Batman Before And After: How The Batsuit Can Change Or Ruin Careers

By Nick Venable 2013-08-23 13:48:33discussion comments
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Val Kilmer – Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever
Before Batman: Unlike Keaton, Kilmer’s experience with comedy films was most limited to his first two acting gigs, the spoof Top Secret! and the teen comedy Real Geniuses. His performances in films like Willow and Top Gun were good, but he really set career high points in Oliver Stone’s wishy-washy The Doors and George P. Cosmatos’ action western Tombstone. As both Jim Morrison and Doc Holliday, Kilmer seemed to lose all traces of himself and truly became both of those iconic figures. I still get shivers when I think about Holliday’s dying, sweat-ridden body.

As Batman: There was a quite a bit of controversy once Burton and Keaton were no longer attached to the third Batman movie, and no one really knew what to expect when Joel Schumacher decided to follow up The Client with Batman Forever. Kilmer’s involvement arguably made the most sense out of all the Batman actors, given his good looks, his toned physique and his cross-genre acting chops. 18 years later, Kilmer is still the best thing about Batman Forever. With two insanely cartoonish villains (Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face), a candy-coated set design and the awful inclusion of Chris O’Donnell as Robin, this movie could have featured Kilmer in a coma and he still would have come out on top. (Truth be told, I honestly loved this movie when it came out, and I still like it quite a bit, though it’s been about a decade since I last saw it.)

After Batman: Following a winning performance in Michael Mann’s crime epic Heat, Kilmer seemingly took on every role that was offered to him (other than Batman in Schumacher’s next flick), starring in the so-bad-it’s-almost-awesome The Island of Dr. Moreau, Red Planet, and At First Sight. While he occasionally pops up to win audiences over in movies like Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans, he has spent the last decade starring in some truly heinous indie thrillers. The Thaw? Double Identity? The Steam Experiment? Here’s hoping his role in Terrence Malick’s next film brings him back to quality cinema once and for all.
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