It's no secret that comic book movies are dominating the film world, with plenty of studios creating their own cinematic universe in hopes of cashing in on the genre's box office draw. But superhero movies have historically left something to be desired, including the Batman franchise from the '90s. Joel Schumacher took control over the franchise following Tim Burton's pair of movies, with 1997's Batman & Robin marking the fourth and final installment. Batman & Robin has been the butt of countless jokes throughout the years, and now one of the movie's writer has officially apologized for the movie's quality.
Batman & Robin was written by screenwriter Akiva Goldman. Goldsman has had a long career in film, even winning an Academy Award for his work on A Beautiful Mind. He also wrote Batman Forever and Batman & Robin for Joel Schumacher, and now Goldsman has explained exactly what went awry during the production of the latter blockbuster. As he put it,
As for Batman & Robin, that one just confused me. I mean, we didn’t mean for it to be bad. I swear, nobody was like, ‘This will be bad,' I mean, here’s the irony: There was a reel that was put together halfway through [filming] where it actually looked dark in an interesting way. It just is what it is and I’m sorry. I think we’re all sorry.
Well, that was honest. It looks like while Batman & Robin originally looked like it was going to be a dark adaptation of Bruce Wayne's story, something went awry along the way. Because as we all know, the theatrical cut ended up being ultra campy, complete with a burlesque number and Arnold Schwarzenegger's over the top Mr. Freeze.
Akiva Goldman's comments to Collider help to peel back the curtain on Batman & Robin, which has remained famous for all the wrong reasons in the decades since its release. The movie's tone and contents were mystifying to moviegoers back in the '90s, and it looks like those involved with the ill-fated Batman sequel were similarly puzzled. This is coming from the movie's only writer, mind you.
Tim Burton's pair of Batman movies were decidedly more dark, while still having a heightened comic book feel. When Joel Schumacher took over the franchise starting with Batman Forever, the property got decidedly more light. Batman & Robin cranked up the camp factor to a ten, void of any grit and darkness. While this was seemingly a purposeful choice, Akiva Goldman's seem to indicate that it wasn't the original plan for the sequel.
Batman & Robin's theatrical cut bordered on cartoonish at points, especially in the characterization of villains. The action itself was far less intense, and the grit that made Batman Returns so successful was all but absent. The movie's poor reception tanked plans for another sequel, and Batman wouldn't be back in theaters until Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.