Some movies are remembered for being great examples of visual storytelling, while others are fondly remembered for just being a fun ride. Joel Schumacher's #BatmanAndRobin doesn't fit into either category, because it is remembered for being a cinematic atrocity that gained a life of its own and became a blueprint for how to kill a franchise.
Come June of this year, Batman & Robin will be 20 years old. As infamous as the movie has become for a plethora of reasons, there are some things that you still may not know about #DC Comic's bat-adaptation abomination.
In honor of one of the greatest so-bad-it's-good films ever made, here are 12 things about Batman & Robin you may not know.
12. The Director Made Some Really Good Movies
Just because director #JoelSchumacher made what is often labeled one of the worst superhero movies ever filmed does not mean he's an untalented hack. On the contrary. Schumacher is actually responsible for some hits that continue to draw in audiences to this very day.
Schumacher directed cult favorites such as the edgy vampire tale The Lost Boys (1987) and the teenage supernatural romp Flatliners (1990). He also directed legitimate thrillers, like the race/legal drama A Time To Kill (1996), the claustrophobic Phone Booth (2002), and the darkly humorous social commentary Falling Down (1994) - which many consider to be his best work, and by extension, one of the most underappreciated movies of the '90s.
Check out one of the most famous moments from #FallingDown below.
11. Schumacher Was Hired To Sell Toys
Batman & Robin came out in the time when superhero movies were generally dismissed as nothing more than kids' fare and this pervading mindset proved to be influential and detrimental to the movie's final quality.
In an interview with Coming Soon, Schumacher admitted that Batman & Robin had only one cynical goal in mind: To get people to buy the movie's official merchandise.
This was hammered home when Chris O'Donnell (who played #Robin) described working on Batman And Robin as "making a kid’s toy commercial.” Schumacher's second run with #Batman was criticized for being a glorified toy commercial instead of a cohesive flow of events, and his admission to this finally put the suspicions of countless, disappointed Batman fans to rest.
10. Batman And Robin Can Be Viewed As A Homage To Adam West
Batman & Robin was incredibly campy and veered into childish and cartoonish territory. Many cited this as a major flaw, but others would defend it claiming the goofy nature was meant to pay tribute to the '60s Batman TV show that starred Adam West and Burt Ward.
This would explain the villains' outlandish plot to take over the world, the use of stylized gadgets, corny dialogue and the cartoon sound effects that are heard in some fight scenes. Though cartoonish at various points, some would go as far as saying that Batman & Robin knew how to have fun when compared to something like Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016). The tribute doesn't excuse Batman & Robin for failing in almost every other narrative aspect, but seeing it from this perspective can at least make it a more tolerable watch.
For more campy Batman goodness, check out the trailer for Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders below, where Adam West and Burt Ward reprise their iconic roles in the recent animated film.
9. Batman & Robin Outperformed Batman V Superman
Though a critical failure, Batman And Robin was able to earn its budget back. Batman And Robin cost around $140 million to make, and while it only earned $107,325,195 at the domestic box office, the film earned $238 million worldwide. Still, the negative word of mouth quickly made the rounds and caused the film to suffer a 63% drop at the box office in its second week.
And yet, this was still a better fate than what befell Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
The DC Expanded Universe's (#DCEU) first major crossover event may have been the fourth movie to earn more than $400 million worldwide on its opening day and it may have the fourth biggest worldwide opening, but #BatmanVSuperman suffered a 69% drop in its second week. This is a historic low shared by X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and only bested by Ang Lee's Hulk (2003), which suffered a 70% plunge.
Simply put, more people went back to cinemas to watch Batman And Robin for a second time than Batman V Superman.
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8. There Were Plans For Sequels
Warner Brothers had sequels lined up to follow Batman & Robin. As nightmarish as this may sound for some Batman purists, the sequels for Batman & Robin were actually supposed to address the issues that plagued the now-infamous film.
