A character with as much history as Batman is bound to end up in some pretty terrible adaptations, be it in film, television, gaming, etc. Thankfully, most of the Caped Crusader’s efforts outside of the comics have been enjoyable and well executed affairs, but when it comes to the stinkers, there’s perhaps none more disastrous than Joel Schumacher’s critically derided Batman & Robin.
Following on from Tim Burton’s two outings with the iconic hero, Schumacher’s version took a vastly different approach to the Dark Knight, and bombed because of it. We’re not going to start getting into everything that’s wrong with the film, as we’d be here all day, but it’s remembered for being one of the Bat’s lowest points and nearly killed the entire franchise as far as big screen adaptations go. In fact, it basically did, until Christopher Nolan came along to save it.
With Batman & Robin‘s 20th anniversary now upon us, Schumacher has started doing some reflection on the project and in an interview with Vice, finally offered up an apology to fans for creating such a piece of trash:
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
Not only did the director say he’s sorry, but further in the chat, he reflected on how much audiences have changed over the years:
“What’s interesting to me is if you see Tim [Burton’s] and my version, you can see how innocent viewers were back then. It’s really interesting to me, because if you see Tim’s and my [films], you’d understand how innocent the audience was back then when it demanded to have more of a family-friendly Batman. Then when you see Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, the last one especially where he’s dealing with real class and economic problems, you see how the audience has changed in the fact that they can accept and want darker and darker subject matter.”
Finally, Schumacher takes responsibility for the shortcomings of the film, explaining that no one ever forced him to make any of the decisions he did.
No one is responsible for my mistakes but me. I think one curve ball we got was at the eleventh hour; Val Kilmer quit due to a role he got in TheIsland of Dr. Moreau. There had been talks about it but none of us were involved, not with Warner Bros. and certainly not with me. I talked to Val and all he kept saying is, “but man, it’s Marlon Brando.” It’s not like he was on a hook and chain here, so Val went. So it was Bob Daly’s (Chief Executive at Warner Bros at the time) idea to acquire George Clooney. He was an obvious choice because he was a rising star on ER. I had a talk with him and he was like, “Alright if you do it I’ll do it.”
Then we had a desire to bring in Bat Girl, to maybe get younger girls into the franchise. I mean I had a long history of fighting for unknowns, for fighting for a little extra budget when we needed it, so nobody never, ever forced me to make a decision I didn’t approve of.
If you’re looking for more, we highly advise following the link below, as the director dives into Batman & Robin‘s production a little deeper, offering up some very interesting insight and anecdotes. Unfortunately, none of it changes the fact that he destroyed the iconic hero’s legacy for quite a while, but we still suggest giving it a read. And once you’ve done so, be sure to stay tuned for our own retrospective on the film, which will be published later this week.