Long before Christopher Nolan left his mark on the Batman franchise with the hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy, there was the original film series, first directed by Tim Burton and later murdered by Joel Schumacher.
Luckily I saw it again a few months later, and realized what a moron I was. And it’s easy to forget now, but “Batman Forever” was a huge success at the time, earning over $336 million at the box office. The movie was even nominated for three Academy Awards.
Not to mention, “Batman Forever” probably kept at least three neon light factories in business. Okay, so I made that last one up. So how did this series go from goth to campy?
Well, Warner Bros. decided “Batman Returns” was too dark for the lil kiddies at home, and they felt this had hurt the sequel’s box office numbers. So the studio switched gears with “Batman Forever.” The third movie was a lot sillier and not just because Jim Carrey turned his version of The Riddler into another Joker.
There was also, Tommy Lee Jones chewing out scenes terribly as Two-Face, not this Oscar winner’s finest hour. And I get the feeling Nicole Kidman leaves “Batman Forever” out of her resume.
Then there was Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I’m sure he tried his best, but his performance was as rigid as could be. The introduction of Robin was a mistake for a couple of reasons. One, because Chris O’Donnell is a not even remotely convincing as a bad-boy-good-guy. And two, because why the hell would Bruce Wayne become the guardian of a twenty something?
The best part about “Batman Forever” was probably its soundtrack, which had songs from PJ Harvey, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave and an underrated single from U2. Of course the song that everyone remembers is “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal. Lord, that song was everywhere that summer. What, if anything, the song had to do with Batman, remains a mystery.
As I said earlier, in 1995 I liked “Batman Forever” for a bit. But ever since, I struggle to get through it. Most of the blame has to go to Joel Schumacher and the script. However, I still believe Joel Schumacher was not allowed to make the movie he wanted to.
Think about it, the guy has made some decent movies in the past: “The Lost Boys,” “Falling Down, “The Client,” and “A Time to Kill” to name a few. But he’ll always be remembered as the guy who killed Batman.
Anyways, happy 20th birthday “Batman Forever”!