When you look at Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever in comparison to Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns, it's not exactly a challenge to see a glaring difference in tone. While the Caped Crusaders' late '80s/early 90s big screen adventures were darker and edgier, Schumacher's 1995 blockbuster famously went in a more goofy, campy direction – embracing the legacy created by the Adam West Batman series from the 1960s. It's an odd transition in the character's pop culture legacy, but what makes the whole thing even stranger is that there is apparently a much different version more in line with Burton's features.
There have been many conversations had in Hollywood circles about the life and work of Joel Schumacher in the weeks since he passed away, but this development in particular originates from a Tweet by Castle Rock/Picard writer Marc Bernardin. The filmmaker posted that he has it on "good authority" that a 170-minute version of Batman Forever exists that Warner Bros. has been keeping under lock and key because it is "much darker, more serious" than the theatrical version. That's pretty wild – and making it even wilder is that Variety has now confirmed a source of their own telling them the same thing.
So what is included in this alternate version? According to the trade, there are a number of notable extra sequences that were left on the cutting room floor in the assembly of the theatrical cut, including an opening featuring Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face executing an escape from Arkham Asylum, and more from the sequence where Jim Carrey's The Riddler successfully infiltrates the Batcave (and apparently it features more of him using his signature question mark cane as a weapon).
Obviously that's not enough material to fill the 40-minute time difference between this early version and the familiar one, but the new report adds that there is also an entire Bruce Wayne subplot that got excised. Per the source, it did a deeper dive into the trauma that led the billionaire to become the Dark Knight (presumably it would have done more to utilize Nicole Kidman's psychologist character, Dr. Chase Meridian), and the production shot "a sequence of Wayne facing down a giant, human-sized bat." Whether or not that is a fantasy sequence or not is not made clear (could it also have been the movie's attempt at including Man-Bat?)
That just leaves us with the question of whether or not this version of Batman Forever will ever be made available for public consumption... and unfortunately it's one without any firm answers at this point. As of right now the studio has no plans to do any kind of special release, and it's also unclear if the unused footage even managed to survive in storage the last 25 years. The trade adds that some of the material from the 170-minute version is featured on home video releases, and some of it has made its way online.
If it were possible to actually put an extended version of Batman Forever together, is this something that you'd be interested in seeing? Answer our poll below, and hit us with your thoughts in the comments section.
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