned Halle Berry film.

CATWOMAN

On the villain side of things, Robin Williams was being eyed up to play Edward Nygma/Riddler. Interestingly enough, Burton actually originally wanted Williams to play Joker in the first flick. It has been said that Robin Williams was unsure about playing Joker in the film and as the start of production crept closer, Tim Burton needed someone to play the role, so Jack Nicholson was approached an asked instead. Billy Dee Williams was also going to return as Gotham’s district attorney, Harvey Dent and of course, become Two-Face. But that was not all for the villains, Brad Dourif was rumoured to have been asked to play Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow too. To me, that sounded a little too ‘full’.

Batman’s sidekick Robin was going to make an appearance. He was even originally going to be in the first flick, storyboards exist that show how Robin was going to be in the film (click here). Then, Robin was also almost in Batman Returns too. Anyway, obviously Robin never made it into either film. But Tim Burton really wanted to introduce the character in his third Batman film and he was going to be played by Marlon Wayans. Reportedly, Wayans still gets paid to this day for NOT being in the film. Marlon Wayans recalls the role when he spoke to io9.gizmodo.com:

“I was actually supposed to play Robin, in Batman Returns, about 15 years ago. But there was too many characters. I was cast, I was paid and everything. I still get residual checks. Tim Burton didn’t wind up doing three, Joel Schumacher did it and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So he hired Chris O’ Donnell.”

BATMAN

Not bad that, being paid to NOT do a job. Tim Burton’s Batman Continues is a bit of a stupid title but that is exactly what is was going to do, continue the story of Batman and be a direct sequel to Batman Returns. But exactly what that story was going to be is unknown. Elements of Burton’s Batman Continues were tweaked and reworked into Batman Forever (Riddler, Two-Face, Robin, etc)… that’s probably why Tim Burton was credited as a producer on that film.

For me, I still think there’s time for Tim Burton and Michael Keaton to team up and do another Batman picture. There are comics with an aged Batman, so why not a film too? Sure, it wont be the Batman Continues they originally wanted to make, but it could still be a ‘proper’ continuation of their first two Batman flicks.  I mean, Keaton is going to play The Dark Knight at least one more time in the new The Flash film. Burton, Keaton and Pfeiffer reunite for another Batman project? It could happen…

 

Movie Sequels We Never Got: The Italian Job 2

This is my first in a look at several film sequels we almost, but never actually got. With more coming up through the year, first up. The Italian Job 2

Let’s get the ugly bit out of the way first. No, I’m not talking about the 2003 The Italian Job remake, I’m talking about the all time classic, 1969, Getta Bloomin’ Move On! (The Self Preservation Society), “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, Michael Caine starring original flick.

ITALIAN JOB BLOW DOORS OFF

While there had been several aborted attempts at making a sequel to the remake (titled The Brazilian Job), it never came about. But perhaps what’s more of a surprise is that the original The Italian Job very nearly had a sequel too. Especially given it’s literal cliff-hanger ending.

Well, in order to get to the bottom of this one, I need to start at the end. As mentioned, the finale to The Italian Job is a literal cliff-hanger. The well planned heist had gone off without a hitch as Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) and his team make their getaway in a coach, after using (now iconic) three red, white and blue Minis to steal a load of gold. Winding their way through the alpine mountains on the Italian/French boarder and as the bouncy Getta Bloomin’ Move On! (The Self Preservation Society) tune plays, the over confident driver throws the coach around the tight corners of the mountainside road, loses control of the vehicle and it ends up teetering off the edge of a cliff. Gold bars at the back-end of the coach sticking out over the drop down the mountainside, Croker and his team in relative safety at the other end acting as a counter weight. One false move could shift the balance, then the coach, the gold and the heist team could all go over. 

ITALIAN JOB COACH

That’s when Charlie Croker tries to very slowly inch forward towards the gold. The coach creeks and dips as the weight balance is thrown off. Croker says: “Hang on a minute, lads. I’ve got a great idea.”, the camera pans out to show the massive drop off the mountain, the credits roll. We never learn what that ‘great idea’ was or if it would even work. The film ends with that afore mentioned literal cliff-hanger and goes down as one of the best endings to a movie ever. But… that wasn’t the original ending.

Oscar winner Michael Deeley, who was a producer on The Italian Job has revealed that they had not only previously planned a sequel, but said sequel was actually given the go ahead by the movie studio too. Now, the original ending was a little different. For the most part, the climax the film was largely the same, the coach still ended up teetering off the edge of a cliff, the gold at one end and the gang at the other. I’ll let Deeley himself cover what was supposed to happen when he spoke at the The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2019:

“We hear a grinding noise, which is a helicopter noise getting closer. Suddenly there’s a jerk underneath and the bus starts rising up far enough that the gold can slide out the front and the people can slide out the front. You cut outside and see two helicopters with a cable underneath the bus lifting everybody up. But of course, waiting outside is the mafia.”

Yup, both the gold and the gang originally escaped the coach, but had to hand over their loot to the mafia. According to Michael Deeley, the sequel had even started to be written and the opening of the film had been completed. Details on what the sequel would’ve been about are quite scarce as the story was never completed. But from what I’ve managed to dig up, supposedly after handing over the gold to the mafia, Charlie Croker and his gang come up with a scheme to steal the gold back from them. Even Michael Caine himself talked about the proposed sequel when he appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016:

“What happened was, we were in the south of France. We switched on the engine, ran it for several hours. The gold was at one end and we were at the other. The engine ran out of petrol so the balance went alright. We got out of the coach and then the weight of the gold once we were out pushed it over the edge. Waiting at the bottom of the cliff was the French mafia, and they ran off with it and the sequel was we chaise them through the Riviera.”

Though Caine’s recollection of the original ending and sequel is a little different to Deeley’s, they both do mention that the gang did originally escape the coach and that the mafia end up with the gold. So I think it safe to assume the plot of the sequel did involve the gang stealing the gold back. Also according to producer Michael Deeley:

“I was always very happy with the idea that we would make another film but it just didn’t happen.”

Exactly why a planned, partly written and green-lit sequel never happened, I’m not really sure. Everyone seemingly wanted to do it including the movie studio, producers and the stars. But I do have a possible idea why we never saw The Italian Job 2. You see, Deeley has also spoken of his disappointment of the U.S. poster for the film:

“It showed Michael Caine with a cup of tea because he’s English, which is boring. He had a sub-machinegun, which suggested action but really suggested killing, and the map of the city of Turin on the young lady’s back. It couldn’t be less the movie.”

Oh and yes, that poster really did exist too. And yes, it really was that bad and had nothing to do with the movie itself…

ITALIAN JOB US POSTER

Seriously, do you see the heist flick with one of the greatest car sequences in that poster? Deeley had a point, it was crap. Michael Deeley believes the poor advertising campaign of the film is the reason it did so badly in the U.S., which could be true. All of which got me digging around and as classic as the film is seen as today, it bombed here in the U.K. too when it was originally released and was slammed by critics. Not as bad as in the U.S. no. But still, The Italian Job was not a big hit ,I guess the poor reception the film received on both sides of the pond could go some way as to explain why we never saw that sequel?