Producer Michael Uslan has stated that Tim Burton drew much of his inspiration for Batman Returns (1992) from the comics of the early nineties.
“I think by the time of the second film, Tim was into the then current Batman comics of the 1990’s, Which was a much darker, I call it a soulless, almost vampiric period for Batman. As a result of all of that Batman Returns, 1992, was a significantly darker, drearier film.”
Michael Uslan speaking to Entertainment Magazine On Line
Many Batman comics of the early nineties displayed a common preoccupation with dark, supernatural narratives that blurred the line between mystery stories and full-on horror. Stories like Grant Morrison's Batman: Gothic (1990) and Peter Milligan's Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City (1990) displayed gothic sensibilities in common with those in Burton's movie. Meanwhile, the early nineties also saw the publication of several gothic horror themed Elseworld stories, such as Doug Moench's Batman and Dracula: Red Rain (1991).
Screenwriter Daniel Waters has cited Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986) as having left a strong impression on him:
''I think it's one of the best things done in any medium in the last five years. In fact, I was one of those naïve people who thought 'Why not just make a movie out of Miller's version?' Then you realize that no studio is going to spend $60 million on a movie where five hundred people get killed on The David Letterman Show.'
Considering Waters' fondness for this book, it seems likely it would have influenced his script.
What follows is an in depth analysis of Batman Returns and its relevancy to the comics. Some of these parallels will be deliberate, others coincidental. Several will have carried over from Burton's first Batman film. But regardless of whether they were intentional or not, they are all parallels worth noting.