The Batman Returns Night Thread is Brought to You by McDonald’s

30 years ago this week, Batman Returns opened in theaters (I should have done my research, as I thought it came out today, but the actual release date was June 19th. So…um….pretend it’s June 19th as you read this, okay?). Tim Burton’s first Batman movie was a pop culture juggernaut, so it was inevitable that the sequel would have a ton of promotional partners, including, most famously, McDonald’s.

Yes, yes, we’ll address the Bat Elephant in the room first. The Happy Meal toys were eventually pulled after God knows how many parents complained about them, McDonald’s understandably wasn’t very happy about that, and the rest, as they say, is history. Kind of. While “McDonald’s Got Tim Burton Fired from Batman!!!” makes a good click-bait YouTube video title, it’s only part of the story. The bottom line was that Warner Bros. simply wasn’t pleased with all of the bad press the movie got them about how children were being “traumatized” by their mega-budget film, so no one could rationally expect for them to go “yes, Tim Burton, please give us something that’s even darker next time.”

“While supplies last…or until we pull them and start giving you leftover Barbie and Hot Wheels toys again, whichever comes first.”

Also, although accounts vary, Burton wasn’t actually fired. Warner Bros. was open to him directing a third Batman, but he declined, not wanting to deal with whatever terms they would’ve set for him. In the end, Batman Forever would be more in line with what the studio was wanting, a lighter and less violent Bat flick that performed extremely well commercially and didn’t have moms and dads up in arms. McDonald’s, meanwhile, wouldn’t do a Happy Meal promotion for a PG-13 again until Avatar more than a decade later.

Anyway, before all of the Bat Controversy happened, McDonald’s had some pretty sweet stuff for Returns fans. For the cool moms and dads who weren’t protesting the film, there were special collector’s cups with “Bat Frisbees” for lids. These are so cool. No, I didn’t get any of them. But I wish McDonald’s would still do stuff like this for “grown-ups” today…

For the Happy Meal toys, there were four vehicles. I do recall these being around, and seeing kids playing with them at the food court at the mall which used to have a McDonald’s. But I didn’t get them as a kid (no surprise there given how my parents were about violent movies). Fortunately, these are very easy to find on eBay–even in mint condition–so I have the full set now. Since they really aren’t rare, I strongly suspect that many restaurants just kept giving them out even after they were officially “pulled”…

Have an awesome Bat Night, Avocados!