Easily one of the most reviled entries in the Batman film franchise, Batman & Robin is notorious for many cringe-worthy moments and filmmaking choices. From Bat-nipples to Freeze-puns, Joel Schumacher’s 1997 effort killed any remaining momentum in big screen Batman adventures – until Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise in 2005 with Batman Begins. While certain Bat-fans found fault in Tim Burton’s first two installments (Batman and Batman Returns), hardly anyone was prepared for the over-the-top and downright silly tone of Schumacher’s Caped Crusader movies.
For some, it’s a wound that never fully healed, contributing to fears that Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck would drop the ball in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – after such a refreshing turn from Nolan and star Christian Bale. In the past, Schumacher has apologized for Batman & Robin, asserting that the studio had been pushing for a kid-friendly film, and at New York Comic-Con the film’s star, George Clooney, acknowledged his own embarrassment of the final product.
During Disney’s Tomorrowland panel (check out the Tomorrowland teaser trailer), in which Clooney portrays Frank Walker, a mysterious man with intimate knowledge of the titular city, the veteran actor reflected on his time in the Batsuit – joking that he was surprised that anyone associated with Comic-Con would want to see him on a NYCC panel. The actor further commented on Batman & Robin, indicating that when he met Batman TV star Adam West, Clooney apologized for ruining Batman – as well as those nipples on the Batsuit:
“I think since Batman that I’ve been disinvited from Comic-Con for 20 years. I see the comment sections on all you guys. I just met Adam West there [referring to behind the NYCC main stage] and I apologized to him. Sorry about the nipples on the suit. Freeze, freeze, I apologize for that.”
Following mostly enjoyable turns from both Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer, Clooney was already facing an uphill battle when, hot off his work on E.R., he joined on as the new Caped Crusader – but a number of questionable filmmaking decisions (and apparently studio meddling) made the fan-favorite actor the poster child for what not to do in a Batman movie.
In case you missed it, CinemaSins performed a very through breakdown of the movie in “Everything Wrong With Batman & Robin In An Awful Lot Of Minutes” (19 minutes, 17 seconds to be exact):
Sadly, the video does not include every single Mr. Freeze pun, so we’ve also embedded a compilation of those cringe-worthy one-liners below:
Even though we know for sure that Clooney’s Batman ranks among the worst live-action versions, it’s hard to blame the talented actor – since there was, without question, a lot of confusion behind-the-scenes. If the studio was pushing a lighter film tone for Batman and Robin, which might have made sense (at the time) for maximizing box office profitability, it’s possible that Clooney was stifled by Schumacher – not to mention a supporting cast full of actors who aren’t exactly known for quality performances (Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’Donnell, especially). Maybe, with the right studio support Clooney would never had to apologize in the first place – or, on the other hand, we could have ended up with yet another Schumacher-led Bat-film, the cancelled Batman Triumphant.
Either way, given the response from the New York Comic-Con crowd, it sounds as though most fans have forgiven Clooney – and it’s good to see that the actor can look back and laugh (along with the rest of us) at all of Batman & Robin’s bizarre quirks.
After all, most eyes are now tuned to Ben Affleck and where he’ll rank among the actors that have donned the cape and cowl.
Batman V Superman arrives in theaters on March 25th, 2016 with Justice League set to follow some time in the future.
Tomorrowland opens in U.S. theaters on May 22nd, 2015.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.