Sunday, July 16, 2017

Character Analysis: Max Shreck

Character Analysis: Max Shreck
By: Brian Cotnoir

Hello Friends, Long time no post.  Life’s been very busy for my lately as I continue to work towards my Masters, AND I started a new job, that I am very happy with, so I’ve had very little time to watch movies, let alone write new reviews.  Well, I’m here to talk to you today about one of my favorite film franchises of all-time; The “Batman” Films.  I’ve always been a fan of Batman, ever since I was a little boy.  I grew up watching Kevin Conroy voice Batman on “Batman the Animated Series”, I watched the Joel Schumacher Batman films, when I was a little, and I even watched a little bit of the Original Batman TV series, starring the late and great Adam West.  I did not see the original Tim Burton, Batman movies.   I’ve wanted to do a Character Analysis on a Batman Character for so long, but I kept running into the same issues every time.  Most of the Characters in the Batman films are directly inspired from the DC Comics, which would require some extensive research so I could discuss the differences between the characters in the Comics and the same characters in the films.  Not to mention that as of this date there have been 8 different Feature Length films featuring Batman, not to mention countless Direct to Video/DVD Animated Films, and would require a ton more research and would take me too long to complete.  But at last I finally came across a character from a Batman film—My Favorite Batman film actually—that is worthy of a Character Analysis; a character who never appeared in any prior Batman comics and was specifically created for a one time film role only.  So without further delay please enjoy my Character Analysis of Max Shreck from “Batman Returns”.

CHARACTER: Max Shreck from “Batman Returns” (1992)

Christopher Walken plays Max Shreck in "Batman Returns"
Max Shreck is the millionaire owner of Shreck’s Department Store in Gotham City.  Shreck’s displays acts of generosity around the Holiday Season, donating loads of toys and money to those in need all over Gotham City.  Many people refer to him as the Santa Claus of Gotham City.  However beneath his generous exterior lies a manipulative and malevolent man.  He has plans to expand his business empire by constructing a large Power Plant in Gotham City, with a little financial and political backing from the Mayor of Gotham City and the wealthiest man in the city, Bruce Wayne.  However, Shreck has some sinister motives for his power plant.  His plant isn’t going to supply power to the residents of Gotham City, but rather suck and store power, leaving the residents of Gotham City powerless (pun intended).  However, Shreck’s incompetent secretary Selena Kyle, accidentally uncovers Shreck’s evil plan, for which he tries to kill her by tossing her out a window near the top floor of his building, for having figured out his nefarious plan.      Shreck ends up being kidnapped and blackmailed by an evil underground villain known as The Penguin, who threatens to expose Shreck’s sinister deeds—including murder, fraud, and pollution—if he doesn’t help him with his own evil plans.  Shreck agrees to help The Penguin (whose real name is Oswald Cobblepot).  Using his money and power Shreck helps the Penguin stage a fake kidnapping where the Penguin will heroically rescue the Mayor of Gotham City’s infant child.   Once The Penguin has found favor and popularity amongst the residents of Gotham City, Shreck plans to use his money and power to get The Penguin elected Mayor of Gotham, so that he can get the approval he needs to build his power plant.


Max Shreck is played by Hollywood Legend and Academy Award Winner, Christopher Walken.   “Batman Returns” was the first time Walken ever collaborated with writer/director Tim Burton.  Walken and Burton would work again together on the film “Sleepy Hollow” (1999), where Walken played The Hessian Soldier/Headless Horseman.  

Actor Maximillian Schreck as Count Orlock in "Noseferatu"
Unlike many other characters that have appeared in the Batman films, Max Shreck had not appeared in any prior Batman Comics.  He was created specifically for the film to fill the villain void left by actor Billy Dee Williams after he opted to not reprise his role as Harvey Dent in “Batman Returns” (…at least according to Wikipedia).  Shreck’s name is nod to the German Actor Maximillian Schreck who played the fiendish Count Orlock in the 1922 Classic German Horror film, “Nosferatu”.  Other than a name Max Shreck shares no similarities to the actor of the same name.          I honestly think Shreck shares some similarities and was possibly influenced by Donald Trump (before he became President of course). When you look at the similar hair styles, their ruthless business savvy minds, their use of Power and Money to achieve their own personal gains, while seemingly trying to pass themselves off as Regular Joes with caring, generous hearts, I definitely think Christopher Walken was trying to channel some Donald Trump into his acting performance.

I see it, Don't you?! 


The End of Max Shreck 
After betraying The Penguin, who fails to get elected Mayor of Gotham City, Shreck tries to return to Business Empire like nothing changed.  Shreck is now being pursued by three persons, Selena Kyle (who has no donned the alias Cat Woman) for trying to murder her, The Penguin for welching on their deal, and Batman/Bruce Wayne, who has uncovered that Shreck and The Penguin were in cahoots together.  Shreck sacrifices himself to save his son, Chip (who had saved his life earlier in the film) and agrees to go with the Penguin where he will be killed.  While a fierce battle goes under the Gotham Zoo between Batman, the Penguin, and Catwoman, Shreck tries to escape unnoticed.  After trying once again to finish off Selena Kyle/Cat Woman for good, Shreck is brutally electrocuted to death by Selena Kyle, thus is the last we ever see or hear of Max Shreck in the Batman films. 

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this one. I had no idea Billy Dee Williams was supposed to be the Batman Returns villain, good to know