Batman has had an interesting history on screen. The character goes from huge highs, like The Dark Knight, to pretty big lows, like Batman & Robin, a movie that many consider to be one of the worst superhero movies of all time. Now, the man responsible for that dreadful disaster of a Batman movie, director Joel Schumacher, has officially apologized for making it.
In honor (is honor the right word?) of Batman & Robin turning twenty this year, Vice spoke with Joel Schumacher about his time with the Batman franchise. One of the first things he did while talking to the publication was straight-up say sorry for Batman & Robin.
"Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that."
Joel Schumacher now joins George Clooney, who played Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman & Robin, who also apologized publicly for the movie. It is an interesting thing when a filmmaker feels the need to apologize to fans for their art, but Batman & Robin feels ripe for just this kind of apology. Schumacher also talked a bit about his journey as a filmmaker to making Batman & Robin and, as he tells it, the movie seriously hurt his career, on par with someone who had "murdered a baby."
"You know, I just knew not to do a sequel. If you get lucky, walk away. But everybody at Warner Brothers just expected me to do one. Maybe it was some hubris on my part. I had a batting average of 1,000, so I went from falling down a bit after Lost Boys, to a kind of a genius with The Client, a big blockbuster with Batman Forever, then had great reviews with A Time to Kill, so my batting average was good. 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."
Those are some pretty harsh words, but fans can be brutal. In the case of Batman & Robin, fans are still brutal to it twenty years later. Between the "bat nipples" and all of Mr. Freeze's one liners, courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is hard not to understand why. But as Joel Schumacher explains, the Batman franchise has gone through some serious changes over the years and, back when he was making the movies, the audience was into something a bit lighter.
"I guess I'll say, I hope no fans moved on from Batman upon first seeing my movie. When I was first approached to do Batman Forever, I said that it was Tim Burton's franchise. At the time Danny Devito's character with The Penguin was causing a ruckus among parents. Also, Michelle Pfeiffer with her fabulous bondage outfit didn't help matters. People across America were objecting to everything. Tim, who is a great friend of mine, begged me to take the franchise. Because of the pressure and he was ready to walk away. What's interesting to me is if you see Tim and my version, you can see how innocent viewers were back then. It's really interesting to me is, because if you see Tim's and my [films], you'd understand how innocent the audience was back then when it demanded to have more of a family-friendly Batman. Then when you see Christopher Nolan's trilogy, the last one especially where he's dealing with real class and economic problems, you see how the audience has changed in the fact that they can accept and want darker and darker subject matter."
Not that we need to drive the point into the ground, but Batman & Robin is a very bad movie no matter how you slice it. The movie did poorly at the box office, bringing in just $238 million against a $125 million production budget. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a truly poor 11 percent approval rating from critics, with a 16 percent audience score. So it's a nice gesture to fans for Joel Schumacher to make this apology. Just a matter of fans deciding to accept it or not.