Joel Schumacher has officially apologized for Batman & Robin ahead of the film’s 20th anniversary. Batman is one of the most famous and iconic fictional characters in history. He has been adapted in numerous mediums over the years, including cinema. Tim Burton’s original 1989 Batman film marked a turning point for superhero movies. It’s overwhelming success spawned a sequel, Batman Returns. Burton, however, didn’t want to return for a third installment, so Warner Bros. ended up hiring Schumacher for Batman Forever.
Unfortunately, it was the fourth installment in the initial Batman series, Batman & Robin, that set the franchise down a damaging path. George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone played Batman, Robin, and Batgirl, respectively, in the film, while Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, and Robert Swenson played the villains Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane, respectively. Despite the director having claimed he was initially hesitant about pursuing another Batman film, he never imagined the public would react so negatively to the movie.
20 years after Batman & Robin hit theaters, Joel Schumacher has officially apologized for making the film and, thus, killing the Batman franchise until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins reboot resurrected it years later. Here’s what he said in a recent interview with Vice ahead of the film’s 20th anniversary later this month:
“Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
This isn’t the first time Schumacher has been questioned about Batman & Robin, and it certainly won’t be the last. However, the director now joins the rest of the cast and crew who have apologized for various aspects of the film. Granted, there are various reasons why people resent Batman & Robin, the least of which were the hyper-sexualized costumes worn by the main characters. Schumacher acknowledges all of that, and he hopes that he wasn’t the root cause for some people growing to dislike Batman (and any other character in his film). Furthermore, he’s found it interesting how much audiences have changed in the years since his version released.
“What’s interesting to me is if you see Tim [Burton’s] and my version, you can see how innocent viewers were back then. It’s really interesting to me, 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.”
In hindsight, Schumacher recognizes the mistakes he and the rest of the cast and crew made with Batman & Robin. If given a second chance, perhaps he could make another Batman movie in the vein of Batman Forever (or something more grounded and less campy). He wouldn’t be the first person to want a chance at redemption. Silverstone recently mentioned that she thinks she could give a much better Batgirl performance now than the one she gave in Schumacher’s film. Despite that, it’s extremely unlikely that either person involved in Batman & Robin will be given another shot at their respective roles, especially considering that the studio is now knee-deep in developing the DC Extended Universe.