These days, comic book movies are dominating the film world. Projects like Wonder Woman and Logan have proved that superhero stories can not only bring in massive amounts of cash, they can also tell unique, important stories, and even garner awards season buzz.
Twenty years ago, this was unfathomable, due in no small part to Joel Schumacher’s infamous Batman & Robin. Released in June 1997, the film was a garish, campy affair that leaned into every one of Schumacher’s worst instincts. It not only put the Batman film franchise into hibernation for the better part of the decade – it reinforced the idea that comic book movies were inherently cynical, empty vessels meant to sell kids toys. And while the movie has enjoyed a movement of contrarian appreciation in recent years, it will likely forever stand as one of the more embarrassing chapters in Batman’s storied history.
One thing the movie’s failure cannot be blamed on is its cast. An argument could be made Batman & Robin featured the most talented collection of actors that has ever been assembled for a Batman film, including future Oscar winners and some of the most iconic movie stars of all time. We’re taking a look at how time has treated the cast of the caped crusader’s most notorious misstep.
Read on to see What The Cast of Batman & Robin Looks Like Now.
15. Alicia Silverstone
In 1997, Alicia Silverstone was one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood. She came to prominence in the 1993 thriller The Crush, and became a household name after appearing in the Aerosmith music video for their song “Cryin’” and starring in the massively successful teen comedy Clueless. Her career was soaring at an exponential rate.
And then came Batman & Robin. Silverstone starred as Barbara Wilson, Alfred’s niece who would become Batgirl.
While the movie as a whole was savaged by critics, Silverstone was singled out for giving a particularly awful performance. Perhaps unfairly, Silverstone’s career was hamstrung much more severely than her co-stars, and she never fully recovered. She’s been a consistent presence in lower profile films and television, but it’s tough not to wonder how her career might have faired without her disastrous turn as Batgirl.
14. Arnold Schwarzenegger
One of the biggest movie stars in the world, the Terminator and Conan the Barbarian star was enduring something of a losing streak in the mid-90s. Films like Junior and Eraser were misfires, and while it would go on to be a cult classic, Jingle All The Way was only a modest success. Surely Schwarzenegger thought a turn as the villain of a Batman movie would right the ship.
He was wrong. Schwarzenegger’s goofy, hammy performance as Mr. Freeze was the beginning of the end of his rein as a box office heavyweight. After a few more years of disappointing big screen efforts, Schwarzenegger turned his eyes toward a new career: in 2003, Schwarzenegger was stunningly elected Governor of California.
13. Chris O’Donnell
Chris O’Donnell was a rising young star in the early ’90s, starring in such acclaimed films as Fried Green Tomatoes and Scent of a Woman. He joined the Batman franchise in 1995 with Batman Forever, where he portrayed Dick Grayson, the young man who would become Robin.
Through no fault of his own, this was a doomed prospect from the start: O’Donnell was 25 when he was cast as Dick Grayson; decidedly too old to portray Robin in his earliest days, making for a very silly storyline in Forever.
It only got worse for O’Donnell in Batman & Robin, where he was the victim of some of the film’s most boneheaded decisions. Other than Silverstone, O’Donnell’s career took the biggest hit from the film’s failure.
12. Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman became a Hollywood sensation after starring in Quentin Tarantino’s earth shattering Pulp Fiction. Thurman initially balked at embracing her sudden A-list status, making relatively small, thoughtful films like the sci-fi drama Gattaca and the romantic comedy Beautiful Girls. She finally decided to embrace the mainstream in 1997, portraying Batman & Robin’s sexy, dangerous iteration of Poison Ivy.
Thurman’s performance is often noted as one of Batman & Robin’s few bright spots. She’s perhaps the only actor who was able to walk the tightrope of campy fun and superhero earnestness Schumacher was aiming for.
Thurman would largely return to smaller scale roles until 2003, when she reteamed with Tarantino for the Kill Bill films. The violent, stylish martial arts films made Thurman a legitimate action star, and she’s continued following the beat of her own drum ever since.
