The Batman franchise as we know it today started in 1989 with Tim Burton’s Batman, starring Michael Keaton. The film was a huge success, and still earns props today as one of the earliest examples of a viable superhero film. It was dark, it had mood, it had grit, it had Jack Nicholson. It was so awesome that the studio made Batman Returns in 1992, a sequel with the same principal cast and director.
The studio thought the film was a bit too dark, and changed creative direction with 1995’s Batman Forever. They cast a new Batman (Val Kilmer) and installed Joel Schumacher as director. Forever wasn’t bad. There were some corny elements we could have done without, but it was a perfectly acceptable Batman film for the most part.
Then came 1997’s Batman & Robin, which saw yet another Batman (George Clooney), more camp, and more of the odious “bat-nipples.” It was a colossal failure, both critically and commercially. Worse, the film pretty much destroyed the career of many involved.
George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger survived despite the film, but it hurt Schumacher, an otherwise decent director who still can’t show his face at Comic Con to this day. Worse, it almost completely crippled Chris O’Donnell, who I’d argue deserved his lumps the least.
In any case, a Batman & Robin featurette uncovered by Movies.com shows that the film’s cast and crew largely knew the film was a giant piece of celluloid garbage all along, and were knowingly (read: contractually obliged) marching to the beat of their own moribund careers the whole time.
The clip is so painful and funny, a proper introduction can’t even begin to bottle the lightning of Joel Schumacher basically confessing that Batman & Robin is a joke and O’Donnell calling the film a giant “toy commercial.”
If anything, the shame should rightfully go to Warner Bros., and the film’s cast and crew should be redeemed and even given a pat on the back for following through on their obligations to the film.
But it’s less work and more preferable for you to watch this featurette for what it’s worth, and then continue pretending that Batman & Robin doesn’t exist.