Schumacher wanted to bring the Batman movies back to the darker, psychological roots established by Tim Burton. His planned follow-up, Batman Unchained, would start this off by dragging Batman to his lowest point yet. Here, Robin leaves Batman, the #Scarecrow (ideally played by #NicolasCage) discovers Batman's identity, a vengeful #HarleyQuinn (ideally played by Courtney Love) wants to kill Batman, and the Dark Knight is committed to #ArkhamAsylum after being declared insane. Did I mention that Man-Bat was also a part of the script?
But due to the critical failure of Batman & Robin, Schumacher's plans were put on indefinite hold, and later scrapped.
7. Batman Explored His Sexy Side
Despite being targeted at kids, Batman & Robin is rife with erotic imagery and subtext. Not only were there added elements to the costumes such as the now-infamous "Bat-nipples" and excessive close-up shots of padded Bat-butts, but the dialogue was also wrought with sexual innuendos. There were also many moments of sexual tension throughout the film.
Joel Schumacher, an openly gay man, has denied accusations that he injected homoerotic subtext into Batman & Robin - a movie whose main characters have been accused of being more than good friends for the longest time - but that's hard to believe given the movie's apparent love of the male anatomy. (For the record, Schumacher claims that was inspired by classical Greek art.)
Watching Batman & Robin with this subtext in mind creates a possibility for a completely different reading of the film. However, while Clooney claims his Batman was gay, Chris O'Donnell says that he played Robin as a straight person, which he then said was a screw-up on his part.
6. The Bat Credit Card Is Justifiable
The only thing in Batman & Robin that is more notorious than #BatNipples is the #BatCreditCard. The card has become so infamous that it spawned an internet meme, with the Nostalgia Critic's violent rant being the most well-known. The idea of seeing a hardened, nocturnal vigilante own something as tacky as a personalized credit card was just too ridiculous for many fans.
But believe it or not, the Bat Credit Card actually makes some sort of sense.
In his review of the Batman & Robin comic book adaptation, online comic critic #Linkara of Atop The Fourth Wall schooled the #NostalgiaCritic about the Bat-themed plastic currency. Given Bruce Wayne's massive wealth and public persona, it would only make sense for the billionaire to funnel the money he uses for his crime-fighting escapades into untraceable, proxy bank accounts that don't expose his actual identity.
The Bat Credit Card may look stupid, but at least it can be justified in a movie where cryogenic chemicals can transform people into a buff, blue-skinned Austrian man.
5. The Creators Are Still Divided On How They Feel About Batman & Robin
When you're associated with one of the worst-reviewed superhero movies of all time, it would be hard not to bear ill-will against the film. Clooney described Batman & Robin as a "waste of money" and he blames it for essentially killing Batman movies. It has also been said that he personally refunds anyone who goes up to him to tell him that they watched the movie.
Meanwhile, Schumacher went out of his way to apologize to long-time Batman fans who felt that the movie was an insult to their favorite hero. Listen to his apology below.
Surprisingly, it's the villains who have a soft spot for the movie. Despite the backlash his character received, #ArnoldSchwarzenegger has no regrets playing the role of #MrFreeze, as he refuses to be smug in hindsight while admitting that he enjoyed every silly minute of it.
His villainous co-star #UmaThurman (who played #PoisonIvy) actually defends the campy Batman And Robin as a tongue-in-cheek parody of overly-masculine action movies.
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4. Batman & Robin Crashed (And Made) Careers
When Batman & Robin sank, it took a lot more down with it than just the studio's hopes for more superhero movies. As popular as the cast of Batman & Robin was, their combined star power was not enough to deflect the damages that their superhero movie inflicted on their careers.
#AliciaSilverstone (who played #Batgirl) kept quiet about the matter after her negative experience with the weight gain "controversy." Though she has mostly disappeared from the movie-making spotlight, Silverstone has since made quite the career on Broadway.