11. George Clooney
George Clooney should have been an amazing Batman. He came to prominence playing Dr. Doug Ross on ER, the biggest show on television in the mid-90s. Clooney imbued that character with an intensity and heroic heart that made him an American icon. When Hollywood came calling, Clooney portraying the dark, brooding caped crusader made perfect sense.
And then he ended up playing a version of Batman that had more in common with Adam West than Michael Keaton. Clooney was woefully miscast for that version of the character, and to his great credit, Clooney often apologizes for his unfortunate performance in the role.
Despite the lumps he took at the time, Clooney’s career would blossom unabated. Films like Out of Sight, Ocean’s Eleven, and Syriana, as well as his tireless humanitarian work, would cement him as Hollywood royalty. He’s still one of the biggest stars in the world – twenty years after he donned the rubber Bat-nipples.
10. Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson was one of the most famous supermodels in the world in the ’80s and ’90s. The Australian model graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition a record five times, and she was a household name at the height of her fame in the ’90s.
Like plenty of other supermodels, Macpherson tried her hand at acting in the mid-90s. She had forgettable turns in underwhelming movies like Sirens and The Edge, before taking on her most high profile role in Batman & Robin as Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend, Julie Madison. With a deeply forgettable performance, Macpherson was lost in the movie’s hammy shuffle – her relationship with Bruce Wayne largely sidelined in favor of more campy hijinks.
9. Michael Gough
With apologies to Pat Hingle, Michael Gough’s Alfred was the only real connective tissue between the four Batman movies directed by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher between 1989 and 1997.
Gough managed to pull off a rather remarkable trick: despite the fact that the Batman movies had mutated from the darker, weirder days of Michael Keaton’s caped crusader into the tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top excess of George Clooney’s iteration, Gough’s Alfred never really changed. He was always the slightly stuffy, etiquette obsessed Englishman who served as Batman’s ever present father figure, offering a moment of warmth when it was most needed.
8. Vivica A. Fox
Vivica A. Fox was just beginning to make a name for herself in 1997. The prior year, she had appeared in the blockbuster Independence Day, portraying Will Smith’s girlfriend, dodging aliens in an effort to protect her young son (she would reprise the role in last year’s much less successful Independence Day: Resurgence).
In 1997, Fox appeared in the sex comedy Booty Call with Jaime Foxx, and the acclaimed drama Soul Food, which would go on to solidify her status as a big name actress for the next two decades.
Batman & Robin was essentially a pit stop for Fox. She portrayed one of Mr. Freeze’s allies; the sublimely named Miss B. Haven. It was a minor, unmemorable part, but at least she got to share some groan-worthy puns with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
7. John Glover
John Glover is no stranger to comic book adaptations. The actor voiced The Riddler on the classic Batman: The Animated Series and guest starred on Marvel’s Agent Carter. He’s likely best known by superhero fans for his turn as Lionel Luthor, Lex’s cold, calculating father, on the Superman prequel series Smallville.
In Batman & Robin, Glover played Dr. Jason Woodrue, a spin on D-list villain Floronic Man, who accidentally creates Poison Ivy.
One of Hollywood’s most reliable character actors, Glover has been on television almost without interruption for decades, starring in series like The Good Wife and The Blacklist. He’s also a celebrated theater actor, and has had several successful runs on Broadway. It could be argued Glover’s career took the least damage from his turn in the disastrous Batman & Robin.
6. Doug Hutchison
A promising young character actor in the ’90s, in Batman & Robin Doug Hutchison played Golum, a neon-clad gang leader. Before becoming little more than DayGlo wallpaper in Joel Schumacher’s fever dream, Hutchison was finding more success on TV shows like Party of Five and The X-Files, as well as more respectable films like The Green Mile and A Time To Kill, the latter of which, ironically, was also directed by Schumacher.
