In Batman (1989) the Joker wanted to take over as Gotham City's crime boss of bosses, and then after he went insane, random murder was just "his thing" (being the world's first "Fully functional Homicidal Artist.")

In Batman Forever, Edward Nigma was a bit unbalanced before having his emotional breakdown at Bruce's rejection of his project, then (after being unhinged further by the Box) he had the goal of becoming "Gotham's cleverest carbon-based life form!" Two-Face just plain went loco after his transformation with the sole goal to "Kill the Bat!"

Even the villains of the fourth "film" had clear motivations: Freeze to cure his wife, Ivy to decimate humankind and create a paradise for plants.

In Batman Returns, however, the only clear villain motivation was Penguin's; societal acceptance and respect. If he couldn't get that, he'd settle for profit and fear, with a hint of revenge on the world. Catwoman went a little coo-coo, and simply wanted revenge on Schreck for killing her; so her desire is understandable.

But what the hell was Shreck's motivation for building the "Power Plant" in the first place?

Why would he, as a businessman, want to Suck power from the city? Wouldn't that be counter productive to his business ventures?

I ask because this, basically, served as the underlying bad guy plot point which kicked off everything; him killing Selina, working with the Penguin, trying to oust the Mayor and his central role in the film. Looking at it now though, it makes little sense for him to do so; the plant would gain him little money or power, and it wasn't going to fuel a special weapon.

Did the novelizations or any other materials explain this more clearly?

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    Power! Unlimited power! Mar 27, 2020 at 9:27
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    Interestingly the novelisation paints him as a villain, sure, but his ultimate goal (along with enriching himself) is the betterment of Gotham.
    – Valorum
    Mar 27, 2020 at 13:02
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    What I find odd about this is, basically, this is what Musk/Tesla has built in Australia... And it's actually really beneficial saving literally millions of dollars. So, technically, Shreck should be a hero, not a villain. Mar 27, 2020 at 14:21
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    @PaulD.Waite lol....funny. I got the reference ;-D
    – Russhiro
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:36
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    Selina says "It's gonna be one big giant...Big giant capacitor. And that, instead of generating power it'll sort of be sucking power, from Gotham City, and storing it ... stockpiling it," Compare that to this article: teslarati.com/… If you store the power when it's cheap, and release it when it's expensive, you make money, but the rate payers pay a lot less. (AUD116 million less) Mar 27, 2020 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


Overtly the plan was to supply masses of extremely cheap energy in order to "revitalise" Gotham.

“Power plant?” the Mayor objected. “Max, our studies show that Gotham has enough energy to sustain growth into the next centu—”

Shreck cut him off with a hearty laugh. “Your analysts are talking growth at one percent per annum. That’s not growth, that’s a mild swelling. I’m planning ahead for a revitalized Gotham City!” He waved at all the pretty lights on the far side of the plate-glass window. “So we can light the whole plaza without worrying about brownouts.” He turned and frowned critically at the Mayor. “Do you like the sound of brownouts? Do you?”

Batman Returns: Official Novelisation

In reality the goal was to suck in (steal) electricity from the city's other suppliers, then provide it back to the people in the city free of charge, minus the various tax breaks he'd get for owning the plant.

The power plant was important to him and his future plans, certainly. Free electric power would be indispensable in his plans to undercut his competitors, especially as foreign investment drove this country to its collective knees. No matter who won that battle, the Shrecks would survive.

One assumes that over time the other suppliers would realise that there was no profit in Gotham (with Schreck's plant producing free energy) and would sell up for pennies, allowing Schreck to eat up all of the firms that were actually producing his energy, eventually giving him a total monopoly.

  • Now this makes more sense; the eventual takeover of the entire power supply game, and collect on tax incentives. Long term, but understandable; within 5 years, he would have generated multiple millions and edged out his competitors. It was never properly hinted at in the film, though
    – Russhiro
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:42
  • There's probably a deleted scene where he goes through seventeen overhead projector slides featuring detailed graphs. Mar 27, 2020 at 15:49
  • So basically this was a "dumping"plan. You hear a lot of accusations of this, usually about Walmart or foreign competitors, and usually the posited dumping plan works about this well. May 27, 2020 at 14:58
  • @ChrisB.Behrens - Walmart is a multi-billion pound corporation precisely because they've used loss-leaders to drive their competition out of business.
    – Valorum
    May 27, 2020 at 15:40
  • Yes, but not through dumping, through cost-cutting and putting the screws to vendors. Walmart and others are perennially accused of dumping, but when you actually look at the evidence and results of the many studies done on this, they maintain their lower prices even after higher-cost competitors have fled. Part of it is that people simply overestimate how hard it is to re-open a business in the area. #unexpectedecon May 27, 2020 at 17:49

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