Since the backlash aimed at 1997's Batman & Robin, the live-action Batman films have taken a decidedly darker tone. The company line on this stuff, at least among fans, is the darker/grittier/broodier, the better. From Nolan to Snyder, and now Matt Reeves, the Dark Knight has embraced the shadows, breaking the legs of countless impoverished Gothamites in horrific detail.
But it wasn’t always this way. The reason Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies took a lighter tone was due to how far into the Twisted Mind of Tim Burton™ the movies went. The reaction to Batman Returns was, um, not great. Too violent, too dark, and too horny, cried parents to the movie’s corporate partners. McDonald’s, in particular, beared the brunt of the controversy because of their Batman Returns-themed Happy Meal Toys.
It wasn’t just parents complaining, though. Some kids were up in arms about the Penguin drooling black goo and Catwoman turning a man’s face into a game of tic-tac-toe. USA Today’s Summer Junior Movie Critic Danny Slaski, 10, was one of those critics in 1992, and it’s all documented in a clip of Faith Daniels’ talk show, A Closer Look.
Recently shared by the Found Footage Fest, a comedy collective known for discovering, sharing, and dunking on old VHS tapes, the clip of Slaski panning the movie is already making the rounds on Twitter because how could it not?
“It was very violent,” said Slaski. “It was a total attack against kids, the whole movie. Everything that kids love is being used against them: clowns, even the Penguin had a duckie boat, presents, and mobiles.”
The footage has been online for several years now, but the collective revived the clip, like a pride of cats gnawing at Catwoman’s fingers. However, the whole clip from A Closer Look reveals elements of the whole controversy. Parents irritated by the marketing, a little girl who walked out of Batman Returns after 30 minutes, and some guy named Brad Curl complaining about “horny boy movies.”
Curl is right when he predicts that he doesn’t foresee McDonald’s doing this again. Three years later, Warner Bros. released Batman Forever, and McDonald’s opted to sell a series of really cool glasses that this writer drank from for every meal from the years 1995 through 2005.
Watch the whole video below: