Of all the superhero movies crowding our multiplexes over the past few decades, none boast a reputation as notorious as 1997’s Batman & Robin, a cartoonish camp abomination whose groan-worthy puns far outnumber its thrills. Directed by Joel Schumacher and starring George Clooney as the Dark Knight (with a suit that featured “bat nipples”) and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze (“Let’s kick some ice!”), it was a disaster of truly epic proportions. And though he (like Clooney) has said it before, and no doubt will say it again, Schumacher wants the world to know that he’s very, very sorry about the entire fiasco.
Speaking to Vice on the film’s 20th anniversary, Schumacher delivers a prolonged mea culpa for his work, which was the third “sequel” to Tim Burton’s 1989 smash hit, and effectively ended the franchise until Christopher Nolan came around and rebooted the entire series in grim-dark fashion with 2005’s Batman Begins.
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that… 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….
“Look, I’m a very big boy. 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.”
Part of the problem, Schumacher confesses, is that he wasn’t a die-hard superhero aficionado, which likely left him a bit out of touch with what a property like Batman required (and what fans demanded of it):
“I was a bit in the dark, I wasn’t aware, but I acknowledge that Tim had breathed such incredible new life into Batman and Jack Nicholson was just fabulous. I was so busy with promotions and travel since I did a movie almost every year. You try to get to these other movies, you try to see everything, but I don’t think I was in touch with the superhero world at the time.”
More interesting still, he reveals that, despite the drubbing that Batman & Robin took, he was initially set to make yet another Caped Crusader adventure — with none other than Nicolas Cage.
“To be honest, I haven’t thought about it much. My job is always about moving on. In fact, I was set to do another Batman. I even met with Nicolas Cage on the set of Face Off because I was going to have him play The Scarecrow. Frankly, I was running out of villains.”
And as for those aforementioned nipples?
“Ha! 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.”
To read more of Schumacher’s (exhaustive) comments on Batman & Robin, click over to Vice’s piece.
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