1. After the box office success of 1995's Batman Forever, Warner Bros. immediately commissioned a sequel, with director Joel Schumacher and writer Akiva Goldsman reprising their respective duties. Producer Michael Uslan claimed it was all Schumacher's idea to have a change of direction and pay homage to both the broad camp style of the 1960s television series and the work of legendary comic book artist Dick Sprang, who's name was synonymous with the Batman comic during the 1940's and 50's. Although in later interviews the director would say it was studio pressure to make the film more "toyetic" (i.e., a showcase for marketable toys and games) that resulted in the stark change of contrast between the finished product and the previous Batman movies. And although Shumacher has publicly appologised for Batman & Robin (which we'll get to later), it seems no-one really wants to take the full blame. Would you?
2. The movie was fast tracked for a 1997 release - previously there had been a 3-year gap between Batman movies. While Chris O'Donnell reprised the role of Robin, Val Kilmer decided not to return as Batman, claiming that the change of schedule had forced the issue as he was already committed to filming The Saint. (I'd say he dodged a bullet, but have you seen The Saint?).
However, once again there are conflicting reports behind Kilmer's non-return. Schumacher has admitted the he had difficulty working with Kilmer on Batman Forever, and had reportedly insisted to Warner Bros. that Kilmer should not return to the role. "He sort of quit," Schumacher said, "and we sort of fired him".
3. Whilst Schumacher was on the hunt for a new Batman he briefly considered David Duchovny, and had a strong interest in casting William Baldwin, but it was George Clooney who would end up behind the Bat-cowl - and it was all down to his chin!...
Schumacher first considered Clooney for the role after drawing the famous cowl over Clooney's face in an advertisement for From Dusk Till Dawn. It impressed him so much that he invited Clooney to audition.
4. Patrick Stewart was considered for the role of Mr. Freeze, but Schumacher decided that the villain must be "big and strong like he was chiseled out of a glacier", so Arnold Schwarzenegger was approached, although nobody thought he was likely to say yes to the role. He did...
The script was rewritten to accommodate Schwarzenegger's casting and demands. He was paid $25 million for the role, and, just like 1989's Batman, the actor playing the main villain would receive top billing
5. Rather confusingly, the working title for the fourth Batman movie started out as Batman 4Ever, but being that that was the title of the previous film (albeit in an non-stylised form) that moniker was never going to stay. In the end Batman & Robin was chosen, which, just to add to the confusion, was actually the original working title for Batman Forever!
6. The shoot was not a pleasant experience for many of the actors. Schwarzenegger's prosthetic makeup and wardrobe took six hours to apply each day. Clooney's redesigned Batman suit weighed 90lbs, and just like Keaton before him, he found it impossible to get out of for a 'bathroom break'. Chris O'Donnell constantly complained about his Robin costume, saying it was more involved and uncomfortable than the one he wore in Batman Forever, with a glued-on mask which caused sweat to pool on his face. O'Donnell also revealed that despite occasionally hanging out with Arnold Schwarzenegger off set and appearing alongside him during promotion for the film, they never actually worked a single day together. This was because Schwarzenegger's double filmed nearly every scene when the actor's face wasn't required!
When comparing work on Batman Forever, O'Donnell explained:
"It just felt like everything got a little soft the second time. On Batman Forever, I felt like I was making a movie. The second time, I felt like I was making a kid's toy commercial."7. 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."8. Many of the scenes with Batgirl, played by 20 year old actress Alicia Silverstone, ended up being cut out because Silverstone gained a few pounds during production and the wardrobe team had to refit her costume. When the tabloid press discovered the news, they slammed Silverstone's weight gain and mocked the actress for being "too fat" to fit into her costume, using such horrible names as 'Buttgirl' to refer to her character...
Joel Schumacher jumped to her defence, and addressed the media's taunting of the young star by saying:
"It was horrible. I thought it was very cruel. She was a teenager who gained a few pounds, like all of us do at certain times. I would confront female journalists and I'd say, 'With so many young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia, why are you crucifying this girl?'9. After its release in June 1997, Batman & Robin did make money, with a total worldwide box office of $238 million off a $125 million budget. Not as much as Warner Bros. would've liked, but seemingly enough to warrant another sequel. However repeated, and vary valid, negative reviews essentially killed the franchise stone cold dead. Even George Clooney later stated that when production wrapped he quipped "I think we just killed the franchise".
What is this girl's big sin - that she ate some pizza?"
In promotion Schumacher was refreshingly open about his feelings towards the finished movie and reception it was getting from critics, stating:
"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."
10. Batman & Robin was the last Batman film viewed by Batman creator Bob Kane. He passed away just one year after its release.
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