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Why “Batman & Robin” is “the most important comic-book movie ever made.”

Why “Batman & Robin” is “the most important comic-book movie ever made.” (photo)

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Ten years ago, when Akiva Goldsman was overwhelmingly associated with writing “Batman & Robin,” the film that temporarily killed a seemingly infallible franchise, the idea that he’d be back on top in Hollywood because “his populist tastes, skill with story and that old comic-book collection make him a man for the moment in Hollywood” would’ve been unthinkable. But that’s how Geoff Boucher describes the writer, producer and soon-to-be-director in a glowing profile in this weekend’s Los Angeles Times.

Yes, you can recover from taking part in making one of the worst superhero movies ever, and apparently even be congratulated for it. Boucher quotes Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, who, when speaking on a panel back in June, claimed that “Batman & Robin” “may be the most important comic-book movie ever made. It was so bad that it demanded a new way of doing things. It created the opportunity to do ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider-Man,’ adaptations that respected the source material and adaptations that were not campy.”

Beyond implying that Goldsman’s major achievement is revolutionarily negative, Feige’s quote also suggests that the entire history of comic book movies up until the ’00s was one campy travesty after another. Which is a point you could definitely argue — even the big comic-book successes (the Christopher Reeve “Superman” and Tim Burton’s distinctive but not entirely faithful “Batman” movies) were light enough in their touch to seem flippant.

But, despite personally digging the “Hellboy” movies, the last two “Spider-Man” films and “X2,” I never could go whole hog in treating comic books as if they had the same heft and weight as their stuffier literary counterparts. So I have question the idea that comic book movies were steadily headed down the wrong path before Goldsman inadvertently forced the issue — though, as president of freakin’ Marvel Studios, I’m sure Feige has more invested in the issue than me.

Let’s say this: there’s nothing wrong with treating comic-book material lightly, any more than there is in treating it with the greatest reverence. “Batman & Robin” was awful, sure, but we now have the opposite problem, with superhero mythologies getting treated with Talmudic reverence and investment. 30 years of comic-book irreverence generated their own special currency — like Reeve’s indelible “Superman” — and that shouldn’t be completely thrown out. Why so serious, indeed.

[Photo: “Batman & Robin” nip out, 1997, Warner Bros]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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