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Quote1 One can never have too much power. If my life has a meaning, that's the meaning. Quote2
-- Max Shreck src

Batman Returns

Power Plant Proposal

It is Christmas time in Gotham. In the Shreck's Department Store conference room, business owner Maximilian Shreck tries to convince the mayor to let him build a power plant, saying that Gotham needs it. The mayor protests, saying, "Studies show us we have enough power to get us in the middle of the next century." Shreck replies that they are not having real growth, only a minor swelling. He then gets up saying, "Imagine Gotham City. Shining like a blanket of stars. But the lights blinking on and off, sadly low on juice. Quite frankly, I cringe Mr. Mayor." Despite these efforts the mayor states that if Shreck wants the power plant made he will have to go through the usual channels of trying to get it made. Max's secretary Selina Kyle then says, "I have a suggestion." Max and the politicians then turn towards her. Selina then says, "Well actually it's more like a question." Max then says, "Well it appears we haven't properly housebroken Ms. Kyle yet. But on the plus column, she makes one hell of a cup of coffee." Max takes a sip of coffee as the mayor and the politicians laugh, and Selina smiles nervously. Max's son Chip then walks in saying, "Dad, Mr. Mayor, now time to go out and bring joy to the masses." Max, the mayor, and the other politicians then leave with Chip.

Gotham's Santa Claus

While walking out of the Shreck's Department Store Building, Max and the mayor are surrounded by several civilians. Max and the mayor talk while going through the crowd onto a podium, with Max threatening to have the mayor removed from office, and the mayor telling Max that he doesn't have a candidate. After the mayor tells the citizens happy holidays from the people at city hall he introduces, "A man who needs no introduction, because he's given so much to our city. Gotham's own Santa Claus, Max Shreck." The citizens begin to cheer and Max throws presents into the crowd and then walks up to the microphone to speak.

Max searches his coat for his speech and can't find it. He tells Chip to remind him to take it out on Selina, though he doesn't remember her name. Shreck then walks up to the microphone and says, "Santa Claus, afraid not. I'm just a poor schmo, who just got lucky. So sue me if I want to give something back." The crowd then cheers for him and Max continues saying, "I just wish I could hand out more than expensive bobbles. I wish I could hand out world peace, and unconditional love, wrapped in a big bow." The crowd then cheers for him again. Suddenly, as if on cue, a giant present rolls near the civilians. "Nice idea," the mayor says, but Max says that it isn't his. Suddenly clowns, and other circus people, pop out of the present and begin attacking civilians.

Save Yourself

Still on the podium, Max, the mayor, and the others watch in horror as the civilians are attacked. An organ grinder walks out of the present and fires upon them with an organ machine gun. They all duck as the organ grinder blows away the ornaments on the Christmas tree in the square.

After a short time the Organ Grinder and several other members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang approach Max and the others. "We want the big guy," the organ grinder says, "The one who runs the show." When the mayor gets in front and asks what they want, he is knocked unconscious. The Organ Grinder reveals that they want Max. Chip gets in front of his father saying, "Then you'll have to go through me." The men then point their weapons at Chip and mock him. Chip tells his father, "Dad go! Save yourself!" Max does as his son says and runs.

You Flush It, I Flaunt It

However, Max doesn't escape capture as he falls through a grate in the alley and finds himself inside the Arctic display at the Old Gotham Zoo, surrounded by the clowns and goons on one side, an army of penguins on the other, and a squat bird-like man called the Penguin in front of him. Max realizes that what he has heard about this person living in the sewers is true as his initial impression of the man leaves him briefly speechless.

The Penguin says he's been living in the sewers for too long and needs to go topside to make himself known and respected, not to mention to find out who his parents were. Max wants the Penguin to give him a good reason why he should help. Penguin gives him a reason in the form of evidence of Shreck's dirty dealings that he has been collecting over the years; a lagoon of toxic waste from his chemical plants, shredded documents that he had reassembled of all the firetraps in Gotham Shreck owned, even the hand of his former partner Fred. Max realizes how incriminating this evidence could be, especially that of Fred, and decides he could work to give the Penguin what he wants in exchange for a partnership. Penguin shakes Max's hand to seal to deal, only he shakes it with Fred's hand.

Back To The Office

Max returns to his office to find that Selina Kyle is busy preparing herself for the meeting he will have with Bruce Wayne about the power plant, seeing that she's pulled out all the files on the plant, even protected ones, that reveal it to be a giant capacitor that stores electricity rather than generate it. Max realizes that Selina could be a threat to his plans and backs her toward a window where he makes it look like he's going to kill her before he relents...and then suddenly pushes her through the window! Max watches as Selina falls to the ground before he turns away, believing that she is dead.


