It has been two decades since Joel Schumacher’s legendarily terrible “Batman & Robin” was unleashed upon the world and was so bad it basically put the franchise on ice for a decade until Christopher Nolan masterfully rebooted it with 2005’s “Batman Begins”.
In the years since, Schumacher has notably apologised for the film which became one of the great examples of creative work ruined by economics as toy manufacturers pressured for a more kid-friendly tone to Batman and in the process soured everyone on the franchise.
This week Vice spoke to Schumacher and asked him to reflect on the movie and the director first up apologised again:
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.
Schumacher goes on to say he never wanted to do a follow-up to “Batman Forever” but “everybody at Warner Brothers just expected me to do one” and admits “maybe it was some hubris on my part”. Coming off a solid track record with “Falling Down” along with Grisham adaptations “The Client” and “A Time to Kill,” he was well regarded as a helmer. But 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… everybody worked really hard under very long hours. So I feel like their work wasn’t acknowledged like it could have been.”
He adds “no one is responsible for my mistakes but me” and goes on to say he was seriously questioning whether he would still direct after the film, even though Warners had wanted him to do another and he had talks with Nicolas Cage about playing The Scarecrow.
He also explained at length about the infamous Bat-nipples:
“It was made by Jose Fernandez, who was our brilliant lead sculpture. If you look at Batman and Batman Returns, it was the genius, Bob Ringwood that created those suits, so by the time we got to Batman Forever, the rubber and techniques had gotten so sophisticated.
If you look at when Michael Keaton appears in the first suit, you’ll notice how large it is. It was brilliant but the best they could do at the time. By the time Batman Forever came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced.
So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek status and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, that’s cool… I really never thought that [the backlash] would happen. I really didn’t. Maybe I was just naive, but I’m still glad we did it.”
The full interview, which also goes into how comic book film tastes have changed, is up at Vice.com