Earlier this week, we heard from “Trespass” director Joel Schumacher about Christopher Nolan’s record-breaking run with Batman — a character near and dear to his heart after he made not one but two films featuring the DC Comics icon.
While Schumacher’s first adventure with Batman was a box-office success — 1995’s “Batman Forever” — his 1997 “Batman & Robin” sequel didn’t fare as well. Along with near-universal negative reviews, the film failed to perform at the box office and eventually became known as the film that “killed” the Batman franchise (until Nolan came along, of course).
“Sequels are made for one reason,” Schumacher told IFC during an interview promoting his new film “Trespass” with Nicolas Cage. “Because ‘Batman Forever’ was an unexpected sensation, and the second-biggest grossing movie for the whole year, and everyone made so much money out of ‘Batman Forever,’ it was always, ‘more, more more.'”
“I broke a rule of mine, which is never to do a sequel of anything,” he said of “Batman & Robin.” “They wanted me to do sequels for ‘St. Elmo’s Fire,’ ‘Flatliners,’ ‘Lost Boys,’ and some of the other films I’ve done, and I always knew that if you get lucky, walk away. But I was shooting ‘A Time To Kill’ and the studio had been very generous to me, and much was expected of me by the toy manufacturers and the Warner Bros. stores.”
Still, Schumacher stopped short of downplaying his role in what many regard as one of the worst superhero movies ever made.
“I’m responsible for everything. I said, ‘yes’ and I took it on,” he said. “It’s not my favorite movie I’ve ever made, but I’m proud of my cast and I’m proud of all the artists who worked on it. I take full responsibility for ‘Batman & Robin.'”
Still, despite the rampant negativity surrounding Schumacher’s mainstream-friendly contributions to the live-action Batman movie-verse, there are quite a few things he’s quick to boast about regarding his Batman. For example, he knows he’s not alone in considering “Batman Forever” star Val Kilmer one of the best versions of Bruce Wayne to appear on the big screen.
“For me, Val Kilmer was the best Batman,” he said. “I thought he looked great in the costume, and I thought he brought a depth to the role. I thought the relationship between Val and Nicole Kidman was very sexy. Jim Carrey, of course, was the perfect Riddler. And then I had the great Tommy Lee Jones and a lot of other great people are in that movie.”
Schumacher also revealed that, if he’d gotten his way, his second Batman film would have been more in line with Nolan’s “Dark Knight” instead of the studio-friendly “Batman & Robin.”
“I think I’m the most envious of Chris Nolan because he got to do ‘The Dark Knight’ — and that’s the one I begged to do as my second Batman film,” he said. “I wanted to do a whole other thing, because we had kind of re-invented franchise with Val as Batman and it was a very young, sexy, and much less expensive movie. We brought in Robin and I wanted to make ‘The Dark Knight’ desperately, but the studio didn’t want that and it’s their money and they’re my bosses.”