The following day, Max Shreck oversees the Penguin's public appearance in Gotham City as he "rescues" a child that has been kidnapped from a crowd of people gathered in the square by a circus acrobat from the Red Triangle Gang. He helps protect the Penguin's privacy at the Hall of Records as he is "looking" for the records of his parents, when actually he is also looking for records of all firstborn sons in Gotham. The next day, the Penguin visits the graves of his parents, the Cobblepots, and reveals his name as being Oswald Cobblepot. As part of his plan of gaining acceptance and media attention, he tells them that though he may not understand why his parents had abandoned him, he has forgiven them.

Back From The Dead

Max Shreck finally has his meeting with Bruce Wayne about the power plant. Bruce gives Max a report that he has commissioned with the mayor that reveals that Gotham City has an energy surplus, and so wonders what Max's angle is. Max challenges Bruce if he could go the distance of challenging him in court, and Bruce tells him that he at least doesn't have a criminal like Cobblepot, the leader of the Red Triangle Gang, in his back pocket. As Max threatens to have Bruce be taken away with that accusation by his secretary, Selina mysteriously shows up, sounding less mousy than she used to be and casting eyes on Bruce. This surprises Max, as he has seen Selina fall down from the window and land on the ground dead. He decides to deal with her later as she escorts Bruce to the elevator, and focuses his attention on the Penguin.

Oswald For Mayor

At the Penguin's new hideout, Max Shreck bribes him with a fish to go downstairs with him, where he shows that the storefront has been turned into a campaign office for Oswald Cobblept to be mayor. Max tells the Penguin that though they have missed the regular elections, he has the power and the signatures to have the current mayor removed from office. All he needs from the Penguin is to get his Red Triangle Gang to stir Gotham City into a foaming frenzy over the mayor's inability to deal with crime. But the Penguin is more interested in fulfilling his plan with his list of all the firstborn sons. Max tells Penguin that as mayor he would have power and control over the whole city, and even have all the women he wants. Upon hearing about the women, the Penguin is convinced to go along and make the citizens of Gotham City realize that they truly need him, Oswald Cobblepot, as mayor.

Fall From Grace

Through the Penguin's efforts with the help of Catwoman, though he fails in destroying Batman by his jerry-rigging the Batmobile to be an "H-bomb on wheels", he at least has succeeded in destroying the people's faith in both Batman and the mayor. Max encourages him to accept this achievement as victory before he takes the podium and addresses the crowd gathered at the Gotham City square, ready to hear how he will seek to gain the glory of Gotham City. During his speech, however, Batman accesses the P.A. system and broadcasts the comments Penguin made to Batman about playing "this stinkin' city like a harp from hell". The crowd hears this and turns against Penguin by throwing eggs and tomatoes at him. He looks at Max, hoping that he will bail him out, and Max gives him a look that says the Penguin is on his own at this point before he departs.

Crashing The Party

Later on, at a party Max Shreck holds at his slightly-renovated department store, which Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle also attend, an explosion rips through the floor and the Penguin emerges in his duck craft, telling the crowd that his gang is kidnapping all the firstborn sons of Gotham City right now. He now takes Max's son Chip as his hostage, but Max pleads for the Penguin to take him instead, telling him he's the one the Penguin wants to see up to his eyeballs in his own sewage. The Penguin favors the exchange and takes Max to his Arctic display hideout at the Zoo, where he is put in a cage until he is cast into the same toxic waste that his chemical plants have produced.

A Score To Settle

While the Penguin is distracted into fighting the Batman when he succeeds in shutting down the penguin army missile launchers, Max escapes the cage only to find himself tangling with the Catwoman, who is looking to kill him. Batman interrupts this fight by knocking Max to the ground with his fist, telling him he's going to prison. Catwoman says the law doesn't apply to him or them. Batman bravely rips his mask off so Selina could see they're both in need of each other. She says she would want to live happily ever after with him, but she gives him a scratch in the face, saying she couldn't live with herself.

Selina's Deadly Kiss

Max then realizes that the Catwoman is Selina as she rips her mask off, saying she's fired. He also fires a gun at Batman, wounding him. She then taunts Max to finish her off, which he obliges by firing two shots that wound her, but don't stop her. "Four...five...still alive!" He fires two more shots that nearly cripple her. Still she approaches. " good girls go to heaven!" He tries to fire again, but he's out of bullets. She laughs, realizing she has two more lives left and decides to save one for next Christmas. "But in the meantime, how about a kiss Santi-Claus?" she says as she takes out her electric stun gun and grabs a power line as she presses the gun toward his lips.

Bruce watches as both Selina and Max are consumed in the explosion of the power generator and debris falls upon them. When the explosion is over, Bruce sifts through the wreckage and finds Max's charred electrified body, but Selina's body mysteriously disappears. She is nowhere to be found.


  • Max Shreck was portrayed by Christopher Walken.
  • Originally Harvey Dent was supposed to play the role Shreck played. At the end Dent was to be electrified like Shreck, but would have survived, with half of his face scarred. He would have been a villain in the next movie.
  • Originally Shreck was going to be the Penguin's older brother.



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