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Max Shreck is a corrupt businessman and an enemy of Batman.

Fictional Character Biography

He is one of the businessmen blackmailed by Rupert Thorne into cooperating due to bribing the inspectors to say that the power plant was secure. Shreck formed an alliance with Ra's Al Ghul to take over and Wayne Enterprises.

In order to achieve his goal, Shreck had some of his most trusted men follow Wayne Enterprises' CEO, Lucius Fox. Shreck soon offered Fox a position in his own company with the only condition that he would reveal secrets of Wayne Ent. and betray Bruce Wayne. After Fox's refusal, Shreck took a more direct approach and kidnapped the daughter of Bruce Wayne's personal secretary, forcing the woman to feed him information about Wayne's financial activities. With this information, Shreck managed to seize most of Wayne's assets, but when Bruce uncovered his scheme, Shreck was confronted by Batman. However, during their confrontation, Talia killed Shreck from behind, claiming that Shreck had stolen from her father.

Later, Batman learned that Talia was actually sent to deal with Shreck , who had served his purpose after stealing Wayne's assets and was no longer needed by Ra's, the mastermind behind it all.

Batman Returns

Max Shreck was introduced in the film as the ruthless and ambitious owner of the multi-million department store Shreck's. His only family was his son, Charles "Chip" Shreck, and it was implied by dialogue that he murdered his wife for unknown reasons.

In the film, Shreck's goal was to build a supposed "Power Plant" for Gotham City's future. Standing in Shreck's way, however, was Mayor Roscoe Jenkins, who believed such a Power Plant was unnecessary. Bruce Wayne was also unconvinced of the need for a new plant, and opposed Shreck's plans.

Later on, that same night, while Shreck gave the city a speech (he was viewed as "Gotham's Santa Claus"), a group of clown-like criminals known as the Red Triangle Circus Gang attacked Gotham Plaza and demanded Shreck.

Chip valiantly defended his father long enough for Shreck to escape, although Shreck was caught in a trap and he fell into the sewer, where he saw the same gang and met their enigmatic leader: a mysterious Penguin-like creature, whose rumors were spreading. The Penguin demanded Shreck help him make his way to the surface in a positive light, and when Shreck at first refused, the Penguin blackmailed him with incriminating evidence of Shreck's past crimes (the Penguin had studied Shreck for a while in preparation for that). On the condition that the Penguin help him out as well, Shreck agreed.

The Attempted Murder of Selina Kyle

Shreck then returned to his office, where he found his timid and shy secretary, Selina Kyle, doing a last-minute check-up for his meeting the next day with Bruce Wayne about the Power Plant. Kyle accidentally revealed that she found out the true nature about the Power Plant, that it would siphon off power from the Gotham electrical grid and give the Shreck Family a hugely profitable energy monopoly. Shreck, out of fear that Kyle might let it slip, and his refusal to risk what he considered his legacy to Chip, pushed her through a window to her death. Unknown to him, however, Selina survived the fall, and took up the mantle of Catwoman.

The next day, during a speech, Mayor Jenkins' baby son was kidnapped by a Red Triangle Gang member, who fled into the sewer, where he was "attacked" by the Penguin, who then "rescued" Jenkins' son, brought him to the surface, and became a public hero. Shreck witnessed that, and demanded that the Penguin be granted access into the Hall of Records to search for his parents' names, and in the process, learned of his human name: Oswald Cobblepot.

The same day, Shreck met with Bruce Wayne at his office, who also opposed the idea of the Power Plant and pointed out that Cobblepot was the leader of the Red Triangle Gang. Shreck denied that, however, and they were then visited by a heavily plastered but "amnesia-suffering" Selina, who displayed a more confident attitude and even impressed Shreck, who vowed to kill her only if she tried to blackmail him. However, Shreck said to Chip that Selina's "change" didn't surprise him.

The Penguin's Mayoral Bid

Shreck then revealed his plan: recall the elections by using the Red Triangle Gang's attacks and set up Cobblepot as a candidate for Mayor, who would approve of the Power Plant. Meanwhile, Selina, as Catwoman, started her own revenge crusade against Shreck and blew up an entire floor of his department store.

