Batman & Robin (film)
|Batman & Robin|
|Directed by||Joel Schumacher|
|Written by||Akiva Goldsman|
|Produced by||Peter MacGregor-Scott|
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$238 million|
Batman & Robin is a 1997 American superhero film based on the DC Comics characters Batman and Robin by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. It is the fourth and final installment of Warner Bros.'s initial Batman film series, a sequel to Batman Forever and the only film in the series made without the involvement of Tim Burton in any capacity. Directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Akiva Goldsman, it stars George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman, replacing Val Kilmer, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze, and Chris O'Donnell reprising his role as Dick Grayson / Robin, alongside Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, and Elle Macpherson. The film follows the titular characters as they attempt to prevent Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy from taking over the world, while at the same time struggling to keep their partnership together.
Warner Bros. fast-tracked development for Batman & Robin following the box office success of Batman Forever. Schumacher and Goldsman conceived the storyline during pre-production on A Time to Kill; Schumacher was given a mandate to make the film more toyetic than its predecessor, while basing its style on the 1960s television series and Batman comic book artist Dick Sprang's illustrations. After Val Kilmer decided not to reprise the role over scheduling conflicts with The Saint, Schumacher initially intended to cast William Baldwin in his place before George Clooney won the role. Principal photography began in September 1996 and wrapped in January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule.
Batman & Robin premiered in Los Angeles on June 12, 1997, and went into general release on June 20. Making $238.2 million worldwide against a production budget of $125–160 million, the film was a box office disappointment and received largely negative reviews from critics, often considered to be one of the worst films ever made. It is also the lowest-grossing live-action Batman film to date. One of the songs recorded for the film, "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" by The Smashing Pumpkins, won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards. Due to the film's poor reception, Warner Bros. cancelled future Batman films, including Schumacher's planned Batman Unchained.
Batman and his partner, Robin, encounter a new foe, Mr. Freeze, who has left a string of diamond robberies in his wake. During a confrontation in the natural history museum, Freeze steals a bigger diamond and flees, freezing Robin and leaving Batman unable to pursue him. Later, Batman and Robin learn that Freeze was originally Dr. Victor Fries, a scientist working to develop a cure for MacGregor's Syndrome, hoping to heal his terminally ill wife, Nora. After a lab accident, Fries was rendered unable to live at average temperatures and forced to wear a cryogenic suit powered by diamonds for survival.
At a Wayne Enterprises lab in Brazil, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley is working under the deranged Dr. Jason Woodrue, who has turned her research on plants into the supersoldier drug Venom. After witnessing Woodrue use the formula to turn serial killer Antonio Diego into the hulking Bane, she threatens to expose Woodrue's experiments. Woodrue attempts to kill her by overturning a shelf of various toxins; instead, Isley is mutated by the toxins into Poison Ivy. Ivy kills Woodrue, destroys the lab, and escapes to Gotham City with Bane, concocting a plan to use Wayne's money to support her research. Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth's niece, Barbara Wilson, makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.
Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope for Gotham Observatory at a press conference interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, which would kill millions of people. Batman and Robin decide to lure Freeze out using the Wayne Family diamonds and present them at a Wayne Enterprises charity event. Ivy attends the event and decides to use her abilities to seduce Batman and Robin. Freeze crashes the party but is defeated and detained in Arkham Asylum. Ivy takes an interest in Freeze and frees him from Arkham. Dick discovers that Barbara has been participating in drag races to raise money for Alfred, who is dying of MacGregor's Syndrome; a fact he kept from Bruce and Dick.
Batman, Robin, and the police arrive at Freeze's lair in response to his escape, discovering Nora preserved in a cryogenic chamber and that Freeze has developed a cure for the early stages of MacGregor's Syndrome. Freeze, Ivy, and Bane secretly arrive to recover Freeze's diamonds and Nora. Wanting Freeze for herself, Ivy unplugs Nora's chamber, steals the diamonds, and seduces Robin; escalating tensions between him and Batman. At Ivy's hideout, Ivy convinces Freeze that Batman has killed Nora. Freeze swears to freeze all of humanity in revenge, with Ivy planning to repopulate the earth using her mutant plants afterward.
Freeze and Bane commandeer Gotham Observatory and convert the new telescope into a giant freeze ray, while Ivy uses the Bat-Signal to contact Robin. Robin attempts to go after Ivy alone, but Batman convinces him not to fall for Ivy's seduction. Barbara discovers the Batcave, where an AI version of Alfred reveals he has made Barbara her own suit. Barbara dons the suit and becomes Batgirl, arriving at Ivy's lair in time to help Batman and Robin subdue her.
