For Den of Geek, David Crow put together a chronicle of Batman II becoming Batman Returns:
Who broods more than the Batman? That is the point of view filmmakers took with Batman Returns, a Tim Burton art-piece masquerading as blockbuster entertainment. The bleakest and kinkiest superhero movie ever made, Batman Returns takes the first line of the original Sam Hamm screenplay to heart: “It’s finally happened; Hell’s frozen over.” Decorating his urban decay with shiny Yuletide wrapping, Burton and his collaborators crafted the most artful superhero movie — a German Expressionist painting so cynical about the holidays, abhorrent commercialism, and the supposed goodwill of man that Ebenezer Scrooge might even cringe.
How this definitively anti-Christmas movie got made on a staggering $80 million budget and then slapped on the back of McDonald’s Happy Meals is almost as fascinating as the skintight vinyl of the movie itself.
There was a certain playfulness to Batman (1989) but that was all but gone in Returns. Instead, we got something very, very dark but very intriguing. We missed out on a lot of initial ideas, such as the introduction of Robin and the development of Harvey Dent into Two-Face. Instead, we got the Penguin, Catwoman, and Max Schreck. A fair trade I’d say.