The 20th anniversary of the good taste vacuum of Batman & Robin is upon us. Jason Bailey’s Bad Movie Night column this week focused on the 1997 film, wherein a Blue Man Group-esque former California governor force-feeds the audience puns about ice, George Clooney plays an emotionally flat yet very three-dimensionally booty-ed Batman, and Uma Thurman is tasked with selling sex appeal as a walking houseplant. Bailey wrote:
[Director Joel] Schumacher’s free reign is clear from the jump, as the film opens with tight close-ups of the title characters suiting up – with a heavy emphasis on their rubber suits’ butts, codpieces, and newly-added nipples. Shot after shot, scene after scene, you can all but hear the crew and actors baffled by what the director was doing, only to shrug, “Well, his last one made all that money…”
Now, also in honor of the anniversary, Schumacher himself has apologized for ever making the film. He says in an interview with VICE, “Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.” He explains how he thinks the success of Batman Forever made him go wrong:
I never planned on being, that dreadful quote, “a blockbuster king” because my other films were much smaller and had just found success with the audience and not often with the critics, which is really why we wrote them. And then after Batman & Robin, I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby… I take full responsibility. I walked into it with my eyes open and what I really feel bad about is the crew. We all know how great movie crews are. The special effects, stunt people, and everybody that breaks their asses along with the cast. Everybody worked really hard under very long hours. So I feel like their work wasn’t acknowledged like it could have been.
Perhaps this apology is coming now as an attempt to save his legacy: Schumacher says he foresees being remembered for “the nipples on Batman starting with Batman Forever.” He continues, “Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue. It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it.”
For what it’s worth, let me just say that, as someone who couldn’t care less about the sanctity of Batman representations, Batman & Robin, by far the worst Batman film, is also by far my favorite. Schumacher shouldn’t have to apologize for those nipples: those nipples gave my gay self an excuse to pretend I cared about superheroes. And Poison Ivy was basically Tori Amos, so there was the delight of that, too. Rather than shaming Joel Schumacher, perhaps we should be mourning the lack of camp and nip-centricity in contemporary superhero films.
And, of course, the lack of whatever the hell you want to call this: