“When I first did Batman, I’d never heard of the word ‘franchise,'” Burton detailed at the Lumière Festival in Lyon, per Deadline. “After that, it became something else.”
Burton himself would helm the film’s first sequel, which would then earn two more installments. In 2005, Christopher Nolan revived the character with Christian Bale, while virtually all superhero movies since 2008’s Iron Man have embraced a franchising model featuring interconnected characters and universes.
The filmmaker went on to recall that, despite the various ways in which the genre has changed, it still often explores the same core concept. Additionally, Burton joked about how, while some fans continue to ask for superheroes to take on a darker tone, he was repeatedly chided for that approach decades ago.
“It did feel very exciting to be at the beginning of all of it. It’s amazing how much it hasn’t really changed in a sense — the tortured superhero, weird costumes — but for me, at the time it was very exciting. It felt new,” the director detailed. “The thing that is funny about it now is, people go ‘What do you think of the new Batman?’ and I start laughing and crying because I go back to a time capsule, where pretty much every day the studios were saying, ‘It’s too dark, it’s too dark.’ Now it looks like a lighthearted romp.”
Given the ways in which the genre has changed, some audiences are likely holding out hope of seeing Burton make a return to superheroes. While a sequel to The Batman is reported to be on the way, details surrounding its release have not been officially confirmed, though it will likely see director Matt Reeves returning.
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