With the recent passing of director Joel Schumacher, fans have been taking another look at one of his arguably lesser works, 1995's Batman Forever. Following the recent news that there exists a much longer, more complex director's cut of the movie locked away somewhere in the Warner Bros. Vault, fans have now begun a social media calling for the studio to "#ReleaseTheSchumacherCut" onto the streaming platform, HBO Max. In this post Snyder-Cut world, movie fans have seen the branches of such ideas bear fruit, whilst studios are no doubt cursing the day they ever caved into such demands.
The surprising news regarding the existence of a so-called "Schumacher Cut" of Batman Forever was revealed by writer and podcaster Marc Bernardin who said, "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 Schumacher 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."
Batman Forever follows Val Kilmer in his first and only appearance as Batman/Bruce Wayne, as he ponders strange dreams about his parents' death and escapes his own near-demise at the hands of Two-Face, a former district attorney driven insane and turned into a master criminal when a gangster throws acid in his face. Meanwhile, Wayne Enterprises employee Edward Nygma reacts badly to getting fired, using his self-invented mind-energy device to transform into the super-intelligent Riddler. The Riddler teams up with Two-Face to bring down Batman and drain the minds of Gotham City residents with his device. Batman Forever stars Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent / Two-Face, Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma / The Riddler, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin, Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, and Pat Hingle as James Gordon.
Following director Tim Burton's darker takes on the Caped Crusader in the dimly lit gothic outings Batman and Batman Returns, the theatrical cut of Batman Forever took things back to the campy silliness of the 1960s television series. According to Bernardin, as well as a few bits and pieces of information released since, Schumacher did in fact craft something that was much darker in nature than what audiences got to see in theaters.
Some of the deleted scenes from Schumacher's 170 Minute extended cut are available on YouTube, including a scene that pits Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne against a giant bat, while descriptions of other deleted scenes reveal extended scenes with the movie's villains. The theatrical cut of Batman Forever hints at some deeper psychological elements, but these are never fully explored. So, the potential release of a Schumacher Cut that does flesh out these ideas is surely something that fans would want to see, as well as being a fitting tribute to the director.
With the Snyder Cut version of Justice League set to become a reality in 2021 on HBO Max, could The Schumacher Cut be next in line for the streaming service? The campaign is currently gaining traction on Twitter.