While Hutchison would go on to have memorable turns on huge shows like Lost and 24, he’s likely most well known for his controversial personal life. In 2011, Hutchison, then 51, married 16-year-old Courtney Stodden. The couple have had a very public, salacious relationship, occupying the realm of trashy reality television and tabloid fodder. Unsurprisingly, Hutchison’s acting career has mostly stalled in the wake of his marrying a teenager.
5. Jesse Ventura
There are not many people who can boast a career as wildly varied as Jesse Ventura. Originally coming to prominence as a WWE wrestler in the 70s and 80s, Ventura would eventually branch out into acting roles, with relatively limited success.
The greatest weapon in Ventura’s acting arsenal was the fact that he became close friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and often had supporting roles in his films. In Batman & Robin, Ventura served as a guard to Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze at Arkham Asylum.
A year after his stint in Gotham, Ventura shocked the world by winning an election to become the Governor of Minnesota. After a relatively successful first term, he did not run for re-election, and has spent the last few years as a decidedly eccentric political commentator.
4. Jeep Swenson
Robert “Jeep” Swenson was a professional wrestler and stuntman. He had two largely forgettable stints in WCW in the ’80s and ’90s; in the latter his character was unfortunately named “The Final Solution,” an unintentional reference to an infamous Nazi plan.
By the mid ’90s, Swanson was starting to get some minor acting roles, like the Damon Wayans/Adam Sandler buddy cop movie Bulletproof, as well as a couple appearances on the immortal Chuck Norris series Walker, Texas Ranger. Swenson’s big break came as Bane in Batman & Robin. Unlike the brilliant, dark mirror of Batman from the comics, this version of Bane was basically a super-strong lackey.
3. Michael Reid MacKay
Michael Reid MacKay has made a career out of playing disturbing cinematic weirdos. He’s enjoyed roles in projects as varied as David Fincher’s epochal mystery thriller Se7en and Jim Carrey’s fart joke delivery system Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
In Batman & Robin, MacKay portrayed Antonio Diego, an incredibly frail man that Dr. Woodrue would transform into the monstrous Bane, a sort of nightmare version of Captain America’s creation.
MacKay’s role in Batman & Robin was brief and forgettable, but he’d have a much more impactful role in another superhero franchise just a few years later. In X2: X-Men United, MacKay portrayed Jason 143, the mutant son of the anti-mutant zealot, William Striker. Striker exploited his son’s psychic abilities to wreak havoc on the X-Men. MacKay delivered a wordless, deeply disturbing performance that redeemed his minor presence in Batman & Robin.
2. Patrick Leahy
Patrick Leahy is not exactly known for his acting ability. Since 1975, Leahy has been the United States Senator from Vermont. Leahy is much more likely to be engaged in a debate about healthcare or tax reform than he is in the comparatively trivial world of Hollywood machinations.
But Leahy is, without much question, the biggest fan of Batman in the United States Senate. He has written forewords to several collections of Batman comics, and has had cameos in every live action Batman film since Batman Forever.
Leahy was memorably menaced by Heath Ledger’s version of The Joker in The Dark Knight, reminding the clown prince of crime of his father, to Leahy’s peril. And while he was blown up by Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, we wouldn’t bet against him appearing in some capacity in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman.
1. Pat Hingle
Pat Hingle was a TV lifer, appearing in dozens of series dating back to the 1950s. He made guest turns on series as varied as Barnaby Jones and Magnum, P.I. Hingle didn’t really start getting big screen opportunities until much later in life.
The role that would make him a familiar face across the world would be that of Commissioner James Gordon, a role he originally played in Tim Burton’s first Batman film.
Along with Michael Gough’s Alfred, Hingle was the only other actor who appeared in all four of the Burton/Schumacher Batman films. Hingle’s portly, excitable Gordon was a far cry from the more traditional take on the character that would eventually be embodied by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but Hingle was always a solid character actor who made Gordon his own.
Hingle passed away in 2009 at the age of 84.
Which star do you think has made the most of their post Batman & Robin career? Sound off in the comments!
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