Later, however, Shreck's plans to make Cobblepot the new Mayor was ruined when Bruce Wayne, from the Batcave, jammed the microphones during Cobblepot's speech and played some insults that Cobblepot had made towards the city while he controlled the Batmobile with Batman inside it. Cobblepot's true personality and his schemes were uncovered, he lost his popularity and was forced to return to the sewer, especially after Shreck abandoned him.

Death

When Batman intervened and tricked the Penguin into firing missiles at the Old Zoo (under which the Penguin's lair was), Shreck managed to escape from his cage, only to be ambushed by Catwoman, who was determined to kill him then and there. Batman arrived, and Shreck attempted to bribe him, only for Batman to push him back and tell him of his impending incarceration. When Batman, however, removed his mask and revealed himself as Bruce Wayne, Shreck used The Fat Clown's Gun and shot him. Narrowly, Batman played dead to protect himself. Shreck then fired four shots into Catwoman, who, thanks to her nine lives, was able to survive until Shreck ran out of bullets.

Catwoman used a taser, sacrificed her penultimate life to electrocute Shreck, gave him a "kiss" by forcing both the taser and seemingly her lips to his mouth, pulled one of the generator cables at the same time, which engulfed both herself and Shreck in a massive explosion which was revealed to have killed Shreck, which fried him horribly and reduced him to nothing but a scorched, and skeletal corpse.

Batman: The Animated Series

Max Shreck appears in Batman: The Animated Series voiced by Christopher Walken, who was asked to reprise his role for the animated series due to his perfect portrayal in the film. Shreck is the owner of Shreck's and has never formed had an encounter with Penguin in the cartoon. Instead, he is responsible for turning Matt Hagen into Clay Face and for infecting Cat Woman with a deadly virus.

Feat of Clay Part 1

Shreck had his chemical plant develop "Renuyu", a face cream which enabled the user to modify their face to their desire, and which Shreck was secretly going to sell through direct marketing since the shareholders, especially Bruce Wayne, rejected the product to be sold at Shreck's Department Store due to its addictive qualities. The only man addicted to the compound was Matt Hagen, an actor who was disfigured in a car accident and who committed crimes (in disguise) for Shreck in return for supplies of the formula. After Hagen botched an attempt to steal incriminating evidence from and kill Lucius Fox, Shreck schemed to have Hagen killed, cut off his Renuyu supply, and knew that Hagen would come to steal some. The plan worked, but Hagen, however, did not die when Shreck 's henchmen Raymond Bell and Germs force- feed untested fluids down his mouth and left him for dead. Instead, it morphed Hagen into a vengeful, and shape-shifting named Clayface.

Feat of Clay Part II 

Shreck made preparations to take over Wayne Enterprises, by sending his henchman Germs to kill Fox in the hospital (although Batman foiled him). At the same time, Shreck went on television on the talk show Gotham Insider where he hoped to advertise the Renuyu as a mere face cream, but Clayface ambushed him during the show and attempted to kill him after he mentioned the addictive effects of Renuyu when he was disguised as a woman. Batman intervened and managed to stop Clayface (who secretly escaped by faking his death) and subdued Shreck . Shreck was mentioned to have been taken into custody after that.

Appointment in Crime Alley

In that episode, Shreck 's main objective was to destroy Crime Alley with explosives with the help of arsonists Crocker and Nitro and make it look as if it were caused by the rupturing of an underground gas line, with the alibi of giving a speech about developing a mall somewhere else. Crime Alley, however, happened to be the very place where Batman's parents were gunned down when he was a child. Batman, after he received information from a man who witnessed Crocker and Nitro tie up Dr. Leslie Thompkins (who saw them planting explosives) in a building rigged to explode, managed to disconnect some of the bombs, which reduced the number of destroyed buildings. Batman berated Shreck in public view about his hands in the explosion, and told him that he would be sent to prison once Crocker and Nitro confessed. Shreck , however, played his wits right, denied any involvement, and gave the image as a pillar of the community. Crocker and Nitro were taken to prison while Shreck went free. Although Batman was enraged that Shreck got away scot-free, Dr. Thompkins consoled Batman to let it go, and that "Shreck won't escape the law forever", a prediction that came true in the next episode where he was the villain.

