Batman Returns

THEN: The seemingly perfect casting of DeVito, plus 80's babe Michelle Pfieffer made this seem like the ideal follow-up to Burton's (at-the-time) phenomenal 1989 Batman re-imagination.

A change in scheduling moved the production from London's Pinewood back to Burbank in California, where a whole new Gotham took up 50% of the Warner Brothers back-lot, which at the time provided a mixed continuity. Little did we know the inconsistency of the future franchise.

NOW: With some of the pressure off after the success of the first movie, Tim Burton created a movie which fits far more homogeneously into his directorial cannon, thanks to the the skull-headed clowns, the Christmas setting and the disturbed strangeness of the penguin. Many of the problems from 1992 still exist - too many anatagonists, the dumb Max Shreck character (Christopher Walken), the doofus Penguin - but Michelle Pfeiffer pretty much plays the definitive Catwoman (with a sympathetic Selena Kyle origin story to boot). There's also no over-the-top Jack Nicholson to chew his way through the back-lot scenery and no shoe-horned Prince soundtrack.

In retrospect, the change of shooting location made for a massive improvement in the art direction of this second movie, without the visible location repetition that shrinks the scale of the first. The result is a surprisingly organic Gotham and a much fuller world. There are still many touches of the camp comedy of the TV show - which is bizarre, considering how dark and dirty Burton's Batman films seemed at the time.

Retroactive-praise aside, this is still way too long, pretty campy and extremely dopey for a superhero movie. Action and suspense-wise it offers virtually nothing, but it can certainly take some credit for paving the way for Christopher Nolan's far more thoughtful re-boot.