Nowadays, Akiva Goldsman is known as a co-creator of the gritty, edgy new take on DC Comics' Teen Titans, the live-action Titans web series. It will be surprising for fans to learn, therefore, that Goldsman was also one of the writers on Joel Schumacher's campy Batman Forever, and the solo screenwriter for the even more super-campy Batman & Robin. In a recent interview, Goldsman revealed that the grittiness of Titans is in many ways a reaction to the camp of his earlier work in the superhero genre.
"You know, it's complicated because I think, in a funny way, this show that Geoff Johns and I created, Titans is kind of my apology tour for Batman & Robin because it was heady and extraordinary. I'm a deep, deep, deep, deep old comic book fan and so, the opportunity to get to them and to play in them was amazing. And, as you said, it was a different time; things that did last, you really wish had [lasted]."
The nineties was a different era for superhero movies. The genre was still mainly seen as an opportunity for a cash grab by movie studios instead of as an avenue to explore provocative themes, as with the recent Joker and Watchmen. This led to an interesting psychological angle that Akiva Goldsman had worked into the script of Batman Forver being left on the cutting floor.
"For me, Batman Forever was all about Bruce finding his father's journal and in it it said, 'Martha and I want to stay home tonight, but Bruce insists on going to see a movie,' and you discover it was all [Bruce], he's been holding on to the guilt all the way through about being responsible for his parents' deaths. None of that makes the cut because we shot it and we tested it, and the audience was not interested in the psychological component of the drama at that point. That was not what they were coming to comic book movies for."
Moving on to Batman and Robin, the movie widely considered the low point for big-budget comic book movies, Goldsman is less certain about what exact factors led to the film turning out the way it did.
"As for Batman & Robin, that one just confused me. I mean, we didn't mean for it to be bad. I swear, nobody was like, 'This will be bad.' We were really thinking... I mean, here's the irony: There was a reel that was put together halfway through [filming] where it actually looked dark in an interesting way. It just is what it is and I'm sorry. I think we're all sorry."
Fortunately, comic book movies are currently in their golden age where they are expected to dig deeper into their characters instead of being overly simplified action b-movies. And Goldsman finally got to show the tortured, true-to-comics relationship between Batman and Robin the way he wanted with the second season of Titans. Collider came with this news first.