Cat Scratch Fever Edit

Shreck 's next and possibly biggest scheme was to release a virus in Gotham that would make innocent cats and dogs into bloodthirsty predators, with the help of Professor Milo. With him the only man with the antidote, it would make Shreck not only a fortune, but also a public hero. Shreck hired two people named Paunch and Jessy to pose as stray catchers and capture as many stray animals as they could. One of them turned out to be Isis (the cat of Selina Kyle/Catwoman) who took matters into her own hands and investigated despite Batman's warnings that Selina could be arrested for probation violation and that Shreck was a dangerous man. However, Batman eventually came to Catwoman's aid, mostly because of his obvious personal concern for her. Batman and Catwoman managed to put an end to Shreck 's scheme, but that time they successfully acquired implicating evidence which went public. The newspaper had a headline that stated that Shreck had been arrested for medical fraud (though he quoted underneath his picture "I'm Innocent). Shreck was forced to declare bankruptcy, presumably because he ruined the reputation of his company due to the virus conspiracy.

The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne

Shreck was only mentioned in that episode, although it was established that he had connections to Dr. Hugo Strange.

Batgirl Returns

In a desperate attempt to restore his image and company, Max Shreck stole a Jade Cat from a museum and hoped to sell it on the black market. Naturally, the police targeted Catwoman. Catwoman worked with Batgirl and trackedShreck to an old lab (actually the same lab where Matt Hagen was turned into Clayface). Shreck 's men captured Batgirl and Catwoman who managed to escape with Robin's help. Catwoman resolved to kill Shreck there and then by dropping him into a vat of acid, but Batgirl and Robin convinced her otherwise, and she spared him. Shreck was then finally sent to prison. Although it was stated that his army of lawyers constantly tried to find a loophole that would set him free, Shreck was not seen or mentioned again in DCAU until The New Batman Adventures comic, Batman Gotham Adventures.

The Dark Knight Rises

Max Shreck doesn't appear in the movie. Instead, his son Charles Shreck does as the head of a construction company. Like in the comic books, his son forms an alliance with Talia Al Ghul and tries to takeover Wayne Enterprises only to be killed by Bane.

Writing

In Daniel Waters' earliest drafts of Max Shreck was originally written to be Harvey Dent. The explosion at the end of the film was only supposed to scar Dent, which would then lead to him becoming Two-Face and set up the in the franchise. In another one of Waters' drafts, Shreck was discovered to be the Penguin's older brother, the "Golden Boy" of the Cobblepot Family, whereas the Penguin was the deformed outsider. Shreck was supposedly ashamed of his father, after he threw his baby brother into the sewer, and he emancipated himself from the Cobblepot Family as soon as he came of age. Shreck's name was a reference to the German actor, Max Schreck.

Interesting Facts

  • The grinning cat head that sat atop Shreck's headquarters was featured in the video game, Batman: Arkham City. Shreck was not mentioned in the game, but the store was used as the base for the Mad Hatter who hid in an alleyway a short way from the head.
  • Despite being a scheming and selfish man, Shreck showed a few signs of nobleness in the film, such as near the climax after the Penguin tried to take and kill Chip, Shreck convinced Penguin to take him instead; also when he was locked in a cage in the Penguin's lair and learned of Penguin's plot to kidnap and kill all of the first-born sons of Gotham, Shreck showed signs of disgust and discomfort.
  • Shreck may also be a reference to Max Zorin, Bond villain played by Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill. Like Shreck, Zorin sought to make colossal wealth through a monopoly, in that case the destruction of Silicon Valley, which gave his electronics firm a monopoly on the world market for a long time. Like Shreck, Zorin resorted to defenestration after someone refused to go along with his plans, whereby an investor was thrown out of a blimp after he refused to endorse Zorin's plans to destroy Silicon Valley (unlike Selina, who considered it unethical, the investor said the investment amount was too expensive).
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