Batman Returns is the 1992 Tim Burton-directed sequel to the 1989 hit Batman. Michael Keaton returns as Batman/ Bruce Wayne.
Meet Max Shreck. Gotham City power magnate, in more ways than one. The shining light of Gotham. He sees a bright future for Gotham, and he'll eliminate any obstacle to that end. Including the current Mayor, and possibly Bruce Wayne. Enter the Penguin, from the sewers, with his Red Triangle Circus Gang. He and Max, working together to scratch each other's backs. Exit Selina Kyle, an unfortunate casualty in Max's crusade. Inspired by an earlier encounter with the Batman, she reinvents herself as Catwoman.
The movie opens with a glimpse into the Penguin's early life when he was born into privilege at a large mansion owned by Tucker Cobblepot. Tucker and his wife were horrified and ashamed of the boy's deformities. As young Oswald grew into a toddler the coupe found to be vicious and uncontrollable, to the point where the Cobblepots locked him in iron cage for a playpin. After he pulled the family cat into his cage and killed it the Cobblepots decided to dump his baby carriage into a sewer grate at a Gotham Park creek. As the credits roll his carriage washes up in the Arctic World pavilion inside Gotham Park's Zoo.
The story begins with Alfred shopping for Christmas gifts at Gotham Plaza. After a paper boy tries to sell him a cover story about monstrous Bird-Man living in the sewer the camera pans up the offices of Shreck Tower, high above Shreck's Downtown Store. Here CEO Max Shreck attempts convince the Mayor to let him build a new power plant. Shortly thereafter Max's son Chip Shreck enters to escort his father down to the Lighting of Tree ceremony taking place in the plaza. After improvising a speech to the adoring crowd, a giant red Christmas package appears in the center of Gotham Plaza. The Red Triangle Gang, a disgraced circus trope turned into a violent street gang emerge from the package. The Organ Grinder, leader of the group uses a mini-gun in his music box to destroy the Christmas lights on the tree. While citizens are being attacked the gang demands to have Max handed over to them. His son Chip steps forward urging his father to flee the area, which he does. Commissioner Gordon orders the Bat-Signal to be turned on and it doesn't take long for the Batmobile to show up, which frightens the gang away after launching Bat-Discs at various thugs. Batman himself chooses to emerge from the car after coming upon Selina Kyle being held hostage by a clown with a stungun. After a quickdraw of his grappling hook pistol, the Dark Knight pulls a chunk of concrete from behind the clown's head to knock him out. Selina attempts to thank the Batman but only glares at her and struts down the street where he barely acknowledges the GCPD's attempts to communicate with him.
Shreck is still hiding in an alleyway when the Penguin removes the sewer grate Shreck is standing on, pulling into the sewer and knocking him out. It is revealed the sewer grate is used as trap door by the gang to travel around the city as clasps back up into place by a hinge. Shreck awakens to find himself in the Arctic World pavilion at the now abandoned zoo. Penguin blackmails him and convinces Max to arrange a kidnapping of the Mayor's baby to make Penguin appear heroic to the public. That night Shreck returns to his office where he discovers that his secretary has opened protected files on his proposed power plant. Shreck pushes her out the window thinking that she will surely die from the fall, but Selina is saved by a series of red awnings on the side of the building. She awakens with a bump on the head, surrounded by the local alleycats she feeds at her nearby apartment. Upon returning home Selina is triggered a perfume ad left on her answering machine by Shreck's department store. She then has a complete psychotic breakdown and begins trashing all the 'girly' items in her apartment. Selina fashions a catsuit for herself out of a black vinyl coat in her closet, hoping to challenge Batman on the rooftops by creating chaos.
In the following days the Penguin's plan works and the public is charmed by the heroics of the ugly little bird-man. This is all a ruse so that the Penguin can collect research in the Hall of Records, which is guarded by Shreck Security guards and GCPD officers alike. Shreck convinces the press that their freedom is intrusive to the city's shy new savior. Bruce Wayne sympathizes with Oswald's quest at first but quickly becomes suspicious of his time spent at the Hall of Records - realizing his claims just don't add up with the facts. Wayne believes that he always knew who his parents were and is therefore collecting information on his enemies. Max's greed blinds to any danger of enabling of Cobblepot's criminality, as he convinces him to run for Mayor so that Penguin will eventually grant him permission to build the power plant. Cobblepot takes delight the idea of reclaiming his birthright, as his father served the city as District Attorney long ago. Penguin begins wearing nicer clothing from Shreck's "image consultants" but outright rejects the use of a cigarette holder they give him.
Cobblepot sends his circus gang out to ransack downstown storefronts to defame the current Mayor, but they now refrain from attacking the plaza area. Catwoman sees this as the perfect cover to commit purrrrfect crime, blowing up the storefront of Shreck's. She beheads female mannequins with her bullwhip and smashes a jewelry case before rigging the store to explode. Batman appears while the gang are attacking local denizens again, he uses a Super-Batarang when when surrounded by six clowns. Before the self-propelled boomerang hits its final target, a ratty circus poodle snatches the Batarang out of the air. The Dark Knight makes way to the plaza cathedral when he spots Penguin himself surveying the devastation. Suddenly they are interrupted as Catwoman wildly flips toward with taunting "meow" as the department store explodes behind her. After seemingly vanishing Batman spots her climbing up a building and immediately gives chase. Catwoman kicks and slashes at him and Bruce seems to not know how to react, eventually ending her attack with one blow, easily knocking her to the ground. Catwoman feigns defeat, criticizing him for hitting a woman. As he attempts to apologize she lands a surprise kick and pulls him over the side of the rooftop with her whip. While she taunts him, Batman pulls a chemical weapon from his Utility Belt and throws it at her arm. Batman saves her as she struggles to climb shingles and the pair share an intimate moment as she deceives him again, stabbing him at weak point in his armor. Angered, Batman retaliates by knocking her off the building where she is luckily saved by a passing truck hauling sand.