Freeze begins to encase Gotham in ice, and Batman, Robin, and Batgirl head to Gotham Observatory together to stop him. Batman defeats Freeze in combat, while Batgirl and Robin incapacitate Bane and thaw the city. Freeze accuses Batman of killing Nora, only to be shown a recording of Ivy admitting to the crime. Batman reveals that Nora is still alive and offers Freeze the chance to continue his research on MacGregor's Syndrome in exchange for his cure. Freeze accepts and returns to Arkham, where he is imprisoned in the same cell as Ivy, vowing to make her life miserable for her actions against Nora. Alfred receives the cure, and Bruce and Dick agree to let Barbara join them in fighting crime.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze:
A molecular biologist who suffers a terrible accident while trying to cryogenically preserve his terminally ill wife. As a result, he is forced to live in a sub-zero suit powered by diamonds.
- George Clooney as Bruce Wayne / Batman:
A billionaire businessman who fights crime as Batman, Gotham City's vigilante protector.
- Eric Lloyd as Young Bruce Wayne.
- Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson / Robin:
The crime-fighting partner to Batman and legal ward to Bruce Wayne. He has begun to chafe against Batman's authority.
- Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy:
A crazed botanist who becomes an ecoterrorist after being pushed into vials of chemicals, poisons, and toxins. She uses pheromone spores to make men fall for her.
- Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson / Batgirl:
The niece of Alfred Pennyworth who, after losing her parents, joins the superhero duo.
- Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth:
The trusted butler for Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
- Jon Simmons as Young Alfred Pennyworth.
- Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon:
The police commissioner of Gotham City. He is close to Batman and informs him of numerous crimes.
- Elle Macpherson as Julie Madison:
Bruce Wayne's girlfriend. She proposes to Bruce, but he does not respond, fearing for her safety.
John Glover portrays Dr. Jason Woodrue, a deranged scientist with a desire for world domination via his Venom-powered "supersoldiers", of whom Bane, portrayed by Robert Swenson, becomes Poison Ivy's bodyguard and muscle. Vivica A. Fox and Vendela Kirsebom play Mr. Freeze's assistant and cryogenically frozen wife, respectively. Elizabeth Sanders appears as Gossip Gerty, Gotham's top gossip columnist. Michael Paul Chan and Kimberly Scott both appear as telescope scientists. Coolio makes a cameo appearance as Jonathan Crane, later stating that he was to reprise his role as Scarecrow in the ultimately cancelled sequel Batman Unchained.
With the box office success of Batman Forever in June 1995, Warner Bros. immediately commissioned a sequel. They hired director Joel Schumacher and writer Akiva Goldsman to reprise their duties the following August and decided it was best to fast-track production for a June 1997 target release date, which is a break from the usual three-year gap between films. Schumacher wanted to pay homage to both the broad camp style of the 1960s television series and the work of Batman comic book artist Dick Sprang. The storyline of Batman & Robin was conceived by Schumacher and Goldsman during pre-production on A Time to Kill. Portions of Mr. Freeze's backstory were based on the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", written by Paul Dini. Goldsman, however, expressed concerns about the script during pre-production discussions with Schumacher. Schumacher stated that he was given the mandate by the studio to make the film more toyetic, even when compared to Batman Forever. The studio reportedly included toy companies in pre-production meetings; Mr. Freeze's blaster was specifically designed by toy manufacturers.
While Chris O'Donnell reprises the role of Robin, Val Kilmer decided not to reprise the role of Batman from Batman Forever. Schumacher admitted that he had difficulty working with Kilmer on Forever. "He sort of quit," Schumacher said, "and we sort of fired him." Schumacher would later go on to say that Kilmer wanted to work on The Island of Dr. Moreau because Marlon Brando was cast in the film. Kilmer said that he was not aware of the fast-track production and was already committed to The Saint. David Duchovny stated he was considered for the role of Batman, joking that the reason why he was not chosen was because his nose was too big. Schumacher originally had interest in casting William Baldwin in Kilmer's place, but chose George Clooney after seeing his performance in From Dusk till Dawn. Schumacher felt that Clooney "brought a real humanity and humor to the piece, an accessibility that I don't think anybody else has been able to offer" and that he strongly resembled the character from the comic books. Schumacher also believed that Clooney could provide a lighter interpretation of the character than Kilmer and Michael Keaton.
Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, and Patrick Stewart were considered for the role of Mr. Freeze, before the script was rewritten to accommodate Arnold Schwarzenegger's casting. Schumacher decided that Mr. Freeze had to be "big and strong like he was chiseled out of a glacier". Mr. Freeze's armor was made by armorer Terry English, who estimated that the costume cost some $1.5 million to develop and make. To prepare for the role, Schwarzenegger wore a bald cap after declining to shave his head and wore a blue LED in his mouth. His prosthetic makeup and wardrobe took six hours to apply each day. Schwarzenegger was paid a $25 million salary for the role. Beside Uma Thurman, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, and Julia Roberts were considered for the role of Poison Ivy. Schumacher first became aware of Thurman through an earlier role as Venus in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Thurman ultimately took the role of Poison Ivy because she liked the femme fatale characterization of the character. Alicia Silverstone was the only choice for the role of Batgirl.
Principal photography was set to commence in August 1996, but did not begin until September 12, 1996. Batman & Robin finished filming in late January 1997, two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule. Filming was temporarily halted in the fall of 1996 when Mr. Freeze's blaster prop disappeared from the film set; a police investigation was subsequently opened, culminating in the raid of a film memorabilia collector's home. The shooting schedule allowed Clooney to simultaneously work on the television series ER without any scheduling conflicts. O'Donnell said that despite spending a lot of time with Schwarzenegger off of set and during promotion for the film, they did not work a single day together during production; this was achieved by using stand-ins when one of the actors was unavailable. Stunt coordinator Alex Field taught Silverstone to ride a motorcycle so that she could play Batgirl. The film was mostly shot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
When comparing work on Batman Forever, O'Donnell explained that "things felt much sharper and more focused, and it just felt like everything got a little softer on the second one. The first one, I felt like I was making a movie. The second one, I felt like I was making a toy commercial." He also complained about the Robin costume, saying that it was more involved and less comfortable than the one that he wore in Batman Forever, with a glued-on mask that caused sweat to pool on his face. According to John Glover, who played Dr. Jason Woodrue, "Joel [Schumacher] would sit on a crane with a megaphone and yell before each take, 'Remember, everyone, this is a cartoon'. It was hard to act because that kind of set the tone for the film." Production designer Barbara Ling stated that her influences for the design of Gotham City came from "neon-ridden Tokyo and the Machine Age. Gotham is like a World's fair on ecstasy." Rhythm and Hues and Pacific Data Images created the visual effects sequences, with John Dykstra and Andrew Adamson credited as the visual effects supervisors.
Like Batman Forever, the original score for the film was written by Elliot Goldenthal. The soundtrack features a variety of genres by various bands and performers, showcasing alternative rock on the lead single "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" by The Smashing Pumpkins, and with the songs "Lazy Eye" by Goo Goo Dolls and R.E.M.'s "Revolution". R&B singer R. Kelly wrote "Gotham City" for the soundtrack, which was featured in the end credits and was chosen as one of the singles, reaching the top 10 in the United States and the United Kingdom. Eric Benét and Meshell Ndegeocello also contributed R&B songs. Also included was the single, "Look into My Eyes" by the hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, which reached the top 5. Other songs featured included electronic dance elements, including those by Moloko and Arkarna. The soundtrack was released on May 27, 1997, two weeks and three days before the film's premiere in the United States. "The End Is the Beginning Is the End" by The Smashing Pumpkins won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards.[better source needed]
Batman & Robin had its premiere on June 12, 1997, in Westwood, Los Angeles. Expected to be among the tent poles of the summer movie season, the film opened in the United States on June 20, 1997, in 2,934 theaters, where it remained for an average of approximately 6.2 weeks.
The theatrical trailer for Batman & Robin debuted on the February 19, 1997, episode of Entertainment Tonight. Warner Bros. spent $125 million to market and promote the film, in addition to its $160 million production budget. Several Six Flags amusement parks introduced new roller coasters themed to the film. Batman & Robin: The Chiller opened at Six Flags Great Adventure in 1997, and a Mr. Freeze-themed roller coaster opened at both Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis in 1998. Taco Bell launched a $20 million promotional campaign for the film, selling Batman-themed cups, collector toys, and figurines.
Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997 in the United States and Canada grossing $42,872,605 in its opening weekend, making it the third-highest opening weekend gross of 1997, behind Men in Black and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The film would hold the record for the highest opening weekend for an Arnold Schwarzenegger film until it was surpassed by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. The film declined by 63% in its second week. Batman & Robin faced early competition with Face/Off, Hercules, and Men in Black. In the UK, it had the second-highest opening ever with a gross of £4,940,566 ($8.2 million) for the weekend. The film went on to gross $107.3 million in the United States and Canada and $130.9 million internationally, coming to a worldwide total of $238.2 million, marking it the lowest-grossing live-action Batman film to date. Schumacher criticized "prejudicial prerelease buzz" online and false news reports as a cause for the film's poor commercial performance. Warner Bros. acknowledged Batman & Robin's shortcomings in the domestic market but pointed out its success in other markets. In his book Batman: the Complete History, Les Daniels analyzed the film's relatively strong performance outside of the United States, speculating that "nuances of languages or personality were likely to be lost in translation and admittedly eye-popping spectacle seemed sufficient."
