In the 1992 film "Batman Returns", Catwoman places a few spray cans in a microwave, hops out of range and the whole building blows up.

enter image description here

"Meow" is right.

The film is set in a realistic universe, but full of fantasy-inspired scenes and magic realism. Therefore, this could very well be based on science, make sense in-universe, or totally made up (I'm not sure what actually would explode).

I've looked up but couldn't find any source of anyone trying to debunk this online... (Mythbusters where are you when I need you!)

Is this scene based on actual science, and if not, what is the in-universe explanation for such a large explosion?

  • What was in the spray cans?
    – JAB
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 23:03
  • 1
    None of the movie explosions are realistic. Even just from the screenshot, there's way too much fire. Fire is filling the entire building before being pushed out by the blast!
    – Nelson
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 2:08

3 Answers 3


The delay in the spray cans exploding is believable, given this YouTube video of an exploding axe spray can.

The question then becomes what mixtures of gasses in the spray cans could explode so violently.

This YouTube video of a single exploding aerosol spray can becomes a rather impressive small fireball.

Aerosol, especially oil aerosols, would act as a fuel. That said, a batch of aerosol cans would likely use up all of the oxygen before becoming a huge explosion. That said, there are oxygen spray cans... That seems like a feasible combination to get a larger explosion.

That said, I’ve no evidence on how many cans would be needed to get to this size of explosion.


It is possible that while out of frame she kicked open a gas valve. Fill the room with natural gas, put metal with a flammable gas in it into a microwave, turn on the microwave and it's very believable that the events happened. It's not outside of the realm of possibility.

It's widely known that even tin foil inside of a microwave creates sparks. Metal cans with flammable contents would surely explode inside of a microwave, and that explosion could cause a chain reaction with a room full of natural gas, which would be powerful enough to blow up a building as the combustion followed the pipes throughout the building.

  • +1 because this exact scenario has happened plenty of times in other "realistic setting" movies (Ironman 3 comes to mind).
    – JMekker
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 15:10

Real explosions in movies are extremely rare, because real explosions do not generate that much visual effects.

Just from the short clip, you can see the entire building engulfed in flames, then everything is pushed out, without a resulting vacuum pulling things back in.

This isn't even a real explosion at all. It's a giant gas fireball.

Things exploding makes noise, and damage is done primarily through kinetic force. Fire is a secondary effect and is usually not effective because the kinetic force displaces air and creates a vacuum afterwards, putting basic fire out.

If you use fuel that can burn in a vacuum, then just go make napalm and forget the explosion.

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