Michelle Pfeiffer Was Vacuum-Sealed Into Her Catwoman Suit Before Filming Every Batman Returns Scene

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The wild 1992 film “Batman Returns” introduced a pretty memorable Catwoman with Michelle Pfeiffer. Shooting the Tim Burton-directed flick wasn’t exactly a comfortable experience for Pfeiffer, though. Remember that costume she wore? Of course you do. How could you not? Pfeiffer not only gave a great performance as a woman who has had enough of being treated like crap by men, but the suit she wears is famous and has been replicated at Halloween every year since. 

It’s very likely the one you wore that one time at a college costume party was more comfortable than the one she has on in the film, though. The process of getting into it was really rough for the actor, and involved powder, silicone spray, and a diminishing of some of her senses, according to the 2004 “Catwoman: Her Many Lives” episode of the A&E program “Biography.” Hosted by Eartha Kitt, who played the role in the 1960s TV series, it recounted the story of all the Catwoman actors up until that point. 

This thing was absolutely not fun to wear, according to Pfeiffer, who said she had to be vacuum sealed into it for each scene, and only had a short amount of time before she had to have it taken off so she didn’t pass out or get lightheaded. It may have looked incredible, but it was incredibly difficult to wear. 

‘It Was The Most Uncomfortable Costume I’ve Ever Been In’

Pfeiffer has spoken about it frequently, telling THR in a 2017 interview, “It was the most uncomfortable costume I’ve ever been in. They had to powder me down, help me inside, and then vacuum-pack the suit.” That sounds awful. She said that they then had to paint it with a silicone-based finish to get that shine. That wasn’t all. Pfeiffer said, “I had those claws, and I was always catching them in things. The face mask was smashing my face and choking me … we had a lot of bugs to work out.”

They also had to rig the costume so she could use the restroom — after it had already been made — and wow, that’s something that really should have been part of the original design. So you’ve got the claws ripping stuff, powder to even get into it, a difficult time using the bathroom, being vacuum-packed like a piece of dried fruit, and a whip. What else? Well, Pfeiffer mentioned in an 1992 ET interview: 

“My first week was like this — my boots weren’t right. I couldn’t walk in them because I kept tilting forward, and my mask was smashing my face, and I couldn’t hear, and it was cutting off my vocal cords, and I couldn’t really breathe in the corset. And then they would have all of these lights in my way, and I would have to then change, on the spot, what I had planned and what kind of routine I had planned with my whip. And then I had to act.”

Oh, right. Acting. The reason she’s there in the first place, right? There is that quote about suffering for your art, but I’m pretty sure it’s not suffocating for your art. 


According to costume designer Bob Ringwood in an interview for a featurette on creating the Catwoman suit, the idea for Catwoman’s costume came from a German sculpture he once saw where a woman’s head and shoulders appeared very patched together, which just happens to also reflect the Pfeiffer’s character dealing with different aspects of her personality after a traumatic experience. 

Ringwood explains that in the film, her character cut up a rain slicker and then sewed it together in one night. I will just throw this out there: Someone who is good enough to sew a costume that fits that perfectly in one night would not forget a very strategic zipper. Moving on. 

Ringwood also revealed that the actual suit was made of rubber and had to be repainted with that wet silicone for every single shot. You can understand the look on Pfeiffer’s face in the above picture. 

“Batman Returns” is currently streaming on HBO Max. 

Read this next: Joker’s Wild: Ranking The Cinematic Versions Of The Clown Prince Of Crime

The post Michelle Pfeiffer Was Vacuum-Sealed Into Her Catwoman Suit Before Filming Every Batman Returns Scene appeared first on /Film.

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