Why Did I Do This to Myself?

What the hell was I thinking?

While brainstorming ideas for things to write I looked over to the corner of my desk and spotted the collected Batman films I had grown up with, sitting where I had left them after last week’s Burton Batman double feature.   Looking at the two disc set, it occurred to me that I haven’t watched the lesser Schumacher films in quite a long time and maybe they weren’t as bad as I remembered.

I was wrong.

I finished Batman Forever a few days ago and am struggling through Batman & Robin as I write this.

A moment ago I Tweeted “Every time I watch it I am surprised by how bad Batman & Robin is.”

To be honest Forever is only a teeny, tiny bit better.  I had always remembered it as being almost but not quite as good as the Burton films but sitting here as an adult with years of comic book knowledge and the more contemporary (and amazing) Nolan Batman Trilogy and Marvel Cinematic Universe fresh in my mind I see how wrong I actually was.

Collectively the Schumacher films are just not very good.  While I want to respect whatever “artistic vision” he had, I am left scratching my head at some many decisions.

  • The borderline manic and absurdly over-the-top portrayals of The Riddler and Two-Face.
  • Two-Face repeatedly being referred to as Harvey Two-Face
  • The Riddler using bird shaped bombs to destroy the Batcave (green and question mark laden or not they still were bird shaped bombs that more or less quacked when thrown).
  • The super creepy/goofy Bat-smile.

I’m sure there were more but for sheer “what the hell were they thinking?” moments B&R takes the crown.

  • Mr. Freeze’s constant ice based puns (not to mention the horrid “riddle” in the opening about what killed the ice age…guess if The Riddler can steal the Penguin’s shtick why can’t Freeze do the same to him?).
  • Bat-Skates.
  • Rubber icicles that jiggle throughout the film.
  • The complete waste of John Glover’s abilities as an actor.
  • Bane being created from a random death row inmate and then being nothing more than mindless muscle for Poison Ivy (maybe it’s just me but if the latter had to happen couldn’t a more canonical Bane have fallen victim to her pheromone control…hell in Hush even Superman fell victim to her.  Maybe that would require more respect for the source material than Schumacher obviously had.)
  • Uma Thurman.
  • Mr. Freeze leading his henchmen in a sing-a-long while they struggle to eat still frozen TV dinners.
  • Alicia Silverstone not even attempting a British accent as Alfred’s niece Barbara (explicitly stated as from England).

All that is in the first 30 minutes of the film…it arguably just keeps getting worse from there.  By the time Batman pulls out a Bat-credit card I am fighting the urge to shut the movie down.

I think the lesson best learned from this exercise is super hero films, by and large, have come a long, long, looooonnnnggggg way from these damn near genre killing farces.

As long as future productions look back on these as examples of what not to do I think things may continue to be amazing for we, the comic book film loving masses.

-S.Y.

Author’s Note:  I managed to watch roughly twenty minutes more of this movie before I had to call it quits.  I thought I could stomach it and give it a full viewing again but it was just too much for me last night.

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