ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

When it comes to superhero movies, there don't come many more epic, genre-defining - and universally panned - than Batman and Robin.

After all, Joel Schumacher's 1997 Bat-flick is now arguably the defining example of big-budget, studio-influenced, merchandising-sales-led superhero film-making - and a consistently popular punchline and punching bag for Bat-fans everywhere.

Most of which, in fairness, is pretty reasonable - since the movie is...not great.

Also, Bat-Nipples.
Also, Bat-Nipples.

The big question, though, is this:

Who's to Blame?

Well, over the years, several of the movie's key players have come out and apologized for their part in what they see as a low-point in their careers - but it was the recent mea culpa from director Joel Schumacher that really grabbed our attention...

The Director

Speaking to Variety, Schumacher was asked whether he was surprised that the infamous 'Bat-nipples' within the film had become so controversial. His response was...pretty straightforward:

"Yes, I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' I think that will be on my gravestone. It’s how I’ll be remembered."

It also, though, led to him reflecting on the film itself - and apportioning a large share of the blame onto himself:

"There’s nobody else to blame but me...I could have said, 'No, I’m not going to do it.' I just hope whenever I see a list of the worst movies ever made, we’re not on it. I didn’t do a good job. George did. Chris [O’Donnell] did. Uma [Thurman] is brilliant in it. Arnold is Arnold."

Which is great and all - and it's always awesome to see a leading industry figure be so willing to analyze their own work - but there were other people involved in the making of the film, too - and in the existence of the Bat-nipples.

For instance...

The Star

George Clooney, who donned the Bat-suit for the movie, has spent much of the last decade apologizing for his part in the movie's downfall. Recently, though, he appeared at New York Comic-Con, and had this to add:

“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.”

Which, combined with some solid one-liners over the years...

The spacesuit [in Gravity] was just uncomfortable for me; the Batsuit was uncomfortable for all of the world."

...and a good, hearty admission of responsibility...

"It was a difficult film to be good in. I don't know what I could have done differently. But if I am going to be Batman in the film Batman & Robin, I can't say it didn't work and then not take some of the blame for that."

...arguably leaves Clooney in as much of a self-admitted position of culpability as Schumacher.

What about the supporting cast, though?

The Sidekick

After all, there's not a whole lot that Chris O'Donnell could have done to change the ultimate outcome of the movie while playing Robin, surely?

Well, as it turns out, he seems to more or less agree - but that doesn't mean he's unaware of the film's...limitations, or of their root cause:

“It just felt like everything got a little soft the second time. On Batman Forever, I felt like I was making a movie. The second time, I felt like I was making a kid’s toy commercial.”

Which, while it may seem a little obvious (Ice Skating Batman!) also offers Joel Schumacher, who also directed Batman Forever, something of a life-line. After all, if there was a difference between the two films behind-the-scenes, then maybe it wasn't all his fault after all?

What could that difference be, though?

Well, cue...

The Villain

Other wise known as Mr. Freeze, a.k.a. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Who had this to say when last asked about Batman and Robin:

"In most cases I don’t regret the movies that failed or were not as good. It’s always easy to be smug in hindsight, right? I don’t regret it at all. I felt that the character was interesting and two movies before that one Joel Schumacher was at his height. So the decision-making process was not off."

Now, it would be all to easy to blame Schwarzenegger for the film's problems - seeing as his presence, $25 million salary and plethora of icy puns were three of the main changes made between the comparatively loved Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

However, that'd be unfair.

Partly because it wasn't his fault that the studio wanted him to play the role, partly because he isn't the only one who put in a...questionable performance - but mainly because there were a whole lot of people behind the scenes influencing every creative decision in the film.

And let's be honest - Arnold didn't OK these:

Now, the big question... Will we see Bat-Nipples in [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870)?


Seriously, though - What do you guys think? Who was mostly to blame for Batman and Robin?



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