The Batman actor Colin Farrell is coming to the defense of the late Joel Schumacher for some of the harsh criticisms the director received for 1997’s panned film Batman & Robin.
Farrell, who plays mobster subordinate Oswald Cobblepot, AKA Penguin, in The Batman, had worked with Schumacher as the star of the 2003 thriller he directed, Phone Booth, which was critically acclaimed.
When asked by Cinemablend‘s Sean O’Connell whether Schumacher shared any war stories about working his duo of Batman films in the mid and late 1990s, Farrell said he did share his thoughts with the actor but nothing the director didn’t also share publicly.
That hurt him. I know his Batman films, and how they were received really hurt him. Because the only thing Joel, honest to God, only went out to do is to entertain people,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell then referenced the fact that Schumacher apologized for Batman & Robin. There is a video clip on YouTube of the apology from the film’s special edition DVD, and he reiterated his regret 20 years later in an interview with Vice.
“[I]t’s really almost upsetting for me to see, because I care about the man so much, and he’s such a wonderful man. And he was apologizing to the fandom, because Joel knew how important this character was, and is, just in the same way [The Batman director] Matt [Reeves] does. But he just went down a route that people weren’t too happy with.
In all fairness to Schumacher, the director was chosen to replace Tim Burton in the franchise for 1995’s Batman Forever due to Warner Bros. eyeing merchandising prospects after the darker, less kid-friendly tone of Burton’s 1993 sequel Batman Returns.
After the success of Batman Forever, Schumacher actually wanted to take the franchise in a darker direction, according to a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
The studio had something else in mind, however, pressuring the director to make Batman & Robin even more catered to children’s toys than Batman Forever, according to another The Hollywood Reporter interview with Schumacher. It had long been Schumacher’s dream to adapt Frank Miller’s gritty graphic novel Batman: Year One instead, which he, unfortunately, wasn’t able to do after Batman & Robin was a financial flop at the box office.
The Batman comes to theaters March 4.