We live in a post-Snyder-cut world. And that means every other film that was ever a victim of studio-mandated cuts has fans clamoring for the release of the extended cut. A new report seemingly confirms that a longer cut of Joel Schumacher's 1995 superhero movie Batman Forever did exist at one time, and goes onto provide further details regarding its thickened plot. The big question remains, will fans get to see this much darker edition of the fabled movie?
Joel Schumacher died this past June, which has sparked new interest in Batman Forever, and this 170-Minute cut of the movie. The theatrical release clocks in at just under two hours. While it's being confirmed that Schumacher did put together an extended cut, Warner Bros. representatives say there's no plan to release it at this time. And, in fact, they are not sure this mythical Schumacher cut has survived 25 years later. So is it in the Warner Bros. vault? Someone needs to go searching. Some of the deleted scenes in question have made their way onto various home releases over the years, and some are available on Youtube.
Joel Schumacher did assemble a longer cut of "Batman Forever" that was indeed much darker in nature. This version opens with a sequence involving the villain Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) escaping from Arkham Asylum, and features extended scenes with the Riddler (Jim Carrey) when he invades the Batcave and uses his signature cane as a weapon. The bulk of this version's runtime focuses on the emotional and psychological issues that led Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) to decide to become Batman, including a sequence of Wayne facing down a giant, human-sized bat."
Batman Forever was the first attempt by Warner Bros. at making a Batman movie without Tim Burton, following Burton's exit as a director from the franchise after two films. Burton did stay on as a producer, and Schumacher was brought on as director, with Val Kilmer replacing Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones playing the Riddler and Two-Face respectively.
The film was a box-office success but was also criticized for being too campy and taking away from the serious, gothic tone that had set Burton's Batman films apart. Now, judging from the details revealed, it appears Schumacher's original intent had indeed been to make a more serious film with psychological underpinnings before the studio interfered. Previously, writer Marc Bernardin had revealed in an interview with Kevin Smith why Schumacher's longer, more adult take on Batman Forever had been edited so drastically.
"I have it on pretty good authority that there exists in the Warner Bros. vault a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever. I think that it went much deeper into his childhood psychosis and his mental blocks and that it was a more serious, darker version of that movie that was one of the first assemblies that Joel filed with the studio and they eventually cut it down because they were like 'it's too dark for kids. We gotta sell these Happy Meals, so maybe let's not invest ourselves in the trauma of childhood murder. We've got Jim Carrey, let him do some s--t."
Interestingly, from Bernardin's account, it seems Schumacher faced the same issue all the way back in 1995 with Batman Forever as Zack Snyder did in 2017 with Justice League. In Snyder's case also, the rumors were that Warner Bros. was deeply unhappy with his take on Justice League, deeming it too dark and messy for general audiences. Thus, Snyder was replaced by Whedon, who was tasked with turning the movie into something more light-hearted. The resulting film was roundly criticized by reviewers and led to the creation of the #ReleasetheSnyderCut movement.
It now remains to be seen, like Snyder is finally getting to release his version of Justice League next year on HBO Max, whether the streaming service will also allow the 'Schumacher cut' of Batman Forever to finally see the light of day. While representatives are claiming that this mythical cut may no longer exist, we heard the same thing about the Snyder Cut for years. And that is actually getting a release. So don't count Batman Forever Schumacher Cut out just yet. This news was first reported at Variety.