Clooney and Thurman, on the other hand, credit Batman & Robin for being their trial by fire. At the time, the two were relatively new names in the blockbuster world and Batman And Robin taught them valuable lessons about working on big-budget movies. The two went on to star in big films, such as Oceans 11 (2001) and Kill Bill (2003) respectively, in the following years.
3. Batman & Robin Almost Destroyed Mr. Freeze
In his most recognized backstory, Mr. Freeze is a tragic villain who was forced into a life of crime because he wanted to save the life of his beloved wife, Nora Fries. Thanks to Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze was turned into a walking punchline who dispenses ice-themed puns at every given opportunity.
Thanks to Schwarzenegger's over-the-top take on the villain, DC's animated branch worried for their then upcoming animated feature film Batman: SubZero. The film highlighted the emotional tragedy of Mr. Freeze (voiced by Michael Ansara), and DC feared that Schwarzenegger's comical portrayal would sully the expectations and reactions to SubZero. In the end, SubZero was released on a direct-to-video format.
These fears ultimately proved unfounded, since SubZero was not only well-received, but it was regarded as one of the best animated Batman features. More importantly, it is viewed by many fans as Mr. Freeze's much-needed redemption. If not for this particular animated movie, Mr. Freeze may have never been taken seriously again.
Check out the trailer for Batman: SubZero below.
2. Batman & Robin Killed Batman Movies For A While
Batman & Robin left a stain on the Batman name, and for a while the character was considered box-office poison. This led to studios taking extreme caution with any potential Batman project, thus causing delays and prolonged hiatuses.
Some of the scrapped ideas included a live-action adaptation of the popular animated series Batman Beyond and a cinematic retelling of Frank Millers' Batman: Year One. Schumacher was attached to Miller's prequel story before Warner Brothers opted to give Requiem For A Dream (2000) director Darren Aronofsky the job. Aronofsky and Miller developed a script, but their efforts went nowhere since the idea of a violent homeless Bat-Man was both nuts and simply "too dark" even for Miller, the man who wrote the The Dark Knight Returns.
It would take independent director #ChristopherNolan to revive the Batman movies with Batman Begins (2005), a full eight years after Batman And Robin's release.
1. Batman & Robin Also Killed DC's Superhero Movies For A While
Batman & Robin's performance didn't just affect DC's Batman movies - it affected all of their superhero movies. After this and the failure of the Shaq-dieseled Steel, Warner Bros. Studios didn't make another superhero movie for six years.
WB then prioritized DC animation, creating some of the most well-loved superhero animated properties ever based on the brand. Examples include the hit TV shows Justice League and Teen Titans as well as animated features such as Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (2000) and Superman vs. The Elite (2012).
When the combined successes of Bryan Singer's #XMen (2000) and Sam Raimi's #Spiderman (2002) paved the path for a new generation of superhero movies, Warner Bros. decided that it was time to get back in the DC big-screen saddle again. The studio then attempted to redeem itself by making their first superhero movie in almost a decade, #Catwoman (2004), and missed the mark yet again by making a movie that is somehow worse than Batman & Robin.
Batman & Robin will forever be remembered as one of the guiltiest guilty pleasures of all time, and that's exactly the reason why some people love it. If there's one thing Batman & Robin got right, it was teaching the people managing the DC movies an important lesson in what makes a good superhero movie as well as the best way to kill a popular franchise.
Though the #DCEU still has a long way to go, DC movies are arguably in a better place than where they started. If not for the movie's overdose of neon colors, fans of the Caped Crusader may have never gotten to see Nolan's genre-defying Dark Knight trilogy or bear witness to Ben Affleck's Batman (aka #Batfleck) - the most badass Batman to ever hit the big screen.
For these reasons and many more, Batman & Robin will remain as one of the most well-loved cinematic bombs ever made.
Did you like Batman & Robin, or did you hate it? Share your fondest and worst memories of the movie in the comments section below.