Batman is generally considered to be one of the coolest characters ever created. A genius playboy billionaire who moonlights as a high-tech ninja superhero. It takes a great deal to make someone like Batman suck. Back in 1997, George Clooney achieved that difficult feat with Batman & Robin. In an interview with GQ, the actor explained why he has no problem acknowledging his mistakes in the film.
“The only way you can honestly talk about things is to include yourself and your shortcomings in those things. Like, when I say Batman & Robin’s a terrible film, I always go, ‘I was terrible in it.’ Because I was, number one. But also because then it allows you the ability to say, ‘Having said I sucked in it, I can also say that none of these other elements worked, either.’ You know? Lines like ‘Freeze, Freeze!’ “
After Tim Burton reinvented Batman for the big screen with 1989’s Batman starring Michael Keaton, Warner Bros. knew they had a huge cash cow on their hands. Even after Burton and Keaton left the series, the studio continued to churn out Batman movies, with an evolving lineup of leads.
At the time of Batman and Robin’s release, George Clooney was still mostly viewed as a TV actor, and he saw playing the role of the Caped Crusader as the way to establish himself as an A-list star opposite box-office titan Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Unfortunately, director Joel Schumacher’s take on the Batman mythology took some bizarre turns. Clooney’s superhero costume was suddenly and inexplicably saddled with prominent nipples. The neck for the costume was also completely immovable, forcing the actor to awkwardly turn his whole body whenever the script required him to look sideways.
But as Clooney points out, the problems with Batman and Robin ran much deeper than his performance alone. Schumacher, whether accidentally or on purpose, chose to imbue the film with a ridiculous degree of camp, complete with corny one-liners and exaggerated performances from the actors. The writer of the film, Akiva Goldsman, went so far this year as to publicly apologize for the way Batman and Robin turned out.
“As for Batman & Robin, that one just confused me. I mean, we didn’t mean for it to be bad. I swear, nobody was like, ‘This will be bad.’ We were really thinking… I mean, here’s the irony: There was a reel that was put together halfway through [filming] where it actually looked dark in an interesting way. It just is what it is and I’m sorry. I think we’re all sorry.”
Fortunately, the Dark Knight was able to dust himself off and reinvent his film journey in the capable hands of Christopher Nolan almost a decade later. Now, Matt Reeves is once again set to put a fresh spin on the character with the upcoming The Batman, which will explore the life of the Caped Crusader in his second years as a crime-fighter. This story originated at GQ with additional reporting coming from Collider.