Director Joel Schumacher is revealing that he really wanted to make an Arkham Asylum movie after Batman Forever. Schumacher, of course, is the filmmaker who suffered the misfortune of being at the helm 20 years ago of one of the most reviled comic book movies of all time with the 1997 superhero bust Batman & Robin – a movie that buried the franchise for eight years until Christopher Nolan reinvigorated The Dark Knight saga with Batman Begins in 2005. Schumacher feels so bad for the misfire, in fact, that he recently apologized for it.
But the reason Schumacher was in the position to make Batman & Robin in the first place was because of success he had with Batman Forever – where the director replaced Tim Burton after the blockbuster director’s successes with 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns. Released in 1995, Batman Forever ushered in a new era for the Caped Crusader with Val Kilmer taking over for Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman; in a film that featured an all-star cast including Chris O’Donnell as Robin, Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian.
In a retrospective interview in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Batman & Robin (which was released on June 20, 1997), Schumacher shared in an interview with THR the hopes he had of doing an Arkham Asylum movie, which he effectively set up at the conclusion of Batman Forever.
“I always wanted to do a whole Arkham movie, and did a scene at the end of Batman Forever when Jim [Carrey] is in a straitjacket and Nicole [Kidman] comes to see him. And it was just a nod to back to Arkham Asylum which I love, and I thought it would be fun to put the other villains up there.”
But as the story goes, Schumacher had to recast Batman with George Clooney, and introduced Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the fray for Batman & Robin, effectively sealing his fate with the DC superhero franchise. It’s too bad Schumacher didn’t get to see his vision of an Arkham Asylum movie through, if only to find out which other villains he would have brought to the big screen, and whether that movie would have mainly concentrated on characters from DC’s stable of super villains, a la Suicide Squad.
While Schumacher has taken a bad rap over the years for his direction in the Batman franchise, fans should at least step back and appreciate the creativity he brought to Batman Forever, before the franchise went south with Batman & Robin.
The helmer, after all, has created some great films throughout his career – The Lost Boys, A Time to Kill, Falling Down, and The Phantom of the Opera, among them – it’s just unfortunate that the film he hit the wall with (and every director has at least one) happened to be the one that everyone was watching.
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