The Caped Crusader has gone through an impressive evolution over the course of his life on the silver screen. We've seen versions of Batman that range from gripping and gothic, to grounded, gritty, and realistic. However, most fans generally accept the fact that the character experienced a significant low point during the Joel Schumacher years with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. It's a well-known fact that Michael Keaton left the series when Joel Schumacher came on board for those two films, and his departure primarily had to do with the director's insistence on lightening things up. The actor explained:
[The script] sucked. The script never was good. I couldn't understand why he wanted to do what he wanted to do. ... I knew it was in trouble when [Schumacher] said, 'Why does everything have to be so dark?'
God forbid a character called The Dark Knight receive a dark story befitting his name. In a recent interview with THR, Michael Keaton opened up about the end of his tenure as The Caped Crusader and held nothing back regarding his distaste for the Joel Schumacher years. Keaton was a holdover from the Burton era, and couldn't wrap his head around the fact that Schumacher wanted to take a noticeably weak script and lighten up the hero. In the end, Keaton dropped out of the project, and Val Kilmer came in as his replacement.
In hindsight, one can plainly see how the lightness adversely affected both of Joel Schumacher's Batman movies. There are actually some strong scenes in both of those films, but they occur when they downplay campiness in favor of dark, deeply psychological storytelling. Those were the moments that we wanted to see from these movies, but Schumacher spent far too much time falling into the trap of letting actors like Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger chew the scenery.
Seriously, can we all just forget about Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face?
Ultimately, this seems to cut straight to the idea of finding a proper director for the right superhero project. Joel Schumacher is not a bad filmmaker. Many of his films -- such as The Lost Boys, or Falling Down -- are actually quite enjoyable. That said, he was very clearly not the right filmmaker to follow the endlessly dark Tim Burton in the mid-1990s. That is why it's so important for DC and Warner Bros. to take their time and get the DCEU's solo Batman movie right; Ben Affleck is the right man for the job, and as such they need to give him room to breathe without rushing the project.
Despite the fact that the 1990s represent a weak period for our favorite billionaire ninja, the character has unquestionably risen from the ashes of the Schumacher years. Batman is as popular as ever, and we cannot wait to see what Ben Affleck does with the character when Justice League debuts on November 17 of this year.