If there's anybody watching this, that... let's say, loved Batman Forever, and went into Batman & Robin with great anticipation, if I've disappointed them in any way, then I really want to apologize. Because it wasn't my intention. My intention was just to entertain them.
—Joel Schumacher's apology for his work on the film
Batman & Robin is often considered to be one of the worst films ever made. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Batman & Robin has an approval rating of 12%, based on 93 reviews, with an average rating of 3.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Joel Schumacher's tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin, resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that's too jokey to care much for." On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 28 out of 100, based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times criticized the toyetic approach and Mr. Freeze's one-line jokes in his "thumbs down" review of the film. Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Gene Siskel, who gave positive reviews to the previous Batman films, also gave Batman & Robin a "thumbs down" rating and called it a "sniggering, exhausting, overproduced extravaganza". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times believed that the film "killed" the Batman film series. Desson Howe of The Washington Post disapproved of Schumacher's direction and Akiva Goldsman's script as well as the returning costume design from the first film. James Berardinelli questioned the "random amount of rubber nipples and camera angle close-ups of the Dynamic Duo's butts and Bat-crotches". Mick LaSalle, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, said, "George Clooney is the big zero of the film, and should go down in history as the George Lazenby of the series." Janet Maslin of The New York Times gave a more positive review and praised Uma Thurman's performance. Andrew Johnston, writing in Time Out New York, remarked, "It's hard to tell who B&R is intended for. Anyone who knows the character from the comics or the superb animated show on Fox will be alienated. And though Schumacher treats the Adam West version as gospel, that show's campy humor is completely incompatible with these production values."
Retrospectively, George Clooney has spoken critically of the film, saying in 2005, "I think we might have killed the franchise", and called it "a waste of money". In 2015, while promoting Disney's Tomorrowland at New York Comic-Con, Clooney said that he had met former Batman actor Adam West and apologized to him for the film.[better source needed] Furthermore, when asked during a 2015 interview on The Graham Norton Show about whether he had ever had to apologize for Batman & Robin, Clooney responded, "I always apologize for Batman & Robin". Conversely, 25 years after its theatrical release, Uma Thurman described her work on the film as a "fantastic experience".
In the 2009 film Watchmen, director Zack Snyder and comic book artist Dave Gibbons chose to parody the molded muscle and nipple Batsuit design from Batman & Robin for the Ozymandias costume. The film is referenced in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Legends of the Dark Mite!", when Bat-Mite briefly uses his powers to transform Batman's costume into the same suit shown in Schumacher's Batman films, before declaring it "too icky".
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Batman & Robin||Nominated|||
|Worst Remake or Sequel||Nominated|
|Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Joel Schumacher||Nominated|
|Worst Screenplay||Akiva Goldsman||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Chris O'Donnell||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Arnold Schwarzenegger||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Alicia Silverstone||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Uma Thurman||Nominated|
|Worst Screen Couple||George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell||Nominated|
|Worst Song for "The End Is the Beginning Is the End"||Billy Corgan||Nominated|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||Worst Picture||Batman & Robin||Won|||
|Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing More Than $100M Worldwide Using Hollywood Math||Won|
|Worst Director||Joel Schumacher||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Alicia Silverstone||Won|
During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies, prompting them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to return as director for a fifth film. However, writer Akiva Goldsman turned down an offer to write the script. In late 1996, Warner Bros. and Schumacher hired Mark Protosevich to write the script for a fifth Batman film. A projected mid-1999 release date was announced. Los Angeles Times described their film as "continuing in the same vein with multiple villains and more silliness". Titled Batman Unchained, Protosevich's script featured the Scarecrow as the main villain, who, through the use of his fear toxin, resurrects the Joker as a hallucination in Batman's mind. Harley Quinn would appear as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter. Clooney, O'Donnell, Silverstone, and Coolio were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Scarecrow. It was hoped that the villains from previous films would make cameo appearances in the hallucinations caused by Scarecrow, culminating with Jack Nicholson reprising the role of the Joker. Following the poor critical and financial reception of Batman & Robin, Clooney vowed never to reprise his role. Warner Bros. ultimately cancelled any future Batman films, including Schumacher's planned Batman Unchained, following Batman & Robin's poor critical reception and commercial performance.
- Homosexuality in the Batman franchise
- List of films featuring powered exoskeletons
- List of films considered the worst
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