Bruce and Selina meet again at Shreck's office in their civilian identities but the pair do not recognize each other. Sometime later Catwoman goes to Penguin's office to propose a plan to frame Batman as criminal rather than simply killing him. Later Bruce approaches in the plaza where he invites her to watch the Re-Lighting of the Tree ceremony with him at Wayne Manor. As things heat up between the couple, Batman sees his stolen Batarang in an evidence bag and learns that the Ice Princess has been kidnapped by Penguin. Selina realizes she's running late to take part in the plan. The pair make up excuse for Alfred to tell the other before the leave, Selina struggles to dress herself in the Catwoman costume while driving away from the mansion. The couple then fight again in their alter-egos where Catwoman takes the hostage to the rooftop and disappears. Penguin then throws an umbrella full of bats at the girl and frightens into falling to her death on the christmas tree button. Someone in the crowd thinks Batman pushed the girl and when the tree lights up hundreds of bats are released on the shoppers, in their minds confirming that Batman was behind the murder. The police arrive and open fire on Batman, but the Commissioner tries to stop them.
While Batman lay stunned after falling on a rooftop below, Catwoman sits on his chest to revel in her victory over him. She finds another weakpoint and stabs him again but Bruce tosses her off transforms his cape into a hang-glider, which he uses to flee the area and return to the Batmobile. Once inside he finds himself locked in, and that Penguin's gang have somehow rigged the car to be driven remotely while he was fighting Catwoman. Penguin then further smears Batman's reputation by driving into the crowd and destroying public property. Batman manages to scan the vehicle for the source of the signal and punches through the floor of the car to remove the receiver. While being chased by GCPD cruisers, the Dark Knight is left with no choice but to jettison the sides of the car, transforming into Batmissile mode to slide through an alleyway as an emergency escape. This results in a massive pile up of the cop cars behind him.
The next day Bruce and Alfred ruin a Cobblepot Rally from the Batcave by jamming his sound system and playing recordings of his taunts while driving the Batmobile the previous night. The public realize that Penguin has lied to them from the beginning and he is then rejected by Gotham's citizens. The GCPD chase into Gotham Park where he dives into the same creek his parents threw his carriage into. Penguin then swims back to his Duck Boat where left in the sewer beneath Gotham Plaza. Upon returning to his hideout at the zoo, he gives a list of names to his gang. They kidnap the first born sons of the wealthy families attending Shreck's masquerade ball. Bruce Wayne recognizes something Selina said to him as Catwoman and the couple realize the the alter-egos. Before they can sort it out Penguin emerges from an explosion in the center of the dance floor. Max pleads that he should be taken rather his son, Charles, and Penguin agrees. Bruce then rushes to free the children from the Red Triangle Gang while Selina heads to the zoo in the hopes of killing Shreck before Penguin does.
Batman learns of Penguin's hideout in the old zoo and uses the Batskiboat to traverse the waterways of the sewer tunnels beneath Gotham. When Penguin learns the children were freed, he decides to send Penguin Commandos as suicide bombers to destroy Gotham Plaza. Once again Alfred jams the signal and redirects the army back to the zoo. What little remains of Penguin's gang abandons him when they hear the Dark Knight's vehicle approaching. Penguin then takes his Duck Boat into land-mode, revealing set of six off-road tires that take him up the steps to the surface of the zoo grounds. Batman intercepts this by revealing an amphibious mode of his own, turning the watercraft into a snowmobile before it smashes the Duck Cart to pieces. As the struggle on the zoo grounds Batman tricks Penguin into taking a remote control for the Commandos. After launching rockets from the backs of the animals, a swarm of bats also is released from the Batski. This causes Penguin to fall backward into a skylight in much the same way he way he murdered the Ice Princess. Batman then glides below towards Catwoman where she is preparing to kill Shreck by Penguin's generator.
Batman attempts to defuse the situation, insisting that a magnate like Shreck must be arrested for his crimes. While they ponder the moral quandary, Shreck shoots Batman's torso, knocking him unconscious. He then begins shooting at Selina, but only manages to hit limbs with his fourth shot missing completely. Shreck looks at the revolver in disbelief, as she stammers toward him she rants and claiming she has nine lives with no mortal wounds. She presses her abdomen into the empty pistol. As she prepares to kiss Max goodbye she pulls a large generator cable from above and presses her stungun under Shreck's chin. As Bruce regains consciousness he see the pair disappear in the resulting explosion of the generator. Sometime later while being chauffeured by Alfred, Bruce thinks he spots Selina's shadow in an alleyway only to find a black cat, which he takes home.
Principal photography began in June of 1991.