Joel Schumacher’s much-maligned “Batman & Robin” turns the big 2-0 later this month, and in celebration, the filmmaker has finally taken the time to pretty much disavow the entire rubber-nippled affair. Happy birthday, “Batman & Robin”?
In a telling new Vice interview (via Entertainment Weekly), the filmmaker opens up about the 1997 superhero film starring George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell which nearly tanked both his career and the Batman franchise as a whole. (For context, the film currently holds a shocking 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest of any modern Batman-centric film, including such other critically bashed features like “Batman Forever” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and it made less than $108 million at the domestic box office, another low for the franchise.)
Schumacher told the outlet, “Look, I apologize. I want to apologize to every fan that was disappointed because I think I owe them that.”
He got still more personal, adding that his movie-making “batting average was good…And then after ‘Batman & Robin,’ I was scum. It was like I had murdered a baby.” Schumacher didn’t make another film for two years after “Batman & Robin” came out (all things considered, not so bad in Hollywood), and he’s made a slew of films in the decade since, including “Tigerland” and “Phone Booth,” though none of his later work approaches the blockbuster leanings of a DC-produced superhero film.
Schumacher also — inevitably — responded to one of the most enduring criticisms of the film: that the rubber nipples on Batman’s suit were just too damn weird. The inclusion of molded nipples on the suit was actually something first put into practice on “Batman Forever,” the predecessor to “Batman & Robin,” which Schumacher also directed, though the look (and dare we say feel?) of them in the 1997 feature was particularly jarring. Schumacher knows it, too.
“I just know that I’ll always go down over the nipples on Batman starting with ‘Batman Forever,'” he told Vice. “Such a sophisticated world we live in where two pieces of rubber the size of erasers on old pencils, those little nubs, can be an issue. It’s going to be on my tombstone, I know it.”
He added, “By the time ‘Batman Forever’ came around, rubber molding had become so much more advanced. So I said, let’s make it anatomical and gave photos of those Greek status [sic] and those incredible anatomical drawings you see in medical books. He [Jose Fernandez, lead sculptor] did the nipples and when I looked at them, I thought, ‘That’s cool.'”
Well, we know how that turned out.
Make sure to read the full interview over at Vice.